Travel Tip of the Day: Learn the Lingo in South Africa

If you’re a first-time visitor to South Africa, you’ll be able to get around much more easily if you learn a bit of the local lingo.

Firstly and mostly obviously, remember that Johannesburg is colloquially known as Jozi or Joburg, Cape Town is “the Mother City,” and Durban is Durbs.

When directing a taxi driver, tell them which robots to turn at, not which traffic lights, and you’ll get to your destination much quicker.

If a hotel clerk tells you your room will be ready “just now,” that actually means you may have to wait a little while. But if they say it’ll be ready “now now,” you’ll be in there in a matter of moments.

If your tour guide tells you to wear takkies on your hike tomorrow, make sure you’re in sneakers or trainers, not sandals or boots.

Many South African words are Afrikaans in origin, so be prepared to go to a lekker braai (good barbecue), where you might eat some potjiekos (stew) or koeksisters (a donut-like pastry). And if you really want to impress your Zulu waiter, tell him “ngiyabonga” when you leave the restaurant.

For more South African words and vocabulary, check out our Glossary of South African Slang.

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