South Africa: Sports & Leisure                                          

Rugby and Cricket: Popular sports in South Africa are the traditionally British games of rugby and cricket. South Africans have played these games for over a century. England, Australia and New Zealand are popular rival teams.

During apartheid, even sports teams were racially segregated. In 1992, the country returned to the Olympics for the first time since it was barred 32 years earlier. Over three decades of apartheid isolation did some damage, yet despite many international disappointments, both rugby and cricket teams have had success since South Africa's readmission to international sport.

Football: Soccer (known as football in South Africa) is the most popular sport in South Africa. South Africa is by no means a giant in the world of soccer, but for many South Africans, the country's proudest sporting moment came when it won the African Nations Cup in 1996--having failed to even qualify for the previous cup. Soccer is intensely followed. The national team is nicknamed Bafana Bafana, which means "The Boys."

All nine of South Africa's provinces offer a wide range of activities from deep sea diving and shark cage diving, to mountain climbing and abseiling*, elephant-back safaris (image), fishing, surfing, hang gliding, hot-air ballooning, and whale watching, etc.

*Abseiling (image), similar to rappelling, involves using specialized ropes, harnesses and other safety equipment, to make a controlled descent down a jagged cliff face. For beginners and first timers, this descent is usually very slow, very nerve-wracking and always aided by a professional.