When you visit a foreign country, the shopping choices can be overwhelming. You want to bring home authentic local products—ones you cannot find at home or online—without falling victim to tourist prices. If you’re visiting South Africa, you can find local products that range from hand-crafted toys to luxurious apparel that is authentic and less expensive than what’s available online. Here is how to put together the perfect South African gift basket.
The rooibos plant is native to South Africa and is especially popular in tea form, but like green tea, it can have benefits for your skin. A company called African Extracts harnesses the benefits of rooibos — like fighting precancerous skin cells — in a line of skincare products found at beauty stores and pharmacies across South Africa.
Amarula liqueur–made from the amarula fruit–is the most distributed alcoholic beverage in South Africa. Consider it the South African form of Baileys. It has notes of caramel, peppery spices, and citrus and tastes delicious by itself over ice.
South African wine consistently holds its own in some of the most esteemed wine competitions alongside wines from famous international vineyards in France, Australia and Napa Valley. It’s a sin not to travel home with at least one bottle from Stellenbosch. The only question is: how do you choose? You can view a list of some top picks for 2016 here.
Traveling with perishable food isn’t an option. Biltong is the ultimate non-perishable, which is why some people include it in their emergency supplies kit. Biltong is South Africa’s version of jerky, only it’s much, much better. The tradition of dried, preserved meat dates back over 400 years. Nearly every grocery store in South Africa will carry up to dozens of varieties with different seasonings. The traditional version has vinegar, salt, sugar, coriander and a few other spices.
South African children have been making and playing for decades with home-made toys fashioned from wire. Today they’re considered authentic local art. If the gift recipient is a child or collects quirky items, add a traditional South African wire push car to the basket. These are literally pieces of wire, shaped into a car, and mounted on wheels — all usually made from found objects. Children push them around, racing them along the streets. You can find elaborate versions at street markets or art galleries.
Wooden sunglasses line the shelves of many sunglass shops in shopping centers of South Africa. The brand Ballo has made a name for itself in handmade, polarized varieties and has shops in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, among others.
Rope jewelry is popular among South Africans. It’s a combination of bold and casual, and unlike anything your friends at home have ever seen. Pichulik is a brand known around Cape Town for its colorful and creative rope necklaces. The South Africa-based jewelry has gained a following in Scandinavia.
South Africa is the second largest producer of mohair in the world after Australia. You should have no problem finding mohair blankets, sweaters and just about anything you can imagine in local markets, at a much lower cost than you’d find it anywhere else.