More: 9 top South African spiritual retreats
7. Once you remove the quills, porcupine skin is delicious
Finding traditional dishes that originate in South Africa is a tall order (much of the cuisine is a product of mixing cultures).
But C. Louis Leipoldt, a sort of Renaissance man from the early 20th century, made it one of his lifelong pursuits.
The smallest villages in the Western Cape still try to whip up some of his more famous recipes when the ingredients are available.
Porcupine crackling is one of them.
From his Cape Cookery book, Leipoldt's preparation instructions call for plunging the animal into boiling water, scraping off the quills and hairs, scrubbing the skin until it's perfectly smooth and white and then discarding the meat, which, he says, isn't very nice to eat.
8. It's the site of Britain's most shocking military defeat
In early 1879 the British army had state of the art equipment.
Commander-in-Chief Lord Chelmsford thought the barefoot, spear-wielding Zulu forces he was about to attack in what is today the central part of KwaZulu-Natal province would be a walkover.
What he didn't count on was the technique used by the Zulu troops under King Cetshwayo.
In a formation representing the horns and chest of a buffalo, and using short, thrusting spears, the Zulus overwhelmed the British; more than 1,300 of the 1,800 troops the British brought into battle were dead at the end of the day.
The battle is re-enacted regularly and the site at Isandlwana is well maintained with accommodations nearby.
9. SKA isn't music, it's a telescope
Ska is the roots of reggae music that began in Jamaica.
SKA is the Square Kilometer Array, a giant radio telescope being built in the Karoo, a large, semi-desert that fills much of the southwestern part of the country.
The Karoo is located in one of the most remote corners of South Africa. The place is extremely quiet and there's no artificial light nearby.
The SKA telescope will one day look into the universe and collect data 10,000 times faster than has ever been done before.
Covering a square kilometer, the infrastructure won't be completed for another decade.
It's hoped that this multinational megaproject will help us understand where the universe has come from as well as where it's going.
More: Zimbabwe proposes Disneyland in Africa
10. You can have a drink inside a tree
Africa's biggest and oldest trees, baobabs, are found in one of South Africa's driest regions, Limpopo province.
Also known as cream of tartar trees, monkey-bread trees and upside-down trees, kids know them from the "Madagascar" films.
The pulp from the tree contains citric and tartaric acids used as common baking ingredients.
The seeds can be roasted and turned into oil and the fruit is used to make a lemonade-type drink.
Limpopo province is home to a hauntingly beautiful forest of the trees near the border of Zimbabwe. The tree that locals claim is the largest baobab in the world is in nearby Modjadjiskloof.
Standing at 22 meters high and 47 meters in diameter, the center is hollow and has been turned into a bar.