Travel to South Africa Safely
I'm off to South Africa
South Africa is a beautiful and very diverse nation. It is colorful in every aspect, from the varied landscape to the multicultural melting pot of people. It has everything that a tourist could want to see.This hub will hopefully help you with practical tips on staying safe during your trip. Due to the Euro, Pound and US dollar being stronger than the South African Rand, it has become a tourist destination for many travellers. For every tourist travelling to South Africa there is an issue of safety and many horror stories of crime and violence circulate. There is a measure of truth to these stories, however many are embellished and exaggerated too. As someone who lived most of her life in South Africa and has since lived in two other countries, I have seen life from both sides. South Africa is definitely worth visiting and it is possible to stay safe and have a good time if you are wise and vigilant.
accommodation in South Africa
Being aware and alert is very important when travelling around South Africa. Follow these tips for a great holiday:
- When you arrive at the airport, make sure your bags have locks on them to prevent being tampered with or luggage stolen. Be prepared to wait in queues as things take longer than in a First world context.
- Keep your children with you at all times and personal items like handbags secure.
- If someone offers to carry your baggage, politely decline - they will expect a fee for this service.
- On arrival at your accommodation lock all valuables you may have away in the hotel safe. Do not leave your passport, flight details or ticket, or any valuable items like cameras, ipads,computers,jewelery etc. lying in the hotel room. Make sure they are securely locked away or you keep them on your person.Just because they are in your hotel room it doesn't mean they are safe. Some crime rings target hotels and tourists.
- When travelling by car, do not leave your handbag on the seat next to you. Smashing car windows to snatch bags has been known to happen. Always keep your car doors locked when travelling to prevent hijacking. Travel with windows up and air-conditioning on in hot weather. Be aware of cars around you at all times. Do not travel in remote areas especially late at night. Do not stop for hitchhikers or for people waving you down for help. I know this sounds callous but you need to be suspicious to remain safe. If you are concerned about someone, give the police a call and refer them to where the person is.
- Many tourists seem fascinated with certain aspects of South Africa. Every time we had an overseas visitor they seemed curious about townships and wanted to see what they were like. This is not a wise idea. Do not travel into townships on your own as a sightseeing adventure - you will stand out as a tourist and this may cause problems for you.If you really want to experience this part of South Africa then go on a reputable sightseeing tour to these areas. They are worth seeing but only if you are in a safe convoy.
- If you go to the beach, do not leave any of your things unaccompanied. Bags can go missing as beaches can be very busy and are an easy place for petty thieves to line their pockets.
- Do not wave cash or valuables around. In a first world context most of the population have mobile phones, Ipads, digital cameras etc. However, this is not the case in South Africa - a large portion of the population do not have these items and would happily relieve you of them to feed their family for the next week.
- If you are a woman, do not go out alone even during the day time - be in a group.
- Keep a list of telephone numbers on you for an emergency - the police, ambulance, your hotel, your consulate. It is better to be prepared.
Safety in Wildlife Parks
Travelling to National Parks to experience African wildlife is often a valuable part of the South African experience. South Africa has some beautiful parks and they are well worth seeing. It is not only crime that you need to keep safe from. Here are some wildlife safety tips when travelling in South Africa. All the above safety tips still apply when you are in the National Parks.
- The wildlife in South Africa is exactly that - wild!! Do not get out of your car to take photographs or to get closer to any animals as this is extremely dangerous. Only get out of your car in a camp area or designated picnic area. These areas usually have game wardens to protect you.
- Do not leave food lying around your campsite if you are camping. Animals are able to get into the campsites and will be attracted to your camping spot if there are snacks for them.
- Do not try to feed animals in the park.
- Plan your day trips carefully so that you are able to get back to your campsite in ample time before the gates are closed. You do not want to be stuck out in the wild bush at night. Have a map of the distances and routes in your car at all times.
- Make sure you have enough fuel for the trip you make around the park during the day - The National Parks (especially the Kruger National Park) are huge and cover many kilometers.
- Do not park your vehicle between a mother and its young, as there is a good chance you may be in for trouble.Likewise if an animal looks aggressive stay well away from it while viewing - a charging elephant is not something you would like to experience.
- When viewing predatory animals like lions, leopards, cheetahs etc. keep your car windows up.
- Please don't play loud music while travelling through the park - people are there to enjoy the wild and nature - there is nothing worse than an inconsiderate person and you will annoy wildlife fanatics.
There is so much to see and enjoy in South Africa from mountains to beautiful beaches to desert areas to the magnificent wildlife. Give yourself ample time to explore, remember to keep yourself safe and above all have fun!!
The Kruger National Parks
© 2011 Caro Hemingway