Is it safe to travel in south Africa?

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Is it safe to travel in south Africa?

Postby g_traveller_35e1357f » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:26 am

I and my girlfriend are thinking of traveling to south Africa, is it safe there?
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Re: Is it safe to travel in south Africa?

Postby TravelFun » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:30 am

Yes it is safe and there are areas you will need to be more careful but overall you will be fine. How are you planning to travel within South Africa?
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Re: Is it safe to travel in south Africa?

Postby helix » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:32 pm

I've never had problems with safety in south africa. And i've spent a lot of time there. I wouldn't recommend walking around night time (or even driving if you don't have to). There's massive difference between different areas, just ask your hotel/lodge what's safe and what's not. For example in Johannesburg many hotels get you taxi to shopping malls or restaurants and also organize taxi back to the hotel for you. In some areas you need to be careful with animals (in some places you should have a taxi back from a restaurant after it gets dark - not because of people but because of the wild animals).

Long story short: Go there, it's beautiful country, really nice safari destination, easy to travel around, clean, etc. Just bear in mind the crime rates are high and there is a lot of dangerous animals. Locals will tell you what's safe and what's not, it's really not a big deal. :)
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Re: Is it safe to travel in south Africa?

Postby counterfugue » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:10 pm

Let me largely reiterate what Helix wrote.

I was just in SAfrica (Johannesburg, Cape Town, Kruger, towns in between for stops). Coming from NYC, and travelling in many cities throughout the world (including CAmerica, Colombia, Istanbul, Bangkok, Marrakesh, etc.) I have to admit there was a specific sense of pressure in S African cities and towns. Often, we were followed and harassed without end by street beggars and "car guards." It was nothing like what we see daily in NYC. Dark streets, and beggars followed behind for blocks.

Mind you, NOTHING ever happened.

But, the homes in neighborhoods of Jozi and Cape Town are walled in concrete, gated in iron, triple-locked, and protected at night by armed neighborhood watchmen.

In the city center of Jozi, a local guide (from the Soweto) REFUSED to take us and two other couples around to tour in midday if we had a purse on us. We had to leave it behind with a clerk. We were told the few moments that we were allowed to take phones out for photos. I can't ever imagine that kind of language used for tourists in NYC. Even on the highways, digital signs warned motorists explicitly to watch for bump-and-rob scams. Our lodge keepers gave us firm directions which streets to walk down, and what times to be inside.

And like I said, NOTHING happened, we continually felt the threat, as much from people watching/following us as from the people who ostensibly were trying to help us.

I was like no place I have been before in that regard. (Except for Panama City, but at least there, the criminal element was pretty evident.)

So, is it safe? Probably as much as any other large city. Did it feel safe? Much less so.
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Re: Is it safe to travel in south Africa?

Postby helix » Sat Oct 07, 2017 5:33 am

I don't know if the situation has changed since i lived there 5 years ago but i've never had experiences Counterfugue described (definitely not saying you're lying! just sharing my experience).

I am very petite, blonde girl so would think i'm the optimum victim, but never felt that unsafe in South Africa. I have to say South Africa is the most racist country i've ever visited. That might cause people staring you with somewhat hostile "tone". I've spend most of my time in small towns and Cape Town and never felt unsafe (excluding the racist stares). Still i advice you to be careful and as i said, ask local people what to do and where to go. Just don't be too afraid to go, it's a beautiful country with a lot to see and do! :)

I have traveled a lot in africa, central america, south america and asia and for me the most unsafe feeling destination has been Madagascar - by miles.
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Re: Is it safe to travel in south Africa?

Postby brad.fraser » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:37 pm

helix wrote:I have traveled a lot in africa, central america, south america and asia and for me the most unsafe feeling destination has been Madagascar - by miles.


Oh yay, I'll be there in a month's time!!

My experiences in South Africa have been nothing but pleasant. I've been there twice, spending most of my time in Cape Town. Never felt in danger or threatened or intimidated. I did a fair bit of walking, sometimes by myself, and apart from a few locals calling you over to sell you pot, was pretty much left alone. Just exercise the same amount of caution you would in any place you visit; avoid obvious risk areas like shanty towns, be aware of local animals etc and you should be fine. It's an amazing country you should absolutely visit.
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Re: Is it safe to travel in south Africa?

Postby counterfugue » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:28 pm

I'm glad you felt safe, and I cannot believe I am in the position to give anyone a heads up about a travel destination (since I am usually the one to downplay concerns), but I cannot distort what I saw, and what locals warned me of.

For example, the highways have signs warning of "hijacking threat" and "crime alert - do not stop." We were similarly warned of crash scams.

In the Johannesburg, our local walking guide refused to walk through downtown unless we left purses and cellphones behind. We insisted we were fine: they refused us.

Also, in most neighborhoods, homes are high-gated, electrified, triple locked, and steel-shuttered. I asked locals and they explained that if you do not, your home will be robbed.

At night, we were stalked for blocks, long after refusing pan-handlers.

In Cape Town, our innkeeper warned us rigorously to not even leave an iPhone cord in the car, for fear it will be robbed. We were given a highlighted map of "good" and "bad" streets.

These things happened, unfortunately...
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Re: Is it safe to travel in south Africa?

Postby helix » Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:45 am

brad.fraser wrote:
helix wrote:I have traveled a lot in africa, central america, south america and asia and for me the most unsafe feeling destination has been Madagascar - by miles.


Oh yay, I'll be there in a month's time!!


I'm sure you'll be fine! ;) Nothing happened to us but I've never felt that sort of hostility anywhere else. I was so happy we had our two local guides standing right behind us when we withdraw money and getting around in general. No problem in national parks though, just cities/towns.

counterfugue wrote:These things happened, unfortunately...


Yes unfortunately they do. And statistically South Africa is a really dangerous country. I just want to say that it is ok to travel there and as long as you know what to do and what not, you should be ok. And as I've said, it's a beautiful and wonderful place so I don't think people should skip it because they think it's too dangerous to travel there.
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Re: Is it safe to travel in south Africa?

Postby brad.fraser » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:05 pm

counterfugue wrote:I'm glad you felt safe, and I cannot believe I am in the position to give anyone a heads up about a travel destination (since I am usually the one to downplay concerns), but I cannot distort what I saw, and what locals warned me of.


And it's definitely unfortunate that you experienced these things. South Africa is statistically an unsafe country, and I received warnings of personal safety etc before going there from my mum who lived there for a good part of her life. However I can only talk/give advice based on my experiences. That's why this community is so great; we get to hear about places from an assortment of different perspectives and experiences, both good and the bad.

helix wrote:I'm sure you'll be fine! ;) Nothing happened to us but I've never felt that sort of hostility anywhere else. I was so happy we had our two local guides standing right behind us when we withdraw money and getting around in general. No problem in national parks though, just cities/towns.


I'm surprised about the hostility, definitely something I'll keep in mind. Thanks for the heads up!!
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