South Africa is a diverse country with many ethnic groups and languages forming a uniue blend of culture not seen elsewehere in the world. In recent years, crime has been on the rise in South Africa but certain steps can be taken to have a safe and secure travel experience for yourself and your friends or family. Scams, thefts and murder are rare, but they do occur. Precautions should be taken to travel safely, not only just in South Africa, but also in any foreign country.
Tourism is a booming industry in South Africa with close to 16.4 million tourists visiting the country in 2018. The growth trend of increasing tourists is expected to continue for the next few years.
Tips for a safe south Africa trip (These are merely advice to keep in mind):
1) Try to limit night time outings
Be careful venturing out into townships and CBDs of cities after night, as crime happens in theses areas more frequently. Thefts, rape and kidnappings of tourists are rare but they do happen especially in these areas. It is safer to travel in day time to such risky areas.
2) Do not take food, drinks or other consumables from strangers
It is probably safest to always eat food cooked by yourself. However, that may not be always possible when travelling. The chances of drugged food or spiked drinks from fellow travellers might be rare, but it is best to turn down such food/drinks from strangers politely. Also be wary of strangers in general, as scamming tourist
3) Try not courting attention to yourself
Avoid wearing flashy jewellery or flaunting your wealth, especially in public settings. Unwanted attention can easily bring trouble. Also only carry cash that you need for the day.
4) Plan your trips ahead
Book your flights and hotels from reputed brands in South Africa. Some hotels may be cheaper but they may be located in dangerous areas or may have poor quality service and comfort. The ideal time to visit depends region to region. Check out my post on the best time to visit south africa in 2020 to find which area suits your travel needs. Also Bring a map, cellphone with internet and gps, and stick to a schedule.
5) Do not get overly intoxicated by alcohol
Spiked drinks are often the reason for many rapes and sexual assault on toursts in South africa. Only consume drinks that are made in your presence. Furthermore, an inoxicated may become very easily manipulated and could lead to robberies or kidnapping.
6) Prepare ahead for your medications (if any)
Please be aware of your medical needs before travelling to South Africa. Check with the south african embassy to see if the prescription medicines you might bring is allowed or not in the country.
7) Recommended Vaccines for South Africa travel
WHO and CDC advocates multiple vaccines specifically for a south African trip. You can check their official websites for more detailed info about various vaccines and diseases to take precaution whilst travelling to south africa.
8) Beware of tourist scams
Overcharging taxis/hotels, purse snatching, pickpocketing and ATM pincode scams are few of the things to watch out for. These are more commonly found in the major cities of South Africa. Scammers may operate alone or in seemingly unconnected groups of people to confuse or lull a tourist into a false sense of security. I will make a detailed post on the various scams in South Africa some time in the near future.
To conclude, South Africa can be a wonderful and safe travel destination provided you take precuations and plan your trip smartly.