Is It Safe to Travel to South Africa?
Rich with culture and wildlife, South Africa is a favorite spot to travel, but some tourists wonder is South Africa safe? Some people may believe that because of the poverty that exists in Africa, South Africa is a dangerous place for travel, but it is not as unsafe as you may think.
COVID and traveling to South Africa (updated: January 11th 2021)
You are permitted to enter South Africa. On November 11, President Ramaphosa announced that the Government of South Africa is opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate.
Compliance with coronavirus protocols is essential. Failure to do so may result in fines and imprisonment.
For more information visit: https://za.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information-2/
What Is Crime and Poverty Like in South Africa?
South Africa has been given a bad reputation where crime is concerned, one of the things to remember is that in the areas where tourists tend to stay, there is little crime except for petty crimes like pickpocketing.
Although South Africa has the 9th highest homicide rate in the world, its rate is lower than Detroit, Michigan’s. Also, a study has found that most murders occur between people who know each other rather than to tourists.
Will It Happen to Me?
One popular activity in South Africa is safari. This happens outside of the cities in game reserves. The game reserves are extremely safe (just don’t try and get too close to the lions ;))
When in the bigger, more populated areas the same rules apply as they do everywhere in the world. So, if you let good sense be your guide, you can have an enjoyable trip to South Africa. The chances of your remaining safe can be in your hands. Learning how to keep yourself safe is the first step to preventing yourself from being a victim of crime.
How Can You Stay Safe?
Just like any place, knowing how to stay safe by following simple rules is the best way to keep from becoming a victim of crime.
Know the areas to avoid
The best way to stay away from potentially dangerous areas is to have a recommended tour guide who is familiar with the area. Also, while some places may be okay to visit during the day, be aware that they may not be so safe at night.
With a Ntaba safari you will be on a guided tour, therefore we will inform you of what areas are safe and which areas you should avoid.
Walk during the day
It’s best to travel with people when going to another country, but if you must go alone, use public transportation and absolutely do NOT walk in certain neighbourhoods at night, just like you wouldn’t in any other country. Most crimes occur during this time of day, and you don’t want to make yourself a target unnecessarily.
One popular tourist spot where you can certainly walk at night is along the Waterfront in Cape Town. This is somewhere our clients love to stay and visit.
Americans like to take out their phones for photos, this is fine when you are visiting a tourist attraction but act on the side of caution when you are walking around certain parts of town. It’s best to leave these items in a safe place like a safety deposit box or keep them hidden on your person when you don’t need them. You should carry a copy of your passport on you so that you are not stranded because someone stole yours. Remember, your safety is more important than impressing the locals.
Keep valuables out of sight in your car
Nothing should be visible when you park your car because car burglaries are common in South Africa. If the burglar sees nothing to steal, then your vehicle will be safe. This includes anything of value, like trinkets from a shop or papers that look like money or a purse. There are usually parking attendants to watch cars, so giving them a tip would add some extra peace of mind in this matter.
Another common crime is car-jacking. It’s important to immediately lock your car doors when you get in a car and to keep the windows up. Criminals don’t like crimes that are hard to commit, so the harder it is to steal your car, the safer you will be.
As our tours are guided and we drive our clients to attractions, carjacking isn’t something you need to be wary of when travelling with Ntaba, however, if you are reading this and thinking about a self-drive tour then bear this tip in mind.
Pay attention to your surroundings
This is crucial. Criminals look for people who are not focused on what’s happening around them. They look for people deep in thought or those on their cell phones, so they can snatch a purse or camera. Even if you are in your car, you should pay attention to what’s happening behind you as well as what’s happening in front of you. If you see suspicious behavior like someone running up to your car from behind, you should find a safe way to move on quickly to avoid the commotion of a crime.
Know where you are going
Since South Africa is growing and changing, it’s essential to get a recent map so that you know where you are going and how you’re going to get there. Also, gas stations are few there, so you should gas up and make sure your car is in good condition before heading out on a long trip. Having your car break down makes you an easy target for criminals and could threaten your safety in South Africa.
One thing that helps you feel settled from the off and helps you in knowing where you are going is the fact that all signs in the airport are in English, making it super easy to navigate through the airport and into towns.
Once again, by travelling with Ntaba you don’t need to worry about gas or directions. We know where we are going and we know how to keep you safe in South Africa.
How Can the US Embassy Help?
There is an embassy in South Africa that can assist American citizens who have issues that occur there. The embassy can help in the following ways:
- Replacing a passport
- Contacting family, friend, or employers
- Obtaining medical care
- Addressing emergency needs because of crime
- Explaining the justice process
- Obtaining case information
- Connecting you to local and US assistance with case
- Giving information about local and US compensation programs
- And providing a list of English-speaking lawyers
The embassy cannot investigate crimes, provide legal advice, represent you in court, serve as official translators, or pay any fees for you.
Even though South Africa has a reputation for high crime, it is no different from cities in America where the rules of engagement are the same.
Following the safety tips and common sense can allow you to have an enjoyable time in South Africa.
If you’re considering visiting South Africa but put off by negative media reports and reputation, don’t be afraid. South Africa is such an amazing country, with such beautiful scenery, friendly people, rich history and incredible wildlife, that you would really miss out if you don’t visit this wonderful country at least once in your lifetime.
Don’t let the fear of crime stop you from visiting. Don’t believe the lie that South Africa is one of the most dangerous destinations to visit. It really is safe for tourists to visit South Africa.
If you travel with Ntaba African Safaris we promise to keep you safe and do all we can to avoid any dangerous situations, but just like any country, anywhere in the world, bad things can happen.
Are you ready to visit South Africa? Yes, contact us today to find out more about this incredible (and safe) destination.
Further reading to help you feel safe: