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By Ugnem
Joined: Feb 4, 2009
Posts: 36

Posted on: January 30, 2011 at 2:30AM

So you have probably heard about safety issues in South Africa. Truth is that crime level is pretty high and it is quite dangerous country. However, if you think carefully where you are going, how and when, you should be fine. Do your research before the trip - read some forums about areas, which are not safe in the city you're staying and do not drive there. So areas are equally unsafe during the daytime and nighttime - this means, do not wonder there at all! All the stories about people's car being hijacked, the heads cut off, woman raped and etc. usually happens to people who are stupid enough to 'explore real South Africa'. If you have a wish like that, hire a coach from local travel agency - they have tours to areas like Soweto in Johannesburg and Cape Flats in Cape Town. As there is no public transportation in big cities and all the sites are outside the cities (yes, there are small buses which you hail like taxis, but you won't be willing to take it once you see who is travelling in them), you'll probably rent a car. While driving - when you stop at the stoplight, leave a distance in front of the car for having an opportunity to speed away, if smbd comes running at you. Always keep your windows closed. Lock the doors as soon as you get in the car. Check if the autolock button in the car locks your trunk. If not, do not keep stuff in it as it is common to run, open and snatch unlocked trunks while you're for example, at the stoplight. Do not keep any purses or bags in the visible area in the car - keep them under your feet. Also no cameras, cell phones and other valuable things on your laps - it is known to have the windows broken and all the goodies being taken away. Of course, do not leave anything in the car, when you park it and walk away. And take the fullest car insurance that you can. When driving around or driving to exact location, do not take any shortcuts or drive off the roads that your GPS shows you - you may get in the bad area. If it happens, simply just return to the road, which looks safe. Don't drive as 'I will simply drive through" in the areas/towns, you don't know, as you may come to the dead end in the road and some guys waiting for a 'fish'. If you ever see a group of people blocking your road and moving foward your car - drive and don't stop. It's not right, but nobody wants to be killed - they will move away at the last seconds - we had such an encounter in Carden Route. For safety issues there is almost no nightlife in Johannesburg and not that much in Cape Town. If you want to go out, good idea is to go to casinos - it's not just a casino - it a big entertainment spot surrounded by big walls and guards, so there you can wonder, have a drink in outside cafes and etc. without any worries. For Cape Town there are couple of places where you can go out at night. It's Camps Bay promenade, Waterfront, so say Longstreet, but it looked pretty unsafe during the daytime, so we didn't return to check :) Of course, when looking for an apartment/hotel - always do your research about the area. If the apartment/hotel looks nice and it is cheap - this is a good sign to suspect that it is not in a safe area. This means, when it's dark, you'll see people lurking outside in small groups around the neighborhood, waiting for that fish :) So do invest your money in renting an apartment or reserving hotel in a good area. Like Camps Bay or Clifton in Cape Town, prices are half than in Europe, anyways. Also, always lock the doors of your room/apartment. We had apartments next to us robbed twice during our visit. (Once in Brenton on the Rocks near Knysna and once in Camps Bay). Keep some small change for locals who will 'keep your car safe' in parking lots - this means, that they will expect some money from you and gets pissed off if you don't have it. All advice like 'where to drive'. 'Where is ...' and etc. means it is not for free - have the change or may have bad memories of your helpers. So, it may sound a lot, but after a week or so, you'll find yourself locking the doors without thinking. It gets in your system and you won't be so wowed by this like the first day. Thinking where you are going, planning it before, driving carefully, locking doors, not leaving anything in sight and etc. reduces your possibility being robbed or attacked greatly. We managed to avoid it during our three weeks trip across South Africa. It's a beautiful country, would be too sad to have such bad experiences. By the way, all private game reserves or Kruger seemed like really safe places. report a problem

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