South Africa is a paradise for thrill-seekers, with mountains to climb, caves to spelunk, great surfing and diving. Apres adventure, brag about your exploits over a fantastic glass of South African wine.
Like most places that have a large number of poor people, South Africa has a high crime rate. 50 murders a day is the mantra. But most violent crimes take place in the poor parts of town, where gangs outnumber police. It’s kind of like visiting New Orleans; if you’re not planning on trafficking drugs or joining a gang, chances are you’ll come home breathing.
Just like home:
Visitors to South Africa will find the usual tourist hustles. Just like back home, you’ll never Find the Lady the second time.
Keep your valuables close, and leave bling you can’t live without back home.
Something sounds to good to be true? You bet it is!
Think it’s a good idea to wander around the big city alone after dark? Do you regularly explore the dark alleys of Nottingham in search of ‘local colour?’
Now wipe the ‘Sucker’ sign off your forehead and travel up!
And that astonishingly gorgeous woman doesn’t really just want to practice her English. (It’s one of 11 official languages) That’s probably not a 400-kilo gorilla around the corner, it’s probably her pimp or boyfriend or both. You could end up getting robbed or worse: South Africa has the highest percentage of HIV positive adults in the world.
Tech for good:
When in cities, use city rules. Need a cab? Pop into a hotel or restaurant and ask someone to call you one. While you wait, UBER can give you an estimate of the price and show a map of your route.
Hustles have gone high-tech. A typical robbery scam takes place at the ATM, where the miscreant has rigged the machine to eat your card after you’ve entered your PIN. While you’re inside the bank raising hell, the bad guy is taking off with your dough. Avoid getting money on the street; use ATMs inside banks or hotels.
A good way to avoid the crime of the big cities is to get out of them. South Africa’s beautiful and beautifully diverse countryside offers lots of activities for adventure travellers. Whether you go surfing or on safari, you still have to get there. When renting a vehicle, opt for function over flash. Organised crime syndicates ‘shop’ the streets for hot sets of wheels, sometimes with the driver still inside.
Still worried? Call the National Tourism Information and Safety number, +27 083 123 2345, for the latest information on where you’re headed.
Not a petting zoo:
When out in the bush, stick to the charted paths and roads. Don’t go wandering around, especially after dark. There’s a reason why we call them wild animals.
Home to a ginormous coastline, South Africa has some of the best surfing in the world. Quiet during warmer months, come winter, Dungeons, in Cape Town’s Hout Bay, challenges even the most skilled surfers. No big deal? Add cold water and sharks: big, hungry sharks.
If you stick to the rules and a lion mistakes you for a cocktail-hour canape anyway, this is when your travel medical insurance kicks in. Medical facilities in South Africa’s cities are fine, but in the middle of nowhere, medical evacuation coverage could save your life.
Meanwhile, enjoy the ride.