Is South Africa safe?

This question seems to be at the forefront of every traveller’s mind. We’ve heard the horror stories, seen the statistics that seem to undeniably confirm our fears: South Africa is dangerous. However, in our scramble to get as far away from South Africa as possible, we’ve neglected to recognize a simple fact. Every place is dangerous to a certain degree. That said, if you take a few simple considerations into mind, you can make the best of your South Africa trip, travelling in safety, comfort, and style.

Cape Town ain’t got nothin’ on Queen Vic!

1. South Africa today is very different from South Africa in the past

True, South Africa today might not be the safest place in the world. However, it’s so much safer than the South Africa of the past. Though there are still many social issues, apartheid ended 20 years ago and the majority of South Africa nowadays is pretty peaceful.

2. Solo does not mean solitary

It’s great that you’re embracing solo travel, but it’s less great that you’re embracing secluded-area-dark-alley travel. Avoid going to secluded areas, especially if it’s dark out. However, going out alone in a public place should be completely fine.

3. Embrace the inner tourist

Sometimes, when you just aren’t too sure about your ability to have a great visit somewhere, going with a tour group can be a great option. For example, if you want to visit the Cape of Good Hope from Cape Town, you can usually go with a tour operator and around 7 or 8 other people. These tours can be arranged at the reception desk of your hotel and are a great way to meet some new people. I’m usually not a fan of group tours because they only give you the tourist experience, but sometimes they’re worth it if they provide you greater security and brainpower to enjoy the experience.

4. You are NOT afraid

If your appearance doesn’t give you away as a visitor immediately, your lack of familiarity with your surroundings will. Don’t carry yourself like you don’t know what you’re doing. Even if you’re so terrified you think you might piddle your pants, don’t show it. Those who prey on tourists can see your fear from a mile away.

5. Use your common sense


This is the best advice I can give you on safety while travelling anywhere. Your gut feeling is never wrong. If something doesn’t feel right, get yourself out of there! Book a hotel that’s reputable and has security or a 24/7 reception desk. Spend a little more money on a taxi or private driver if that makes you feel safer. Don’t wander around deserted alleys frequented by gangs in the dead of night.

6. Don’t let us turn you off South Africa

Now that I’ve given you all the ominous (they weren’t so bad, were they?) details about visiting South Africa safely, don’t let us turn you off your journey. South Africa is one of the most beautiful places in the world, in my opinion, and South Africans, 99.999% of the time are very nice people. Most of the people who visit South Africa do so with no incident. Heck, I’ve broken some of these rules when visiting South Africa (I don’t recommend you do the same) and I came out unscathed! South Africa is one of the must visit destinations of a lifetime and don’t let any of us tell you otherwise!

Happy travels!

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Comments (8)

  1. welcomepresence

    Some good advice here for any place, really. South Africa sounds like an amazing place and as you say, I’m sure it’s a whole lot safer than during the apartheid years.

  2. We have always dreamt of South African safaris and other wonderful places in there. But we have been always discouraged by few of our friends. It was great to read through your post. We are now gonna workout on our wish to visit South Africa soon. Thanks Chelsea for sharing.

  3. I would LOVE to travel to South Africa. One day I definitely will and I will probably stick out as a tourist immediately!

  4. Love this advice! I’ve always wanted to travel and explore Africa and the number one response to that statement has been “oh please don’t, its so dangerous”.

  5. I love #6 the most. It’s so important that people understand that a place isn’t as bad as it seems. There’s danger almost anywhere but hopefully that won’t take away from the beauty and the great people that do reside there. This was really good to read, great post!

  6. Excellent advice!! I’d like to go to South Africa someday, and this is sound advice no matter where you go. I always did feel the idea of travelling alone is much more scary for concerned family and friends than the actuality of it…

  7. Always wanted to go to South Africa! Really hope to be able to go soon!!

  8. We spent 3 months in South Africa, has been a highlight of our last year of travels.And you’re right, just needs a bit of common sense…we never had any issues with safety.

    Frank (bbqboy)

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