South Africa has lots of great reasons to make it a fabulous holiday destination: gorgeous scenery, amazing wildlife and of course some of the best vineyards in the world. But unless you have been living under a rock, you may be feeling concerned about the all too frequent stories of violent crime while you consider booking accommodation in Cape Town, so is South Africa a safe country to visit, or should you book a package holiday to the Mediterranean instead?
Popular Tourist Destinations in South Africa
Most visitors to South Africa fly into Johannesburg and from there head out to different parts of the country. Some choose to stay on game reserves and enjoy the local indigenous wildlife for a week or two, whereas others head out to the scenic Cape Peninsula, staying in luxury accommodation in Cape Town and making the most of the beautiful beaches, whale watching and exciting night life. Then of course there is the Cape wine region, an area full of award winning vineyards and historic towns.
How safe are the Main Tourist Destinations?
For the most part, despite the lurid stories that regularly appear in the press, tourists are relatively safe in South Africa and your risk of becoming a violent crime statistic during a visit to this beautiful country is very low. Tourism is an essential part of the South African economy and the local police want to keep foreign visitors safe, which is why special ‘tourism police’ are deployed in many of the large towns and cities.
Are Some Areas More Dangerous than Others?
If you book accommodation in Cape Town or any of the other popular tourist destinations, you should be able to look forward to a peaceful and uneventful holiday. Visitors travelling in the main tourist areas are normally safe and crime rates in these parts of South Africa are considered to be relatively low. However, if you decide you want to see some local colour and head into one of the townships at night, your chances of being car jacked, robbed at gun point, or worse, are considerably higher.
Keep Your Wits about You
It is always sensible to exercise caution when you travel abroad, no matter how safe you perceive your destination to be. Just because the scenery is pretty and the locals appear to be friendly, it does not mean your purse or wallet won’t be stolen if you leave it lying in full view on the seat of an unlocked car. You wouldn’t make that mistake at home, so don’t assume your purse is safe just because you are on holiday.
What are the Most Common Tourist Related Crimes?
The most common crimes reported by foreign visitors in South Africa are theft related. Valuables are stolen from cars and bags are taken at airports, so to avoid such an incident happening to you, keep your valuables safely stored out of sight and keep your property close to you at all times.
Tips for Staying Safe in South Africa
- Stay away from the townships
- Exercise caution when travelling in remote areas, particularly at night
- Keep a mobile phone with you at all times and dial 112 if you encounter any trouble
- Don’t flash valuables and cash around
- Be careful when driving away from airports
Should I Visit South Africa?
As long as you heed personal safety guidelines and avoid the dangerous areas, South Africa is no more dangerous than any major city across the world. In fact some parts of London at night are decidedly more hazardous to your health than the main tourist areas in South Africa, so go ahead and book accommodation in Cape Town or the Cape wine region and look forward to your holiday of a life time.
Steven is a blogger and avid traveller who wanted to visit somewhere new; hence when looking for accommodation Cape Town seemed ideal for what he wanted in his next new adventure. Follow him on Twitter to keep up with his travels.