South Africa has a reputation for being dangerous – but it’s important to have an open mind and remember that the majority of visitors have no trouble at all.
Robberies happen in every city, you just need to be sensible and air on the side of caution. Read on for our top tips and advice on staying safe. Chances are you’ll love every minute. We did!
* Use the Baz Bus
Worried about travelling alone? The Baz Bus is a great way to get around as it’s door-to-door. No need to wait around in bus shelters late at night – simply book the bus and it will pick you up at your hostel.
* Don’t walk around at night
The divide between rich and poor is vast – yet they live in such close proximity to each other. One minute you’re walking past penthouse apartments and luxury villas, the next you’re in a township where kids run after you begging for food.
* Be careful at ATMs
You’re at your most vulnerable when withdrawing cash. Don’t let anyone ‘help’ you use ATMs (it’s normally a scam) or stand too close. Put your cash in a money belt under your clothes and head straight to your hostel.
* Girls, use your bra!
Just withdrawn lots of money? Discreetly tuck it into your bra. It may sound a little extreme but if someone’s robbing you, it’s the perfect hiding place. TOP TIP Always keep some cash on your person in case they’ve seen you at the ATM.
* Don’t give homeless kids money
Sadly there are many homeless children on the streets – but it’s important not to give them cash. If you want to help, buy them food or ask if there’s anything you can do for them. Lots of hostels encourage travellers to donate clothes so do as much as you can to help.
* Walk with purpose
Don’t stand in the street holding a map or wander round aimlessly taking photos. Do your best to fit in, walk with purpose and be firm if anyone tries to hassle you.
* Buy first-class train tickets
First-class train tickets are nothing like the ones in the UK but it’s worth spending a little extra to sit in a quieter cabin. You’ll still be hassled by plenty of interesting characters trying to sell you anything from blocks of cheese to DVDs.
* Don’t flaunt your camera/jewellery
Keep anything of value out of sight and don’t flaunt expensive jewellery and handbags. This attracts opportunists and you could be putting yourself at risk.
* Remember to have fun!
South Africans are some of the friendliest people we’ve come across so go with an open mind, soak up the culture and enjoy every minute. You’ll come away smiling.