African Safari blog

Is It Safe To Travel To Africa?

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This is an oft-repeated question we encounter at Destinations Africa. The answer is yes, Africa is a safe tourist destination. In particular the much maligned South Africa is safe. Granted there are some places in certain cities, particularly Johannesburg, which tourists should avoid but surely that has to be true of most cities in the world – I can think of a few places in Sydney and Melbourne which I am careful to avoid.

One of the places to be avoided at all costs in Johannesburg is the township of Alexandra. Unless you are driving a hire car, that is a very easy thing to do. However, the freeway turn-off for Alexandra is, unfortunately, very close to that for the main business and shopping district of Sandton. Thus we determinedly resist requests to include car hire in the itineraries for anyone who has not lived in South Africa.

In any event, Joburg (in complete contrast to Cape Town) is not the most attractive city in the world and apart from being an international airport hub for Southern Africa, holds few attractions for tourists. So our itineraries generally ensure that the minimum time is spent in the city of arrival!

While Africa is a safe tourist destination, it is very different to Europe or the USA in many respects. Firstly, public transport (other than airlines) is virtually non-existent, the term taxi includes the minibuses the locals call taxi, then of course there are the unscrupulous operators, finally many tourist locations are very remote with access only by 4×4 WD or even charter flights.

Thus African travel requires numerous transfers as well as flights.

Apart from some “better to avoid” suburbs, there are other precautions which should be taken by sensible tourists (most of which can apply whatever the destination not just Africa) such as:

  • Not inviting trouble by flaunting expensive jewellery
  • Carrying valuables, like cameras etc, in hand luggage rather than packing in a checked in bag
  • Locking valuables (including passports) in safes provided in hotel/lodge rooms
  • Never losing sight of your credit card
  • Keeping your handbag “attached” to you even at restaurants
  • Being aware of what is going on around you, particularly if withdrawing money from ATMs
  • Effecting comprehensive travel insurance (very cheap peace of mind!)
  • Leaving a photocopy of the personal details page of your passport with someone “at home” in case of loss overseas
  • Only use “registered porters” or “tourist ambassador” if available in Joburg they are dressed in black with orange caps but in other places can have some highly visible identification.
  • On safari, always observing your guide’s instruction (his job is to keep you safe, as well as entertain and educate you!)

When you are on an Africa wildlife tour avoid standing up in the safari vehicle or making loud noises which may endanger everyone on the vehicle not just yourself.

Also avoid making sudden movements or trying to attract the attention of the animal you are viewing – you might end up with more attention than you bargained for!

Even more information, tailored to your own situation, can be gleaned by calling us on +61 2 4984 9747 – we can provide you with more detailed and accurate information than Google ever could!

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