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Safety while traveling in South Africa

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Our family of five is planning on spending 6 months in South Africa beginning in October. I have done a lot of research and know what I want to do and what I want to see, but well meaning friends keep telling me second hand stories about how unsafe it is to travel in South Africa now. Apparently lots of people carry guns, and crime is rampant. I certainly don't want to put my family in a dangerous situation, but I feel that common sense and low-key tourist appearance can go a long way.
We plan to rent a minivan and see several game parks in the Eastern Transvaal and Kwazulu-Natal, as well as driving the Garden Route to Capetown. Also, we plan to see Zimbabwe and Namibia. My husband, myself and 3 daughters(ages 15-23) to stay in Rest camps and self-catering houses most of the time. Is this safe? Martha

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