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current cape town safety info? all the other threads are so outdated. thanks

current cape town safety info? all the other threads are so outdated. thanks

Oct 27th, 2004, 11:03 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 830
current cape town safety info? all the other threads are so outdated. thanks


what to do with my final 4 nights in the region (mid december)?

i always intended to go to cape town, but the current threads on this board do not enlighten as to the state of safety these days.

can anyone address this who has been to cape town in the past six months? is it possible to travel without a degree of vigilance?

i am comparing this to going to a city such as sydney, for example, in which i am never uneasy. shall i skip capetown altogether in favor of the more sedate windhoek?

thanks for your advice, if you have made it this far!
kerikeri is offline  
Oct 27th, 2004, 11:04 PM
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i should add why i mention sydney: i enjoy a walking city, and not a drive everywhere because it is unsafe to walk city. thanks for letting me know if cape town fits the bill?
kerikeri is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 05:05 AM
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Sydney and CPT are so different. First of all there are few tall buildings and lots and lots of big shopping malls. We stayed in the area of the V&A Waterfront and were our every evening. During the days we did day-trips - winelands, city tour, Malay area, Cape Point, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Signal Hill, etc. etc. and even one day went Shark Cage Diving, but on return to town in the evenings, we had no issues with the city and its' safety.

If you want specific information, why not contact Selwyn, a regular poster here who lives in CPT and has all the information you will need. You can reach him at:

[email protected]

and check out his website at:

Oct 28th, 2004, 09:52 AM
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thanks, sandi, you've been really helpful with that description and comparison.

can anybody add info on a windhoek comparison?

i like shopping and strolling and old buildings.
kerikeri is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 02:09 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Hello Kerikeri,

I've never been to Windhoek. However, a Google search indicates that its population is 230,000. Speaking for myself, a city of 230,000 probably would not hold my attention for 4 nights.

Also, I do not believe the fact that Windhoek has a reputation for being more "laid back" in and of itself is a guarantee that you would escape petty crime there.

For example, more than 30 years ago my purse was stolen from the ground floor bedroom in which I was sleeping while I was visiting friends in Mbabane, Swaziland. Back then Mbabane's population was about 15,000, and Swaziland had a reputation as an extremely relaxed country. When I reported the disappearance of my purse to the police the next day, the constable who took my statement told me that it was not uncommon for a thief to introduce a fishing rod through an open window, hook a purse that was sitting on top of a chest of drawers, and pull it out the window. From then onwards, I have always kept my purse in a closet. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I do that even here at home in Calgary, which is a SUPER safe city by world standards.

Although I have not been to Cape Town in the last 6 months, so in that sense do not qualify to answer your question, I have a sister-in-law, a first cousin, and an adult niece in different parts of Cape Town. My mom, who lives in the Eastern Cape, travels to Cape Town a couple of times a year to visit the afore mentioned relatives as well as several friends. So I do receive news of Cape Town regularly.

I am unaware of any significant developments in South Africa that would have led to a dramatic change in circumstances from a year ago or two years ago or three years ago. So I would say that information on Fodors that may look stale to you still is relevant today.

The subject of safety comes up again and again on the Africa board. The people who ask questions about safety sometimes are pretty worried. Often the experienced Africa travellers respond by telling the nervous newbies that there is little to fear. I usually try to stay out of those discussions, because I think the truth is nuanced and not all that easily explained. On the one hand, I agree with the experienced Africa travellers that extreme anxiety is not warranted. On the other hand, when someone like you asks "is it possible to travel without a degree of vigilance?" I believe the answer is, "No." I believe that some vigilance IS in order.

While South Africa does have a high crime rate by world standards, it is local people who are the victims in the vast majority of instances. Criminals do not go out of their way to single out tourists, and locals do not have antagonistic sentiments towards Americans.

So, in this sense the experienced Africa travellers are right. If you stay in one of the "nicer" neighbourhoods that repeatedly are recommended here at Fodors, and if you maintain a reasonable level of awareness, you should be fine.

My advice would be to go to Cape Town, but to exercise some vigilance -- not paranoia by any means, but awareness. Cape Town, together with its surroundings, is a beautiful city, and I believe you would miss out if you skipped it.

I think part of the secret to enjoying Cape Town is to go prepared. I'll share my own travel precautions in the next post.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 02:13 PM
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* It's fine to walk around Cape Town during the day. If you're staying in a busy area and dining in a restaurant that's close to your hotel, walking to and from dinner is okay too. Beyond that I would recommend getting around by cab at night.

* Keep your passport, air ticket and other important documents in the safe at your lodgings.

* If you must carry something valuable with you, carry it in a money belt (that you wear under your clothes), or else use pants and skirts that have those secret pockets (my Tilley pants and skirts are my faithful companions when I travel).

* Keep in your wallet or in another easily accessible place only the amount of money you think you'll need for that day. Then, if you should fall victim to a pickpocket, you'll lose relatively little.

* Before you leave home, photocopy the photo page of your passport, your air ticket, your credit cards, your itinerary, and any other important documents you're taking with you. Make several sets of these photocopies. Give one set of photocopies to a trusted person back home. If you'll be travelling with someone else, give another set of photocopies to your travel companion. Keep one set of photocopies for yourself, but keep it separate from your original documents. In the unlikely event that your passport is lost or stolen, your trusted person back home can fax the photocopy of your passport to your country's embassy or consulate in the foreign city in which you're staying. That will expedite the issuing of a replacement passport.

* Include amongst your documents a list of phone numbers for your credit card companies so you can phone them and report lost or stolen credit cards. Include "real" phone numbers for the credit card companies, not merely 1-800 numbers, as those toll free numbers likely won't work from abroad.

* Put in place some means of paying up front for medical attention if you should need it. Even if you have an excellent insurance policy to cover your medical needs while you travel, you most likely will be expected to pay for treatment on the spot. Then you will need to submit receipts to your insurance company for later reimbursement. Although people mostly use ATMs to access cash when they're abroad, and travellers' checks largely have gone out of fashion, some people still do take TCs in anticipation of just such a scenario. The TCs can always be deposited back into one's bank account when one gets home safely.

* Take anti-malarial meds according to instructions -- before, during and after the safari portion of your trip.

You say you've travelled extensively, so you may know all of the above already. You may very well know more about travel than I do. I don't mean to be patronising. However, there may be something in this list that you haven't thought of, or someone else may read it and find an idea they hadn't thought of before.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 02:29 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Kerikeri, even if you like shopping and strolling and looking at old buildings, I think it would be a shame to spend all of your time in Cape Town doing that. Cape Point and the winelands, to which Sandi has alluded are so beautiful, as is Table Mountain, the Atlantic seaboard, Chapman's Peak Drive, etc.

When it comes to shopping, you can browse through the mall at the V&A Waterfront and in the Pan African Market in Long Street (downtown). But, beyond those two areas, there are not many shopping opportunities in Cape Town that really beckon to me.

I can't remember if you're going to Victoria Falls or not. If so, I believe you will find that the curios (wooden carvings and such) are cheaper at Vic Falls than they are in Cape Town.

There is some interesting Cape Dutch architecture scattered throughout the SW Cape. It is to be found not only in Cape Town proper but also on the outskirts of Cape Town (e.g., Groot Constantia) and in the winelands.

In order to enjoy a 3-day stay in Cape Town fully, I feel it's ideal to spend only a day in the city and the remaining 2 days on day tours outside of the city.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Oct 29th, 2004, 08:13 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 18
I'll echo kerikeri's comments.

As for spending 4 days walking Capetown, 1 day is enough in my mind. It's not like NY, Vienna or other destination cities where the city & its offerings are the thing to do and see.

My wife & I spent 2 1/2 days
in Capetown this past Aug - our first afternoon walking around town and the evening on the waterfront before taking a taxi to dinner at an out of the restaurant, and 2 days of guided touring (1 day each with Selwyn & his brother Rob - we highly recommend). We wish we could have spent another 1-2 days of day trips, but our schedule did not permit.

While walking around, we never felt we were in a risky situation. Saying that, one always needs to be aware of their environment, the people around and exercise good judgement, just as in any city of the world, even the one in which you live. I always ask the people (mgt, reception & especially bell boys & doorman) for insights & advice.

Hope this helps
Roger_Miller is offline  
Oct 29th, 2004, 04:20 PM
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thank you both. all of your helpful information definitely gives me a much better sense of cape town and how i would expect to spend my time there.
kerikeri is offline  

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