Safety while traveling in South Africa

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Jun 18th, 1998, 10:46 AM
  #1
Martha
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Safety while traveling in South Africa

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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Jun 19th, 1998, 11:00 AM
  #2
Carol
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Hi Martha,
Hope you're not put off coming to SA because of what you've heard-yes it's all true but as you said,if you're sensible about what you do and where you go you should have no problems. I would not recommend that you hire a mini-van, they are the most frequently hi-jacked vehicles because they can be used as taxis. The drive down the garden route is wonderful and very safe, but if you are driving down from the game reserves don't take the route through the Transkei, it's not safe. Last time we did it we swore never to do it again, there were so many cows, dogs, ect. wondering freely in the roads and also rocks placed in the road or thrown at you. If you want to see a township do a tour, don't drive in on your own!!!I'm sure you'll have a wonderful trip, enjoy!
p.s. I live in Cape Town, best city in SA.-don't forget to leave losts of time to see it and everything close to it, eg. wine farms,ect.
 
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Jun 19th, 1998, 12:06 PM
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Martha
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Carol, Thank you for the reply. I especially appreciate the advice about the mini-van. Since there are five of us I thought that it would be more comfortable, but I'd rather be squashed than risk a hi-jacking! We are planning on spending quite a bit of time in the Capetown area. My husband and I were there in early February and I absolutely fell in love with the area, which is why we are going back to Africa with some of our children. Martha
 
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Jun 21st, 1998, 09:25 AM
  #4
Sue
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Hi Martha,
My husband and I go to SA everyyear. We stay in self catering apartments for a week and tour round with 200 miles radius at a time, roads good, altho drivers terrible. Its cheaper to stay in one place than go from place to place each night. A good renting Agency in Kwazulu Natal is Umhlanga Letting Specialists in a small place north of Durban called Umhlanga. Two game parks are then only 100 miles up in Zu;lualabd, they are wonderful.
Ditto Transkei, dont travel thru it, go round via Harrismith and Bloemfontein.
Awareness is the key factor, but its a wonderful place - enjoy.
 
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Jun 29th, 1998, 07:07 AM
  #5
Jason Metcalf
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I lived in Johanesburg for 6 months, and I got a good chance to visit most parts of the country. If you play it smart, I think that SA is very safe. I would think that you should rent a four-runner or some other type of four wheel vehicle. While they are highly prized, the are harder to car-jack, because you are higher than the person trying to high jack you. Moreover, you can someone approaching more easily.

I never got into any trouble (although I did get my camera stolen), but here are some tips. Never, get into a cab that you did not call. Never, leave any valuables on the seat of your car. Never, drive into a township, even in the day. If you want to visit Soweto, there are many tours that are very safe. Just ask the hotels. If someone asks if they can watch your car - tell then that you will pay them when your return. And when you return, have money in hand to give them. They usually do a good job. At night, don't stop at traffic lights if you can help it. It is worth it if you get a ticket (which you probably won't - they like tourists). Just do a California roll.

Be nice to people. South Africans are very friendly, and while there are many poor people, they do not commit crimes out of spite, not like in America. There are very few crimes against whites that would be classified as violent. They are just looking for money.

I am sure that you will have a great time. I stayed in a few game parks, and I had a wonderful time. You may not need a reservation depending on the time of year. Just remember they close down at dark.

And remeber, watch out for the Water Buffalo. They move for no man.
 
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Jul 19th, 1998, 12:42 PM
  #6
Erich Pokorny
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Dear Carol:

I saw your name on the Fodor's Forums Destination web site and noticed that you reside in Cape Town. While I have never been there, I am seriously considering a trip to South Africa in late-1998 or early-1999 (any suggestions as to which time of year is best to visit?). I am especially interested in seeing Cape Town and spending time touring the vineyards (of which I have heard many good things). The photographs I have seen of Cape Town look absolutely beautiful (it appears to have a European look to it). I would be most grateful for any information you could provide me on my proposed trip. Likewise, I would like to reciprocate with any travel questions you might have of the United States. I live in San Francisco, California, and would be more than happy to offer any travel advice to you. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Erich.
 
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Jul 19th, 1998, 12:42 PM
  #7
Erich Pokorny
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Dear Carol:

I saw your name on the Fodor's Forums Destination web site and noticed that you reside in Cape Town. While I have never been there, I am seriously considering a trip to South Africa in late-1998 or early-1999 (any suggestions as to which time of year is best to visit?). I am especially interested in seeing Cape Town and spending time touring the vineyards (of which I have heard many good things). The photographs I have seen of Cape Town look absolutely beautiful (it appears to have a European look to it). I would be most grateful for any information you could provide me on my proposed trip. Likewise, I would like to reciprocate with any travel questions you might have of the United States. I live in San Francisco, California, and would be more than happy to offer any travel advice to you. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Erich.
 
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Sep 26th, 1998, 02:12 AM
  #8
joanne
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Dear Erich

I noticed that you wanted info about Cape Town. Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places in SA, if not the best. best time of year I would say is february when it is not so full of tourists and all the holidaymakers have returned home. You must spend some time out on the wine routes in the Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franshok areas. Franshoek is lovely and quite french in atmosphere. In cape Town area must sees are of course the beaches, table Mountain, cape Point where the two oceans meet and the waterfront. Do not be put off by the violence just be careful. I have lived in cape Town for seven years and never had a problem.

let me know if you want any specific information.

regards
joanne
 
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