There have been many incidents in the past that you must have read or heard about various kinds of tragedies and mishappenings of visitors when touring South Africa.
The gory stories of men shooting lions or lions mauled visitors to death when they were taking photographs; women being raped or men being attacked and looted. Here are important things to keep in mind when touring South Africa for a better and safer experience.
Many visitors encountered unpleasant happenings in South Africa and to keep yourself protected and safe as well as being safe for the animals of Africa here are the 8 important things to keep in mind when you think of visiting South Africa.
8 Important Things to Keep in Mind When touring South Africa
1. Read and strictly follow the tour guide’s rules and laws
When you visit any place in South Africa, especially the nature reserves and parks you are given tour guidelines and rules to follow. So you need to understand and strictly follow the guide rules no matter how meaningless they may seem.
This is one of the important things to keep in mind when touring South Africa.
Related read – Things To Know Before Travelling to South Africa
This is peculiar to wildlife tour sites and any other site that exposes one to possible harmful risks. Do not succumb to misleading fantasy video footage that you might have seen showing people happy to partake in daredevil deeds. If it’s a wildlife tour site, always remind yourself that it’s called wild for some reason.
So, don’t alight from your vehicles as you drive through wild parks except when otherwise stated, avoid getting too close to animals, and do not let your windows down to take pictures or “feel the atmosphere”. Get all the feeling you want from inside your car secured as required and avoid the unnecessary urge you’ll inspire on the wild animals to get a feel of your flesh.
2. Restrict and mind your movement
Always follow the directions when touring. Your movement should never suggest that you’re lost. Preferably, walk with a group, especially in secluded areas.
This is one of the important things to keep in mind when touring South Africa. Catch all your fun while it’s day and avoid walking major city business districts at night.
If it’s necessary to go out at night, look for a reliable taxi and do not randomly patronize taxis on the streets. Ensure that you’re well-informed about any place you want to visit before visiting and travel with an updated map which is usually available at most gas stations.
You don’t want to get stranded in an unfamiliar environment so, make sure your ride is sufficiently fueled and mechanically healthy. Most importantly, park your ride in well-lit areas at night. Generally, walk like a South African, not like a visitor.
3. Most important always mind your business
This is the most important thing to note. Never try to be someone’s hero. Ignore whatever is happening in the streets like men and women being harassed by street boys, don’t try to settle any fight, don’t strive to ensure justice, and don’t open your door to let strangers in. This is one of the important things to keep in mind when touring South Africa.
Just ignore anybody unknown to you seeking your attention. If you really believe someone needs help, a better way to help without becoming the one who needs the help is to locate the nearest police joint and report the incident. So just mind your business.
4. Ignore making new friends
It doesn’t mean you do not socialize but always be mindful of how quickly you are fascinated by the people you meet. This is one of the important things to keep in mind when touring South Africa.
Over time, tricksters have proven to be interesting and charming characters. Let your safety be placed very much higher than making new friends on your social scale.
Avoid any person asking you to come along, or share at your dinner table or in your taxi. Try to be with your own group that has come to tour.
5. Wear decent clothes and do not show your luxuries
Be guaranteed that you will quickly run into trouble when you, in an egotistic manner, attempt to demonstrate that you’ve got lots of cash. Showing off will only attract criminals to you.
Avoid flashy and expensive watches or jewelry and do not carry large amounts of cash around. Guard your ATM cards.
Do not ask random strangers where to find an ATM and pay no mind to anybody soliciting your knowledge on how to use the money machine.
6. Don’t book tickets for Table Mountain too far in advance
Normally, you should book tickets for tours and sights well in advance however NOT for Table Mountain. There is no guarantee that the famous tablecloth will not appear on the mountain the day you plan to go or in fact for the weather to be rainy or stormy.
The best advice is to check the weather forecast up to a week in advance and book tickets as soon as clear skies are predicted. Don’t just turn up at the cableway on a clear day either as chances are tickets will have sold out!
7. Don’t be surprised when someone fills your car at the gas/petrol station
In South Africa, if you pull into a petrol station don’t be surprised if an attendant fills up your tank. This is normal and you will probably have the oil checked, types pumped and the windscreen and back window washed by another attendant while you wait.
With petrol attendants earning over R5,600 a month, tips, while not compulsory, are a way to supplement income. This is one of the important things to keep in mind when touring South Africa. If you are travelling from a country with a strong currency such as the US, Canada, Australia or Europe an R5-20 tip is acceptable.
Also, you may find that when you park there will be car minders who will take care of your car. Pay them a few Rand on your return. It is perfectly normal in South Africa and ensures your car is being looked after.
8. Don’t give money to beggars
Unfortunately, South Africa like many places in the world has a high level of poverty and you may see beggars approaching cars/pedestrians asking for money. In Cape Town alone there are nearly 5000 homeless people.
If you are approached by a beggar please do not hand over any cash as it is often used for drugs and alcohol. The most helpful options are to either give food or make a donation to homeless shelters such as ‘The Haven’ based in Cape Town.
Some other safety tips when visiting South Africa
Obviously, some places in South Africa are safer than others. Cape Town generally has a good reputation and to be honest as long as you take sensible precautions it is as safe or dangerous as any other major tourist destination in the world.
There are some areas I would avoid completely and as a tourist, these high-crime areas will probably not be on your itinerary.
These are the precautions you should take and you will never have any problems. These are some of the important things to keep in mind when touring South Africa.
1. Avoid wearing expensive jewellery or flaunting phones and other expensive electronic devices.
Leave the expensive jewellery at home. Don’t walk around with your mobile phone in your hand (particularly in the evenings) and take care of expensive equipment such as cameras.
2. Do not drive with your car doors unlocked.
Car hijackings are unfortunately all too common in some parts of South Africa. It is important to always keep your doors locked. Keep valuables out of sight and don’t leave anything in your car overnight.
3. Do not get help from strangers at ATMs.
Card swopping scams are huge in South Africa. Often in Cape Town tourists, in particular, are being caught out so pay attention when withdrawing cash.
4. Do not walk alone on beaches or hiking trails.
Better avoid walking along on beaches or hiking trails. Such scenarios are there in many places in the world and South Africa is no exception. Do not take unnecessary risks.
5. Don’t carry large sums of cash.
Don’t withdraw large amounts of cash from ATMs or carry it in your wallet. Credit cards are widely accepted all over South Africa so carry small amounts of cash only.
6. Don’t put valuables in your suitcases.
Keep all valuables in your hand luggage do not leave them in suitcases. Johannesburg airport in particular has a bad reputation for things going missing from cases.
7. Don’t forget to check with your doctor before you leave.
Don’t forget to check with your Doctor in case you need to take malaria tablets during your trip.
Parts of the country are in malaria zones particularly around Kruger Park so make sure you have the correct medication.
8. Do not drive on the right.
9. Do not feed the animals.
Don’t get out of your car in a national park. Don’t walk around with food in your hand near baboons. They will most probably try to snatch it and they can be extremely vicious.
Be very careful at Cape Point where I have seen baboons become very aggressive when trying to take food (including trying to get into cars).
If you sincerely follow these 8 important things, surely, you will have a problem-free tour of South Africa without any worries of any kind.