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Safety question again - Unable to decide to go or not to go

edited March 2010 in - Southern Africa

I love to see SA especially cape town and then go for couple of days to a safari near eastern cape but unable to decide due to crime/safety stories which I have heard/or read.

Private Safari’s are gated, so in terms of crime we have a little to worry about – That’s fine with us.

I don’t drive and neither I am for the Bus Baz/or the Hop-on Bus. So which leaves me with just one option i.e to go in for a escorted/guided tour.

I have been recommended a company which specializes in guided/escorted tours. But, my question is how will a single guide protect the family (in my case 5, 2 adults + 3 children) should we become victim of crime.

Let’s say, carjacking. Do the tour guides also carry weapons with them ?

I am sure the guy will know which areas to avoid etc etc but is he going to be around with the party from 9-5 ?

So please help me decide as I am not able to understand how engaging a tour guide will reduce the risks of crime .

Thanks all in advance.


  • edited 2:13PM
    Hi DeeBee
    South Africa has received a lot of negative press with regards to crime, especially ahead of the World Cup soccer. Crime does exist in South Africa, as it does in many countries around the world. We are also a developing country with a large poverty stricken population and this does encourage theft etc. You also need to bear in mind that crime levels are higher in certain areas, mostly the poorer regions of South Africa. You mentioned that you would be going to Cape Town, and the Eastern Cape. If you are on a guided tour, you may even travel down the Garden Route. These are safe areas of South Africa, and enormously popular for families travelling to the country. Many people self-drive down the Garden Route stopping off at the towns along the way. As an agent, I often have families doing this without any incident. And, I encourage them to self-drive, as there is so much to see and do on the way.

    The tour guide wouldn't be available 24/7, but will guide you along the way. They will only take you to the safe areas of South Africa. Tour guides do not carry weapons, and there is no need for them to do so. The only time you may encounter a firearm is on safari, as many rangers carry these for safety from wild animals. On all my time on safari, I have never once seen a rifle used.

    As a visitor to our country, it's important to remember that there are poorer people here. Things like cameras, cell phones and bags attract attention as it is a sign of wealth. You should try to carry only a few valuables with you, and always know where your belongings are at all times. As with any city in the world, there are good areas and not-so-good areas. As a local, you know not to go there. The same applies with South Africa - stick to the main tourist areas. If you feel like you've gone down the wrong street and it looks a little dodgy. Double back and ask a local where it's better to walk. I live and work in Cape Town City centre, and feel very comfortable walking in the city... many Capetonians do.

    I hope this helps to put aside your concerns. As a parent, I can appreciate your need to keep your family safe on holiday. The areas you have mentioned are incredibly family friendly, and I have had many families from England, America, Sweden, Australia, Spain, Brazil and Belgium travel these areas. Do not let the negative stories put you off an incredible family adventure.
  • edited 2:13PM
    Hi Deebee

    Its shame it has to get to this level of concern based on media exposure. The only time in my life (am wrong side of 50) that I have been robbed was outside a bar in Lisbon, Portugal where I was pickpocketed in broad daylight in front of a group of friends. I will go back to Portugal one day and certainly without a police escort. No established tour operator in SA would leave you to your own devices in a high risk zone. If you do the trip, you will wonder what the fuss was about. The greater risk of crime are for local residents (housebreaking and car hijacks) and not for tourists as hotels and surrounds already have adequate protection (and your hire car is likely to be less attractive to them anyway) - if visitors do not do obvious "please rob me" antics. This means stick to busy popular areas and do not drive alone longer distances alone. Once you are there - these choices will be logical. Drive to nearby destinations rather than walk if the walk would include secluded areas. Do not go to secluded banking machines at night to draw cash or flash wads of cash in public. This does not mean either that you should barricade yourself in the hotel at night. Speak to the hotel and ask for recommendations for local venues at night for alternate dinners etc. Spend your efforts on planning your trip and what you would like to experience rather than the negatives - you will be fine.
  • edited 2:13PM
    I would like to second what Kate and BrianB have eloquently said above: the risk of crime is highly overstated in the foreign press because of mostly lazy and sensationalistic journalism. Basic precautions will reduce your crime risk by 90%, thereby placing you at the same level of risk in your home town. I would say your biggest realistic danger in Sout Africa is road accidents so ensure you have a good driver rather than a guide with extensive weaponry!
  • edited 2:13PM
    Wow - thanks guys for that update. You have certainly helped put my mind at ease.

    Yup - I think I have finally made up mind to ago ahead with the plan. Safari is something which I had in mind for a very very long time. Finally, I can see it coming through.

    Kate, I am also considering your idea of doing the Garden route. Thanks, for the suggestion.

    If I could only drive …… things would be much easier I guess …

    Thanks once again folks for the feedback – Really appreciate it.

  • edited 2:13PM
    DeeBee, another thing: do a search for South Africa on this forum - there are lots of posts with South Africa itineraries and various questions and answers. And please check out our full South Africa guide with links to all the cities:
  • edited 2:13PM
    Hey, the press has really over-stated. I'm one of many South African's that is more than willing to accomodate a big family. I have a 5 bedroom home with ensuites, lounge, dinning area, etc. If you could drive, I would even give you my car. I mean, what the worse u could do to it. Unfortunetly, I live in KZN which is about 900km's from where you are landing, but the Garden route could land you up here & God know. Just keep me email, in case [email protected]

    Safe travelling
  • edited May 2010
    We go to Cape Town every year, but with similar family fears stay mostly away from the centre of town. The prettiest spots on down on the Southern Peninsula anyway, and the tourist elements near the harbour we normally do as a day excusion into town. Then for the rest of your time, you can peacefully relax in safety by the warmer beaches.
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