High degree of caution
17 May 2019 | Read more
From the breathtaking mountain vistas and wildlife encounters on safari to the sun-soaked coasts, South Africa is an incredible place to visit. While things like crime and malaria can be common, take reasonable precautions and South Africa is perfectly safe, whether you are travelling alone, with friends or as a family.
Find out what you can do to ensure your trip is a success and how travel insurance can come in handy if you do encounter some problems.
If you're planning any adventurous activities like diving with sharks and bungee jumping or considering getting into the local street food make sure you have emergency medical expenses in your travel insurance.
South Africa is an exciting, vibrant and dynamic country but it also has socio-economic problems, which have left the country with a high crime rate. The good news is South Africa is safe if you are sensible, do your homework and go prepared.
Most areas that tourists venture to are safe and the likelihood of a tourist becoming a victim of violent crime in South Africa is low. South Africa overall has a travel advisory with a recommendation to exercise a high degree of caution due to the level of serious crime.
Robberies are often reported on roads and at shopping centres and for the most part, public transport should be avoided. Crime rates are higher after dark, particularly in major city centres, isolated beaches, lookouts and township areas. ATM scams also occur and it's important to avoid using ATMs that open onto a street. Find a bank if possible and keep your withdrawals to a minimum.
Whether you're travelling to a higher risk country, or even when domestically, we will always recommend taking out travel insurance suited for your trip. In South Africa, you can really benefit from the following features of a policy; emergency medical expenses, cover for luggage and personal effect, cover for your travel documents (including passport and credit cards), theft of cash and hijacking. Compare your options with us below.
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South African food is at the same high standard you'd expect at home and the country is actually one of the world's biggest wine-producing countries. Follow the same health precautions that you do at home and you should avoid any nasty illnesses.
A few things you can do to avoid an upset stomach in South Africa:
Tap water in major towns and cities is generally safe to drink but it's a good idea to check with locals before drinking. Bottled water can be found everywhere so there is no need to bring water purification tablets.
The short answer is yes. You'll find many solo travellers, solo female travellers among them, having a blast in South Africa.
You will still need to take some precautions to make sure you're not taking any risks:
One of the biggest concerns for pregnant women travelling to South Africa is malaria. Malaria can be more severe during pregnancy and you might be limited from taking certain medications to prevent it.
If you are pregnant, you should avoid travel to any at-risk areas and make sure you talk to your doctor about your medical options regarding vaccinations.
Travel insurance is also important to get before you travel. However, your policy will only provide you with cover if you're not travelling against the advice of your doctor and you're not past its limit for maximum weeks pregnant, which can range from 18 to 36 weeks.
It's a good idea to speak with a doctor about travel vaccinations and make sure routine vaccinations are up to date before travelling to South Africa.
Smartraveller.gov.au and a doctor can advise the risks of any other diseases/viruses, which can include:
Malaria is not found in all parts of South Africa but is endemic in some popular travel spots, like Kruger National Park and the Panorama Route.
Keep in mind that travel insurance may not cover you if you do not get the recommended vaccines and fall ill while abroad, which could leave you with some expensive medical bills.
Driving in South Africa is usually pretty safe, though the following tips and precautions will help ensure your trip runs smoothly.
Uber, Taxify and other driving apps offer a low-cost way of getting around major cities. Not all local cabs use meters, so be sure to negotiate a price before you jump in to avoid getting ripped off. The Gautrain in Johannesburg is a safe way to get to the north of the city from the airport but other than this, Uber is the safest and most-affordable way to get around the city.
You might spot locals using a minibus taxi in the form of a Toyota minibus. While certainly an option for the intrepid traveller, it is not usually a recommended form of travel due to the fact that there are no official routes or timetables, no space for luggage and accidents are common.
Local public transport can be complicated for first-time visitors and is best avoided, though Cape Town is an exception.
Flying with one of the local air carriers can also be a quick and affordable option to get from one city to another. Mango, Kulula, British Airways and Safair are the most highly recommended.
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