Sometimes it’s just hard to describe what it is really like in South Africa. People hear all kinds of stories about getting robbed, charged by elephants and eaten by lions. Fortunately, these things are extreme cases and can be avoided if you use common sense and take the necessary precautions. Eco-tourists don’t want to be hanging around cities and tend to head straight for the game parks anyways but sometimes airline schedules can force an overnight stay in Johannesburg. You also need to follow a few simple health precautions. Most people will have safe and enjoyable visits to South Africa, here’s a few tips to help you do the same.
IS IT SAFE TO GO?
Government advisories are a good place to start when determining what dangers you need to avoid. Here’s a list of the English speaking ones. I do read them but I consider them to err on the side of caution so I like to get recent experiences from people who are actually traveling in South Africa on forums such as Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree. I personally would never go out at night in any city but I am not a nightlife kind of person anyway. Just use common sense, have your hotel point out where you can walk safely and where you can’t. Keep your possessions locked in the the trunk of your car out of sight. If you do get robbed, don’t argue, just give them what they want, but best to avoid putting yourself in a situation where you could be robbed.
Better yet, just get out of the city asap and get into the parks!
SAFETY ON SAFARI
SANPARKS has very strict rules and regulation to protect both you and the animals. This video has no sound but it’s easy to understand.
WHAT NOT TO DO ON A SAFARI!
STAYING HEALTHY IN SOUTH AFRICA
The CDC has some great advice.
Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need. You may need a yellow fever shot to show other border officials if you have any African stamps in your passport. Malaria is present in some South African parks. We didn’t encounter a lot of mosquitoes while we were there but we did have the mozzie spray on hand and we took Doxycycline for malaria protection. Thankfully as of this writing, South Africa is free of Ebola.
Since I don’t shoot video, I’ll leave you with this video from a man on YouTube who shows what a typical day on safari is really like.