Africa Travel & Safety Tips
Africa is no more unsafe to travel in than most other continents around the globe and even though one might never encounter any problems, it is better to be on the safe side whenever you travel to a new destination.
Here are some helpful tips...
- Do not leave your luggage unattendedand keep it within sight.
- Try and avoid counting money in public.
- Southern Africa has well conditioned roads in most areas, but keep to the road signs and try not to take short cuts or lengthy detours.
- Plan your route for each day's travel the night before and leave an itineraryof such travel with someone at your hotel or lodge. Check back in with that person upon returning or when you arrive at your next destination.
- At night....stay within well lit areas and avoid following someone whom you don't know, anywhere, for any reason.
- Wallets & Cell phones should be carried on person and preferrably not in a bag.
- Try and avoid wearing excessive jewellery in public and not carrying too many cameras & electronics around.
- Be aware of where you leave purses or bags.... Do not hang them from the back of chairs, under tables, on hooks in restrooms .
- In South Africa - most of the National Roads (Interstates) are clearly marked on maps with a capitol "N" and in some cases are also Toll Roads, which are considered to be safer to travel by. Try to do all your driving in the daytime and spend evenings at your lodge, hotel or in well lit public places.
Do's and Don'ts
Do spend some time reading up and learning about the countries you plan to visit - you will get a far better reception if you take an interest in the people, respect their culture, learn their social etiquettes and at least the basics of the local language. A simple "hello", "please" or "thank you" goes a long way.
Do respect for local cultures, traditions and holy places and always dress modestly.
Do burn all toilet paper, if using "bush toilets"
Do use water sparingly - it is precious in many countries and the local people may not have sufficient clean water
Do be prepared for "tourist touts"—young men who hustle up business for safari companies and other local businesses. They are usually very personable but very persistent.
Do be careful with your belongings particularly in crowded areas
Do keep a watch out for fake police officers who want to see your ID; ask for their ID;if you are unsure offer to walk with them to the police station, never get into their car!
Do watch out for thieves among other travellers, they're often worse than the locals are!
Do help the local economy of developing countries by buying local produce in preference to imported goods.
Do help the small local subsidence farmer by purchasing from markets street and road sides stalls where possible.
Don't discard litter randomly, dispose of it in a proper place. Waste disposal is a major expense in poorer countries
Don't become so worried about crime that you forget to enjoy your holiday. It's easy to fall into the habit of worrying so much that the real pleasures of the country and its inhabitants pass you by.
Don't be afraid to ask about security when making hotel reservations and when checking into your hotel.
Don't display your wealth, don't wear ANY jewellery to poorer countries or areas with a high crime rate, wear a cheap watch.
Don't walk around waving a map around - if you get lost go into a shop and take the map out inside.
Don't be surprised if water and electricity are unavailable from time to time.
Don't be surprised if things don't happen as quickly or as efficiently as they do at home.
Don't ever take a package, jacket, gift or whatever from somebody, and especially never transport other people's belongings for them, even if they are very nice.
When visiting or staying in the animals' habitat, remember these rules:
Always sleep in your tent or vehicle. Make sure your tent zips up completely.
Do not sleep with legs or arms protruding from the tent.
Carry away or burn all rubbish. Many areas do not have rubbish disposal facilities.
Cigarette butts should be well extinguished and placed in a rubbish bag, not thrown out.
Make sure the campfire is well extinguished at the end of the evening, and cover it with sand.
Bury all fecal matter and burn all toilet paper.
In most parks and reserves you should camp in designated camping areas where basic amenities are provided. Outside the parks, reserves and wildlife management areas, you are free to camp anywhere you like.
Do not sleep on bridges or animal paths, particularly those of elephant or hippo.
Do not bathe in or drink from still bodies of water, as there is the danger of bilharzias.
It is tempting to dive into a lagoon or stream, especially after a hot, dusty drive. This is forbidden. Not to mention there is the obvious danger of crocodiles or hippo.
Do not go near the water at night. If you want to wash or refresh yourself it is best to go to the water with another person. Have him or her stand near you and be on the lookout while you wash. Watch out for eyes or nostrils protruding from the water.
Be wary of animals with young. Never feed the animals or try to touch them. The feeding of monkeys, baboons and mongoose at various campsites has led to these animals' atrocious, and at times aggressive, harassing behavior.
Do not stray far from the campsite or walk in the bush, unless you are accompanying an experienced guide.