I lied. This isn’t a guide. It’s more like a rule book. A rule book for people who know nuts about South Africa but decided to take the plunge anyway. Let’s be real; I’m no travel expert. I’m just a travelling pretend-bunny. *shrugs*
Like anyone else who first steps foot on South Africa, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was however lucky to have my fantastic fiancé — who’s lived in South Africa before — with me throughout the trip, so I was much less anxious than I naturally would be.
From seeing penguins in Cape Town, to lions mating and a dead giraffe at the Kruger National Park though, my experience visiting the country exceeded my low expectations (as well-cautioned by my fiancé).
Fascinating animal sightings aside, I found its people to be friendly and helpful. While I did get the occasional eye; something I assume happens because you don’t see many Asians in South Africa, I didn’t chance upon anything too alarming.
Don’t get me wrong; South Africa can be dangerous. But with the right dose of sensibility, there’s a good chance of making it out alive. Here’s how you can.
1. Get the necessary jabs and prescriptions.
I’m quite the worrywart coward who believes in prevention being better than cure (if it can be prevented or cured at all).
There are recommended travel vaccines that pertain to South Africa, such as Yellow Fever and Typhoid. And if you’re visiting the Kruger, you’d also want to get yourself Malaria pills.
2. Don’t ask for trouble by driving or walking at night.
Unless you’re a teenage runaway or suspicious creep yourself, I don’t see why you’d be roaming the streets at night. Don’t go about inviting trouble. Carjacks and muggings happen especially in the dark. Duh.
I’ve also read about how some people would throw giant objects from an overhead bridge and onto your car on the highway. While I bear no witness to this, I’d be careful in general about which areas I’m driving by. Or walking around.
3. Keep your car doors locked at all times and valuables out of sight.
This point is essential. Car windows should be wound up and doors shut lock at all times when you’re driving in South Africa. Your valuables should be kept where they can’t be seen by passers-by — people will smash your car windows to get their hands on whatever is in sight (our safari guide highlighted this as well). We always kept our valuables locked in the car boot.
The same idea applies to accommodation. And whether you’re staying at The Four Seasons or a motel in the middle of nowhere, lock your doors and keep all valuables in a safe place.
4. Don’t be a fool and do anything you normally wouldn’t.
Keep your wits about you and don’t do anything foolish. If you’re acting like a Kardashian and flaunting your bling, or walking around with a pocket full of cash, you’re asking for it.
Behave sensibly as you would travelling anywhere else in the world.
The first visit to South Africa can be daunting when you read all the horror stories that lurk online, but really, the place isn’t as terrifying as it’s been made out to be. Don’t let hearsay deny you from experiencing the beauty of South Africa.
N.B. The above tips and precautions are dispensed based on my personal experience. I am by no means a travel expert or a fortune teller.