How to Stay Safe in Africa

Is Africa safe? The answer to this very general question is yes; as long as you keep your wits about you. Crime statistics give a very blurred image of what actually goes on in African countries. While many African countries struggle with an unfavourable reputation, the vast majority of tourists return home safely with fond memories of this beautiful continent. In fact they enjoy Africa so much that they return again and again.

Africa is one of the wildest and most beautiful continents. The adventurous traveller will find remote and beautiful landscapes, friendly people and challenges far beyond her comfort zone. On the other hand safari lodges offer some of the most luxurious holiday experiences to be found anywhere in the world. Africa can be anything from a real cliffhanger to a luxurious retreat for the body and the soul. It is your choice, how much adventure you engage in. Just be aware that travelling in Africa is not fool proof. However, is not nearly as unsafe as its reputation. If you are used to travelling in America or Europe, your first trip to Africa might be a bit of a shock. The rampant power of life, the pristine landscapes and colourful chaos will change your perspective. Africa is not necessarily the easiest place to travel, but if you are aware of the risks it is just as safe or unsafe as any other continent.

10 Tips for Safer Travel

The following travel tips are quite common sense measures to minimize risks and cushion your fall if anything does go wrong. Most people return from their travels without major problems, but if the soup does hit the fan, it is better to be prepared.

1. Photocopy Your Documents

This is just a safety precaution, but if your travel documents, banking cards, ID or other valuable documents disappear you will be thankful for going through this precautionary measure. Please also remember to separate the copies from the originals. Another great idea is to scan the documents and email them to yourself.

How not to do it

2. Separate Your Sources of Money

The reasoning is simple: if you separate your cash, credit cards, travellers cheques and whatever else you may have your chances of losing all of is decrease considerably. Also never carry more cash than you will need, but enough for emergencies.

3. Put Valuable Possessions in a Safe Place

This seems obvious, but with the amount of wallets that get stolen out of back pockets or open handbags it has to be mentioned. Keep cell phones, cameras, wallets where they aren’t easily accessible to passers-by.

4. Don’t Trust Strangers with Money

Strangers who ask you for banking details are most likely to be scammers. If anyone offers to help you draw money or demands you pin or banking details stay away.

5. Stick with the Crowds

This is not to say that you should always stay on the beaten track, but there is safety in numbers. If you are not sure where you are going it is safer to stay where other people can see you.

Gold Teeth (image by Steve Evans)

6. Minimize Displays of Wealth

It is very hard not to look like a tourist when you are one. Showing off your relative wealth, however, is something that can easily be avoided. Leave very expensive jewellery or watches at home and put your camera, cell phone or video camera away, when you are not using it. This way you will attract less attention from potential evildoers.

7. Help!

It is important to talk to locals for tips and advice. Just be weary if the stranger approaches you first. If strangers offer you help and are overly friendly they might just have ulterior motives.

Lifesaver (image by Adam Jones)

8. Rubber Up!

Sexually transmitted diseases are a huge problem in Southern Africa and HIV/Aids is not the only one. HIV is no longer just a problem of the poor, so if you find yourself getting friendly with a stranger use a condom or just keep your pants on.

9. Malaria

Whether or not you need malaria precautions will depend on the region that you are travelling in and the time of year during which you are visiting. The risk is higher during the warm and wet summer months. If you are travelling to a high risk area please consult a medical doctor.

10. Use Your Common Sense

The most important thing when travelling is to use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings. Do some research before you go, be aware of the risks but don’t be afraid to try something new. Travel is about discovering new things and leaving your comfort zone.

About Robert Rothe

Robert Rothe has written 5 post in this blog.

The Cape Town based German is a blogger and copywriter, who loves to surf, run, cycle, hike and explore Southern Africa.

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