Safety In South Africa

Last Updated on September 5, 2015

South Africa is a beautiful place. Before we had left, many people raised concerns about the safety level in Africa, including their unsure feelings about us renting a car and driving the Garden Route. “I heard that you have to keep your doors locked at all times and don’t wind down your window!” was the most common statement.

Although South Africa is in many respects a developed country, much of its population, especially in rural areas, lives in poverty. Driving along the Garden Route in South Africa you can easily see how fast the poverty level changes.

Do animals roam free around South Africa?

For the most part, Africa’s wildlife is confined to national parks and reserves. You might see a cow walking down the road or a baboon on the side of the road, but that is about it. What you will not find on the side of the road are elephants, giraffes, or lions, to name a few.

Is there a lot of crime in South Africa?

Yes, but there is crime in any country you visit. It is how you use your common sense that will reflect the outcome of any negative events that could happen, or that you find happening.

We just returned from three weeks in South Africa and felt perfectly safe.


We only had one instance where we felt something was wrong. Darcy was ordering food and I went to take a seat. A man entered and started talking to Darcy in very broken English about something to do with an ATM machine. Darcy automatically put his hands in his pockets to block the guy from getting in his pockets.

I (Debbie) did not have any valuables on me at all and from a distance could see what was going on. I got up and walked over to the guy bothering Darcy and asked him what he wanted. As soon as I approached, the guy gave up and left the restaurant. One of the workers came over to me after and said it was a good thing I walked up as he was then outnumbered and that he is one of the regulars in the area who is known to rob people.


We did of course take several precautions. Here are many things to think about before taking a trip to South Africa:

  • Do not flaunt your jewelry and cameras.
  • It’s not a good idea to walk around alone at night.
  • Do not carry around large amounts of cash.
  • When driving a car, keeping your windows shut and doors locked at traffic lights (“robots”).
  • Don’t stop for strangers or people who have broken down.
  • A blue light does not necessarily mean they are police.
  • If carjacked, do not offer resistance.
  • To avoid being a target, dress conservatively.
  • Pack an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport information page to make replacement of your passport easier in the event it is lost or stolen.
  • Be aware of whether any vehicle or people are following you.
  • Avoid isolated beaches.
  • Plan your route beforehand.
  • Pay attention to signs and rules. For example, if you’re in a game park and are told to not get out of your car – DO NOT GET OUT. Rules are there for a reason.
  • Perhaps the most important pre-trip safety idea is to learn about South Africa before you arrive. If you are staying at hotels or planning to go to some attractions, it also would not hurt to email the hotel or companies you are planning on booking with and asking for advice to prepare for your stay.


Don’t let the above tips frighten you and deter you from visiting South Africa.  Be sensible and aware at all times and your trip to South Africa should be most enjoyable!


Did we miss any safety tips?