21 Handy Health and Safety Travel Tips – Cape Town & South Africa

21 Handy Health and Safety Travel Tips – Cape Town & South Africa

Crime statistics are vastly different from area to area in South Africa. You can access the numbers on-line by going to the South African Police Services (SAPS) website and having a look at their reports. Certain areas are no-go zones; some are only bad at night, while other areas are perfectly safe to walk around at night.

Most governments and authorities say South Africa is a safe destination with few complications – provided you observe the basic safety recommendations. Most of these safety tips would apply to any destination. The areas that tourists tend to visit in Cape Town are on a par with London or Paris with regard to personal safety.

Here are 21 basic health and safety tips for Cape Town and South Africa.

1.Do not carry and wear excessive amounts of high value items or openly flaunt valuables in your car or on your person. Keep them in the safe at your hotel or guesthouse.

2. Do not talk to strangers, hitch hikers or allow beggars to accost you. Avoid eye contact and ignore street people. They will leave you alone if you walk on, or if you drive past them. Keep car windows closed and doors locked if there are people milling about at traffic intersections.

3. Don’t go up a mountain without a guide or unprepared and always let someone know if you intend climbing a mountain. Weather can turn in under an hour and thick mist can make it impossible to see your way down. There have been muggings on the mountains.

4. Don’t think wild animals are cute. Baboons can get violent and lurch at your car to access food. Hippos and elephants have been known to charge and flatten people.

5. Malaria kills hundreds of people in Africa every year. You don’t have to swallow drugs but do take precautions. Artemesia, an herbal supplement, is an alternative to drugs. You can also rub citronella oil on exposed skin and wear light clothing to cover exposed body parts.

Relaxing on the banks of the Orange River

  Some say the quinine from gin also helps keep the mozzies away. Others say mosquitoes favour people with a sweet tooth and high blood sugar. Skip dessert in high-risk areas.

6. Mini bus taxis might be an affordable form of transport and the choice of most locals, but think twice. They have the highest number of vehicle accidents and are not worth the risk.

7. On the subject of mini bus taxis. They are known in South Africa as “one more” buses, because no matter how full they are, there is always room for one more. By using public transport such as mini bus taxis and some of the trains where people are packed in like sardines, you are also at risk of contracting tuberculosis.
  TB rates in South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape, are high. You only need to be next to someone with TB who coughs or sneezes to become infected.

Canoes waiting to go river rafting on the Orange River

8. Pedestrians are unpredictable on South African roads and more pedestrians die on South African roads than any other category in South Africa, including mini bus taxis.

9. Avoid darkly lit or quiet places at night. That should be obvious, but for some reason, people still stroll through parks alone after midnight.

10. If you are unsure about an area, ask your guesthouse or hotel first, before venturing there.

11. Make sure you wear full factor sunscreen and even better a sun hat as well. South Africa has high rates of skin cancer. Fair skins and skins that are not used to sun are the most at risk.

12. Packing your valuables like jewelry, cameras, cell phones, net book or note book into your main suitcase is not a good idea. Certain airports in South Africa have a reputation for insiders who work together once your bags leave your hands.

Stopping to enjoy ice cold watermelon on the Orange River

   The X-ray staff inform the handlers who help themselves to your possessions. Keep those items on you in your hand luggage and don’t leave any handbags or hand luggage unattended. In Africa, if it’s lying around, it’s up for grabs. Always lock your suitcases.

13. Unprotected sex with a stranger is not a good idea. Sub Saharan Africa has the highest HIV infection rates in the world. And there is always the Hepatitis family that you might be exposed to. No glove, no love.

14. Think twice about swimming in a river. Especially water used by rural settlements. Cholera and Bilharzia do occur in South Africa. And definitely don’t drink water in rural areas, unless you know it is safe.

15. Make sure there is a lifeguard present when you swim in the sea. Some beaches have strong back-currents and even good swimmers can struggle to make their way to the shore.

16. Patting pets can sometimes be a bad idea. Every now and again it happens that a domestic animal is infected with rabies.

17. Street kids might seem sad and you may want to reach out to them. Don’t! They are skilled pickpockets and crime is how they survive. You can make a much bigger difference by donating money to a charity that educates and rehabilitates them, than by appeasing your discomfort and giving money. That money only goes toward gang leaders or drugs and the kids do not benefit one iota. That’s not all; by giving beggars money, you teach them that begging is a lucrative way to survive. There is no dignity in grovelling for money on the streets.

Claiming a space to sleep for the night – under the stars

18. There are illegal moneychangers who promise great exchange rates. They take your money and you wait. And you wait. And you wait. They never come back. Change money the way you are supposed to. With a reputable agent or bank.

19. It should be obvious that drug dealers are criminals and if you are inclined to recreational drug use, just know that you are making yourself very vulnerable and exposing yourself to criminals. You can’t cry if you get done in. Likewise, prostitutes are often drug addicts and desperate. They will look for a chance to grab your money and run. Happens anywhere in the world and it happens in South Africa too.

20. Keep an eye on your credit card if you are using one. Watch it from the time it leaves your hand until it comes back to you. There have been instances of credit card skimming in South Africa.

21. Finally, if it sounds too good to be true. It is. There are foreigners operating in South Africa who run advance fee fraud or 419 scams. They promise amazing stuff and all you have to do is advance some of the money up front. With hindsight most people who get caught realise that it should have been obvious that they were being done in. If you are on holiday, relax and have fun. Forget wheeling and dealing and you wont get caught off guard.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

20 Best Travel Tips – Cape Town

20 Best Travel Tips – Cape Town

1.Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate. Hot in summer and wet in winter. Average summer temperatures are around 20’C and winter temperatures average around 15’C. Daytime temperatures are warm to hot. Winter rainfall is around nine days a month. Summer days are usually dry.
2. Tipping is expected. A tip of 10% on the total bill is customary. If a 10% “service charge” is added to the bill for a party of six or more, then an additional tip is not required. We once had a “service charge” added to a light breakfast for two at a well known vegetarian eatery in Long Street. That was really cheeky. Keep an eye open for this “service charge” so you don’t end up double tipping.
3. The five traditional MUST SEES are Table Mountain; Robben Island and the V and A Waterfront; Cape Point and Chapman’s Peak Drive; The Winelands and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Camps Bay Beach, Cape Town

4. Since everyone is trying to see the same attractions they do get crowded. You can buy a ticket in advance from – Webtickets to avoid queuing up on the day.
5. Table Mountain and Robben Island are weather dependant attractions so make sure you get them done early in your stay in case you have to come back due to bad weather.
6. The MiCiti bus from the airport to town is an absolute bargain at just over R50 a head. It takes you to the Civic Centre in the heart of Cape Town. From there you can catch either a train, another bus or a taxi to your accommodation. MiCiti are also worth considering for getting about Cape Town. A trip from the city to Blouberg costs around R10 and covers more or less 20 kilometres.
7. I recommend Rikkis taxis for getting about. They are London style cabs. You can ride a “share cab” from one end of the city to the other for approximately R40. Find them on-line at Rikki Or you can phone them at 0861 745 547.
8. Search through this Cape Town oriented travel blog for loads of ideas about where to go and what to do. There are photos accompanying each post. Fancy a train ride to Simonstown right alongside the sea; or a bike ride to Blouberg passing Milnerton lighthouse and Flamingo Vlei? It’s all there in older posts.
9. While most locals use mini bus taxis, and they are without doubt the most cost effective way to get around, I don’t recommend them. They are inclined to be a law unto themselves and have the highest stats when it comes to vehicle accidents. They should definitely be avoided at night.
10. Hiring a car is easy in South Africa and most airports have the usual companies well represented. Do be aware that is illegal to park on a yellow or red line anywhere in South Africa. It is also an offence to park on a pavement or facing oncoming traffic. You must park facing the direction you were driving. South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road. Roads in South Africa, particularly in the urban areas are good. Be aware that some regions have an abundance of toll roads.

Milnerton Beach, Cape Town

11. Although South Africans have not done enough to counteract driving under the influence of alcohol, authorities are committed to cracking down hard. Roadblocks are becoming more and more common. Stop and searches for drugs are increasing. Just say no.
12. The sale of alcohol is forbidden on Sundays in South Africa. It is possible to find the odd place with a special alcohol license if you are stuck on a Sunday. Ask around. And you can’t buy beer or spirits in supermarkets. Only wine.
13. Tap water is perfectly safe to drink in the major cities in South Africa. Avoid drinking water in rural areas, unless you know that it is safe.
14. Not all petrol vendors accept credit cards. They have only recently been introduced and some places have catching up to do.
15. It’s illegal to consume alcohol on the beach or public places. But, you can take a basket of snacks and a bottle of wine up Table Mountain or to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. I can’t explain this discrepancy.
16. People forget or don’t realise that South Africa has 50 million people. Cape Town alone has close on 4 million people. We get asked if our guesthouse is close to the beach or the mountain. There are lots of beaches and mountains in Cape Town. I suggest that people allow at least 3 – 5 days in Cape Town. It’s best to be centrally located as most of the attractions are in and around the city.

Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town

17. South Africa has self-appointed car guards all over the place who “guard” your car. Some of these people are desperate refugees from Africa with no status in South Africa. Being a guard is the only source of income for them. Others are common criminals or drunkards who wouldn’t be able to tell a car from a rock. Do you tip them? It’s your call. If they can stand on their feet and speak coherently, I tip. If not, I don’t.
18. Cape Town has some excellent Blue Flag beaches but the seawater is cold. The Indian Ocean is warmer and is on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula. Muizenberg and Gordon’s Bay will have warmer sea. On the Camps Bay side of the peninsula is the Atlantic Ocean and it is definitely cold.
19. The standard of accommodation and restaurants in South Africa is generally high and usually great value. You should find South Africans are a friendly and helpful nation. You can expect good service.
20. Cape Town International Airport is approximately a 20 to 30 minute ride from the city centre. If you are driving, make sure you budget extra time during peak hour traffic. The N2 highway to the airport can get very congested and traffic stands still.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Travel tips for tourists

Travel tips for tourists

Bainskloof Pass

My Internet Service Provider – Mweb, and ADSL Provider – Telkom, let me down badly. I have been without access to the Internet for longer than I think is fair or reasonable. Nine days.
I am back up for now and will do a quick post linking you to some travel tips. There are 20 tips for visitors to Cape Town, 20 health and safety tips with regard to a stay in South Africa, 20 money saving tips and 20 travel packing tips.
For the tourist tips follow this link – Travel tips
I hope my service providers don’t drop me again so I can complete the last two posts on the Southern African camping trip I did.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Budget local airlines, flying and travel tips

Budget local airlines, flying and travel tips

Cape Point

South Africa has a couple of budget internal airlines you may not have heard of before. They have some really good specials so before you rush to use SAA or BA to get about South Africa, you should have a look at these local airlines.

First place to look for bargain flights is Mango.
The next airline we look to for specials is 1time Airline.

And the other handy and well priced local airline is Kulula.

I forget which one of them, but one of these budget airlines has a habit of making funny announcements. If you are the sort who has heard them a million times and ignore them, you may miss some unique safety announcements.

Of course you forgo your usual complementary airline meal and drink but I prefer to have something at the airport before the flight. They do sell basic food and snacks on the flight. Here are some hopefully helpful tips for long haul travelers. I am vegetarian and always book a special meal. I get my meal way before everyone else. The only thing I always do is confirm my meal when I book on-line. When I am seated on the plane I check again that my meal has been ordered. The special meal shows up with the other details on your print-out which you can show the flight attendant of there is any confusion. The reason I make extra sure they know I am expecting a vegetarian meal? Once I was told I hadn’t booked it when I knew I had and was left to go hungry. And that’s not all, someone who did not book a veg meal asked for one and when they got to me – my veg meal was gone!!!

Another I hope useful tip, is that I check in on-line as the bookings open 24 hours before. Some airlines charge to let you book earlier. Some let you choose your seat when you buy your ticket. But for most you can only check in 24 hours before. I bag myself a seat near the front so I get served and get off before the rest of the folk on the plane. And I prefer an aisle seat so I can move about without disrupting people. The best seats are those near the emergency exits. There you have extra leg room but you gotta be fast for them.

Bon voyage!

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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