South Africa has a rich history, uniquely beautiful landscapes and a population of vibrant and diverse people. The sheer natural beauty and the warm welcome given to visitors will make you feel deeply connected when you visit. That said, the country has at times suffered from some negative perceptions. Here are some of the most common worries as put to us by our travellers and the reality of what you’ll experience.
MYTH #1: Language is a barrier
South Africa has 11 official languages, leading some travellers to believe that English is not widely spoken. This couldn’t be further from the truth, with the vast majority of locals speaking English as a first, second or third language. Coupled with the fact that South Africans are known for being very friendly and helpful, you’ll have no problem making your way around.
MYTH #2: It is unsafe
It’s no secret that South Africa has received some bad press with regards to safety over the years, but the reality is that there is some degree of risk wherever you are in the world, especially in larger cities. Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg do have crime, but the government and tourism industry work very hard to ensure that visitors feel safe and secure. Most places frequented by tourists are considered safe, however it’s important to be clued up beforehand on which places/areas to avoid, as you would when travelling anywhere else.
Here are some safety tips for travelling to SA that you may find useful:
- When out and about try and blend in as much as possible – looking obviously like a tourist can make you an easy target. Walk around confidently and keep typically touristy items out of sight (ie: camera, money belt etc…)
- Keep luggage locked at all times.
- Plan your routes as much as possible to minimise the chances of getting lost and finding yourself in unsavoury areas.
- Try as much as possible to travel with people, particular when hiking or walking in remote regions – safety in numbers is a real thing. Don’t walk around on your own after dark in places that you don’t know.
- Avoid exploring with excessive cash and your passport. Rather leave these safely locked away in your hotel.
- Consult your hotel when it comes to using transport – the concierge will recommend reliable companies.
- Carry emergency numbers with you in case you need to use them.
MYTH #3: There’s a health risk
First time African travellers often worry about the weird and not so wonderful germs they may pick up while on their trip, especially in the more remote regions. Malaria is a risk in the Kruger National Park and some other game reserves, but can easily be prevented with the right medication. Immaculate private hospitals operate alongside government ones and provide excellent medical assistance that is readily accessible. Be sure to be up to date with all your vaccinations before travelling – chat to your travel clinic or family doctor.
MYTH #4: It’s expensive
Compared to other top international destinations, South Africa is actually very affordable. With the generally weakened Rand foreign currencies such as Sterling, Euros and Dollars go far, and because most accommodation, restaurants and activities are well priced, you’ll get to enjoy an amazing holiday within your budget. Timing is everything: the more in advance you book, the better the prices. Not only will we tailor your itinerary to suit your budget, but we’ll also give you accommodation options that we have personally visited and recommend, so we know that you’re getting real value for money.
MYTH #5: It’s all just safari and beach
South Africa is known across the world for its incredible safari destinations, plentiful wildlife and beautiful beaches, but there is so much to to this diverse country. From hiking trails to suit every fitness level to museums and heritage attractions, shopping, culinary adventures at gourmet restaurants, world-class wine, botanical gardens and the quirkiest road trip routes, there is so much on offer here that you’ll need several trips to really see it all. We have options for first time travellers, return travellers and our friends who love it here so much that they come back every year, each time wanting to see something new. We’ve got you covered.