Tips for Women Travellers in South Africa
Whether travelling alone or in a group, personal safety features high on women’s lists of concerns. And although South Africa, on the whole, requires less of an adjustment from “Western” women travellers than other parts of the continent – the mix of cultural influences here ensures a great degree of tolerance for all types of women’s lifestyles – there are some travel guidelines to bear in mind.
SA Blog’s Tips for Women Travellers:
- Personal safety: we don’t mean to be alarmist, but it’s important to know that there is considerable crime in South African cities, especially theft and muggings, and it’s always safer to travel with someone else. Don’t “look like a tourist” – keep your camera packed away until you want to use it; don’t wear valuable jewellry; enter a shop before consulting a map; and don’t open your purse or bag on the street. Go out at night in groups. Odds are that you won’t have an unpleasant experience, and keeping in a group works very much in your favor.
- Planning to travel alone? Find a travel buddy at your destination on the BootsnAll Travel Forums.
- Sexual harassment and rape are all too common in South Africa, especially the former. Ignore the pettier kinds of behavior (whistling, shouting, etc.), but make a scene if your personal space is invaded. At nightclubs and bars, don’t let your drink out of your sight. Avoid being alone with unfamiliar men. If you are raped, contact Rape Crisis (national hotline: +27 (0) 21 447 1467; based in Cape Town, with referral services in other parts of the country), which will provide counselling and assist you with the police.
- Tampons, medicines and the Pill are available in familiar brands and prescriptions, but it’s more convenient to bring supplies from home. If you’re on the Pill, bring enough to last your entire trip (and remember that severe vomiting or diaorrhea can render it ineffective).
- Health care and pregnancy: Private healthcare in South Africa is very good; if you find you’re pregnant during your trip, go to a nearby private doctor or hospital for advice.
- Travelling in the rest of Africa: See Anouk Zijlma’s Africa travel blog, for especially useful advice on Egypt and Morocco.