Safety Advice

South Africa Info Safety Advice


It is recommended that you:

  • Never Leave your luggage unattended.
  • Store Valuables in your hotel's safety deposit box.
  • Keep your room locked at all times.
  • Hand in your room keys or cards whenever you leave your hotel.


It is recommended that you:

  • Use registered, qualified tour guides.
  • Don't leave handbags under tables, on the backs of chairs or on restroom hooks.
  • Travel in groups, especially if you are visiting a nightclub, bar or shebeen you haven't been to before.
  • Don't make use of train services at night, if at all possible.


It is recommended that you:

  • Travel with certified copies of your valuable documents, and keep originals in a safe place.
  • Countersign no more than half your travellers' cheques.
  • Separate your cash and credit cards, and don't carry all your cash/ travellers' cheques with you during the day.
  • Rather store half of them in your hotel room safe.
  • Don't allow strangers to assist you wit ATM transactions. If your card gets stuck, immediately call that ATM'S helpline number.
  • Be alert, and never turn your back while your ATM card is in the machine.
  • Report lost passports and visas, without delay, to the South African Police Services (SAPS).Your country's embassy or consulate can be contacted through the Tourist Victim Support Programme.


It is recommended that you:

  • Do not walk alone. Always ensure that you are in a group of at least 4 people.
  • Take your mobile phone with the emergency number punched in. Ensure it is Hidden.
  • Always let someone know which route you will take and how long you will be.
  • If you get lost, stay where you are.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Always take rain gear and a jersey.
  • Take water, sunblock, wear a hat and take a snack.
  • Maps: these are available in leading book stores and from TMNP offices.
  • If you are confronted by a criminal don't resist - handover your goods.


It is recommended that you:

  • Always swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard.
  • Never Swim Alone.
  • Don't dive into unfamiliar waters-what may seem deep could be very shallow. Feet first is safer.
  • Protect your skin from over exposure to UVA and UVB rays by wearing waterproof sunscreen with a high protection factor of 20+. Avoid the sun between the hottest times of the day:11h00-15h00.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly to avoid dehydration even if you don't feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool and to replace lost salts through sweating.


It is recommended that you:

  • Familiarise yourself with local rules of the road. Remember, South Africa is a left-hand Drive country.
  • Plan your route and fuel consumption in advance. Fuel can only be paid for with cash. Credit cards are not accepted.
  • Have phone numbers of your destination on hand, in case you get lost.
  • Keep the car doors locked at all times, the car windows wound up and any valuables locked in the boot.
  • Never pick up strangers or ask them for directions. Rather go to the nearest business or petrol station, if you get lost.
  • Pay special attention to speed limits, road signs and traffic markings.
  • It is compulsory to carry a translation of your driver's license, if it has been printed in a foreign language.


It is recommended that you:

  • Obtain a map, and plan your route before you set out on an excursion.
  • Consult your hotel or nearest Visitor Information Centre for a reliable taxi service, if required.
  • Always keep your luggage of belongings where you can see it, at any transport hub.
  • When crossing the street, use pedestrian crossings where possible and be aware of oncoming motorists at all times. Look right, look left and look right again before crossing.
  • Explore in groups and stick to well-lit, busy streets, especially at night.
  • Please don't give money to street children. If you wish to assist them in a meaningful way, contact any Visitor Information Centre to obtain a list of organisations who would be most grateful for the assistance.


Although incidents of crime against tourists happen rarely in South Africa, tourists should still be aware of the basic emergency procedures to follow should anything happen. It is recommended that you:

  • Go to your nearest safe and public place.
  • Call the Police Emergency Number (10111), which is free from a phone box or landline, and briefly explain what happened.
  • If you are using a mobile phone, call 112 and your call will be transferred to the appropriate emergency service.
  • If you have been injured, the call centre will dispatch an ambulance to take you to the nearest hospital. Alternatively you can call the National Ambulance Service (10177)


It is recommended that you:

  • Make sure your bags and luggage have locks and name tags.
  • Do not allow people to tamper with your bags.
  • When seeking directions, proceed to marked information counters only.
  • Keep your bags with you at all times.

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  • Report any suspicious, unattended luggage or parcels to the personnel at reception.
  • Never leave your luggage unattended unless it is locked away in your room.
  • Store valuables in the safety deposit box.
  • Keep your room locked.
  • If someone knocks, check who it is before opening the door. Contact reception if you have any reason for concern.
  • Hand your keys in whenever you leave.
  • Make sure that luggage is only given to the bell staff and a receipt is issued for stored luggage.

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  • Avoid an ostentatious display of expensive jewellery, cameras, mobile phones and other valuables.
  • Keep your handbag with you, keep it closed or zipped, and do not leave it unattended.
  • Keep your mobile phone with you and do not leave it unattended.
  • Do not carry large sums of money with you.
  • Exchange your currency at a bank or at the hotel – never exchange it on the street.
  • Carry your wallet in an inside pocket – never in the rear pocket of your trousers.
  • Credit card transactions must be processed in your presence.
  • At night, stay away from dark, isolated areas.
  • It is always better to explore in groups and to stick to well-lit, busy streets.
  • Plan your route beforehand and, as far as possible, do not ask directions from strangers.
  • A police officer or traffic officer will be happy to direct you if you get lost.
  • Should you want to call a taxi, your hotel or the South African Tourism helpline (contact number: 083 123 6789) can recommend a reliable service.

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  • In the interest of personal safety and having assistance in the case of a physical or medical emergency, it is advisable to explore trails in groups.
  • Steer away from isolated areas unless accompanied by a guide.

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  • Inform your network provider as soon as possible: Cell C: 140 from Cell C numbers or 084 140 from other cellular phone networks; MTN: 173 (pre-paid) or 808 (contract) from MTN numbers or 083 1173 from a land line or other cellular phone networks; Vodacom: 111 from a Vodacom number or 082 111 from a landline.  You will receive a reference number to prove that your cellular phone has been blacklisted.
  • Report the loss of your cellular phone to your nearest police station by providing the reference number of your blacklisted cellular phone.  If you make use of a service provider from your country, please ensure that you have their contact details with you to report a lost phone.
  • Ensure that you have the contact details for your bank or credit card company in case a lost or stolen card has to be reported.

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  • Members of the South African Police Service must carry an identification card stating the member's name, rank, service number and photograph.
  • You have the right to request members in civilian clothes and members in uniform to identify themselves with their identification cards.     

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The political situation in South Africa is reasonably stable but dangerous incidents can happen. Always keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser. And avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational.

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Take basic safety precautions:

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Don’t change large sums of money in busy public areas and don’t give personal or financial account information details to people you don’t know.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations. Be vigilant when passing through South Africa’s airports; pickpockets and thieves patrol them.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible. Walking at night is not advisable and many tourists consider public transport to be unsafe; private car rental is the safest option for independent travel.
  • Use only recognised hire car companies or official taxis. If you book a taxi or car to meet you at the airport, ask in advance for the driver’s name for confirmation.

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  • Visitors are advised to exercise extreme caution if travelling to townships. It is recommended that you only visit townships as part of a recognised tour.
  • Keep large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras and mobile phones out of sight.

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  • If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
  • Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

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  • An International Driver's Permit carried in conjunction with your national driving license is recommended and must be printed or authenticated in English.
  • If your license does not have a photograph on it, then you must also carry your passport with you so that you can be identified as the legal holder of the driving license.
  • Please note that the car hire companies might have different regulations regarding the length of time that you need to have held a driving license, so it is advisable to check with your hire car company about their requirements.
  • Always make sure documentation is carried with you at all times when driving.
  • Traffic officers will expect to see documentation if they stop you for any reason.
  • In South Africa we drive on the left-hand side of the road, and our cars – rental cars included – are right-hand drive vehicles.
  • Keep to the left and pass right.
  • All distances, speed limits (and speedometers) are in kilometers.
  • There are strict drinking and driving laws - with a maximum allowable alcohol blood content of 0.05%. Translated that means about one glass of wine for the average woman and perhaps 1.5 or two for the average or large man.
  • Four-way-stops are commonly found at the quieter intersections – the first vehicle to arrive has priority. On roundabouts, give way to the right, although this is often overlooked and it is wise to proceed with caution.
  • Wearing of seat belts is compulsory. All occupants of a vehicle are required to wear seatbelts whilst travelling, if you are caught without you will be subject to a fine.
  • Using hand-held phones while driving is against the law – use a vehicle phone attachment or hands-free kit, if you want to speak on your mobile phone.
  • The general speed limit on national highways, urban freeways and other major routes is 120km/h (75mph).
  • On secondary (rural) roads it is 100km/h (60mph).
  • In built-up areas it is usually 60km/h (35mph) unless otherwise indicated.
  • Check the road signs and obey the speed limit at all times
  • Speed limits are maximum speeds. If it is raining, misty or the road is congested, reduce speed.
  • Reduce speed near areas where there is pedestrian activity.
  • Safety / Protection against Criminals

When driving anywhere in South Africa, it is advisable to apply the following safety precautions:

  • Always drive with your doors locked and windows wound up, especially when stopped at traffic lights.
  • Don't ever stop to pick up hitchhikers, however innocent, lost or appealing they look. If you are worried about someone's plight, stop at the next town and report it to an official there.
  • Do not leave anything valuable on show in your car when you leave it unattended, and always lock your car when you leave it, even if you are only going to be gone for a few minutes.
  • Try to always park in a busy, well-lit area.
  • Take advice from your hosts where you are staying, and ask if there are any areas that tourists should avoid driving through.
  • Do not confront aggressive or abusive road users.
  • If possible avoid travelling at night or in remote areas.
  • Thieves have been known to employ various methods to make a vehicle stop, enabling them to rob the occupants. One such method is the placing of large stones in the middle of the road. In the circumstances it is prudent to carefully drive around the stones or obstacle, rather than stop the vehicle.

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  • Do not panic.
  • Think laterally.
  • Talk your way out of the situation.
  • Do not resist unless you know that such resistance will lead to your escape.
  • If your instincts are to physically resist - do not hold back.
  • If circumstances dictate that you must not resist, concentrate on noting the physical description and other notable features of the attacker.
  • In a robbery or hi-jacking situation - do as you are told.
  • Keep your hands still and visible.
  • If you need to undo a seatbelt - ask first.
  • Remember you can replace your valuables and your vehicle, but not your life.

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South African Police Service Emergency Number : 10111
Crime Stop (report criminal activity anonymously) : 08600 10111
Mobile phone emergency number : 112
South African Tourism helpline : 083 123 6789
ER24 : 084 124
Arrive Alive Call Centre : 0861 400 800
Netcare 911 : 082 911

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