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How To Stay Safe in South Africa [World Cup 2010]

South Africa Boulders Beach

South Africa is an incredible place to visit. During the World Cup, the atmosphere is going to be electrifying and, if you're luck enough to be going, you're bound to have a wonderful time.

But there are a few things that every traveller needs to be aware of. Poverty and crime go hand in hand, and South Africa has its fair share of both. To keep you safe, we've compiled a list of things you should watch out for.

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    1. BE A MINIMALIST. Your expensive personal property is instant cash to the needy and pick pockets and thieves are going to be extra crafty during the World Cup. In other words, taking your iPhone, PSP, BlackBerry and digital camera with 15 inch zoom lens with you, and getting it out in public, isn't a good idea. Electronic goodies can go missing from the beach, from bars, restaurants and even football matches. Only take what you really need.

    2. CHAT ABOUT YOUR HOLIDAYS. Speaking to people who've been to South Africa recently is one of the best ways to prepare yourself. They could help recommend something as simple as a good hotel by the beach to steering clear of a particular street.

    3. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. Stay aware of your surroundings and, if you find yourself in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, walk away. Having said that, there's no need to worry about getting mugged or hijacked every second of the day - stay calm and enjoy your trip.

    4. BE SALES SAVVY. When it comes to taking taxis, tours, buying tickets, perfume or electronic gadgets, ask whoever is selling them for identification. If they can't produce any, they could be scam artists. Beware if prices are seem too cheap to be true! Also, avoid getting a lift across town in an unlicensed vehicle. Wouldn't you much rather pay the extra and stay safe?

      Please Note: This advice doesn't apply to buying items from street vendors. It's really common in South Africa for street vendors to approach you at traffic lights or sell their wares on the sidewalk. Please purchase art work, souvenirs and clothing from craft markets and street vendors, as you will be supporting small and honest businesses.

    5. BE SAFE IN THE SUN. Africa is renowned for its sunny weather. Even during winter, there will be days when it's extremely hot. Remember to enjoy the climate responsibly by using sunscreen and staying covered.

    6. DITCH THE GPS. If you're renting a car for the duration of your stay, a GPS is sometimes more of a hindrance than a help. In South Africa, it has a habit of taking you through the longest, dingiest route to your destination. Having a good, old-fashioned map will come in handy for sticking to the main routes.

    7. CHAT TO THE LOCALS. Make friends with the locals and pick their brains. You'll find out about great places they don't advertise in tourist brochures and get an informed perspective on how different areas are. The locals deal with the realities of life in Africa every day. If anyone knows how to have a good time there, they do.

    8. GET OUT OF THE CITY. Go up the coast or into the bush at some stage. You will be faced with a whole new set of saftey challenges, from sharks to lions. It's great adventure and the best way to enjoy the country, There is, after-all, so much more to South Africa than its stadiums.

    9. GET A BODYGUARD. Well, not really, but private security is one of the fastest growing industries in South Africa. Smaller security companies offer 24 hour armed response and a chauffeur service. In an extreme case, where you feel like you may need guarded help, call up a private company to put your mind at ease. Remember, private security is relatively inexpensive in South Africa, costing around £200 a month. Find out more on private security and security regulations at ADT Security.

    10. BE FRIENDLY... AND RELAX. South Africa is truly a magical place: you're sure to meet great people and have the time of your life. As with any foreign travel, it's important to be on your guard but don't let crime stats and hype dominate your holiday. They are just small blots on the landscape of a magnificent country.

Last Updated: July 2010