You don’t face any more danger traveling in most African countries, than in other parts of the world. The believes about Africa as being a dangerous and violent place are ill founded for a vast majority of countries. Petty theft is probably the most common crime you are likely to come across when visiting Africa. As a tourist with cameras and cash, you just have to be careful. Violent muggings are quite rare for most African countries. Dakar, Nairobi and Johannesburg are probably most notorious for violent crime, car-jacking and murder. Keep up to date with current African affairs so that you can avoid areas where there is war, famine or obvious political instability. Here is what to watch out for and how to avoid becoming a victim of crime when traveling in Africa.
Wear a flat money belt that fits underneath your clothes. Use this to keep your credit credit cards, passport and travelers checks safe. (image by Eagle Creek)
Make a copy of your passport, ticket, credit card and traveler check numbers. Put these in your main luggage so if you do get robbed of the originals, you still have all the information for insurance and replacement purposes.
Use a fanny pack or your pockets for your day to day cash. I always think of this as a decoy. If you get robbed, then all you lose is a day’s worth of spending money.
Be simple, avoid expensive dressing
Avoid wear jewelry, flashy watches or cameras around your neck, you’re just inviting trouble. Obviously you’ll want to take photos when you travel, just try and be discreet and put your cameras away or leave them in a safe place at your hotel when you’re not using them.
Safes in hotels are not always safe (ironically) so use a lockable pouch or bag to put your valuables in if your hotel has these facilities.
Don’t walk alone at night especially in major town and cities and in stick to well-lit areas even if you are walking with a group. Taxis are available in every African town and it’s worth the extra money to be safe. Don’t look too obviously lost even if you are. You can always walk purposefully into a shop, bank or hotel to ask for directions or consult a map. Watch your belongings and pockets very carefully at busy bus stations, train stations, markets and bazaars.
If you are car-jacked or held up with a weapon never resist. Give your money, belongings, whatever is demanded. Most people are hurt because they do not cooperate with demands made. (image by BlueTitanNJ)
Regardless of your budget, when you are traveling in Africa keep in mind that you are much richer than the majority of local people around you. While most people are honest, the sight of a tourist with cash to spare and cameras dangling is too tempting for some. To avoid being fodder for con-artists, petty thieves and opportunists keep some of these safety tips in mind when visiting Africa
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Feature image Stephen Oachs