Safety is something that is paramount in the minds of volunteers visiting Africa, but by following a few simple guidelines, you will be as safe and sound as possible.
South Africa is, in many aspects, a developed country. Despite this, much of its population still lives in stark poverty. Medical facilities are good in urban areas and in the vicinity of safari parks and beaches – but are limited elsewhere.
When volunteers travel or enjoy a gap year in South Africa, the odds are in your favour that you will have a safe and incident-free volunteering period. Check out some forums online and ask other travellers and volunteers your questions - few will have been affected by serious crime during their stay. However, keep in mind that no matter where you are in the world, crime and violence can happen. In the hope of helping you avoid serious difficulties, here are a couple of precautions for volunteers to take.
Safety on the street:
- Please use the same common sense when travelling in South Africa as anywhere else in the world.
- Be cautious in areas where you are likely to stand out such as train stations, tourist sites, market places, townships and places few tourists visit.
- Try to not travel alone at night and avoid demonstrations and other civil disturbances.
- When you move about, seem purposeful – even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are and only open that map indoors somewhere.
- If you are confronted, give up your valuables without making a fuss. Your passport and money can be replaced – you cannot!
In general you will see that there is a lot more negativity in the media regarding crime in South Africa that you will see personally. Bear in mind that 80% of all crime is committed in a few heavily overpopulated urban townships around Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
The Khaya team makes it our business to keep volunteers as safe as possible and give you all the advice you need!
If you want to volunteer at one of our projects in Zimbabwe, Tanzania or Malawi; bear in mind that these countries, although not quite as developed as South Africa, are also generally peaceful, safe and friendly. Read our Frequently Asked Questions for each country to get an idea of what you will be in for. These countries are less Western and more traditional than South Africa, and are well worth the visit if you really want to experience something extraordinary.