Travel Tips for South Africa
South Africa was the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation however, the country still faces a great many issues with violence towards the LGTBQ population. One of the key issues with acceptance of the LGTBQ population is the country’s conservative social nature due to a strong religious component. Though more rural areas still struggle with LGBTQ acceptance, larger cities such as Cape Town and Jo-Burg host thriving LGBTQ communities.
If you identify with the LGBTQ community and are planning travel to South Africa, be prepared to see some pushback in rural areas, and in cities a feeling of welcome. Be sure to check out the LGTBQ night scene in Cape Town and Jo-Burg. If you are a lover of pride events be sure to travel when pride is happening in Cape Town and/or Jo-Burg. I promise you, neither event will disappoint!
South Africa is a country with an extremely diverse landscape. The best time to visit depends greatly on your desires while visiting the county. In the Western Cape, winter rains start in June and end in August with temperatures dropping as low as 8 degrees Celsius.
The best time to visit the Western Cape in our opinion is during the summer months from November to March. If you are traveling to South Africa to see the big game at Kruger National Park the best time to visit is in the winter months from May to October. The Eastern Cape which, is best known for the Garden Route and Tsitsikamma Nationa Park, experiences rain year round but, we advise you try to visit in the summer months from December to March. If you want to see whales on the south-western Cape coast then visit between June and November but be advised the peak month to spot a whale in September. No matter when you visit South Africa you are sure to have a great time!
South Africa is a complex country with a lot of diverse peoples and cultures. Often people who have not been to South Africa associate the country with words such as crime, rape, and danger. South Africa is ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for travelers and though this may be true, it still hosts thousands of tourists every year. Much like any country South Africa takes common sense and trust in gut instinct.
After living there for a year we learned a few tips and tricks to staying safe. For starters don’t be too flashy. Leave your fancy jewelry and electronics at home. Don’t walk around with huge backpacks without knowing exactly where you are going. Talk with locals, ask hostel workers, and hotel workers the areas to avoid, and stay away. For example, townships often get a bad rep and many tourists are told to avoid going into the townships at all costs. This is not true. Some of the best street food, most memorable festivals, and opportunities to meet with locals are in townships. Don’t be deterred from visiting these areas but, do not go on a large exploitative tourism bus. These tours only contribute to the problem and create more reason for locals to become agitated and uneasy toward visitors.
If you are going out at night be sure to travel in a large group. Pickpocketing is common is South Africa and if you are walking alone you make yourself more of a target. A tip from experience is to keep a small amount of money in your pocket and put larger bills in your bra or in a money belt under your shirt. This way if someone pickpockets you then you do not lose all your money or put yourself at risk of giving up nothing.
If you are renting a car be sure to keep your windows up and doors locked when the car is parked. Put all valuables in the trunk. South Africa is infamous for car break-ins and the best way to avoid this is to park in a safer neighborhood or on a busy street. Roll up your windows and lock your doors.
When traveling in South Africa, much like any country, be sure to trust your gut. If you are out alone walking down a quiet street and your hair starts to stand up, turn around and find a busier area. If you feel uncomfortable trust your instinct and get yourself to a safe place.
South Africa is an incredible country. Do not be afraid to travel there. We promise that you will have an amazing experience in the rainbow country.