Practical advice for South Africa
TRAVELLING WITHIN SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa has the best road system on the continent. It is well-maintained, well-organised, and traverses incredible landscapes. Whilst the road standards remain good, they will be less maintained in remote areas.
Both car-rental and petrol are cheap.
Drive carefully and avoid unfamiliar rural areas at night.
If you see an apparently distressed motorist by the side of the road, it is better to report this incident to the police than to pick up the stranger, because this is a technique sometimes used by car hijackers.
GETTING AROUND JOHANNESBURG
Use only metered or fixed-price taxis, and not the shared minibuses. It is advisable, until you are only in Joburg for a short time, to rent a car, as taxis are quite rare (mainly available at the airport and only in some areas of Sandton and the city centre).
Uber, Easy Taxi
All the well-known international providers are located at OR Tambo Airport.
The Gautrain offers a safe and modern service between the airport, Rosebank, Sandton and Pretoria. It saves money and time (far cheaper than taxis, and it is only 15 mins to Sandton from the airport)
Recommended Insurers: World Nomads www.worldnomads.com
SAFETY AND TRAVEL RISKS
Incidents of crime and robberies are a frequent occurrence in Johannesburg. However, with an intensified police presence, crime rates have dropped somewhat in recent years
Gun ownership is widespread in South Africa, if you are ever faced with a robbery situation, do not resist or fight back.
Incidents of vehicle hijacking and robbery are common, particularly after dark. Keep to main roads and park in well-lit areas.
Always lock doors while driving. Be especially careful at traffic lights.
As is generally true whilst travelling in many countries, it is best not to flaunt your valuables. Keep large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras and phones out of sight.
Avoid isolated beaches and picnic spots. Don’t walk alone, especially in remote areas.
The most violent crimes occur in townships and isolated areas away from the normal tourist destinations.
There are particularly high levels of crime in the Berea and Hillbrow districts of Johannesburg and around the Rotunda bus terminus in the Central Business District.
Very low risk
Terrorism Threat Level
Very low risk
Official Travel Warnings
Do’s and Don’ts
If you’re not a vegetarian, satisfy all your carnivorous desires at every opportunity.
Don’t restrict yourself to Sandton and other uptown/suburban areas, Johannesburg has lots to offer.
Pack some warm clothes, even in the summer it can get chilly at night.
Do feel free to visit Soweto, but stick to the tourist trail.
Be sensitive when talking about race in South Africa, it remains a contentious issue.
Enjoy the shade. The city is one of the greenest in the world, with around 6 million trees.
Plan your weekend sightseeing, and use your Saturday mornings wisely, because from Saturday lunchtime to Monday morning (as in the rest of South Africa) much of Johannesburg shuts up shop. Shopping malls all stay open until at least 5pm, but art galleries, museums, and independent shops will all close around 1-2pm.