Reading so many negative reports before going scared me, reading the forums here calmed me down a little bit. I feel to a certain extent that crime is overrated particulalry in Cape Town because there are a lot of cameras on the street and outside of hotels and apartments. I did not have one criminal incident or see one when I was there and I went to the so called dangerous neighborhood. I am not going to guarantee that nothing will happen to you if you go, but I think that the crime level may have been blown out of proportion by the media. I swear Africa needs a new public relations department. I did not really have to use my New York attitude much either. All I did was try to get to the hotel before the street lights came on. If I arrived at the hotel after that time I was normally with someone and they waited for me to walk through the gate of my hotel. I also dressed very simple in basic colors so as not to draw attention to myself. No one knew I was an American unless I opened my mouth. The other thing is I went after the holidays because I know people normally have the itch to steal to give gifts to their families. These are the only street smarts you could say I used. When you are in any city in the world including the so called "safe" ones you have to use some sort of precaution. Unfortunately, with the number of people that live in cities some are going to be criminals. Thats life..... but I really would not worry.
Obviously most people that visit will leave unscathed but I will not lie to you - there are a LOT of shady and questionable characters hanging around.
As it is to be expected in a third world country with high unemployment and low education there is crime - just be smart. DO not walk by yourself at night, wear $$$ clothes or jewelry or act rich.
I saw 1 mugging and 1 attempted mugging during the week I was there. Police and security are everywhere but stay aware of your surroundings.
There are lots of pushy touts in the tourist areas, best to just ignore them.
Cape Town tries to look and act European but it is Africa and remember that and you will be fine.
Be careful when using the ATMs. If anyone approaches you and offers to help you with the "hard to use" machines, refuse their help and do not let them touch your card. A common scam occurs where the individual pretends to help you, but really steals your card, watches as you type in your PIN, and then pretends that your card has become stuck in the machine. By the time you realize what has happened, the individual has already handed off your card to a partner-in-crime who is withdrawing cash from a nearby machine.
Beware the pickpockets! Zips are a speciality for them, especially around Cape Town railway station. You are best off taking a throw-away camera, so at least it's only some pictures you lose if you are robbed.
We were having a fine time on Christmas day 2005 and decided to eat at Tasca de Belem Restaurant in the VA Waterfront in Cape Town. Big Mistake! We had our meal and when the bill came, we thought nothing of putting our credit card in the bill folder. A few minutes later the so-called assistant manager who took our card told us there was no payment in the folder. We insisted we had put in our credit card, but they basicaly accused us of trying to get a free lunch. We ended up at the Police Station, however while this was going on, our card was being swiped all over the VA Waterfront. They managed to get one charge through, almost $600 at an Edgards clothing store. To top things off, we talked to the owner of the restaurant who was totally rude and told us that we should essentially just get over it. Not so simple as we had to get a police report and file a notarized affidavit back in the states so as not to be liable for the charges. Moral of the story is, never lose sight of your credit card (as paranoid as that sounds) and avoid this restaurant! Terrible service, rude owner and thieves on staff!
There are many street kids in Cape Town, and elsewhere in South Africa, a worrying sign of the increasing social problems of the country. These kids can be dangerous and care needs to be taken if you are approached by a number of them in a pack. They are particularly quick at being able to get access into pockets and bags in search of money and other valuables. Be cautious when street kids are around.
Street children is a growing tragedy around the world - and they do not choose to be there, but empathy is litle consolation if your money is stolen.
If you want to help street children, there are plenty of outreach and shelter groups across South Africa that can really do with a donation!
Please take care when visiting the beach areas and walking trails in and around Cape Town. Numerous robberies and assaults have been reported in 2005.
Contact the local newspaper archives and any other source you can think of available on the internet to do research about the areas where you intend to travel.
NEVER HIKE ALONE! They kill for as little as a cellphone in South Africa!!!
Please be aware of the crime. Do not carry your whole camera equipment, your jewellery and a big amount of money with you.
Although Cape Town is a beautiful city, its crime rate is not to be underestimated. For your own safety please do not walk alone, especially at night.
One huge problem in Cape Town is the constant begging. They are everywhere you go, especially at traffic lights. Most people drive with their window up, especially at night, as some of the people begging get quite cloooooose...
Just be straight with them, say 'I cannot help you, sorry', try not to enter into conversation with them, as they are the most amazing story tellers!
If you really feel sorry for him/her buy him a loaf of bread and give it to him/her.
Plse dont get me wrong, there are legitimate beggars out there, with a genuine need. But most beggars are begging out of choice, they want no responsibility, are alcoholics and often drug addicts too.
There are shelters and churches and charities throughout South Africa that take them in, so they need not beg.
Their are not enough jobs anywhere in the world, and Capetown is no exception. Half of the world's population lives on $1-$2 dollars a day, and lots of them are in South Africa.
Crime is the only way they can survive, so don't display all your flash, ie cell phones, name brand purses, jewelry, etc. Be very careful as crime is a serious problem.
There is no enforcement of the laws, so this leads to people taking calculated risks that could kill you. Do not go out walking at night. Take a taxi to your destination and take one home. This is very important.
Do not drive without taking lessons to know how to handle car hijacking. It is best not to drive at all. It is possible to visit without driving, as I have been in Cape Town for 5 1/2 months and have never driven a car.
The best thing you can do for yourself before you arrive is to understand what you are walking into before you come here.
Read the wonderful book of Sampie Terreblanche, "A History of Inequality in South Africa. 1652-2002" published by University of Natal Press.
Cape Grace Hotel Cape Town
5 Reviews and 581 Opinions Rooms are very nice, and service is spendid. However, the hotel is simply too expensive.
An African Villa Cape Town
1 Review and 563 Opinions An African Villa is tucked away in Tamboerskloof - this area on the slopes of Signal Hill is...
Mount Nelson Hotel Cape Town
9 Reviews and 462 Opinions I had one stay at the Mt. Nelson, an older hotel that is off the waterfront on the edge of downtown...