Although much is read in the media about “dangerous” African countries, and while no country is 100% safe, it is possible to enjoy the beautiful scenery and unusual sights in many of its cities. You can stay safe in recommended hotels and, on excursions, in safari lodges and tented camps. You must take reasonable precautions no matter where you visit.
Before giving examples of cities that are said to be safe, let us discuss those precautions first because they apply no matter where you are.
Check with the embassies or local tourist centers about each city’s particular guidelines as to which areas are safe, where they suggest you stay and what attractions you should go to, etc. You can also call the National Tourism Information and Safety at 083 123 2345 for up-to-date information. Always carry a working cell phone.
If you are a member of AAA, there is an affiliate in South Africa that can provide up-to-date route maps, road information, and travel assistance if you want to travel by car. Remember to keep your doors locked and your windows up. When parking your car, park in a well-lit area and use a steering-lock and a lock on the fuel tank cap. Put your possessions and removable car radio in the trunk. Hopefully there will be “car guards” around (be sure they wear the official “bib”), and tip him/them when you return to your car.
Leave your passport, valuables, plane tickets, etc. in your hotel’s safety deposit box and just carry a copy of your passport. Flashing cash or expensive jewelry is a very bad idea.
Do not walk in any business district or any lonely area by yourself, and never at night. Don’t get your own taxi; let the hotel or other accommodation order one for you.
Remember that the wildlife in game parks are wild animals, so never get out of your car, hang out of the window, play a loud radio, shout, or anything else that will disturb them.
Examples of cities reported to be safer than most in Africa are Stellenbosch, George, Johannesburg, Sierra Leone, and Asmara.
Stellenbosch is only 50 km from Cape Town and 20km from the sea, has beautiful nature views, and some of Africa’s greatest schools including the University of Stellenbosch. Degrees from South Africa are recognized throughout the world.
George is also only a couple hundred kilometers from Cape Town and is South Africa’s smallest city.
Johannesburg has a good quality of life and also has good schools, colleges, and a university.
Sierra Leone has untouched beaches and fabulous scenery. As with any city, there are areas to avoid, but there is also much to enjoy.
Asmara is the capital of Eritrea, a small country on a plateau 7,700 feet above the Red Sea. Asmara is one of Africa’s safest cities and is a showcase for 1930’s Art Deco architecture as well as vintage places and people. The wide sidewalks and broad boulevards were designed for the thousands of people who stroll in the evenings. It also has an ideal climate with 70’s and 80’s during the day and 60’s at night.