Safety Guidelines

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Safety Guidelines

Cape Town consistently ranks among the world’s top travel destinations, drawing millions of foreign visitors each year. This popularity speaks volumes about the city’s attractions and overall safety. However, much like any major city worldwide, Cape Town contends with certain crime issues, and there are areas within the city where visitors cannot travel.

It is essential to put South Africa’s reputation for being unsafe into perspective. The country faces significant social and economic challenges, marked by high levels of unemployment and inequality, and at first glance, crime statistics might paint a bleak picture. Nonetheless, it’s important to emphasize that the majority of the country remains safe, provided you take precautions and avoid certain areas. Ensuring your safety primarily involves using common sense, staying alert, and acting responsibly. We strongly recommend taking the following safety precautions when visiting Cape Town:

Walking in the Streets:
  • Avoid walking after dark.
  • At night, use Uber for transportation, as it is affordable and reliable
  • If in Observatory at night, take advantage of the Observatory Public Safety walk home service (details provided during your in-country orientation).
  • It is ok to walk around Observatory and the city during the day
  • Stay away from unpopulated areas or streets.
  • Keep valuables and cash discreet; avoid appearing as a tourist.
  • Always secure your bag or backpack, keeping them tightly closed, and refrain from carrying valuables in your pockets.
  • Wear your backpack on your back and sling your purse/handbag over your shoulder.
  • Do not use your phone while walking on the streets
  • Avoid lending your phone to strangers for urgent calls on the street
  • Keep in mind that townships are off-limits unless for work purposes; seek advice and guidance if you wish to visit.
Safety at your house:
  • Always keep your front door and security gates securely locked.  Even if you or someone else is at home
  • Never open the front door to your house to someone you do not know
  • Keep your room locked if you are going out
  • Keep all valuables out of sight and reach from windows
  • Hide your valuables, money, and passport somewhere safe inside your room
Going out at night:
  • The risk of losing your valuables is higher during a night out in Cape Town.
  • Petty theft is common on streets like Long Street, as well as inside clubs and pubs
  • Always keep your belongings on your person in closed bags, avoiding pockets, and never leave them unattended, such as on a bar counter or the back of a chair.
  • Never take your passport with you when going out for the evening.
  • Always keep an eye on your drinks, and don’t leave them unattended
Homeless People:
  • Many homeless people can be found in and around Cape Town, including neighborhoods like Observatory
  • Most of them have faced unfortunate circumstances or struggle with drug and alcohol abuse
  • It’s important to understand that, in general, these individuals are not a threat to safety
  • It’s acceptable to politely and firmly decline their requests for money
Using ATMS:
  • Avoid using ATMs on the streets; opt for ones inside shops and banks.
  • You can obtain cashback while paying for groceries at stores like SPAR or Pick n Pay, a safe and cost-effective method.
  • Refrain from accepting assistance or engaging with strangers at an ATM.
  • Never leave your card in the ATM if it gets stuck; follow the provided instructions.
E-Hailing Services
  • Uber is a reliable, safe, and affordable means of transportation in the city.
  • For added security, wait for your Uber inside your home or a restaurant rather than on the street.
  • Always verify the license plate and driver’s name before entering the Uber.
  • We discourage the use of less reliable alternatives like In-drive.
Safety when hiking:
  • Hike in groups of three or more for increased safety
  • Check the weather before you head out and do not hike during windy or rainy conditions
  • Wear appropriate footwear and carry warm clothing, as weather conditions can change rapidly.
  • Inform someone about your hiking plans, expected return time, and check-in upon safely returning.
  • Choose a trail that matches your fitness level, and if possible, hike with someone familiar with the route or download an offline map on your smart watch
  • Carry an adequate supply of water and sun protection like sunscreen and a hat
  • Ensure your cell phone is fully charged and contains important emergency numbers.
Safety when on the beaches:
  • Don’t leave your belongings unattended on the beach
  • Avoid using earphones or falling asleep while sunbathing to protect your belongings.
  • Check for the presence of a lifeguard before entering the water and swim between the flags
  • Apply sun protection with at least SPF 50 and reapply frequently.
  • During summer months, limit sun exposure from 11 am to 3 pm.