Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Is Cape Town safe?

One of the main questions I’ve received from people of all ages, all around the world regarding my time in Cape Town is ‘how dangerous is it?’. One of the main reactions I’ve experienced when talking about the city, and country as a whole actually is, ‘Wow, you must be brave going there as two young women, aren't you scared?’.

Now, I am scared of a few things - I’m scared of the dark (I wish it was still acceptable to own a nightlight), of rats (because what is the POINT of them) and I am scared of deep water where I can’t touch the ground because I used to be too busy playing with the floats at my school’s swimming class to take it seriously which has therefore left me with a underwhelming ability to swim. Something I’m not scared of is one of, if not the, most beautiful city in the world, home to the seventh wonder of the natural world, to stunning beaches and to some of the best quality vineries in the world. I’m not scared of Cape Town.


Throughout my time away, there have been people along the way who I’ve met who’ve seemed to revelled in telling stories about the suuuuuuper dangerous places they’ve been. Like Nairobi, where we were asked multiple times if we, a group of six young women, were okay and needed help at 11pm in the city centre. Like Johannesburg, where we had some of the best days of our trip. Like Cape Town, where we’ve spent weeks and weeks and never had a single bad incident happen, even when we’re out late at night after a few too many wines. It’s not that I’m saying there is no aspect of danger in these places, that there is no crime, but it’s that when it comes down to these city’s, that’s what some want to speak about first, that’s what they want to focus on. Being a martyr to a place you’ve been with a definite stigma attached to it may make you seem like you are living the ultimate ‘crazy’ lifestyle but actually, it is also contributing to the continuing stigmatisation of a place which in the long term, is hugely damaging.

When I’m asked about the dangers of Cape Town, I can only share my own experiences and opinions on the topic. I’m not an expert on the city, but I am a person who has chosen to spend a pretty large proportion of my year away here so… Is Cape Town safe?

Let’s begin… 

Cape Town has high crime rates, let’s not beat about the bush here and pretend everything is rosey, it does. It’s been voted amongst the most violent cities around the globe last year and if you type in ‘Cape Town’ and ‘safe’ into Google, it doesn't paint the prettiest of pictures. However, it was also featured in another international list last year too, which it actually won… 

…What was it you say?

Well, Cape Town was named the best city in the world… so I mean, really don't let scary articles put you off.

Walking around


In the daytime, Cape Town is generally safe. From personal experience, I have had absolutely no problems walking around the Waterfront area, Seapoint, Greenpoint, Camp’s Bay, Hout Bay, Simon’s Town, Woodstock and the city centre generally. Long Street in the city is perhaps where I’m more aware of my surroundings however there has never been any issues and actually, there is where I’ve *maybe* been where I’ve had rather a few beverages.


It really is a case of using your common sense in many cases such as not having your wallet hanging out of your back pocket, not talking to strangers as you use the ATM, leaving your phone out on the table or walking around with your phone or expensive camera in your hand. In restaurants you are encouraged to keep your bag in front of you at all times but once again, it’s all about using your noggin about what you’d do in other cities around the world.

At night time, it is recommended that you take a taxi to your intended destination. Once you are on Kloof, Bree, Loop or Long Street, the main streets in the city centre, it is, in most circumstances okay to walk along or around these areas as long as you are not alone however if you are not used to the city or would prefer to use transport (hey, who wants to walk places in heels anyway?) then order an Uber - it’s very affordable to get around the city this way.

I have had a few questions regarding the use of money belts - both my friend and I used them on our first day in Cape Town at the very start of our trip however did not use them after that. We found it to be unnecessary however it is a personal choice so if you feel like you’d be more secure wearing one, then like I always say, you do you!


Transport 

Travelling around Cape Town safely is important and there are precautions you must take. As I am solely talking about my own experiences here, I can only comment on being transported by Uber/normal taxis and train. Firstly, normal taxis in comparison to Uber charge scandalous prices so prior to arriving here, download the Uber app, set yourself up and also make sure you type in a promo code so you can get your first ride up to R100 (£6ish) for free. Not only is it affordable but it’s also an extremely safe way of travelling around as you identify your driver by the registration number and your ride is tracked from the start to finish of your journey. This blog post is surprisingly not sponsored by Uber (available worldwide) but I do bloody love it however if you are thinking of signing up and maybe want to help a girl out, you can use my promo code so I get a free ride too  charlotteh3627ue (if not, there are lots of deals on Google).

Source
Trains are a very affordable way of getting around Cape Town and the surrounding areas whilst also providing stunning views along the coastline to Muizenburg, Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town. When travelling to Simon’s Town (home to the penguins) which is around an hour journey from the city centre, a return ticket for a first class seat is R30 (approx £1.50). I have been recommended buying a first class ticket when travelling by train and to try to avoid travelling by train at night time however I am not a local and have not actually taken this mode of transport by night so cannot particularly comment on how accurate this is.

I did not self drive along the Garden Route and instead used the BazBus service so cannot comment on how safe this is.

Nightlife

If you’ve read this blog for a while or perhaps have eyes in which you can see, I enjoy a drink or two and it’s safe to say I’ve sampled the city’s night life pretty well (for blog purposes only of course). There has been an odd occasion (ahem) whereby I have perhaps had a few more drinks that what some would deem necessary however I have never had any bad experiences apart from coming home with far too many McDonalds packages needed for one person.


In all seriousness, of course you absolutely need to take precautions such as always keeping your drink in hand, ensuring your bag is on your body at all times and, as I previously said, making Uber your best friend so you know you are getting home safely. These are all things we should do anywhere we are in the world, whether that be Cape Town or New York, London or Melbourne. Is this city safe to go out in? Absolutely.



Overall, if you are street smart in Cape Town, and South Africa generally, you will be absolutely fine. There are of course incidents that occur with visitors however I personally have only met one person who has been a victim of being mugged in the city…and she was a local. Keep your wits about you, your belongings nearby and just have a really fabulous time here - there’s no place like it in the world so you absolutely will not regret it.


If you have any more questions about Cape Town generally, or even would like to know something I perhaps haven't covered in this post, just leave a comment down below or tweet me - I’d be more than happy to answer any queries you may have.

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1 comment:

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