It started with a single tweet:
@vandenboomen Hey Emiel-have you travelled around S Africa? I’d love to but feedback is its a no go unless in resorts? I’d want to backpack!
The question is about whether it’s safe to travel to South Africa or not. I have not yet traveled to South Africa (would love to though!), but luckily I have some fellow travel bloggers in the country so I passed on the question and quickly got an answer.
The answer came from Clare, a travel entrepreneur from Johannesburg. Her answer was so powerful that I decided to publish it in full, unedited.
It really, really drives me crazy when people provide such negative impressions regarding South Africa. Staying in resorts only will give your visitors absolutely NONE of the real experience of South Africa.
South Africa is like any other country – there are parts of some cities that may be dangerous to walk alone in at night, but quite frankly, I wouldn’t be walking through the east end of London or through the Bronx in New York alone at night either. The key is to be sensible and practical about safety, without being paranoid.
There is something called the Baz Bus, specifically aimed at Backpackers travelling through South Africa and it visits the most popular destinations in South Africa, stopping off at backpacker lodges to collect and drop off travellers. This is what Simon used.
In summary – South Africa is believed to be far more dangerous than it actually is and there is NO NEED to stay only in resorts. That’s ridiculous and really makes me angry.
Please do tell your friends they are more than welcome to contact me for any other advice.
Immediately I forwarded Clare’s answer and this is the response I got:
Wow Emiel, I am so happy to read this! I have had a discussion with so many people about wanting to travel to SA and each and every one of them have said I was crazy and it’s far too dangerous which really annoyed me. I really couldn’t understand how it could be any different than some of the places I’ve travelled perfectly safely (by taking the correct precautions) in the past.
Clare really sounds like she knows what she is talking about- I’m going to chat to my boyfriend straight away and see about planning the trip 🙂
And they are now really planning the trip! This is exactly how the internet and the strong network of travelers and travel bloggers work. I’m very happy we got to counter that prejudice about South Africa.
Still not convinced? Here are some great pictures about the diversity of the country (thanks Clare!):
Have you traveled to South Africa? Please let us know about your experiences! Do you agree with Clare?
And guess what? In the meantime our family has traveled to South Africa as well! You can read lots of stories about our trip on this blog. Maybe good to start looking at our road trip itinerary!