Just how dangerous is Cape Town for a solo female traveller?
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Jan 10, 2013 8:27 PM Last Post By: KatieAustralia
Nov 16, 2012 7:06 AM
Just how dangerous is Cape Town for a solo female traveller?Okay, so I've been doing some research for the last few weeks and I've found lists that place Cape Town anywhere from 1st place to the 34th most dangerous city in the world 2012. Regardless of the disparity, it seems that Cape Town is amongst the most unsafe cities in the world. (I put some of the links I've found in the bottom of this post and I am prepared for all the "these studies are totally unscientific" comments to come.)
I am most likely going to Cape Town late March early April '13. And the problem with the lists I've found is that they're based on murders per capita. However, most solo female travelers' main concern isn't that they'll be murdered. Women travelers, myself included, are much more worried about being raped, sexually harassed or otherwise targeted because of our gender. And South Africa is the undisputed rape capital of the world, by all international standards and measurements. (Links about that are at the bottom of this post too, and yes, I'm sure someone out there will find a way to scientifically discredit them, too.)
I'm not posting this to get into a debate about "scientific data". Please try to refrain from turning this into a debate thread about studies and lists. I just want honest advice. It might help you to know that I am a 32 yr old, blonde and blue-eyed European woman. I am somewhat of a creature of night, and I hate the idea of having to stay indoors as soon as the sun sets - but obviously I will if I have to.
Please - I want NAMES of specific areas to avoid and specific areas that are relatively safe using common sense. I can't afford 5 star luxury, so if you want to recommend accommodation, keep it mid-range or cheaper. Needless to say, I will apply common sense everywhere (not flashing jewelry, electronics or money, not getting too drunk, not using ATMs outside of shopping centres, not accepting "help" from strangers, not wandering around with a map looking lost etc.)
I've read dozens of Cape Town safety threads and there seems to be a widespread misconception that Cape Town is much safer than Johannesburg. I'm sorry, but all the data I've found says otherwise.
I really need advice on this, so thank you in advance.
- - - -
Cape Town links - most dangerous cities in the world:
(Cape Town fifth)
(Cape Town 19th)
(Cape Town 1st)
http://www.businessinsider.com/most-dangerous-cities-in-the-world-2012-10?op=1 (Cape Town 34th)
(Cape Town 34th)
South Africa and sexual violence:
Nov 16, 2012 7:20 AM
1One day there was a family who wanted to move to a new village. The head of the family went to the wise man of the new village and asked him if this was a good village to move his family. The wise man asked him what was his old village like. The man said that his old village was bad murderous, cheating and a bad place.
The wise old man said this is just such a village.
Many months another man came past and asked the same question. And again the wise man asked him what his current village was like. And the man said my current village is peaceful. Everyone loves each other. I like the my old home place.
And the wise man said this is just such a village and you will be happy here.
Another wise man said what you project you get.
Just the other day I read a book about a European couple who walked trough Africa.
Johan Horak at http://blog.capeholidays.info
Nov 16, 2012 7:40 AM
2There are a lot of rape and murders in Cape Town, but as a tourist you're pretty safe. A lot of these crimes happens where most tourists will never go. There's a reason people go to Cape Town, and if tourists were getting raped and murdered all the time, tourists wouldn't come back.
I get why you're concerned, but there's no reason to get paranoid because then you won't enjoy this beautiful city. Use common sense and you'll be fine. I've been to Cape Town several times, and the first time we were two females in our early twenties, and the second time we were four females and we didn't experience anything scary. But we listened to the locals and sought advice from our hotel.
A lot of backpackers stay in Long Street and there's loads of (more expensive)hotels at the Waterfront. Ashanti.co.za is a popular place where you'll meet people and it's cheap and nice.
Nov 16, 2012 8:48 AM
3I am no expert but bear in mind that Cape Town has some large and very populous townships (I think Khayelitsha township has as many as a million residents now) that have very high crime rates - especially for violent crime and rape. But you will not end up there by taking a wrong turn on a night out. In fact you won't get there at all without some effort. I doubt whether any of the areas you are likely to go as a tourist are significantly more risky than a capital in Europe or the US.
Speaking as a woman who has been there I did not feel any more at risk than I would in London or New York and as long as you take the same precautions as you would there I don't think you should worry unduly.
BTW I spent four months in South Africa and found that South Africans tend to be very crime aware and can give a more negative view of the position than perhaps is warranted.
Nov 16, 2012 1:08 PM
4To say that you're being paranoid is an understatement. I have blue eyes and long blonde hair and am visibly of Nordic descent, and yet I have been to CPT alone more than once and lived. As a tourist visiting the places tourists are most likely to go the chances of you being pulled from the street and raped are exceedingly slim. Restaurant do serve dinner after dark. People eat at those restaurants. Rape and death are not the norm. For example, if you are wandering around the V & A waterfront after dark you will not be alone. There will be many people. You will not be raped here. This is not the only place.
As for accommodation I did once stay at a Backpacker's just a few blocks from the waterfront, but the name eludes me. If you want to go a bit more mid-range/upscale I suggest staying in a B & B. I have stayed in a number of these in SA, and 3 different ones in CPT. These are typically rooms in middle class or better homes located in middle class or better neighborhoods. This may be more comfortable/familiar foryou than staying in a business district since you're a tad on the paranoid side. Frankly, I prefer them over mid-range hotels because they provide a much more enjoyable experience. They come in a variety of price ranges, and can offer excellent value. One reference for these is the Portfolio Collection. I'm sure a Google search will bring up others.
Let go of your anxiety and enjoy South Africa.
Nov 17, 2012 11:25 AM
5Not a blonde blue-eyed woman, but a woman nonetheless, I just spent nine days in Cape Town, traveling to a lot of places by myself, and sometimes with another woman or two from my hostel. Had a wonderful time. Did not have any times when I felt unsafe or threatened. I will say I'm not a creature of the night but I had ocassion to walk back from restaurants later in the evening.
I stayed at a backpacker called Zebra Crossing that is on New Church Street and Park St. Lots of restaurants on Park and a bit further north on Kloof. Long street is a short walk or even shorter 30-Rand minimum for a lot of cabs away. Even on Long I saw quite a bit of police presence.
During the day, I walked from the backpackers to the waterfront and around, to Bo-Kaap and all around the CBD. If you exercise common sense, as you've indicated that you plan to, you will have a fantastic time. I met a couple of women at my backpacker with whom I was able to do some things. To get around the sights during the day there is a great hop-o hop-ff tour or two, and the stops are all at brightly lit places. You can get the name and phone number of a cab company and arrange for trusted cabs to pick up and/or drop you to places if you want to be out at clubs or parties, etc. I really liked the area that I was in past all the Long Street craziness but if you enjoy nightlife, staying at a hotel that's walking distance to the action may be easier for you to get around. You have a few options between Wale Street and Buitensingel street, which is where quite a few bar, lounges and restaurants on Long Street were located. you might want to look at private rooms at backpackers in that area, whcih would allow you to meet some people with whom you could explore the city.
Cape Town is a wonderful city. As the previous poster said, let go of your anxiety and enjoy South Africa!!
Nov 17, 2012 12:25 PM
Nov 18, 2012 9:10 PM
7Funny, isn't it, how the advice from people on the forum differs from the impression you got from the media, and from the 10 gruesome links you posted.
Search back into this forum and you'll see countless questions like yours answered in the same way - and very few posts at all about scams, problems, rapes or murders experienced by travellers in SA. I lived in Joburg for 3 years and loved it. I'm convinced that as a normal visitor you run more chance of being robbed in Rome, Amsterdam and Prague than in either Johannesburg or Cape Town. So just delete those links you posted, take sound advice from travellers who've ventured before you and just enjoy the trip. South Africans on the whole are a fabulous bunch of people.
I'm currently in Rio, one of the few cities that tops Cape Town in scary statistics, and also here find myself using public transport at all hours, strolling around town after dark, with lots of locals on the street generally having a good time.
Perhaps the media you link to have an interest in repeating the - sadly often true - statistics, their readership. And just 2 years ago there was the case of the English honeymooners coming to Cape Town where the wife was murdered - apparently by her own husband who used CT's bad reputation to cover his tracks and vanish back to the UK (though I'm not sure how the story ended...).
Nov 19, 2012 7:18 AM
8Jeroen: I read about the case today, as the Girl murdered was swedish and we get a lot of swedish news here in Norway. The South African who committed the actual murdered was found guilty today, no surprise there as he has admitted doing it. And SA is trying to get the husband to trial in SA because he hired the taxi driver as a hitman. From what I gather from Norwegian papers the marriage was arranged and the husband was not happy with his parents choice for him. A big mess.
Nov 21, 2012 7:18 AM
9Dear Johanatcapeholidays – Thank you for your reply. I'm not sure I agree fully that what you project is what you get. If someone is attacked, are they to blame if they were afraid that they might be attacked on beforehand? I find that unfair and a way of blaming the victim. But perhaps that's not what you meant.
Dear Cath81 – Thank you for your reply. I'll be sure to look at Long Street, the Waterfront and Ashanti.co.za. Thanks for the advice.
Dear Itchyfeet38 – Thank you for your reply. I appreciate you sharing your experience.
Dear Catfriend – Thank you for your reply. I understand how paranoid I come across to you. Unfortunately, I have my reasons. I appreciate your advice. I'll look into the B & B options and the Portfolio Collection. Thanks.
Dear sjk373 – Thank you for your reply. I will check out Zebra Crossing. Thank you for your detailed advice, it truly comes in handy.
Dear wanderingjohn – Thank you for your reply. I don't understand the numbers you mentioned. Can you direct me to a corresponding map?
Dear jeroen – Thank you for your reply. You're right, the advice differs from some of the things printed in the media, which is why I value the recommendations I get here. I'm glad to hear you're feeling safe in Rio. Men and women feel intimidated in different situations, so I wonder if you're male or female? (if that's not too personal of a question...)
Nov 21, 2012 2:58 PM
10Male. I know it probably makes a big difference in how I'd experience public space, no saying if I'd act different if I were female... but i don't think much.
(I also checked up on that CT murder story - turns out the husband who's suspected of hiring the hitmen to kill his new wife under the cover of a criminal Cape Town is in the UK and won't be extradicted to SA until his 'mental health' improves as they say he's very depressed... the irony).
Nov 21, 2012 11:07 PM
11it was the 25 most dangerous cities. i clicked on it and had a look. the only one i felt uncomfortable in was Caracas
Nov 27, 2012 7:15 AM
12icelandict, listen to cath81, listen to local information, dont go for a stroll in 'gardens' alone at night, long street has all you need in the way of bars, restaurants and shopping, but would still suggest you dont walk it alone at night. With one or more other people you are as safe there as you would be in New York, London and many other cities of the world.
Dont let fears of what might be cloud your judgement and perhaps mar one of the greatest experiences of your life :)
Nov 28, 2012 2:14 AM
Dec 18, 2012 8:19 AM
I'm a 24yr old female from Australia who has backpacked South Africa for 9 weeks, 6 weeks the first time from Jo'burg down to Cape Town using the baz bus and 3 weeks the last time from Cape Town to jo'burg using public buses and all on my own. At no point did I encounter and problems or feel unsafe.
I always stayed in hostels with multi-bed dorms. In Cape Town I stayed at Long St Backpackers both times and had the time of my life! I walked all around Long St and most of the sights of Cape Town and encountered no problems. I walked to the V&A waterfront and back and to the castle and it was all fine. Most of the time I even carried my DSLR camera around with me.
The wineries in Stellenbosch are amazing and I would highly recommend a tour, especially one that goes to Fairview winery. Also, the company gardens near long st are a nice place to people watch and have a picnic.
You will get a bit of male attention as you walk around on your own, particularly from black men but it is harmless and if you just ignore it or just smile and keep walking then you will have no problems. Just accept the compliment.
I would recommend staying in a hostel, particularly Long St Backpackers, as you will meet other travelers to do stuff with.
South Africa is an amazing place. The places there are problems are the ones you don't want to go to anyway, ie townships. Use commen sense and you'll be fine.
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