Six FAQs About Safety When Traveling to South Africa

by isvolunteers on Tuesday, 1 March 2016

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Be rest assured that ISV only chooses the highest quality partners and operators to minimize risk and make sure you have the safest time possible while traveling. (c) ISV

Wanting to travel to South Africa but are concerned about safety? Fear not!! ISV has incredibly well designed and implemented safety procedures to ensure that you are well prepared, well orientated and well looked after when we host you on the African continent. Here are six Frequently Asked Questions about the safety of South Africa:

1: I have looked up ‘travel in South Africa’ and there are warnings of high crime rates. Is it safe to travel there?

Safety is ISV’s number one concern. Our programs never put you in high-risk situations and we constantly mitigate risk and safety throughout your program. We do everything in our power to orientate you in the areas you visit, assist you with support and advise you about the communities and environment that you are in – and from day one, you’ll also have an ISV Leader as well as local Host Organization staff to guide you.

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People leaving South Africa after vacation rate their experience very highly. 99% of people say they would love to visit South Africa again and would recommend it to a friend. (c) ISV

However, crime can happen anywhere, anytime and in any country for various reasons. South Africa has high crime rates due to low-economic situations and opportunistic chances. Be rest assured that ISV only chooses the highest quality partners and operators to minimize risk and make sure you have the safest time possible while traveling.

2: Are my belongings safe while working in communities or in my accommodations?

Many of the items that ISV volunteers takes on their program (such as cameras, wallets, iPhones etc) are things that many South Africa people don’t have access to. Your belongings are safe if you look after them. Don’t put your camera down on a table and walk away. Don’t leave your bag open while walking around a market and don’t flash around large amounts of money. It is up to you to be aware of your presence and your belongings in an area.

3: Will I be exposed to HIV/AIDS?

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No matter where you are in South Africa, we always advise participants to travel in groups of three or more. (c) ISV

HIV/AIDS is not bound by race, culture, age, gender or area. Over 6.3 million people are living with HIV in South Africa, and it’s most prevalent in areas where there is poverty, inequality and social instability. It is contracted through sexual intercourse, blood to blood (bodily fluids) and mother to child – if you are aware of how HIV is contracted and do not engage in activities that put you at risk of this, then you are safe. On a variety of projects participants will interact with people with HIV/AIDS (education and awareness workshops and support groups) – however there are safety measures and orientations put in place to prepare you for these interactions.

4: Do we go into high crime areas on our projects or tour?

We do not take our participants into areas with a high crime rate on project and tour. Every project and tour location are site inspected and monitored closely for safety and risk assessments prior and during our program.

5: Can I walk alone?

Never walk alone at night. No matter where you are in South Africa, we always advise participants to walk in groups of three or more. This is so that you are never put in a vulnerable situation and always have safety in numbers.

6: What if my passport and bankcards get stolen?

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In the unlikely situation that your passport and bank cards are stolen, ISV has a specific protocol to ensure you and the group are safe and can continue on your program regardless. (c) ISV

We like to prepare in advance so that we avoid being in this position. However, in the unlikely situation that your passport and bank cards are stolen, ISV has a specific protocol to ensure you and the group are safe and can continue on your program regardless. Your Project Leader, Tour Leader and Project Manager will do everything to support you in this situation. Every student must have travel insurance to participate on the ISV Program and we immediately notify banks and embassies to ensure you have replacements and documentation to help you in the process.  We also offer any counsel or form of support that you may need in this situation, as we know how difficult it can be if this happens.

Facts about crime and traveling in South Africa:

  • The South African Police Services (SAPS) reports that most contact crimes takes place in impoverished township areas, not in popular tourist spots.
  • Crime against tourists to South Africa is very low. Most crimes committed against tourists are petty thefts. Based on available statistics, the chance of a tourist experiencing a violent crime (physical assault, mugging, gang attack, rape, or hijacking) is less than 0.67 %. If you take into account that most crimes happen in non-tourist areas, that percentage drops even further.
  • People leaving South Africa after vacation rate their experience very highly. 99% of people say they would love to visit South Africa again and would recommend it to a friend. To put this in context, only 94% of tourists leaving Australia responded similarly.

To learn more about ISV, our responsible travel principles and volunteer projects please visit our website at www.isvolunteers.org.

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