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December 18, 2012

Be safe … not sorry, this summer season in Cape Town

Safety in Cape Town this festive season starts with protection from the summer sun. Photo courtesy of Cape Town Tourism

Summer in the Mother City is glorious ... it’s the time for family, friends and smiles, beaches, cocktails, picnics and adventure on your travels through Cape Town and its surrounds. We don’t want to be a wet blanket, but – as with any other city – you should take note of these basic personal safety precautions to ensure a happy holiday:

  • Use accredited booking agents when selecting accommodation, tours and transport
  • Avoid carrying around large sums of money, luxury items and cameras in plain sight and do not allow strangers to assist you in any way at cash withdrawal machines. Be constantly aware of your surroundings, walk assertively and confidently, and make eye contact with passersby
  • Heed the advice of your hosts and tourism authorities on places to avoid after dark. Be sure to park in a secure, well-lit area and take care at isolated lookout points, being watchful for things that may seem out of place. Do not venture into unknown areas alone
  • Street children and beggars may approach you for a hand-out. Many social workers counsel against giving money to them as it just perpetuates the cycle of poverty and crime, and promotes begging. If you wish to do good, rather donate to the Give Responsibly initiative, which encourages citizens to support organisations that help destitute people change their lives
  • When walking along Table Mountain, we recommend the use of a qualified mountain guide. Alternatively, make sure you take a map, comfortable walking shoes, a few friends and a charged mobile phone. Make sure you are also prepared for weather that can change rapidly, as it sometimes does, with something warm to wear. Keep to demarcated paths and start making your way down the mountain well before dark. Always tell someone where you are going, and when you plan to return
  • Whenever you are out and about, you need to be vigilant about using sunblock (of at least factor 15 or more) and limiting your exposure to direct sunlight between 10h00 and 16h00 (as this is when the sun is at its hottest)
  • At the beach, do not swim directly after a meal and consider the distance you swim out to sea – waist-height is suggested. Please note that Cape Town’s beaches along the False Bay coast are monitored by the Shark Spotter programme. Twenty-one shark spotters are deployed between Muizenberg and Glencairn, and a flag-and-alarm system is used to warn beach users of a shark’s whereabouts – please take note of and comply with the signals
  • Please do not tease or feed any wild animals on your travels
  • On the road, hitch-hiking is not recommended. If driving, stick to the speed limit, wear your seatbelt, keep valuable items out of sight and keep your car's doors locked. Note that using your mobile phone while driving, as well as driving under the influence of alcohol, is illegal. Just an FYI: after a night on the town there are affordable, recognised transport services available to take you home. Options include Rikkis (+27 (0)861 745 547) and Excite Taxis (+27 (0)21 418 4444), as well as member-based buddy chauffeur services that can collect you from your venue and drive you and your car home (+27 (0)861 433 552). Ask the barman or manager of the establishment where you are partying, for assistance
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