i will be in Johannesburg may 19. will be staying in the northern suburbs, dunkeld west in lower sandon. i heard crime here is bad. is it safe to walk around here in the morning alone? i will need to walk to the mall and shopping which is close by to get food and necessities. i will be here for a week.
on may 26th i will be headed to kruger park for a 4 day safari. i will then head back to joburg before i arrive home. my deepest concern is malaria.
i was told there is very low risk because of the season, is this true? i am more concerned about taking malaria tablets because i am an allergic person and dont want to get sick. is there a way i can do without them? i plan on using alot of repellent and covering myself with clothing but would like more information or suggestions based on this. any other good suggestions for prevention? in total i will only be in here for 2 weeks.
i would also like to know how cold it will get around here at this time of year.
I did a similar trip to Kruger national park in june 2003 via Johannesburg after being in Cape Town for a couple weeks. I was definitely struck by how seedy Johannesburg looked in comparison to Cape Town. We felt safe walking to dinner at night in the northern suburbs. If might help you get a feel for the area to see a map of hotel prices.. if you're in a decently affluent area you should be fairly safe. http://www.HotelMapSearch.com/?llz=-26.139412183718715,28.135986328125,12&m=m
I've got a couple doctors in my family and I was worried about malaria but they told me not to worry. I didn't really get bitten at all when in the park and my doctors told me that its better to not take malaria pills ahead of time. Apparently, the pills can cause really bad sleep problems and headaches and might actually cause problems by masking the symptoms if you do get sick and preventing you from getting proper treatment. I took a group of 20 students with me down there for 2 weeks in June and no one took any special malaria precautions (other than bug spray) and no one got sick.
We didn't take any special other medical precautions other than making sure every one was up to date on their tetnis shots. One non medical precaution we took that I really found helpful was renting cellphones from the airport for $1 per day and making sure every one had everyone else's numbner. Incoming calls were free and they work most places even near Kruger.
Officially, that is what official organisations in the Netherlands advice, is to take malari precautions during the November-May period, during which your stay (albeit the last week) falls. But like the other poster said, I wouldn't take it during this time, as it probably won't be necessary as the dry season has started for a while already.
On the other hand, if you would like to take no risks, take Malerone instead of Lariam (of which the first poster is refering to I guess), which gives almost no side effects at all. Ok, it is more expensive, but I figure if someone is able to travel, that is no problem regarding health.
crime is bad. No doubt!
In Joburg, you should not walk alone anywhere. It is safe to drive to a shopping mall and shop in relative safety and drive back. Beware of hikackers tho.
I travelled to kruger in june/july, and haven't seen a mosquito. So I bet there aren't much around when you're there. When I travelled to SA I brought some malaria pills just in case, but in the end i didn't take them when I went to Kruger. (I saved them for another trip, to the Okavango Delta).
On crime I can say: ignore Bradco77's post. He's just trying to scare the hell out of you, and quite unnecessary.
I lived in Joburg for about a year, and nothing has happened to me. For the sake of my job I've been to the slummiest townships, and I drove around the city in the middle of the night on my own (I'm a journalist). of course it is wise to be a little more aware, especially after dark, but it is rather safe to walk on your own if it's light. Don't be the typically white person that drives in his bulletproof van to the shopping mall, only to get out in the secure parking. shopping is much more fun in the centre, there you will meet the true south african.
the only truth in Bradco's post is: beware of carjackers. In a way, driving is riskier than walking: there're numerous stories of people getting car-jacked, and don't put your valuables on the passenger seat. At some traffic lights (which are called robots) guys smash windows and grab purses/laptops/backpacks from the pasenger seat. So better lock your car when driving in the city.
Anyway, I have no intention to scare you even more, I wish you a pleasant stay, and enjoy the city. Ik looks indeed more 'seedy' than cape town upon arrival, but man! There's bursting energy in the 'city of gold'!
I strongly agree with the bit about car jacking. I have a dozen or so friends in south Africa and every one has been car jacked at least once (some 2 or 3 times). I think it has to do with how much a car is worth to people living with so little.. they can sell the parts easily and maybe the whole car.
A couple from South Africa came to visit me in Atlanta on their honey moon world tour and we took them out to dinner at a nice restaurant with valet service... they were amazed that the valet wouldn't just run off with my car.
please don't let my prior post scare you.
I felt very safe in South Africa... i just think cars are extra risky because they are so valuable.
thanks for all the great suggestions.
i just got back from my doctors office and he told me not to worry too much about malaria. he looked through his book and told me that pharmacists where i live dont even carry these prophylactic due to lack of a market and demand so i would have to contact the health dept. he also suggested if i want to take them to get them in south africa when i arrive.
he also told me that these drugs can have nasty side effect and can damage your liver.
he explained to me that in the southern hemisphere the winter is the opposite of the summer in the northern hemisphere where im from and i probably wont even see mosquitoes at all the last week of may. but with global warming and temp changes there is no way to tell if there will be unusual weather patterns.
my doctor is from the Philippines. he told me they have some of the highest rates of malaria there and thats where he grew up. he never got malaria and got bitten all the time.
he did suggest to me to stay away from swampy areas, use repellent and wear long clothing. he also told me about this coil that you can burn and no mosquitoes will go near that. he also said there is only one species of mosquito that carries malaria so if you're bitten by one it doesnt mean that the mosquito had malaria.
so being an alergic person, and health risks i think the best medicine for me will be prevention.
i have a few more questions about kruger park. what should i bring with me that i may need and not find there?
are the lodges and tents safe from wildlife? are the bush walks safe?
In my limited experience (2 trips to South Africa) most lodges are very nice and safe.. have electricity running water and restaurant style food etc. I'm sure there's places that are more rustic so be sure to check on the details.
Camera Batteries: A power adapter for your camera. The new fancy digital cameras most people have don't take disposable batteries. You might even think about buying an extra battery or two off Amazon or TigerDirect and pre charging them.
Snacks for the car: If you're a more than 3 meals a day kind of person you will want to bring some snacks (maybe buy them in jo-burg).. i'm a habitual snacker and I can remember getting really sick of billtong (local homemade jerky made from kudu and other odd animals).
Lots of time in the jeep : most tours involve a lot of time riding around in a jeep.. so keep that in mind when gathering odds and ends.
you're going to have a great two weeks. i wouldn't worry about the crime at all. just be cautious and street smart and you'll be fine. as for malaria, i spent a week in the kruger in march and barely saw any mosquitoes at all! just cover yourself at dusk and use bug spray as a deterent. if you feel the need for more protection, you could use artimisenin which is a homeopathic treatment instead of taking malerone/larium or the like. This is what I take now when I go to the Kruger when it isn't peak season. As for the weather and the park? Well, it will be chilly at night, so you'll want a fleece/jersey. During the day it can get hot in the car if its enclosed, so you'll probably want shorts/tee shirts etc. Things like that. The accommodations in the kruger are very nice. It will depend on the tour you booked which you'll be staying in, but they are all very nice. The ablution blocks are always very clean, the self-catered tents/rondavals/cottages are all very nice and comfortable. You will easily be able to buy snacks, breakfast beers, and any curios/books/etc you'll want at any of the rest camps, all of which are enclosed with electronic fences. If you're lucky, you might see an antelope or ostrich that is a resident of the camp! Be sure to take a torch/flashlight for walking at night. And over all, enjoy yourself! its a great time!