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Travel Tips - Avoiding Trouble African Travel

May 1, 2008
Other than avoiding trouble spots and regions of instability in Africa, your journey should go well if you use common sense while traveling around Africa.

For most travelers to Africa, the main hassle is always finding how to best fit in as much as possible so as to avoid standing out which could lead to you being a target for hustlers and hawkers mostly in tourist areas who will be trying to sell you just about everything from safaris, to even drugs depending on where you are in Africa.

No need to wear old clothers in the name of trying to fit in. However with clean or new clothes lots of luggage, a little awkwardness, and if you are white skinned you are sure stick out like a sore thumb.

You could dress down a bit to avoid the attention and you certainly don't really need long sessions on a sunbed before leaving home because by and large there is nothing much you can do to avoid looking wet behind the ears especially when you have just got to your destination.

To minimize on your chances of being conned or talked into buying stuff you might neither want nor need avoid buying stuff the likes of curios or suveniors for the first few days or until you at least have an idea how much stuff costs.If you must, try bargaining because often hawkers and street vendors might initially offer you goods at outrageous sucker prices.

When it comes to insecurity, robbery and theft rural areas of Africa tend to be extremely safe and until recently robbery and theft were unheard of. In Towns and cities it is a completely different story which act as magnets for rural Africans looking for a "better life" than their parents in the villages. Unfortunately the majority wind up eking a living by any means possible because jobs even for university graduates are very hard to find leave alone the semi-skilled or unskilled.

It should be a bit comforting to know though that even in cities with the worst reputations for crime in Africa, namely Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg, only a handful of travelers run into real problems. In fact travelers to Nairobi are often left wondering what on earth all the fuss about safety was about when it's time to leave.

Having said that one should exercise caution especially walking in the streets at night because like any other city in the world, walking in certain areas unaccompanied at night could be asking for trouble.

There are certain areas a tourist or traveler should always be wary of. These areas are bus stations, crowded market places, the streets around ferry ports or docks,places with poor or nonexistent street lighting. In there areas avoid walking with jewelery and if you have lots of cash on you be vigilant and avoid any action that might signify to someone that a particular pocket has got valuables or a certain hand or backpack has got cash because pick pockets tend to target these.

Speaking of cash, avoid carrying cash. Most countries in Africa now have ATMs and you can search if the African country or city you are traveling to has ATMs.

Most of Africa's ATMs tend to be either inside banks, or in shopping centers with security guards. Avoid lingering around once you have with drawn and take the same precautions you would take while withdrawing money anywhere.

Although chances of being robbed are slim should you be mugged, don't resist, since the thief might have a knife or a gun. It should be over in an instant and you are unlikely to be hurt.You should go to the police station for a statement but don't expect that the police will do a great job in getting your property back. Most of these policemen are often under paid,lack the resources or have more important stuff to deal with than investigate your "precious" camera.

It is worth noting that thieves caught in the act are usually mobbed - and occasionally linched so should you shout "Thief!" be ready to intercede once you've retrived your belongings otherwise the fellow who stole your purse could very easily lose his life for it.
About the Author
Jerry Wanga is editor of http://naady.com is an online website on African Safaris and Balloon Safaris in masai mara and Tanzania. You can view more info on the website.
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