I will be posting about the best outdoor activities to do in Cape Town in the very near future, but I would first like to touch on whether it’s safe for a solo female to travel to South Africa’s most popular destination.
Before booking my flight to Cape Town
As a solo female traveler, I definitely thought longer and harder about booking my flight to Cape Town than I would for cities such as Sydney or London. Like you, I had heard and read about the safety issues which Cape Town has become known for. So naturally, I researched it, taking note of advice to get back to my accommodation before dark, hike in a group only, leave my jewelry at home, and keep my DSLR out of sight most of the time. This wasn’t enough to convince me, however, as this is fairly standard travel safety advice. After all, I was flying solo and wanted to be extra certain. So I reached out to female travelers that had recently been there, and through friends of friends, those who currently live there. I also consulted a trustworthy female travel group on Facebook with my concern. Only then did I deem Cape Town was safe enough for this solo female traveler and booked my flight.
Cape Town's history
I think it’s always best to have at least some awareness of a city’s history in order to better understand its current situation, and Cape Town is absolutely not an exception to this. I will not delve into the Cape Town’s coloured (no pun intended!) past here, but please do so at your leisure. It will help you understand why it has a bad safety reputation and make your visit there much more informed.
My solo travel experience
I did not have any safety-related incidents while in Cape Town. However, traveling solo, as a female, and with an expensive camera on hand, I have definitely felt a greater sense of comfort in other places. I didn’t wander around after dark, I was always acutely aware of my surroundings, and I definitely did not take my camera out as often as I normally would. I recommend this advice whether you’re out on a busy city street or out hiking in the wilderness. I got around via uber and felt comfortable at all times. I hiked in groups only and booked intimate tours to visit places outside of the city. I know of solo female travelers who have self-driven in and around Cape Town without a problem. That being said, keep in mind that for a first-time visitor, even one who is fairly good with directions, the greater Cape Town area is not the easiest place to drive around solo. The overall standard of driving (especially within the city) is poor and signage can be confusing.
What solo travel is all about
Was it frustrating at times? Yes - who wants to feel on edge while on holiday? But I believe travel is all about transporting yourself out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself to different experiences. Cape Town is a unique place and one I highly recommend traveling to - not only for its natural beauty but also for a look into its not so distant past. If you accept that it will be a different type of solo trip than if you traveled to Vancouver, for instance, one in which you will have to take extra precautions and where you may be frustrated at times, you will enjoy your trip.
Would I travel solo to Cape Town again?
Yes. Keeping in mind that safety levels fluctuate, especially with unstable political situations, I would always always double-check the current situation before travelling there again. Safety levels a year from now may be very different. In essence, don’t leave your common sense at home and pack an extra dose of travel sensibility if you’re traveling to Cape Town. More than likely you will also come home with a great experience to share.
Have you traveled to Cape Town? Did you have a safe experience? Let us know in the comments below.
Wondering which outdoor activities I did while in Cape Town? Then don’t miss this post:
To read about another outdoor friendly destination, check out: