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Namibia Safety: How to Avoid Crime on Safari

Namibia is a very safe country to travel in. Although theft and muggings do happen, they are extremely rare. The majority of crime is found in Namibia’s major cities and once away from major urban areas, crime is very rare. Crimes that travelers may experience, if any, involve personal theft. Namibians are more willing to help you than to cause you harm. Traveling in public transportation doesn’t increase your chances of being a victim of crime, and since it is so unlikely, no matter how you travel your chances are equally the same.

Increase your safety in Namibia by knowing the following:

Windhoek is one place visitors should be more vigilant. Similar to other major cities of the world, it’s best not to flaunt expensive technology like cameras, cell phones, laptops, jewelry, or money. As the old saying goes, ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ a thief will think of theft after the opportunity is presented, so don’t present thieves with easy opportunities. In recent years, muggings are increasing and the best way to not be a victim is to not look like an easy target. Rucksacks and cameras around your neck will expose you, labeling you as a ‘lost foreigner’ who knows nothing of Namibia. Walk with confidence and use your common sense. Take caution while visiting the markets on Independence Avenue and while traveling to locations (townships). The day is always safer than the night, and although crime is low, minor thefts do happen. Taking precautions will ensure a smooth, crime free visit.

Townships in Namibia are called locations. Namibia safety decreases once you enter a location. Locations are often an interest among travelers and they can show you a side to Namibia that is only read about. Locations are in just about every town in Namibia and are home to the poorer classes of society. If you plan to tour a location, go with a guide, with a friend, or if traveling alone have a plan. Be sure to visit during the day, and leave your valuables at home. Visiting a location is a great opportunity and should be part of your travel plans. When visiting a location, apply the same rules as you would when traveling in a big city. When exercising caution, locations can be fun and friendly, offering you a rich cultural experience. For women travelers and those traveling alone, know your boundaries and familiarize yourself with local attitudes. Avoiding overwhelming conversation and attention will take some practice however making friends with local women is a great way to have a fun, safe experience. The same can be said for men traveling solo.

It is important to note a few areas of caution to increase your safety in Namibia. Most thefts occur when your back is turned. In the north, thieves have perfected a variety of diversion tactics. Be aware of your surroundings and if one person is talking to you, know perfectly well where your belongings are as another person may be behind you stealing your valuables. If anything is visible and can easily be taken out of a pocket, or dangling off a bag, chances are someone will. The same can be said with valuables inside of cars. Nearly everywhere, supermarkets, restaurants, etc., an attendant will be on duty watching over vehicles. Pay the man a few Namibian dollars for his services; it’s a small price to pay in keeping your things safe. If your window is smashed, file a police report and get a copy, this will make your claim on your insurance policy much easier. Do be aware when dealing with the police as it will take time, and in most cases nothing more than a report will happen.

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