Travel: Trouble spots

Something to declare
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The Independent Travel
South Africa: "We were both aware of the potential instability and dangers of the new South Africa. We strictly observed all the usual travellers rules of not wearing jewellery, dressing down and sticking to busy and well lit streets. In spite of all of this we were mugged within one hour of arriving in Johannesburg.

The airport shuttle bus to town dropped us at the station and we asked a station security guard if it was safe to make the 100 metre walk from there to the offices of a bus company. He said yes and we headed off. Within seconds nine youths split us up and insisted we hand over our bags. They were all armed with hunting knives. I immediately surrendered my bag but my partner's instinct was to try and hold onto his belongings and he fought with them, eventually wrestling the bag from the attacker.

Although people were around, no one tried to help and it was only when I started screaming that the assailants fled. They escaped with both our air and rail tickets, my passport, all my travellers' cheques, credit cards and money.

We reported the incident to the police - a depressing experience as their headquarters was an ancient caravan under the rail arches which contained nothing more than a naked light-bulb and chair. The officers told us that incidents like this occurred with boring regularity and that their jobs would be a lot easier if tourists stayed well away from Johannesburg." - Rachel Wearmouth, an Independent reader.

Namibia: "Roads are generally very good, although care should be taken to avoid hitting wandering wildlife, especially at night. Special caution should be exercised when driving on gravel roads, whose deceptive appearance invites speeding. On major roads where there are high speed limits, accidents involving drunk drivers are an increasing problem.

Some petty crime occurs, and violent crime is on the increase. Travellers should exercise extra caution when travelling near the Angolan border, where banditry is a problem." - US State Department.

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