Me and my girlfriend are going to travel around Southeast Africa from May to July. We haven't made any specific plans but we will likely visit Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and/or Botswana.

We have no interest in touristic attractions and avoid them (e.g. Victoria Falls). As our budget is very tight, we're going to have to skip Serengeti and other major national parks. We enjoy hitchhiking, wild camping and making friends with locals. We would like to just go wherever the road takes us.

I am aware that in South Africa, where we'll be starting and finishing our trip, travelling like this would be extremely dangerous. I am not sure about the other countries, though. From research I have done, crime rates in those countries are much lower than in SA, but still rather high.

Question: Can we wander around the countries mentioned above without exposing ourselves to a significant risk of getting seriously hurt?

Background: We are 25 and 27 years old, white Europeans. I am currently staying in South Africa. We have hitchhiked around Europe in our teens, backpacked in Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Mongolia, Siberia, Indonesia, Morocco, etc. Both of us have also lived abroad several times. We have a lot of respect for other people and have always managed to get out of any difficult/dangerous situation.

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    Can you define "significant risk"? – Calchas Apr 8 at 21:38

You're essentially answering your own question: you're an experienced European traveler who currently lives in Africa and has 'always managed to get out of any difficult/dangerous situation'. There's little anyone can add which you don't already know or can easily find out.

But, at the risk of stating the obvious: Wherever you go in these countries you'll stand out, both for your looks, your clothes and your mode of transport. Most locals will frown on you traveling around on a small budget, and quite a bit of your trip might end up being rather tough; there is no wild camping in these places, distances are big and amenities are few.

That said, most people you'll encounter will be great. Crime typically should not be a concern, though because you will stand out, you are likely to also attract unwanted attention at times. Violent crime targeted at foreigners is, thankfully, still rare, but not impossible.

I lived in several of the countries you want to visit, traveled around quite a bit and never felt I was in a dangerous situation (except perhaps once in downtown Johannesburg). I plenty of times felt less great for a complete lack of comfort, though.

  • Thank you for your insight. The reason I am asking is because I find South Africa to be much more dangerous (in terms of violent crime) than any other country I have been to so far. I know it is subjective but I am actually following some safety precautions that I never cared about. So, I was wondering if the countries I mentioned are like it or if SA is an exception. – Jan Pisl Apr 9 at 9:56
  • Of those countries you list, SA is definitely the exception. Not just as far as crime is concerned, but also in relation to access to conveniences and development. – MastaBaba Apr 10 at 10:54

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