Africa covers a vast continent with sparse population and the crowded cities. Once you discover its beauty and amazing wildlife you will be forever drawn to Africa. Take care and research the countries you will will travel to as some parts of Africa are quite hostile.
Tourists are often distracted, caught up and in awe of the destination they are visiting, often not noticing other things or people around them. Here we share common tactics and travel scams that travellers should be aware of, so hopefully you will read the scams and recognise them if approached by a scammer so you can avoid them. You may not encounter any of them or you may encounter some of them, this list helps prepare you should a scammer target you.
Some of the most common travel scams are seen throughout many countries around the world in similar or various forms. Most are fairly harmless besides putting a dent in your wallet and your pride from being scammed! Some scams are more serious and quite dangerous, know how to recognise the signs to help avoid them.
Visit your government’s travel warning website for more information.
The good people of our world far outweigh those scammers, so be aware, stay safe, but most of all ENJOY!
Emergency - 123 Ambulance, 126 Tourist Police, 122 Emergency Police, 180 Fire Department
Be Cautious in - Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Aswan, Luxor, Sharm El Sheikh
Pick-Pockets - You are at greater risk of pick-pocketing and bag snatching in crowded areas, public transport, cafes, markets and in resort areas.
Dirty Clothes/shoes/bird crap - Something gets on your jacket/shoe, (food, drink, dog poo) which locals may try and ‘help’ you remove/clean and while you are distracted with the fuss getting clean they are picking your pockets and/or walking off with the camera they offered to ‘hold for you’. If something happens say you do not need help and walk off quickly and if they persist yell at them drawing attention to the situation and they will soon leave not wanting any attention drawn to them.
Bracelet – Kids/women may offer and then tie a tapestry ‘friendship’ bracelet around your wrist, once it is firmly tied they will promptly ask for money for it. If payment is not forthcoming then they may create a scene demanding money. Avoid getting into this situation by not allowing them to tie the bracelet in the first instance. If they do tie a bracelet demand they take it off and don’t give them any money, indicate you will find someone with scissors to cut it off if they persist. If you refuse to pay they may yell out that you have stolen it, do not get embarrassed or be intimidated by them, counter it with, "scammer, get it off scammer". If you do want a bracelet agree a price before they tie it on.
Tourist Trains – Watch your bags and luggage at all times, even in first class. Use a bag lock to lock together if travelling with others or hook the strap around a leg so they cannot be snatched if someone is running past, or if you fall asleep. Try to make sure someone is awake to watch your bags at ALL times.
Taxi – Taxi drivers overcharge unsuspecting tourists unaware of the costs when arriving in a new country. Ask a local the estimate cost of the ride or if available use the local registered taxis, especially from the airport.
Uber - Uber has reached Egypt so fares can be compared with rates taxis are quoting. Once the fare is sorted, make sure they do not try one of the other money making scams!
Airport Toll - The taxi driver may try to charge you for the toll road. It is the taxi driver who is responsible to pay so make sure it is clear any quoted fare includes the road toll.
Wrong note - When you make a purchase or pay for your taxi pay careful attention to the note you provide. They may tell you you haven’t given them enough, you are sure you gave them the 100 and not the 10 they are waving back at you? To eliminate opportunity for the switch of the note ask them to provide the change before you hand over your cash. Make sure you pay attention to every transaction and check your change.
Hotel Closed/Burnt Down - If your taxi driver says that the hotel/hostel you want to go to is closed, burnt down in a fire or full and suggest another hotel/hostel insist that they take you to your hotel/hostel.
Hotel Switch - Your taxi driver may even take you to another hotel completely and try and tell you this is the one you asked for. Ask them to take you to your hotel and say you will not pay anymore fare because it was their mistake, if they argue them tell them you will get out and get another taxi, offering half the fare because they did not take you to your destination. You must have your luggage with you, it won't work if your luggage is locked in the boot/trunk.
Hotels - Inspect the room before you check-in. Some hotels may try and put you in a smaller or lower standard room than you booked.
Credit Cards – Keep your credit card in view for all transactions. Do not allow retails to make transactions out of site as the may use mobile sim cards to transmit the cards details to criminal gangs. Try to pay cash for all purchases.
Change – Always take careful note of what money you present for payment and what change is given. Many vendors try and tell you they don't have change, tell you you gave them a different note, talk to you or distract you in the hope you will forget about your change and may tell you you have to take goods in lieu of change.
Change – Check your change and make sure you have been given the correct change and not a 100 note/bill instead of a 1000. Some country's notes have similar colours.
'Tours' – Some city tours are no more that shopping tours where the tour leader will take you to several local shops or 'craft centers' where travellers are hounded by sales staff to buy overpriced goods that the tour leader will make commissions on. Before you book tours tell them NO SHOPS. Avoid tours that include stops to these local shops/crafts and if you are taken to them demand your tour leader takes you to genuine tourist sites. If you are taken to more shops, simply stay in car/taxi/van and refuse to go in the shops. They will make no money and will not be worth them taking you if you do not get out.
Fake Guide – A 'guide' will ask to check your ticket and not give your ticket back but instead try to you take you on an walk through the attraction, point out a few facts, and then ask for a tip.
Fake Guard – A 'guard' will approach you saying they can give you access to a 'private/closed' tomb or attraction, but will take you to public areas and then demand payment.
Dual/Tourist Menus – A bar or restaurant will entice travellers with cheap meal deals only to swap this menu with the 'tourist menu' with higher prices. If you are shown a menu take the menu with you and confirm prices before you order your meals and drinks. If they do not want to give you them menu move onto another place. Often 'tourist menus' will be provided as a matter of course, especially in popular tourist destinations. Head for less touristy areas for better prices.
Overcharging 'tourist prices' – Try and do your homework prior to arriving in a country so you know what the local prices are. Some will try and charge you higher prices while other blatantly have 'tourist prices'. Tourist pricing may apply to accommodation, attractions, menus, etc.
Tourist Attraction Closed - Arriving near the entrance independently or by taxi you may be approached by a local that advises you that the attraction is closed due to a holiday, official visit, riot etc. Just keep walking to the main entry as the attraction is usually open, they may tell you this just to try and take you on an expensive ‘alternate’ tour to local shops where they will get a large commissions. The rare occasion that an attraction is closed find your own alternative because anything that involves locals approaching you on the street will inevitably end up costing you a lot of time and money.
Helping out - A person may offer to help you out with directions, taking a photo, etc. and then ask for a tip.
If you have current information with regard to a scam or any content on this site please contact us to review and revise or add information.