I have been in South Africa for 3 years now, since our return from Singapore. It took a year to find the accommodation where we now live, in the bush on a private game farm 50km from our nearest town. (Which is so light weight it has no traffic lights.)
When we go to Johannesburg (which is often and usually for Tony’s work reasons), we stay in accommodation that in itself is basic but fine, but in a rather dubious area.
Constantly in South Africa, I come across the attitude of: you stay there? really? don’t you feel unsafe? And this is said about both the town location and the bush location.!! Sometimes there is no winning. I’ve even had one of the (female) owners of the game farm tell me that I am “very brave staying here by yourself”.
Tony’s work takes him away from South Africa for 26 days at a time, sometimes longer. His time at home varies from 1 day to 10 days. In order for us to maintain any kind of relationship I travel with him to locations that I deem are suitable. I elect to go to Uganda. I choose not to accompany him to Mogadishu, Somalia or Juba, Southern Sudan.
Uganda, Entebbe in particular, is not at the same level of sophistication or development as South Africa and being in the centre of Africa it is deemed by many South Africans a being “deepest, darkest” and therefore waaaay less safe than South Africa. Constantly I come across the attitude of: wow, isn’t is unsafe there?
Interestingly enough, the South Africans that have been to Uganda prefer the security of Uganda over the waaaay less secure environment of South Africa. Many of these South Africans now live permanently in Uganda.
The reality is that Uganda is a much less violent society than South Africa. Sure there is petty opportunistic theft -the same as any where world wide. But the majority of people are very open and friendly. So in comparison to South Africa, I’d take Uganda any day.
Uganda is becoming more and more the centre for AID/UN work and subsequently attracting a larger number of expats who bring with them USD. That and tourism (predominantly visiting the Gorillas) also bringing in USD makes Uganda more expensive than South Africa in many areas, most notably groceries and rents. So in comparison to South Africa I’d take South Africa any day.
Uganda has an intermittent but mostly intact, and constant, power supply so electricity and internet connections are reliable. The place that we stay has a generator that kicks in very smartly when the power goes down, so interruptions are minimal. South Africa has a failing power plant that has not been upgraded nor maintained for a number of years. This original plant cannot cope with the increasing demands being placed upon it. An additional power plant has been in the making for several years now, running years behind schedule and billions over budget and is still estimated to be 5 years away from completion. South Africa now does “load-shedding” whereby the power is regularly turned off for any number of hours at one time, in vast areas of the country. This of course impacts in so many areas: internet, security, refrigeration. Many businesses have invested in generators, which are now reaching record demand as well as price. A schedule is now published on line for when the power is likely to be off in all areas. Break-ins are now timed for these power outages, as electrical security is then at its lowest. So in comparison I’d take Uganda any day.
Uganda being on the equator has a less extreme weather temperature variation. It does however have wet seasons and combined with many of the roads being unpaved, turns things rather slick and muddy after heavy rains. South Africa being further south has the typical 4 seasons and depending on where you live as to how extreme and wet. So from that comparison, with my penchant for warmer climes, I’d take Uganda any day.
Is it possible to live on a private game farm in Uganda? Certainly there are some world renown game reserves and parks but I’m not really sure that private game farms exist. South Africa has a growing culture of shifting from farming domestic animals to farming wildlife. Some for hunting, some for tourism, some just for pleasure. I’m lucky enough to live on a game farm, immediately surrounded by others, that have been developed for pleasure. Having only herbivores, but with leopard that are protected, seldom seen and roam over numerous farms, the dangers here are minimal. So in comparison, with my lifelong love of wildlife and an ever growing love of the wilderness, I’d take South Africa any day.
However at this point in time I get to sample both countries. And that makes me very happy.