How dangerous is hiking really?

I’m sitting on my purse, shoulder bag in my lap, and as soon as a car passes, I take out a sign that reads “Maun”. Maun in Botswana, my destination for the day, although bus service has been canceled due to flooded roads. The homeowner in Nata said some private cars were going and I should try my luck for a walk.

I’m sitting on the floor at a gas station at Maun Junction. An elderly lady joins me. She says I don’t have to ride in car with everyone. “We have a lot of nice people here, but look at them closely,” she says in broken English. I agree.

Before you even approached me, you had turned down two offers. It was a car loaded with three young men and a family of five was already sitting in the three back seats.

Backpack lying on the side of the road, travel reporter Miriam is looking for a tour of Botswana.

In South Africa, as in many parts of the world, it is not uncommon to hike. If buses run infrequently or not at all, this is often a quick alternative to getting in a stranger’s car. In Germany, on the other hand, people look at me strangely when I talk about these travel experiences. moving around? Single? as a woman? In Africa? “Are you completely tired of life?” A friend will ask via Whatsapp that day.

Hitchhiking: The epitome of freedom, wanderlust, and independence

Germany experienced its heyday from the 1960s to the 1980s, it was the epitome of freedom, wanderlust, and independence. At that time, when public transportation was not well developed and travel was an expensive commodity and a privilege, hiking made travel affordable and practical, especially within Germany and to other European countries. Stand on the side of the road with a sign or even simpler, simply raise your thumb – everyone knows right away what that means, even today. The person who wishes to be accompanied by the driver of the vehicle.

However, the hiking service doesn’t have the best reputation – it’s life-threatening as you turn yourself in to criminals, especially as a woman traveling alone. But is this true? Is hiking really dangerous?

Studies confirm that: Hiking is not dangerous

As early as 1989 and 1995, the University of Wuppertal and the Federal Office of the Criminal Police recorded in studies that hikers were at little risk if they got into a stranger’s car.

Their biggest risk: a car accident. And when there are sexual or criminal assaults in the car, in most cases it happens in a “close social environment”, that is, in the circle of friends or family – the people with whom you ride without hesitation.

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Even then, scientists discovered that hiking was given a bad reputation. Police campaigns have given the warning not to enter cars with strangers strolling with this image. The report says this is not based on actual incidents, but resulted from calls from the police.

It is true, however, that accidents happen again and again. Cases where young women are often raped or even murdered while driving. Because that’s also part of the reality: once you’re in the car with a stranger, your room to maneuver is minimal thanks to the central locking.

Hiking was once the epitome of freedom, spontaneity, and individuality.

When hiking, the same applies everywhere in life: if the offender is looking for a victim, he will try – no matter how extensive a person’s preventive actions are. Just because someone gets into someone else’s car doesn’t make him or her a victim.