Africa Travel Guide |
Home Destinations in Africa

A Solo Travelers First Steps

When a solo traveler finally commits to traveling through Africa on their own, one of the first questions that comes into his or her mind is, “Where to go?” It’s a daunting, almost mind boggling question – one that you could think about for literally years. Why? The reason is Africa is mammoth and has such a wide variety of landscapes, cultures and travel options. There are countless solo trips around Africa – you could just see where fate takes you, or you could follow a typical tourist route. Ultimately, the great thing about traveling in Africa is that, depending upon your level of comfort, budget, and time, Africa (and all it countries) has legions of options. There are thousands of great places just waiting to be found, explored, and others routes that have all the services and ease of traveling of, say, Europe. Solo traveling all comes down to your vision and you willingness to climb into a bus that isn’t filled with tourist; one that is heading off into the unknown. Then you wait to see what happens.

For beginner Africa travelers, I have listed some good typical backpacker routes – some which are easy, have tourist infrastructure, and others that might be a little bit more difficult. The beauty is you can always start with the easier travel routes, which often times aren’t always easy, and then go off on your own. That’s where you will have the real experience.

A good, and cheap, starter country for Africa travel is Morocco, only a short boat ride from Spain. You could easily combine this with a backpacking trip in Europe – and you can save a lot of money if you fly into Spain vs. Morocco.

Morocco is fascinating African country that offers travelers a lively, somewhat exotic experience, drastically different from Europe. Morocco offers travelers a chance to peak into an old world culture Islamic that in beginning to mix with new world influences. While it has been a discovered country for quite some time (there are hundreds of packaged tour buses in the summer), it still offers the idyllic experience: Travelers can trek by camel across the Sahara desert, enjoying little Berber settlements scattered among the sand dunes. Others choose to get lost and shop in the labyrinths of alleys in Fes or Marakesh, wandering around each corner not knowing what to expect; perhaps you will encounter a cock fight or an old Muslim women painting hena on people hands. Those not looking to experience the hectic cities usually head to the beach for relaxing and surfing, or up into the Atlas Mountains that offer hikes and some great scenic villages.

Listed below are some of the more popular areas around Morocco. Yes, they are touristy areas – but finding those hidden spots is up to you, and only a few steps in another direction. You can always get off the beaten path in places like Marrakech and Fes.

Favorite Traveler Haunts:
High Atlas Mountains

Tanzania and Kenya are a solo travelers paradise. With a fairly good infrastructure (in Africa terms) and a number of high profile destinations fairly close, this is a good place to experience Africa on your own terms.

In theory, within three weeks, you can climb the highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, safari in the Serengeti or Masai Mara, and finally end your time relaxing on the beaches of an exotic Swahili islands, like Lamu of Zanzibar. While most people visit East Africa for some of the world’s most famous wildlife parks, the real treasures for solo travelers can be found almost anywhere in the country – and it can be done on a small budget. Throughout both countries are seldom-visited wildlife parks, picturesque villages, isolated mountain ranges, and friendly, curious people.

Favorite Traveler Haunts:
Mt. Kilimanjaro/Moshi
Serengetti/Masai Mara

Every year South Africa seems to be growing in popularity on the traveler’s circuit. While South Africa isn’t exactly indicative of the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s a great place to travel around, or to begin traveling into other nearby countries like Namibia or Botswana. South Africa has great surf, beaches, safaris, and western food – just about everything to make it a little bit easier than other travel routes.

The picturesque, heavily traveled, Garden Route stretches along the south Western Cape, and is a favorite haunt for solo travelers, packaged tourists in search of relaxation on the white sand beaches. Rumor has it that full of elderly German and English tourists in mobile homes now. Although one of the primary tourist destinations, the Garden Route is still home to an abundant number of animals, and private animals reserves are reintroducing a number of animals that were once indigenous to the region.

Favorite Traveler Haunts:
Kruger National Park
Cape Town
Overberg Region
Garden Route
Wild Coast

We love you Ghana. Ghana gets the award for perhaps one of the easier destination to travel around in West Africa. First, you have English speaking country, which is a little bit easier for us non Francophones; second, the people seems to be very genuinely friendly; and third, the country seems to remain stable compared to many of the countries in West Africa. Ghana is a favorite starting point for those heading off to some of the more difficult travel countries in region. Togo is a great country as well, but Ghana seems a tad bit easier for a solo traveler.

Favorite Traveler Haunts:

Cape Coast
Lake Volta
Kakum National Park

Egypt is perhaps one of the first places where tourist countries in the world – and in Africa. In ancient times, Roman tourists would come to Egypt and follow some of the traditional paths still traveled today. Arriving from a few historical sites in Greece, they would come to Egypt to see the Pyramids, cruise down the Nile, and explore the ancient city of Luxor. Nowadays legions of every kind of tourists – from solo backpackers to packaged elderly tourists to archeological students – explore Egypt and visit the sights that they learned about in their high school history class or on the Discovery Channel.

For solo travelers, Egypt’s trains and buses are efficient, although sometimes the chaos of places like Cairo adds the traditional kind of Africa confusion and disorder. Given that Egypt’s population is centralized, the solo traveler can easily get off the beaten path and explore lesser-known areas around the country. Now that Egypt’s neighbor Libya is open for travel again, it might make a good direction to head for solo travelers really wanting to experience an untouched north African country.

Favorite Traveler Haunts:
Dakhla Oasis

We are going to continue to update this section, adding more details, and adding countries, like Senegal and Gambia, which has some good solo traveling. If you have any ideas, thoughts, or want to contribute, email donovan at BootsnAll dot com.