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Introduction to Solo Travel

Ever since the first explorers traveled into the exterior of the then called “Dark Continent,” there was a true appetite for adventure and not knowing what to expect throughout Africa. Africa held an assorted array of mysterious cultures, landscapes, animals and overall difficulties. This type of adventure is what has drawn people to the continent for ages.

Today, hundreds of years later, it still draws people from all over the world. Backpackers, hunters, volunteers, missionaries and animal watchers are drawn to the unique rhythm and beats of Africa. For solo travelers on a minimal budget, most of Africa still remains a great options for those who want a true taste of modern-day adventure. Of course, it comes with its difficulties too: language barriers, general confusion, transportation problems, diseases and others “bad things” typically associated with Africa. However, almost anyone will tell you, the things that often stop people from going to Africa are minor compared to the things that make Africa a gem.

In general, there are no rules or regulations for traveling in Africa. You can walk, ride your bike or motorcycle, ride on top of a bus; hitchhike and pretty much navigate a majority of the countries. From Egypt to South Africa, you can travel by bus, train, and foot. Of course, there are many exceptions, and certain dangerous countries, but overall, solo travel is a great way to explore the countries and really connect with the people who are equally as curious about you.

Whole chapters could be written about some of the things I am going to discuss. These are just general philosophical references to help ease your mind and realize what is possible. Much of it comes down to you.

Here are a few things solo travel should consider.

How much should I spend?
How much money do you want to spend! It’s really up to you! Of course, it’s hard to generalize about more than 50 countries, but you can travel for really cheap, sleep at local homes, eat with locals, and only spend a small portion in comparison to living to traveling in the United States or Africa for a few days. Some travelers are hardcore enough that they can spend one dollar per day and manage to live for months; while others need to have more Western amenities and therefore spend more. It really comes down to the level you choose – and how much difficulty and time you are willing to endure. Here is how you can test yourself. If you were traveling a 300-mile journey on a dirt road would you A) go with a bus overload with people and animals for $2 or B) go with the luxury bus that serves refreshments and allows you to sit in your own seat. The cost is $20. The $20 would be nice and easy, but the $2 is where the action is, and is more a real experience. Much of this depends upon your personal time, but as you can see, you can spend a little, or spend a lot. This method applies to almost everything else – food, entertainment, and getting around.

Where can I sleep?
There are many types of sleeping options across Africa. In small towns, you can find a small guesthouse, which usually have modest sleeping options. Likewise, in major cities, you can find all levels of comfort, from five stars hotels to a one-star brothels. And, in most of rural Africa, you won’t find anything at all. For those on a tight budget, you can easily approach a local and ask them if you can pitch a tent or sleep near their house. While this sounds like a cultural no-no in the United States or Western Europe, it can quite easily be done through Africa – and, the great thing is, you get to meet a local family, not spend and money, and get a cultural experience that your friends would never dream of.

How am I going to get around?
Getting around Africa can be a chore, but often this chore turns out to be more exciting than you possibly imagined. Some of my best experiences have been riding a local bus, helping to push the taxi up a hill, moving furniture and children off the top of the bus, and even helping to drive. The important thing to remember is that traveling distances in Africa takes time and be aware that, in general, you aren’t going to get from point A to point B in an exact time.

Is it safe?
For first-timers to Africa, this seems to be one of the most crucial questions. How safe it it? This is almost completely hard to classify. Is a small town in Nebraska as safe as downtown Los Angeles? It’s impossible to categorize because they are so far apart and have different culture.

Here is what you should remember. Africa has problems but the chances of those problems interfering with you are slim. Africa is one of the most misunderstood places in the world and the people are generally conservative, friendly and curious. You can travel (and many people do) around a large majority of the countries and you will never interact with anyone that is against you. A number of travelers who have navigated the whole continent have said they have never felt unsafe.