A Solo Traveller's Guide to Tanzania

Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zanzibar, Tanzania | © Marc Veraart/Flickr
Gill Lange

Those considering a trip to Tanzania, there are so many interesting reasons to visit and linger in this colourful country. And as a solo traveller, enjoy the chance to explore it all and try new things without arguing about where to go and what to leave off of an itinerary.

Travel light, travel free

The first thing to bear in mind is that solo travellers only have two hands, so don’t get bogged down with tons of luggage. Too many items will only throw a roadblock on the path of individual spontaneity.

That being said, there are some items essential for a trip to Tanzania: good walking shoes, a hat, and lightweight clothing that still do a good job of covering up skin will make wildlife safaris all the more enjoyable. Although often hot and humid, covering up helps with sun protection and, more importantly, helps prevent insect bites in awkward places. Remember, an itch between the shoulder blades is hard to reach.

Packing essentials

Pack a bathing suit, but leave the itsy bitsy thong for the beaches of Ibiza. This is especially true for solo female travellers as much as Tanzania’s cultural and religious beliefs steer towards modesty for women. And while wearing a bikini at a private resort is perfectly acceptable, strolling the streets of Stone Town in one will attract unwanted attention and possibly even ire.

Take a few sarongs or buy some after arriving because they are a great way to reduce the flash of flesh while still allowing a beachy, carefree feeling.

Source a good guide

If visiting the plains of the Serengeti are on the itinerary, having a good, knowledgeable guide as a travel companion is essential. First of all, no one wants to get lost alone in the wilderness, and secondly, using an experienced guide ensures the chance to see all that is out there instead of feeling rushed while on a tour with others. A guide will also be a wealth of knowledge and a big advantage to a solo trip is having time to ask questions and acquire thousands of interesting little facts that will make a trip to Tanzania all the more enriching.

Tanzanian Guide

Select your accommodation carefully

Due to the growing popularity of solo travelling in Tanzania, many of the camps and lodges now charge single travellers who visit on holiday less or waive the supplement fee completely. It is, therefore, possible to stay at many of the fly-in properties in the south and west of Tanzania and only be asked to pay a small supplement rather than the traditional, double price.

While quietly contemplating the beauty of nature over a morning cup of coffee is an awesome way to start the day, those who don’t see a candlelit dinner to be as enticing can enjoy the atmosphere in a good selection of lodges that cater specifically towards solo travellers. These lodges also offer joint social activities such as communal dining and relaxed lounge areas that give visitors the opportunity to meet other tourists.

Coffee for one

Better safe than sorry

Tanzanians are generally courteous and kind but as with any country, there are always exceptions. As a solo traveller, it is especially important to not journey alone after dark and better to stick to cabs and recognised public transport systems than trying to hitch a ride. Don’t keep cash and other valuables in one place just in case it gets stolen or misplaced—and it’s best to leave non-essential items like fancy jewellery and watches at home. Being stuck alone in a foreign country without a passport, phone, or money can be a scary affair.

Street in Stone Town

Why not volunteer?

Want to go it alone but feel more comfortable with a bit of a safety net? Then signing up for a volunteer programme is a great way to travel. It can also be cheaper and offers the opportunity to become familiar with the country.

There are dozens of community schools and orphanages in Tanzania that are happy to receive extra helping hands, and it’s also a fantastic way to really get to know the locals, their lifestyles, and traditions. After settling in and getting some insight from the locals as to the best spots to visit, the true, uninhibited adventures can begin.

Smiling Tanzanian school girl

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