A woman standing looking out onto the ocean in Morocco

Travelling to Africa Alone as a Woman

No offense to everyone else, but a girl’s best travel partner is herself. Travelling solo can be a super empowering and eye-opening experience, and the feeling of complete freedom to choose where to go and what to do is simply unparalleled. When you’re on the road alone, you’re able to connect closely with your surroundings in a way that isn’t always available to you when someone else is by your side. It’s also a great opportunity to build confidence and get in touch with your inner traveler. Taking a solo trip is the ultimate act of self-indulgence, and once you take the first plunge, you’ll be hooked.

If you’re looking for your next solo travel destination, we suggest a place that boasts some of the most spectacular wildlife and nature landscapes in the world – Africa. Africa is vastly different from coast to coast, making it the perfect place for adventure-seeking solo travelers. Here, you’re sure to find new ways to connect with your surroundings; whether it’s through the thrilling adrenaline rush of ziplining over the Victoria Falls, breathtaking views of the Big Five in their natural habitats on an African safari, or sitting with a cup of coffee and chatting with the locals in one of the continent’s metropolitan centres.  Traveling alone in Africa can sound daunting to many, thanks to a number of misconceptions about the continent, but many people, women included, have experienced travelling to Africa alone, and found it to be completely safe. While recent political strife might mean that the continent hasn’t enjoyed the best reputation, Africa is just as safe, if not safer, than many other popular tourist destinations around the world. Depending on where you go, most attractions in Africa are far away from zones of conflict and enjoy low crime rates, with the biggest problem being sporadic petty crime. Women who are traveling alone might be more likely to receive unwelcome attention, but don’t let this discourage you – the same can result if you are too obvious about your wealth. When you travel alone in Africa, you’re sure to meet lots of friendly people – either warm and helpful locals, or other solo travelers just like you!

Travel to: Africa

Here are some suggestions to kickstart your African solo travel itinerary:

Seek some thrills at Victoria Falls

This majestic waterfall is one of the largest in the world and is high on many travelers’ lists, but it should be at the top of yours if you’re a solo traveler looking to step way outside your comfort zone. Sitting on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Falls are a sight to behold, and their popularity means an established tourist infrastructure and that you likely won’t be the only one exploring on your own. Here, solo activities abound, and they’re not for the faint of heart – go bungee jumping off the bridge that connects Zimbabwe and Zambia, or zipline across the Zambezi River Gorge. If these thrilling high wire activities aren’t for you, go white-water rafting and spot some crocodiles and hippos, wade in Devil’s Pool and peer over the edge of the Falls, or go on a hike around the area and experience the local arts, crafts, and cultural scenes.

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is simply breathtaking | © Ninara/Flickr

Go on a safari

Safaris are one of the most popular experiences for travelers to Africa, and rightfully so – the vast continent is home to an astonishingly wide range of wildlife, making for a wildlife viewing experience unlike any other. There’s a solitary joy in wildlife watching, so you would be remiss not to do one on a solo trip – not only are safaris one of the best places to meet and interact with fellow travelers, but going solo also gives you the flexibility to go after the sights you truly want to see. No two safaris in Africa are the same, so you’ll have some decisions to make – do you want to see the Big Five game animals in their natural habitats in Kenya, or go on a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda? There are safaris for all budgets, styles, and terrains, and sharing stories of the day’s journey with fellow travelers around a warm fire at twilight will be one of the highlights of your trip.

Elephants around a water hole in Africa
A safari is an incredible experience to embark on solo! | © Christine Donaldson/Unsplash

Unwind at a beach

Beaches are great places to recuperate from the stresses and anxieties of travel, and it’s likely that many likeminded travelers will seek the rest and relaxation of the beach, too. It’s a good thing that there are so many stunning ones that occupy Africa’s coastlines, and you’ll find a different ocean vista at each one. Whether you’re looking for peace and quiet under the shade of a palm tree, like you’ll find in the quiet beaches of Seychelles and Mauritius, water sport heaven like you’ll find in Swakopmund, Namibia, or snorkeling and scuba diving on the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique, the beaches in Africa are not to be missed.

A boat in the Bazaruto Archipelago
Sailing in the Bazaruto Archipelago | © Rosino/Flickr

Interact with the people you meet along the way

As empowering as solo travel is, there can be moments when the loneliness might hit. If you ever crave a companion on your trip, it’s not hard to find one! If you’re staying at a hostel, you’ll be surrounded by plenty of fellow solo travelers. Joining a tour will help you meet people, and could take you off the beaten track on your travels. Take the opportunity to get to know the locals, who are some of the nicest, most welcoming people you’ll ever meet. With so many warm and friendly people around you, you won’t feel alone for long!

A group of three people climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Making friends while trekking Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania | © Tom Cleary/Unsplash

Though it’s definitely safe to travel in Africa alone, all travel comes with risk, and Africa is no exception. It’s important to avoid traveling to areas that are currently in conflict, like areas of Central and West Africa, so check your travel advisories to help you plan your trip. Make sure you get all your required travel vaccinations to avoid falling ill, as emergency services might not be as readily available. Do not travel or walk alone at night. As you would with all travel destinations, do your share of cultural research beforehand, and make sure to respect it while you’re there. Be aware of the fact that you’re going to stand out as a foreigner, and avoid displays of wealth by making sure not to wear expensive jewellery or carry your wallet and pricey electronics, like cameras and cell phones, out in the open. Going on a solo trip will require a lot of planning ahead, but it’s guaranteed to pay off as the trip of a lifetime!

Melanie is a Toronto-based writer and editor who loves experiencing new things in new places. In between adventures, you can find her with her nose in a book, re-watching episodes of Friends, or on the lookout for her next favourite brunch spot.

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