TRAVELLING SOLO THROUGH TANZANIA
My 16-day whirlwind itinerary through Tanzania was a whole list of firsts for me: first time to Manyara, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti, first time witnessing the Great Migration, first time travelling solo, and the longest period to date that I would be away from my daughter. So, with my bags packed, my camera and Kindle fully charged, and my phone full of videos and pictures of my family, I headed off on what ended up being one of the most incredible trips of my life!
The first of many flights was to Johannesburg from Cape Town, and then on to Nairobi and finally to my first destination at Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania. After a quite long wait for my visa, I finally was on the road to Legendary Lodge in Arusha. The beauty of the lodge, the warm welcome from the staff, and the big bed I had all to myself after that long trip from Cape Town, was a sight for sore eyes. I grabbed a quick snack and proceeded to jump straight in a big bubble bath to soak the day of travel away. This was the first very evident perk of travelling alone – the freedom of not having to share your space and indulging in some pampering.
The next day I was off to Lake Manyara Tree Lodge for the only 2-night stay in one lodge over the course of the trip. I was so excited to see this lodge and experience Lake Manyara but was also wondering what two nights on safari on my own would be like. Would I spend my time between game drives relaxing in my own in my room or by the pool? Would I find some nice guests to take in a lonely straggler? Or would the lodge staff feel pity on me and sit with me at each meal? Well, to my absolute delight and surprise, a bit of all three scenarios played out!
After my time at Manyara, I headed to Ngorongoro Crater for a few nights at a couple different lodges, one of which being the &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, where I reunited with 4 guests, I had met at Lake Manyara Tree Lodge. So far, I was finding my footing along this journey pretty easily and was totally loving being back out in the bush while making new friends. However, I can’t lie and say that when my butler at both Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater Lodge surprised me to a perfectly romantic, rose covered bubble bath, that I didn’t wish I could share that with my husband.
My epic journey continued along from Ngorongoro to Mwiba and into the Southern Serengeti, ending in the prolific Grumeti Reserve. Across these next 12 nights, I ticked more things off my bucket list than I had ever thought I would: seeing the Ngorongoro Crater, finding myself in the middle of the Great Wildebeest Migration super herd, watching a Wildebeest give birth, sitting for hours with 2 lionesses and their cubs relaxing up a tree, and ticking off new bird and wildlife species that I had never seen before (I love those blue jean wearing Topi’s).
At the end of the 16-day journey, though ready to return home to my family, I could easily say that was one of the best journeys I’ve embarked on. I met new amazing people from all over the world, I had the opportunity to hide away and be on my own (which as a mother of a toddler is a huge blessing), I had meals with new friends as well as a few off on my own and I learned that travelling solo isn’t as scary or as lonesome as I had anticipated. I read a few books and found time for some workouts in my room, I indulged in bubble baths whenever I could, and I let the world around me dictate my pace and schedule. When life is so busy between work and life commitments and relationship expectations, sometimes heading out into the world on your own for a little break is the perfect way to slow down and rejuvenate. Take time to be alone or interact with a staff member at the lodge and understand a little more about their world or take a moment to chat to another guest and listen to their life story. Eat and drink what you want, go to bed as early, rise early, make the most of your incredible surrounds. The only challenge now after returning home is convincing my husband to parent solo for another trip!
Top Solo Travel Tips:
- Top of your packing list: Camera, kindle, and your sense of adventure!
- Solo or otherwise, apply for visas in advance if possible, to facilitate smoother transitions through airports/border posts.
- Take advantage of having a room to yourself, whether it be enjoying a soothing bath or shower, spreading out across the whole bed, doing a little workout on your verandah, or sitting and doing nothing, taking in the silence around you.
- Invest in a kindle or tablet to take with you. With more downtime on your own than when you travel with someone else, you will appreciate having as many books as you want at your fingertips without them taking up space in your suitcase.
- Batteries and Chargers! With no one else to rely on to capture sights and experiences, make sure you pack extra batteries and chargers for your camera and phone.