Independent travel is a liberating experience – but it can be daunting, too. Observing a few common-sense rules of the road can keep you safe on your journey
Is 2015 the year you want to head out on the open road alone? Even if you’re looking forward to the total freedom of travelling solo, there are sure to be some doubts as you face what could be a daunting prospect. Employ a spot of Fixology, though, and you can enjoy the freedom and flexibility of travelling solo, safely.
Consider your destination
There are some geopolitical hotspots, such as various destinations in the Middle East, that are currently best avoided. Be aware of any issues by checking the Foreign Office website. Beyond this, there are some countries that are easier to travel around alone; most European destinations present few issues, for example. Longer haul, consider places that travellers tend to congregate, such as Thailand, where infrastructure is good and you might meet others in the same situation. Australia and New Zealand are even easier, with no language barrier and excellent infrastructure.
Join a group
One halfway house for nervous first-timers is to join a guided group trip for “solo” travellers. Yes, you do lose a bit of your independence, but you gain the necessary backup to build confidence for your next truly solo trip. It need not be the old cliched Club 18-30 holiday (which are actually often a lot of fun for those in that age group), with a wide choice of operators today targeting different ages and tastes.
Keep your belongings safe
Minimise the potential stress of losing your passport or cash hoard and having to sort it out alone by keeping your luggage and key belongings safe. Buy a subtle travel pouch or belt to keep things tucked away out of sight and plan to carry a minimum of cash by packing bank cards and credit cards instead – but keep them separate so they can’t be lost all at once. Use a tagging service such as idtagit to ensure that if you do lose something, anyone who finds it will know how to return it.
When you are out on the road alone, use traveller common sense. Blend in by wearing what the locals do: avoid wearing your favourite sports top or any clothing that may offend local customs, such as sleeveless tops or short skirts. Be wary and remember that you don’t have the benefit of safety in numbers, so keep your belongings close and avoid attracting attention, especially at potential flashpoints like bars, clubs and transport hubs.
Keep in touch
Checking in with others is a great way to stay safe when travelling solo. Let your social media friends know how often you will be updating your status so they can keep an eye on you. It’s safer to bore them with daily photos of the Taj Mahal than disappear off the radar. Use social media, email, texts, calls and any other communications you can to let people you trust know where you will be and when, so they can watch out for you and alert someone if they are concerned.
The world famous Maasai Mara
The world famous Maasai Mara is home to the Great Migration, July through October each year. It also boasts astonishing amount of resident wildlife. The rolling grasslands, the Mara River and the Rift Valley all make for great game viewing and wildlife photography.
To capture the definitive Kenyan wildlife shot, visit Amboseli and photograph herds of elephant wandering past the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. Amboseli’s big skies and far horizons, combined with swampy springs and dry and dusty earth trampled by hundreds of animals, is a safari paradise – and the views of Mount Kilimanjaro are incomparable.
The twin National Parks of Tsavo East and West form one of Africa’s largest wilderness reserves, incorporating savannah, ranges and hills, acacia and montane forest, and an extensive river system. Tsavo is a bird watcher’s paradise, and viewing hippo and crocodile in the crystal clear waters of the volcanic Mzima springs is unique in all of East Africa.
Africa’s second highest mountain, Mount Kenya, is both a Unesco World Heritage site and a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. The mountain is best seen at dawn, when the day’s early light silhouettes its impressive summit high over the surrounding mountains. Trekking on Mount Kenya, for all levels of walkers, is a true African wilderness adventure. Meru Made famous by conservationists George and Joy Adamson, Meru is where Elsa the lioness was raised. With impressive views of Mount Kenya, visitors to this lovely wilderness may see eland, Bohor reedbuck, black rhino and some of the more than 427-recorded bird species in the park’s diverse habitats.
Samburu is the best place to find several endemic Northern species, including gerenuk, the reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra. Lions are frequently seen on the riverbanks, and cheetah can be found on the open plains together with huge herds of elephant. Travellers will also delight in meeting the Samburu people, who call this wild part of Kenya home.
This spectacular region is the gateway to Kenya’s northern frontier country. Wild and sparsely populated, much of Laikipia is covered by privately owned ranches where cattle share the land with free-ranging wildlife. Horseback riding through Laikipia’s wilderness is a true African adventure.
This fresh water lake, fringed by thick papyrus, is home to an incredible variety of birds, including the pink-backed pelican, goliath heron and giant kingfisher. The waters of the lake draw a great range of game: giraffe feed on the acacia, buffalo wallow in the shallow waters and colobus monkeys call from the treetops.
End your Kenyan safari by spending a few days in the ancient town of Lamu on the Indian Ocean coast. The winding streets, traditional houses and carved woods hark back to the Swahili culture of old.
Don't see the perfect trip on the list? No worries! We'd be happy to make a custom itinerary for you, so you can get exactly what you want out of your African adventure. Just give us a call!
East Africa: (+255) 784 737 413