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My name is Shinil Vaish. I’m an IT professional, a solo traveller, an adventure seeker, a nemophilist and a wildlife-photographer.   I’m in the IT…

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Things you should know while planning a ‘solo’ trip to Africa

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Africa is mystic, it’s a paradise for nature lovers. One can experience everything, the breathtaking scenery, the diverse culture and the thrilling experience to encounter the big five in this world’s second largest and most beautiful continent.

 

It is home to a wildlife seeker and in December 2019, I got an opportunity to visit my dreamland. Being a wildlife and adventure seeker, I chose to visit Amboseli, Naivasha, Nakuru, Masai Mara and Uganda National Parks in 10 days duration.

 

I never wanted to explore Africa on a pre-package tour with a fixed itinerary. Therefore planning a dream solo trip to Africa was an exciting challenge. I took help of my old friend ‘GOOGLE’ and did an extensive search about the places, resorts and, safari organisers. After evaluating a large no. of reviews, I prepared a pros and cons list and contacted few of the safari organisers in Africa. With a good amount of communication over mails and voice, I finally decided to plan my trip with Encounter Africa Safaris. Before sharing my travel stories, I want to share few travel tips.

Here sharing a few travel tips from my experience to consider while travelling to the East Africa.

 

Safety

-> Solo travelling starts with planning. It can be one of the most liberating and wonderful experience if done with proper safety measures. Do an extensive search on the places you want to visit and check the Travel Advisory issued by US Department of State. If the countries you are planning to visit falls in the 4th level category  ‘Do not travel’, just avoid visiting these places as there is a high risk of crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping and  armed conflict. Travelling to such places can turn your dream destination into a nightmare. Therefore always abide by the travel advisory guidelines. Both Kenya and Uganda falls under level 2 category.

 

-> Although I am not a news person but before any travel, I keep myself updated with the latest news about the planned places, to ensure there is no political or civil unrest during the duration of the visit.

 

-> As a best practice which I always follow, if you are travelling solo, share all your personal and travel details along with the resort address, driver-guide contact information over the mail with the Indian Embassy in these countries. Also ask the Embassy to share its emergency contact no. The Indian embassy contacted me multiple times to check my well-being in Africa.

 

-> Always be prepared for any unexpected situation. Keep the emergency helpline no. handy for immediate assistance in the places you are planning to visit in Africa. Check with your tour operator, if they have partnership with any other operator for the countries you are visiting, ask them to share the contact details of that operator also.

 

-> Some parts of Africa are not very safe to visit during the odd hours, therefore adhere to the advice of the local authorities and your travel guide.

 

-> Take a good Travel Insurance Policy for this part of the world because of its unique unforeseen situations where you just don’t need to be covered for medical expenses but also for emergency evacuations and repatriation.
 

Travel Immunizations

-> This is the most critical part. Get yourself vaccinated against life threating diseases. The vaccines depends on the countries you are visiting and the duration of your stay in these places. Yellow fever and polio vaccination is a must to have from the government designated centres in your country when travelling to Africa. Take the yellow fever vaccine at least 10 days before your travel date. If you are allergic to egg than the doctor will ask you to first go and do an allergy test in a recommended govt. hospital. Once you get a go-ahead report from the hospital, you are eligible for the yellow fever vaccination. This can take another 2-3 days therefore plan the vaccination at least 15-20 days prior to your travel date.

                                                   

-> As per the CDC and WHO recommendations vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, meningitis is also a must when visiting Kenya and Uganda. Malaria precautions are essential in most part of Africa ,therefore you need to start taking Malaria medication a week before your travel date. Consult your doctor and take advise on the medications for Cholera along with the first-aid kit with essential medicines. Be sure to include ample medication as you won’t be getting good medical facilities in every part of Africa.

 

-> Carry a good hand sanitizer with at-least 70% of alcohol percentage and avoid eating any cut fruits, salads or raw meat in this part of the world.

 

-> Tap water is a strict ‘NO’. Always carry a packaged water bottle as the contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid etc. Ask your travel operator to provide ample supply of the packaged water, keep yourself hydrated enough throughout the journey.

 

-> Carry a good mosquito repellent and always apply the same when you are going out for safaris. A good sunscreen along with sunglasses and hat is a must to have.

 

 

VISA Information

-> Book an East Africa Tourist Visa online if you are visiting  Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. You can book an East Africa Tourist visa online from Rwanda official website, only if your arrival country in Africa is Rwanda. If you are flying to Kenya from India the facility to book an online East Africa Visa is not available, however you can book an online single entry Visa for Kenya for USD50.

Sometimes it happens you don’t receive the VISA on time, don’t panic!  You can take the printout of the receipt of payment acknowledgement and the Visa can be issued to you at the airport in Africa. Cross check the same with the Kenya Embassy in India.

 

SIM Card

-> No single SIM card work across all the countries for data usage. So take the Mobile Data plan accordingly. SIM card outlets are available at the airport. You need to give a Photo ID proof along with a recent photograph to buy a SIM at the airport.

 

 

Local Currency 

-> Carry some local currency along with dollars when travelling to East Africa. You can exchange the dollars for local currency at the airport in Africa. Do bargain to get good exchange rates, the one displayed at the exchange counter are not the final rates.

 

 

Vegetarian Cuisine

-> Don’t worry if you’re a vegetarian. You will get a lot of vegetarian dishes like pulses, Indian flat bread- chapati, rice, vegetables, paneer dishes, masala chai and many more available in this part of the world to satiate your hunger and food cravings. One should try the traditional Kenyan dish Ugali with Sukuma Wiki. Ask your travel operator to arrange for Vegetarian food in the resorts you are planning to stay. I stayed at SOPA resorts where there was a wide variety of vegetarian food to choose from. All delicious!

 

 

Last but not the least carry a Good Camera

-> Africa is a dreamland for wildlife photographers. If you want to capture the wild scenic beauty of Africa carry a good DSLR camera with a standard and telephoto zoom lens along with an extra memory card and spare battery.

 

These are few travel tips I learned while planning my trip to Africa. Will share my travel stories of Africa in the next blog post.

 

Bon Voyage!

 

 

13 thoughts on “Things you should know while planning a ‘solo’ trip to Africa

  1. Very well explained and love the sequence of information you have maintained. Indeed great tips for one planning, mainly Solo to visit this Wonderful Place – a Paradise for Wildlife and Nature lovers. Excellent !!!

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    1. Thanks Raoul !
      It totally depends on your interest. If you are a wildlife seeker both Kenya and Tanzania are good places to visit. The same Serengeti runs between Masai Mara and Tanzania and gives you the best African wildlife experience. In Tanzania you can also enjoy climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
      In Kenya you have many national parks, Amboseli is famous for Elephants, Nakuru for flamingos and Rhinos, Naivasha for Hippos and if you want to enjoy all in one place then go to Masai Mara.
      In Masai Mara you can experience the Big Cats of Africa and enjoy the famous Hot Air Ballon ride over the lush green landscape followed by a champagne breakfast. If you want to add some more thrill to your trip go for a gorilla trekking at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park in Uganda which is home to half of the world’s mountain gorillas. All these places are rich in natural landscapes and scenery. Go for the Batwa experience in Uganda.
      You can travel to South Africa if you want to experience all in one place along with the Victoria falls. Since my interest was more to explore the rich wildlife of Africa, I travelled to the Eastern countries. I’m planning to visit Madagascar in my next trip to Africa .

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  2. Wonderfully written and very crisp.
    It’s a perfect travel guide.
    Keep doing such good jobs for the travel enthusiast.
    God bless !!

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  3. As Shinil I had the privilege of visiting Africa in the same season than her and coincided with her in a balloon tour. That’s another nice thing of traveling that you can meet new incredible people. Now, simply i can say that i am in love with Africa. Every penny I spent in my trip was worth it. The people, the culture, the food , the animals, the adventure, the balloon tour, the hotels , tent camps, the views, walks in the jungle, Zanzibar, Tanzania , Kenia, the guides, drivers, and the experiences were amazing. In my case I contacted an agency, they provided me wonderful guides and they were so nice with me and now I want to go again to Africa. Reading Shinil words and imagining what i lived there I can see Africa in a different way, I know that Africa is wonderful and is a paradise. I really recommend those lands if you want to be in your best experience of life! Guaranteed!

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    1. Thanks a ton Michael!
      It was indeed a pleasure meeting you at the balloon safari in Masai Mara. Wandering on this beautiful planet not only enriches us with adventures and memories but also help us meet some awesome people, making some new friends. I found one from Costa Rica during my Africa trip 🙂

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