A Solo Traveller’s Guide to African Safaris
African Safari Sightings Giraffe

The solo travel revolution is upon us, and Africa is one of the most rewarding destinations to experience as an independent traveller. Listed as one of the top travel trends for travelling to Africa in 2024, solo travel is enjoying its moment in the spotlight.

Gone are the days when solo adventures in Africa were considered niche or daunting. In fact, a recent surge in solo travel has seen the industry adapt to cater to this growing market segment. The era of hefty single supplements (which if you didn’t know, is a surcharge added to the price of a solo holiday, when a traveller uses a room made for more than one holiday maker), that once discouraged solo safaris are well and truly over. Lodges and tour operators are increasingly offering affordable packages, making Africa a surprisingly accessible solo travel destination.

Solo travelling has a reputation for allowing travellers to create an itinerary according to their exact interests, the opportunity to explore at their own pace, and a chance to enjoy the magic of Africa without compromising on travel expectations and goals.

And a solo safari isn’t just about the wildlife encounters; it’s a chance to challenge yourself, build confidence, and create memories that you’ll always look back on fondly.

If you’ve always dreamed of visiting Africa on your own, but you’ve felt a little uncertain about whether or not it is the right kind of holiday for you, this is just the guide you need!

Why is a Solo African Safari the Perfect Holiday Experience?

Solo travel isn’t just about travelling alone; it’s a mindset and a travel style that prioritises independence and self-discovery, two characteristics that happen to define most African holidays. It’s about ditching the pre-defined group tours and forging your own path, getting into fully enjoying and experiencing the destination at your own pace and catering to your unique interests.

These are just some key characteristics common to solo travel:

  • Individualised Itinerary – You get to design the trip of your dreams, making extra time to enjoy the sights, activities, and experiences that excite you the most.
  • Flexibility and Freedom – Solo travel allows you to adapt your plans on a whim. Want to spend an extra day exploring a city that has really captured your heart or veer off the beaten path and get a little bit lost? The choice is entirely yours!
  • Self-Reliance – From making your way through unfamiliar territories to problem-solving those unexpected situations, solo travel will give you resourcefulness and build your confidence.
  • Openness to New Experiences – Solo travel encourages you to step outside your comfort zone, chat with the locals, and make the most of those unexpected encounters that make travel so enriching.
  • Personal Growth – Travelling alone allows for a deeper level of self-discovery. You get to learn to rely on yourself, develop your problem-solving skills, and gain a newfound appreciation for your own company (this becomes even truer if you head for a quiet destination, like Namibia.)

While solo travel will undoubtedly give you a unique sense of freedom and self-reliance, it’s important to be realistic about the challenges when you start getting into your planning. 

And when it comes to planning your solo holiday, you have two options:

  1. You can plan your tour all on your own (including booking your accommodation and everything in between)
  2. Or, you can book a solo tour, of which there are many. These tours are generally designed to give travellers some control over their itinerary while things like travel and some accommodation will be booked ahead of time. 

When enjoying a solo African safari, there will be moments of uncomfortable solitude, and making your way through unfamiliar situations can require extra planning and resilience. However, for the adventurous spirit who thrives on independence and loves new experiences, solo travel in Africa can be the most rewarding holiday you ever have.

Who is the Solo African Safari for?

The solo trip is not everyone’s cup of tea. Of all the travel options and travel packages available, solo travel in Africa is designed for a specific kind of traveller, the sort of person who possesses the following qualities:

  • An Independent Spirit – You crave adventure and enjoy setting your own pace, and you want more control over the itinerary.
  • Openness to New Experiences – You’re excited to take on the unexpected, try new things, and step outside of your comfort zone.
  • Comfort with Solitude – While you’ll meet fellow travellers, there will be moments of solitude. You should be comfortable being on your own and enjoying your own company.
  • Resourcefulness – Being prepared to handle minor setbacks and unfamiliar situations is a must. 

Pros and Cons of Solo Travel in Africa

As with all kinds of travel experiences, the solo trip has its advantages and its disadvantages. While you should never let the cons dissuade you from booking such a holiday, it certainly helps to know what you are getting yourself into. Having the full picture will make your African safari holiday a more pleasant and well-rounded experience. 

The Pros

Let’s start with the good stuff, the stuff you actually want to hear; the advantages of booking a solo African holiday:

  • You are in the driver’s seat when planning the itinerary for your dream safari experience. You can choose to focus on anything you like; wildlife or landscapes, hiking trips or beach escapes, the choice is quite literally yours.
  • You have the opportunity to explore at your own pace. You can linger longer at sights that blow your mind, and make spontaneous decisions without compromising with others.
  • When you take the leap and step outside your comfort zone, the feeling is not only immeasurably rewarding but it will certainly help you grow in your confidence. 
  • Group tours and shared activities will give you new and exciting opportunities to connect with fellow travellers and guides, sharing stories and building what could become lifelong friendships.

The Cons

Although there are plenty of good things that you can enjoy when on a solo trip, there are also some disadvantages that you have to know about:

  • Solo travellers may still face single supplement fees on some tours, making the overall cost slightly higher. To avoid this, try to find those lodges and tour companies that don’t have these fees. 
  • While there will be opportunities to socialise, be prepared for moments of solitude, especially during travel between locations. If you are worried that this will put a damper on your tour, you can always use that time to rest and catch up on sleep or a good book. 
  • When you are on your own, you need to watch your own back. Do this by researching the specific safety precautions for solo travellers in Africa. Pay particular attention to those precautions regarding scams and petty theft.
Packing Essentials to Promote Ecotourism in Africa

Finding Your Perfect Solo Safari

With the increasing popularity of solo African safaris, there are a plethora of tour operators creating and providing packages specifically designed for the single traveller. When you are shopping around for just such a tour, keep these tips in mind:

  • Research the various tour operators

You should start your process by looking for companies with a proven track record and experience catering to solo travellers.

  • Ask the right questions

Don’t be afraid to inquire about single supplement fees, group sizes, and the types of activities included.

  • Ask about safety protocols

Safety is easily the biggest concern for any solo traveller, so you must ensure that the tour operator you are looking at prioritises safety for solo travellers.

  • Read reviews

Check online reviews and forums to gain insights from other solo safari participants.

Packing Essentials for Your Solo Safari

Packing for a solo safari generally requires the same essentials as you would pack if you were going on a regular safari, and what you bring with will always depend on the type of safari you are going to have. Some solo tours will require you to bring everything, including food and water, while other tours will be less remote and as such all you need is some clothing. 

But, for the sake of making sure you’ve packed the basics, here’s a list to get you started:

  • Neutral-colour clothing – Bring along clothing in safari-appropriate colours like khaki, beige, and olive green.
  • Comfortable walking shoes – Pack a pair of comfortable, sturdy shoes with good ankle support.
  • Sun protection – Bring your favourite wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and high-SPF sunscreen, all of which are essential.
  • Camera with zoom lens – To capture your memories, pack a reliable camera with a decent zoom lens. This is especially important for photographing wildlife. 
  • Binoculars – To get a closer look at the incredible animals you’ll see.
  • First-aid kit – Be sure to pack essential medications and basic supplies.
  • Reusable water bottle – To stay hydrated throughout your journey, having a reusable water bottle is a must.
  • A travel adapter – This device is a must so that you can charge your devices.
  • Headlamp – If you intend to camp, having a headlamp will help you get around.
  • Guidebooks and wildlife identification apps – These tools will help you make your safari experience so much more exciting. 

A solo African safari is the perfect opportunity for self-discovery and to create memories that will stay with you forever! Book your tour today!