Solo Travel in South Africa
Travelling alone in South Africa doesn’t have to be scary. Check out South Africa Adventures guide to Solo Travel
“There is no ways I can travel alone in South Africa – I’ve got no one to go with.”
Sounds like an excuse to us. An excuse that most solo travellers the world over seem to use fro delaying or even dismissing their plans of embarking on adventuring. Yes travelling alone can be pretty daunting but there are so many options available for those of you who don’t have a willing travel partner or friend all gung ho and willing to take on the wide world with you.
Let’s face it!! Is travelling alone really that bad?
Can you not imagine the real freedom that comes from travelling alone? No need to follow strict travel itineraries. No need to do what others would like to do when that raging hangover is pounded in the back of your skull. And …..lone travellers unlike the lone ranger are less intimidating to the locals-you will most likely have a better chance of meeting some of the incredible local folk when you are just chilling out by yourself in a pub or restaurant somewhere. And those are the moments that sometimes open up into some of the craziest and unexpected travel experiences ever!
As with all travel experiences there are of course going to a few snags to comprehend. Going through those snags as a solo traveller might turn out to be quite a challenge for some. No friends shoulder to cry on when you miss home. No one to help you with that irritating drunk in the pub who won’t leave you alone. There is no one to throw in front of the charging elephant to give you a fighting chance of survival. And of course, striking up a conversation with the hotel kettle can sometimes get a bit boring.
Still feeling a little apprehensive about solo travel in South Africa?
Then don’t leave friends to chance-Either go to ‘rent a crowd’ or-book a tour. In fact, at South Africa Adventures our small-group adventures are mostly comprised of solo travellers from all over the world as well as local folk. Probably best though to ask your tour operator the breakdown of your group before you leave. For example you have the option to share a room/tent with a traveller of the same sex to help keep cost to a minimum. Single occupancy will always work out way more expensive in the long run. And of course….you will be sharing your experience with like –minded travellers who may even become lifelong friends!!
“But organized tours are not for me”
You don’t have to stay on one for a long time. A good option would be to join a short guided tour to help you get an idea of the area, obtain good sound advice from the local guide on where to visit next or meet a fellow traveller who you can venture off with afterwards. Who knows…maybe you meet your future husband on the tour?
What about safety while travelling in South Africa?
So yes, unfortunately safety can be a concern with solo travel in South Africa. But that goes the same for any other country in the world to. You just have to know where you can go and where best to stay away. Common sense and talking to locals to get advice is the way to go. South Africans are generally friendly and helpful people who will embrace you with their warm hospitality and willingness to help. The “rainbow Nation’ is generally a safe place to visit despite the media coverage in the past.
Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers. The big cities like Johannesburg may have a few no go zones but you just need to use your common sense and you will be just fine – if a situation feels uncomfortable, get out of it. And of course flashing that fancy camera in the backstreets of some dodgy neighborhood might draw unnecessary attention to yourself. So….avoid the dodgy neighborhoods, get advice from the locals on where to go and be safe-Easy Peasy Japanesey. Ultimately, solo travel in South Africa can be uplifting, eye-opening, occasionally lonely, sometimes tough but never, ever dull.
Top 7 ideas for solo travellers in South Africa
1.Climb Kilimanjaro. Or Hike in the Drakensberg. Or perhaps go Scuba diving in Sodwana. Many solo travellers have a passion for the adventure and stepping out of their comfort zones. They crave perspective on life. Climbing a mountain like Kilimanjaro, surviving the highest mountain in South or scuba diving with sharks is a way of working towards a challenging and common goal. A perfect way to increase the sense of comradeship and is the best way to cement lasting friendships.
2.Head to Popular traveller hubs. Head to the local areas that appeal to your level of interest. If a wildlife safari is your thing then the Kruger Park or the Pilanesberg is the place to be. Maybe you are more of a water baby which means you should be chilling with SCUBA divers on the beach. If hiking is your preferred adventure activity then you will have to take a turn past the majestic Drakensberg Mountains,– it will be hard NOT to meet other travellers. And of course if all else fails…head to local watering hole for a beer and you’ll find instant friends or drinking buddies.
3.Join an overland tour – overland trips tend to have high proportions of solo travellers, and are often the best ways of seeing some of the best parts of South Africa that you would never had even known about. And the advantages of these tour? You will not have to worry about the logistics, transport and red tape involved.
4.Meet the locals– The best thing you can do is find a way to mingle and meet with the local people of South Africa. You will find that they are very hospitable, warm and very very accommodating to advice and ideas. South Africans are very outgoing so the chances of meeting a fellow SCUBA diver or hiker is pretty high. Once the beer starts flowing you will get all the advice you need for solo travel in South Africa.
5.Mix and match your style of travel – If you are still a bit apprehensive about embarking on a big trip alone, book a multi-day tour to say the Pilanesberg or Kruger to give you confidence and help you meet a few people. As your confidence of the country grows you may decide to wander of on your own
6.Stay with locals- Hotels are full of foreigners. Try something different. Find a local bed and breakfast to stay in. Staying with locals will give you real insight into life on the ground, and often meals will be taken with your hosts, avoiding the horror of eating out alone.