Written by Julie Graham
“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” — Abraham Maslow
For many, the idea of solo travel in Africa can be intimidating. The very idea of being alone may invoke fear, uncertainty, and can be a real challenge for many. The truth is, the world is just too big and there are just too many experiences to be had for you to wait around for someone to discover it with. Making up around 18% of global bookings and increasing in popularity each year, solo travel has plenty of incredible benefits that, for most, are life-changing. Self-discovery, a sense of independence, freedom, making new friendships, as well as getting out of one’s comfort zone are just a few of the reasons this new trend is on the rise. A solo adventure not only allows you to immerse yourself into a moment without any distractions, it helps you understand yourself better.
The expert travel team at Ker & Downey® Africa has put together a few bucket list experiences in Africa that are perfect for the discerning solo traveler who wants to get out, grow, and explore the world in style.
Situated on a private stretch of the dramatic Mara River, which flows right past the camp’s forest setting, Olonana Camp borders the epic Maasai Mara National Reserve – a truly magnificent sight to behold. The camp offers a luxury safari experience par excellence, inspired by the reserve’s truly breath-taking natural wonders.
One of the best ways to experience this magnificent, game-rich ecosystem is by taking to the skies on a hot air balloon safari. This magical once-in-a-lifetime experience will give you a unique aerial view of the pristine landscape below and the wildlife that inhabit it. Silently drifting into the sky at dawn, capturing the first rays of sun over the African plains, breathing in the scenery and finishing it off with a champagne breakfast in the heart of the bush will bring you closer to yourself than ever before.
An absolute must for any nature lover’s bucket list has to be the Great Wildebeest Migration – one of nature’s greatest ever spectacles, and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. This sought-after wildlife experience sees up to two million animals take the 1,600km journey through Tanzania to Kenya each year following the rains in search of lush grass to graze. This incredible event attracts travelers from around the world, and there is no better place to witness it than at Sir Richard Branson’s luxury safari camp, Mahali Mzuri.
Located in a private conservancy in the heart of the Kenyan bush, Mahali Mzuri acts as a literal window to this spectacle, offering front row seats to the migration, as well as abundant game all-year-round. Stay in any one of the 12 luxury tents, with your private viewing deck and soak in the wonders of the Maasai Mara like never before, with all the creature comforts you need to experience ‘me time’ without a worry in the world.
The ever-changing river channels of the world’s largest inland delta – the game-rich Okavango – is another miracle on the African continent, and also makes the list of one of its Natural Wonders.
Nestled in the heart of this astoundingly scenic seasonal lagoon, is andBeyond’s Xaranna camp, an intimate, exclusive getaway with just nine luxury safari camps, situated within a private wildlife concession. Between enjoying the sweeping views from your own private plunge pool, get your adrenaline pumping by experiencing the Delta on a traditional mokoro safari. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure lets you explore this magnificent pristine wilderness and get up-close-and-personal with the animals and birdlife. Paddling along the fertile plains and through the lush wetlands is perhaps one of the best ways to experience the Okavango Delta and is an experience that will remain embedded in your spirit forever.
A nature photographer’s haven, the Okavango Delta offers incredible opportunities to capture the region’s abundance of wildlife. Situated on the northern end of Botswana’s famous Chobe National Park, &Beyond’s Chobe Under Canvas is a collection of just five mobile camps located near the Chobe River.
These semi-permanent campsites epitomise luxury glamping and world-class service, with private butlers on hand to assist throughout your stay. A highlight of this camp’s offering is the photographic safari, which takes places on the Chobe River on the Pangolin Voyager – a river safari boat, tailored to your nature photography needs. Each of the eight chairs onboard can rotate 360º and can be fitted with camera mounts for telephoto lenses to capture sightings close-up. This is a wonderfully intimate and personalised solo experience that brings you at one with nature and the inhabitants of this incredible region.
If a visit to the ultra-luxurious Bisate Lodge isn’t enough to tick off your bucket list, a magical encounter with the indigenous mountain gorillas will certainly do the trick. Bisate Lodge is like something out of a dream. The six conically shaped thatched forest villas enjoy dramatic vistas from the natural amphitheater of an eroded volcanic cone of the peaks of the Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes rising from the Afro-alpine forests. It lies adjacent to Rwanda’s iconic Volcanoes National Park and ten families of mountain gorilla that call the Virunga Mountains their home.
Walk in the footsteps of Dian Fossey, traversing the same rainforest slopes and misty cliffs accompanied by an expert ranger where you can spend time gently observing these magnificent creatures in silence. The trek is an arduous but formidable one, offering a real chance to connect with yourself and your surroundings. The reward, when coming face to face with these remarkable creatures, whose uncanny resemblance to humans translates into their behaviour, is something you will never forget. It is a wildlife encounter like no other in the world, and there is no better place to embark on this magical adventure than Bisate Lodge, offering a most immersive and profound experience with these charismatic creatures.
Located in southwestern Rwanda, bordering one of the oldest rainforests in Africa – Nyungwe National Park – One&Only Nyungwe House is surrounded by dramatic landscapes, shrouded in lush greenery and mountainous backdrops. This luxurious rainforest resort comprises wooden villa clusters and tree-top skimming suites and rooms nestled into the untamed, pristine natural surroundings.
An adventure into the neighbouring Nyungwe National Park is a must for nature-lovers. Considered Rwanda’s largest and most important region of biodiversity, this unique wilderness survived the last Ice Age and is home to a diverse array of indigenous flora, bright butterflies, exotic birds, rare primates and a unique set of reptiles. Enjoy any number of the trails on offer through guided walks, or teeter across the treetops and enjoy aerial views of the lush forest below on the Canopy Walk – the only treetop walkway in East Africa, elevated 60-meters above the forest floor among giant trees. This is a unique opportunity to become one with the birds and ancient trees for a suspended moment in time.
Traveling solo truly provides the space to connect with your surroundings. The ability to experience the moment is a rare occurrence and one that should be savoured. There is no greater feeling than intimately connecting with the very planet that sustains you, and doing it all while ticking some truly incredible experiences off your bucket list. And with the team at Ker & Downey® Africa by your side, you can rest assured that it will be done in absolute style, with every little detail taken care of so you can take the ‘me time’ you deserve.
Get in touch with our LuxVenture® Designers who can help add an unforgettable solo trip to Africa.