How did you get started traveling?
I’ve always been inspired by my grandparents love of travel. They were fortunate enough to live abroad in places like Ghana and Tanzania and growing up I would always enjoy hearing stories about their time in Africa. They were a very big influence in my decision to take my first solo trip around the world last year, so it therefore only felt right that I started my journey in Tanzania so I could see for myself why this country was so special to them.
Why did you decide to travel to Tanzia alone?
In all honesty, traveling alone was something that had never really crossed my mind before. I had done a handful of backpacking trips before across South East Asia and Europe but they had always been with friends. But suddenly, I found myself nearing 30, still with this unquenchable thirst to see more of the world. Something suddenly clicked and I figured if I carried on waiting around for someone to come with me, I could be waiting around forever! I was at a crossroads in my personal life and in my career so I saw an opportunity to go for it. And without a second thought, I made a very spontaneous trip to a local travel agent and walked out with a one-way ticket to Tanzania. And I haven’t looked back since!
Tell us about your experience with solo travel in Tanzania.
I spent most of my time in Tanzania in a vibrant medium-sized town called Moshi, which is located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest mountain. This was where I volunteered at a local school and orphanage for a number of months through an organisation called Hostel Hoff. I remember feeling very anxious about going to Africa on my own – I’m sure many would say that it’s not the most obvious of choices when picking where to travel solo for the first time. But I’m so glad I did. Even though I arrived on my own, I left with many friends – it’s impossible to ever feel alone as there is such a big volunteer community in Moshi and everyone looks out for one another.
What recommendations do you have for solo travelers in Tanzania?
Whether it’s chilling with a Serengeti beer (my favourite choice of beer) at the rooftop bar watching the sun set by Mount Kilimanjaro or heading to one of the many local coffee shops for your caffeine fix, there’s something to suit everyone. The town has an abundance of bars and restaurants to pick from, so you’re never short of places to hang out with fellow volunteers.
A few favourites for lunch include Pamoja Cafe, Milans and Union Cafe. Then there are the popular bars Kakas (best BBQ is town!) and Glaciers where you will find most volunteers dancing away to a mix of African and Western music on a Friday night.
Not only that, due to its location, Moshi is the gateway to so many other places that will give you a taste of the “real” Tanzania and the hostel will happily help volunteers with organizing trips. Safari excursions to some of Tanzania’s most famous national parks are a popular activity among volunteers, and with Mt Kili on your doorstep you can also organize 5 to 7 day hiking trips to the ‘Roof of Africa’.
The beautiful exotic island of Zanzibar is also only a short flight away, and there are a number of other activities you can fill your weekends with such as overnight stays with tribal villages, coffee tours, or day trips to Lake Chala, the Hot Springs or the nearby waterfalls. With so much to see and do, it’s impossible to get bored!
What was the best part of your trip to Tanzania?
The volunteering itself is what made the trip for me. Seeing the childrens’ smiling faces light up every day was just such a blessing – there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about them. In terms of other activities, it has to be going on a safari. I have been obsessed with wildlife programs for as long as I can remember, so it was amazing to finally tick it off the bucket list and see these amazing animals in their natural environment.
What was the worst part of the trip?
Leaving (I know, how cliched!) Even though I was heading on to South East Asia and had several months of travel to look forward to, it was still incredibly hard leaving a place I had developed such a connection with. So much so, I ended up returning for three months at the end of my RTW trip and I am hoping to visit again sometime next year too.
Are there any safety concerns for women traveling alone to this destination?
I think wherever you are in the world, you have to look after your safety. In Tanzania, I never felt unsafe – the locals are so friendly and helpful. I met so many women (of all ages!) who were travelling solo across East Africa and know they felt the same way too. The only piece of advice I would give is to be respectful of their culture and religion – so dress conservatively to avoid unwanted attention.
Also, like any developing country, make sure you keep your valuables out of sight and always take taxis during the night. Your hostel or hotel should be able to give you details for reliable drivers.
What advice do you have for women who are traveling alone?
Aside from the tips above, I guess the first and foremost thing I’d say is DO IT! The media often focuses on the negative wrong-doings in the world, but you shouldn’t let this put you off. Of course there are specific safety concerns for women travelling alone, and yes bad things do happen. But as long as you keep your wits about you, trust your instincts, and understand what the potential dangers could be, you will reduce the risks of anything potentially bad happening. Thousands of women travel alone every year and always come back home safe and sound.
Do you have anything else to add to inspire women solo travelers?
If I can do it then anyone can! I’ll be the first to admit that I am a big fret-head and have a tendency to overthink everything. I usually worry about the smallest of things and to top things off, I am a terrible navigator with absolutely no sense of direction! Give me a map and my brain goes into meltdown. It’s any wonder that I actually managed to get myself on that plane!
However, traveling solo definitely helped me grow as a person and I learnt to trust myself more. We have a beautiful world on our doorstep waiting to be explored – it’s not as scary as you think!
About Nikki Goodwin
Nikki (or “Noodles” as she is also known to her close family and friends) is a UK-based PR girl by day and travel blogger by night. An avid adventurer, she tries to fit in travel at every opportunity and has recently returned from a solo around-the-world trip, where she spent almost ten months hopping across four continents. You can find out more about her journey so far on her blog Where is Noodles?
Women Who Travel Solo
Women Who Travel Solo is a weekly column that shares the stories of women’s solo travel adventures in hopes of spreading the message that traveling alone is not only safe, but wildly rewarding. Inspire other women to travel solo by sharing your story with Something In Her Ramblings. Email Lauren at email@example.com.