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Advice needed for solo first-time traveler to Kenya/Tanzania

Advice needed for solo first-time traveler to Kenya/Tanzania

Jun 18th, 2009, 12:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2
Advice needed for solo first-time traveler to Kenya/Tanzania

I will be traveling to Tanzania at the end of this month, flying in and out of NBO, and will be doing an internship studying conflict resolution in Arusha for 3 weeks. The internship includes Kiswahili classes, visiting Maasai villages, and a short stay in the Tarangire National Reserve.

My internship ends mid-July, when I will be returning to Nairobi, and I have 10 free days to do some traveling on my own. My trip is completely open, but I definitely have to go to Zanzibar for at least a few days, and I also thought Mombasa would be a great place to visit. Other than Zanzibar, I'd like to stay within Kenya. Any advice on other things to do, places to see, routes to follow, etc., would be greatly appreciated!

Specifically, should I fly to Zanzibar or travel by boat? Traveling around Kenya, what bus routes and companies are best? I'd like to do everything on my own rather than set up a tour with itineraries and set times, I'm kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of person - although if there is another way you highly recommend, I'm open to it.

I am also a female traveling solo, and this is my first trip going anywhere solo, so I'm extremely excited but also a little nervous about what to expect. I'd love to hear your experiences regarding how safe you felt, what to look out for, etc.

Thank you!
yukes is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 12:58 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
Musch depends on budget, how you travel, which parks visited and type of accommodations. And though your prefer fly-by-the-seat-of your-pants, if you haven't been before anywhere on your own, East Africa might not be the place to start!

Maybe some who have will provide input or try Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forums where many backpacker-types posts. And, an in-country tour operator (many in Tanzania have a Kenyan partner company) can arrange your routing in Kenya, whether traveling with a group, on your own, using whatever public transport (not my 1st choice, but a few have done), which parks to visit and type of lodge, tented camp or camping.

Then consider: If finishing up in Arusha/Tarangire and conclusion of your intership, suggest you head out to ZNZ... you'll need some downtime. You can fly from Arusha or Kilimanjaro, or take 10/hr bus drive to DAR and get the ferry to ZNZ. Leaving ZNZ, if you want to stay cheap, then reverse the route - ferry, but with the bus from DAR thru to Nairobi. If you have a few $$$, then fly from ZNZ to NBO. By doing ZNZ first, this avoids having to zig-zag back-n-forth between countries... stick to as straight a line as possible.

Once you complete safari in Kenya, if you have the time you can train (overnight, alternate nights) or fly to Mombasa for more R&R.

Good luck!
sandi is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 01:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,490
hi yukes

as for buses i have good memories (it was many years ago) of Akamba bus company: there was constant music on the bus, and some people, including the conductor, were dancing; quite an experience.
searched and found they still exist http://www.akambabus.com/
(even claiming to be The bus company)

aby is offline  
Jun 18th, 2009, 04:49 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
Your internship organizers may also be able to offer you information and you may even find others in the same program that would make a good traveling team.

The dancing bus sounds lovely, Aby.

At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy duddy, I'd agree with Sandi's comment that if you have never traveled alone or have not done much other world travel, you might want something organized for the portions of your trip that are not Zanzibar or Mombasa. I am not indirectly insinuating Sandi is an old fuddy duddy.
atravelynn is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 06:57 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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lynn - as I was writing that, I heard my mums voice over my shoulder Whether when she was younger or now 91/years, and though not a fuddy duddy, still looks out for her children. Nowadays, when I'm off somewhere exotic, she simply rolls her eyes.

yukes - Truthfully, if this is first time for solo travel anywhere, Africa can and will be culture shock though soul awakening.

No doubt your intership peeps can assist.
sandi is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 08:22 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 33
jaluointhehouse - never say never or "no way"

i think Nyamera travelled on her own to Masai-mara
getting to a camp which does provide game-drives

It is possible to reach the camps which are out of the park
evem sopa which is next to the gate
you can take a Matatu from Narok
you don't need to be adventurous to drive with the locals
AfreakA is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 04:10 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Cool name AfreakA! Sandi, you have good genes.
atravelynn is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 06:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2
Thank you so much for your responses!

I know this is going to be quite a culture shock and at the same time one of the great experiences of my life. I'm ready for it!

After my internship, my fellow students and I will probably be able to get a ride back up to Nairobi with our professor. That's why I'd like to stay in Kenya for the rest of the trip - I'm thinking, make my way to Mara, set up a short safari tour, then head to Mombasa and go to Zanzibar from there. Then, fly back to Nairobi. Hoping to include the dancing bus somewhere in there!

Has anyone gone to Zanzibar from Mombasa?

My thanks again - I am so appreciative for everyone's advice!
yukes is offline  
Jun 20th, 2009, 07:12 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 8,675
yukes -

From NBO you can arrange a visit to the Mara (the Big-5 animals definitely - at minimum 3/days), maybe Amboseli (elephants and views of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania - 2/days), or Lake Nakuru (flamingoes and othe water fowl, Rothschild giraffe, rhino - 1/day). A local tour outfitter can coordinate for you whether with your group of friends or others, camping or staying in lodges.

For Mombasa, can do by o/n train which is less expensive than if flight, but flight only 1hr.

From Mombasa to Zanzibar, no ferry any more, so flight is best. But remember, if heading to ZNZ from Kenya, you need to have a Yellow Fever inoc and proof of same for entry and if a US citizen, Visa cost will be $100. Most flight go via NBO to/fr MOM/ZNZ, though Fly540 might have a direct flight. Again, discuss with a local operator to find out what's available and how any of these options work with your budget.
sandi is offline  

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