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Solo travel guide to Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia

Three wonderful African destinations all lying in a pretty accessible area. Forget about any preconceptions….this is very much Africa at it’s best!

Firstly we must talk about safety because after all this is the most important thing for travellers, particularly ones on their own.

We’d be lying to suggest that these countries are as safe as anywhere else. The fact is they lie in an area of the world that’s seen many problems over the years.

According to the Lonely Planet Ethiopia is remarkably safe for an Africa country. Kenya and Tanzania are probably not as safe and all travellers should exercise the usual caution, particularly if you are out and about in the evening. We recommend doing your own research before undertaking any trips to the region via the usual government travel advisory sites and make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance.

Ok now back to the guide! Let’s kick things off with Ethiopia!

Solo Travel Budget Guide to Ethiopia

Forget the famine pics, Ethiopia might not be rich in the Western sense but it certainly is in a cultural and historical sense (humanity began around here), and there are sights here to rival some of the best in the world. It’s not on the tourist map as such and this is a blessing to those who want to do a bit of discovery. Suck it and see.

Budget Accommodation in Ethiopia

Cheap beds are plentiful and a night in a budget hotel (bed, no other furniture to speak of and a shared bathroom but what more do you need?) will set you back in the region of US$2 – 3. If you want to pay a little more you might get your own bathroom and a meal included.

A Traveller’s Budget for Ethiopia

If you want to get around the country then your best bet is to take a bus if you’re travelling between the major towns, or a minibus, shared taxi or pick up truck for the less mainstream routes. It’s still possible to ride in a horse drawn cart here but don’t expect to get anywhere anytime soon, this mode of transport is for the truly relaxed among us.

Budget Activities in Ethiopia

Spend some time at the Rift Valley Lakes, an amazing chillout spot teeming with birdlife

Ride a donkey through the Bale Mountains national Park

Go trekking in the Simien mountains

Raft down the Omo river, although it will take a chunk out of your budget.

Experience Foreigner Frenzy from mobs of noisy children in rural Ethiopia

Solo Budget Travel Guide to Kenya

It’s not all about middle class middle aged travellers going on safari to see a bit of the wild, there’s much more to Kenya behind the tourist facade. Scratch away the veneer, ignore the cinemas and burger joints, get down with the Maasai and find yourself priveleged to see this amazing culture. And make sure you don’t get in the way of any long distance athletes.

Budget Accommodation in Kenya

The cheapest places to stay in Kenya are in boarding and lodging houses and around $5 should get you a secure room. Don’t take hot water for granted though and make sure you have your own mosquito net. Otherwise the main option for budget accommodation is a tent – bring your own or rent one in town – there some amazing campsites around.

A Traveller’s Budget for Kenya

Look to be spending around US$20 per day for the basics – accommodation, food and local transport. To get around bus is cheaper than the train, which is almost as expensive as flying. The bus tends to be safer than the alternative minibus taxis – these have an appauling safety record and shouldn’t be taken at night as they’re often ambushed.

Establish the fare on the minibuses – matatus – before you get on, there’s a tendency to swindle tourists, and sit on your bag, there won’t be any rom for it unless you pay for two seats. In some parts of the country hitching is the only way to get around. It’s used by the locals, payment is expected, but it comes with the usual risks involved so be aware.

It’s not hard to eat cheap but it will usually involve barbequed goat or chicken and it will also usually involve staring at the corpse of one of its former companions. There is curry to be had on the coast, and pizza joints are readily available although they come in a little more expensive than the local cuisine.

Activities for the Budget Traveller

Diving or snorkelling at the Watamu Marine National Park

Take an organised safari (cheaper and safer than going it alone)

Trek up Mount Kenya

Go mountain biking in Hell’s Gate National Park, but not in the middle of the day.

Go clubbing in Nairobi (but be safe!)

Budget Guide to Tanzania

From Africa’s highest mountain to the white beaches of the coast, Tanzania has a lot to offer the budget traveller. It’s a remarkably unspoilt country given it’s popularity with tourists and the people are one of the main highlights – a friendlier bunch you’d be hard pushed to find.

Accommodation on a Budget

There are backpacker hostels available in the major towns in Tanzania, plus there are pretty good guesthouses, known as gesti, available for around the same price. Camping is a good option and readily available in the countryside but in the national parks it can be expensive. Although still cheaper than the other accommodation you’ll find there, huts and cabins for instance.

A Traveller’s Budget for Tanzania

You’ll probably need around US$20 per day for basics but allow more if your day includes any national park antics, these cost a bit of money to get into (much more for tourists than locals for instance) and if you stay there overnight it’s more again.

Travel around the country is generally by bus (you can get to pretty much anywhere by bus or passenger truck / pick up), the quality varies massively depending on the company you choose. There are two train lines in Tanzania with 3rd class being an option but you’d have to be really skint to consider this. 2nd class is generally more comfortable than a bus so worth considering if you’re going on one of these routes.

Cheap food is readily available pretty much everywhere. You could eat the local curries, try fresh seafood, samosas, donuts or matoke, cooked savoury banana.

Activities on a Budget

Take a wildlife safari – organised tours are often cheaper than organising your own.

Trekking in one of the national parks – there’s something for just about every level

Diving or snorkelling off the coast and around Zanzibar.