Traveling to Zanzibar alone

You want to go on holiday but you can’t find anyone to go with?

There is no one available at the same time as you? The destination you have chosen does not delight your friends and family ? Your friends or family don’t travel the same way as you? 

Don’t worry, you can go alone to the other side of the world. Indeed, traveling alone can be extremely beneficial so don’t hesitate and take the plunge.

Why traveling alone?

Traveling alone can scare some people at first, but it can also end up delighting you.

Is there a better way to be free than traveling alone? Travelling alone is a source of real freedom.

You have no one to listen to, no concessions to make. This allows you to see and do everything you want at your own pace without feeling constrained.

There are no constraints and no obligations. You don’t have to hurry or wait for someone when you visit. 

But that’s not all, traveling alone will allow you to get to know yourself and will teach you a lot about yourself

Also, traveling alone makes it easier to turn to others and therefore to meet great people.

In recent years, traveling alone has become a fashion trend as many people have embarked on such an adventure.

As a result, many questions have arisen as a result of this passion for solo travel.

« Is it dangerous to travel alone? « Can I travel alone in each country? « ,  » what about working alone as a woman?« … ».

Traveling alone when you’re a woman

In today’s society, more and more women want to travel alone. It is true that at the time, until a few decades ago, it seemed impossible to travel alone as a woman

Today, many women set out to discover the world alone with their bags on their backs.

I am one of these examples, I actually went on the adventure alone in different countries in the world, in Africa, Oceania, Europe or North and South America.

I would lie to you if I tell you that no matter which country you visit, travelling alone is the same thing.

Keep in mind that no matter where you go, you must be all the more careful when travelling with others.

As a woman, it is obvious that one woman can be an easier target for anything such as theft or assault. 

In order to put all your chances on your side to go on a trip alone in the greatest security, you must already:

  • Remain cautious and on guard at all times: do not confuse « being cautious » with « being paranoid ». When travelling alone, you will not necessarily have someone to watch your back and your affairs, so you must act cautiously. For example, don’t leave your things unattended, keep your bags close by, don’t hang out late at night in neighborhoods or cities that are not very safe, etc.
  • Adapt and respect the customs and traditions of the country in which you travel: it starts with the way you dress (cover your shoulders, knees, hair depending on the country)… 
  • Depending on your personality, prepare a minimum of your trip in order to put you at ease: choose the right hotels or inns, choose the places to visit and get information in advance
  • Remain reachable as much as possible: not to worry your friends and family and to be able to contact the right people if necessary

Can you travel solo when you are a woman in Zanzibar?

I visited the Zanzibar archipelago for two months between March and May. 

Opinions are varied on this destination, I will just give you my personal feeling.

Religion for a solo woman in Zanzibar

As you have probably already read, Zanzibar is an archipelago where religion plays a very important role. 98% of the inhabitants are Muslims. Polygamy is common there.

To give you examples, I attended two weddings in Zanzibar. One was held on the main island of Unguja and the other on the island of Pemba.

Be aware that in Pemba, religious traditions are all the more respected and profound than in Unguja (Zanzibar).

At the first wedding I attended, the bride had never seen her husband before. She was carrying a flight that ran across her face and she was able to take it off only after she signed the prenup….

As a woman traveling alone in Zanzibar, I strongly advise you to respect the customs and traditions found there. Namely, for example, it is recommended to cover your knees and shoulders (possibly your hair if you don’t mind) in the street to avoid potentially disturbing looks. The more you respect traditions, the more you will be able to blend into the mass and therefore you will avoid receiving too much attention that can be embarrassing.

However, it is obvious that a « white » woman will be spotted regardless of her dress.

As the country is poor, when young men see a woman alone, they inevitably imagine an opportunity for them to leave the country. 

I was able to talk to many locals during my two months there, and I assure you that it is not uncommon for a woman to travel alone. Sometimes women (often over 40) find themselves spending a lot of time with a local man by paying him a lot of money to have « company ». In some cases, the relationship ends there and in other cases, it ends in marriage.

When I arrived in Zanzibar, I quickly noticed that one of the first questions I was asked was “Are you married?” or “Do you have a boyfriend?”, to answer, I think that one of the first sentences I learnt in Swahili was « nime olewa » which means “I am married”. 

Whether it is true or not, I advise you to learn this sentence so that you are not too insistent and that you are left alone quickly. 

A solo woman in the villages and on the beaches of Zanzibar

As a solo woman you will not escape being approached, especially when you walk along the beach or in the villages. 

I don’t hide from you that my first week was tiring because I was constantly solicited in all directions. We are generally asked to buy souvenirs or tourist excursions all around the island. 

However, I found the locals very respectful when told « no » and they can be insistent when they feel hesitations in our answers so feel free to be clear and sometimes direct to make them understand certain things. But at no time did I feel in danger or anything else. There has always been this respect.

A solo woman in Stone Town

Stone Town is the capital of Zanzibar, it is the largest city, there are people, it brews a lot in the streets of Stone Town. A solo woman in this city must be all the more careful. 

It is advisable to avoid walking alone in the small streets of Stone Town at nightfall. In the evening if you have to travel, take a taxi or a boda-boda (a motorcycle taxi) or a dala-dala (a local bus).

When you go for a walk in the city or in the Darajani market, keep your bag close by. There are a lot of people and it can be very tempting for a local to catch a badly held tourist bag.

In Stone Town, I have never felt in danger either, if someone bothers you don’t hesitate to be clear so that you can be left alone. Avoid walking in the small alleys at the end of the day, at a time when you will meet few tourists.

You should also know that learning a few words in Swahili will give you a little more legitimacy and goodwill with the inhabitants. The inhabitants love it when tourists learn a little bit of their language.

Going on holiday alone does not mean traveling alone throughout your journey. You will always meet tourists with whom to share some moments, so don’t worry. 

Traveling solo: what does it teach?

In my opinion, traveling alone:

  • Allows you to meet yourself, to get to know yourself better in depth (our fears, our deep desires, our way of functioning in certain situations, to make the right decisions, to follow our intuition etc…), to discover new aspects of your personality, to experience real personal development
  • Allows you to learn to love loneliness: to love being alone in front of yourself
  • Pushes to surpass oneself: limits, fears, lack of confidence, violence if necessary, finding one’s inner strength
  • Allows you to gain independence, to experience absolute freedom
  • Allows you to forget the daily routine that is punctuated by a certain routine
  • Pushes to meet great people: it is easier to turn to others when travelling when you are alone. It will bring you a lot, and I am sure you will have the opportunity to meet exceptional people.

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