My trip to Tanzania was possibly the best two weeks of my life, but I have barely written about it. I kept wondering how to even start, so today I just decided I need to dive in and talk about all the incredible things I did and saw.
It was such a raw two weeks of travel. I wandered through an random neighborhood of Dar es Salaam wondering what I had gotten myself into, slept in a tent in the Serengeti, and swam in the Indian Ocean at sunrise with a handsome French architect. I never once thought about what I looked like or got stuck in my own head, I just lived in the moment and appreciated every experience.
Dar es Salaam
Starting in Dar es Salaam. I laugh at myself when I think back to this arrival because I was SO naive. I had travelled a fair bit before I got here, yes, but not really solo in a developing country. It was the first time I’d had to get a visa on arrival with cash, and I was so nervous about the chaos of the visa line.
I was worried when my visa was literally a stamp and some hand-written scrawl on my passport, and I was worried when I walked out of the airport that someone was going to kidnap me. As if! I would learn that Tanzanians were among the friendliest people on earth, but only after I got ripped off.
The taxi driver I hailed to take me to my Couchsurfing host’s house took me to a printed board of taxi prices, which I took as gospel. Obviously I should have negotiated. I don’t even remember how much I paid for the taxi, but I know that it was WAY too much.
I didn’t do a lot in Dar because I was so nervous, but I did spend a lot of time cuddling my host’s dog and napping on a sofa after an exhausting journey which included an overnight layover on the floor of the Doha airport.
Safari with Duma Explorer
I was nervous about 6 nights as a solo traveler on a group tour. I thought I’d be with old people, or boring people, or annoying people. I could not have been more wrong. My budget camping safari attracted exactly the right people and we had an absolute blast. Two other Canadians were travelling solo, and a pair of friends from London rounded out the group. We were so awkward for the first day, but by the end we were laughing and hugging and starting a group chat on Facebook. Our guide, Peter, and our cook Godfrey were pretty much a part of the group and I am still in awe of the food that Godfrey whipped up in the middle of the African savannah.
I will never forget listening to the Lion King soundtrack as we drove by prides of lions, herds of elephants, and pretty much any other fantastical scene you could conjure up. Every day was better than the last.
My biggest surprise on safari was that it wasn’t just the animals that were the attraction. The stark beauty of the countryside, especially at one of our campsites and in the Ngorongoro Crater, was almost the best part. Every night we drank wine around our campfire, talked, and then woke up at 6AM to do it all again.
I bonded so much with the other Canadian girl on my safari that we actually went to Zanzibar together! We were on different flights, because she had actually planned in advance and booked it, whereas I had not. My method of planning in this case was to text my sister from someone else’s phone during a 5 minute period where we had phone service. I literally told her to book me a certain flight on a certain day and then went totally quiet again, and to her everlasting credit she actually did it! Thanks sister.
She had also booked a few days in a spot in Jambiani, so after several days exploring Stone Town we separated for a bit and then met back up in Kendwa, where I stayed for the whole time.
I kind of wish I had seen more beaches on Zanzibar, but also I am totally fine with the fact that I stayed on Kendwa for so long because it was incredible. I stayed in a dirt cheap dorm at an otherwise fancy resort, so the facilities and restaurant were incredible.
I went scuba diving for the first time, which blew my mind, and I am still so proud that I overcame my biggest fear all by myself.
I got the worst sunburn of my life, so bad that I wanted to scratch my skin off unless I just stood in the shower constantly. Obviously, I still kept going in the sun.
I drank mojitos on the beach with my safari friend, killing hours talking about absolutely nothing.
I danced all night at the Full Moon Party, the aforementioned French guy catching my eye. He was living on Zanzibar working as an architect, and he spoke fluent Swahili and had tons of local friends – aka he was probably the coolest guy I’ve ever met. He asked me to stay another night and one of my biggest travel regrets is not saying yes. But alas, I had to make my way home via 1 night in Dar es Salaam, 1 night in Doha, 1 night in Berlin, and 3 nights in Reykjavik.