“I have never felt lonely while travelling alone”, says a Kenyan solo traveller

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Solo travel can be a nightmare to many people. Some fear the solitude, their security as well as getting lost in a foreign country. Jumia Travel interviewed a young lady, Mercy Njue about her experience in exploring Uganda among other countries alone.

What inspired you to start travelling solo?

I love travelling a lot! So when I couldn’t get someone to travel with, I decided to do it alone. I mean it’s ‘the country next door’. It then became a habit.

Why did you choose Uganda? and What was your family’s reaction to your travelling idea?

Why not? (giggles) for my first solo trip I needed a country close to Kenya, a country without much language barrier. Plus Uganda happened to be the nearest, given I was in Eldoret then.

My family was quite concerned of the idea of doing a solo trip to Uganda. To date they still can’t understand where I get the courage to travel and stay alone in foreign countries. I am the only one in my family 100% in love with travelling.

 

Aerial view of Kampala City

Aerial view of Kampala City

What would you tell women who want to solo travel  but worry about their safety?

Kampala, (Where I mostly stay during Uganda visits) is generally a safe town. During my first solo trip, I got there at 1 am with a friend. When he was picked up by his wife, they helped me look for a place to stay. It was a Hail Mary situation but hey, it worked. I also remember the following day I needed directions to KCB bank. A lady took me to a mini bus (matatu) and directed the tout to take me to the nearest bank branch, and he actually did it. I now know my way in and out of Kampala, and I can take good care of myself without asking for help but my first time, I was greatly helped!

Which steps did you take to make sure you were safe on your tour to Uganda?

Nothing much out of the ordinary. Just be you, be vigilant, stay awake and don’t get drank!

What did you love most about Uganda and how was the food?

Uganda is quite cheap compared to Kenya. Like during my stay in Kampala, i was well within my budget. It is a nice city and everything is way cheaper than Nairobi, and the Ugandans are also very courteous. The food is more of a buffet and very delicious.

Were there any cultural things that you experienced different from your culture?

At the Gaddafi National Mosque, ladies are not allowed to get in without covering themselves with lesos (if they don’t have a buibui on). And also at the Kasubi Tombs, ladies cannot get in wearing trousers! I had to be given a leso to tie around my waist as a sign of respect.

The Gaddafi National Mosque in Kampala

The Gaddafi National Mosque in Kampala

Have you ever felt lonely in your solo travel and what is the best thing about travelling alone?

No! Never. I enjoy travelling alone very much, though at times i can travel with my friends. I always do enough research about where I am visiting and i ensure i get a fun place. The best thing about solo travelling is you are very flexible. You can have random visits to certain places, last minute cancellations because it’s all about you. And you get to meet interesting people for company!

Which other countries have you visited so far?

I have visited Rwanda (it’s such a lovely country), Tanzania (its amazing Zanzibar), Burundi and Congo.

What are your future travel plans?

This year, I had set my eyes on doing a road trip to Cape town with a stop over at Victoria Falls (and try out bungee jumping) It won’t be a solo trip though we will be a group of six; my current travelling squad. The transit must, one way or another take us to Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, before we return to Kenya.

What are your top 3 tips for women interested in solo travel?

Be ready to be on your own, do research about where to stay, enjoy the solitude, make new friends and have fun!

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