A solo safari in Zimbabwe



Your Guide to Africa

Marina Barthez


Women who wander

A female cheetah spends her life in solitude. She roams alone through the wilderness. She seems not to be bothered by the fact that she is alone. Walking with pride as if she owns the wild. 


My species however tends to prefer surrounding itself with others. We run in packs. We build communities, families and friendship circles. We look for companionship and for meaningful connection. But there can be times we seek solitude. Where we seek a different kind of connection – with nature, with our own selves, with places and cultures unknown. 

My Zimbabwe safari experience

What I did discover on my solo safari is that while I might have been alone, I was never lonely. The Wilderness camps in Hwange were the perfect place to build meaningful connections. At communal dinners I got to meet other travellers. More solo travellers than expected. I even met a woman who was travelling to Hwange for the thirtieth time, by herself. But I also met groups from all over the world; couples, families, seniors, photographers, Zimbabwean locals. I got invited to lunches and tea setups, to game drives and activities. I got asked about my life story and my job. I learned how to eat sadza, a thick African maize meal porridge. I learnt how to pronounce words in Shona or Ndebele. I shared lots of laughs with the Wilderness teams. 


I saw the most incredible wildlife, and even though I was not sharing it with my family or friends, I always had the most dedicated guides with me, who would share that excitement with me. We followed prides of lions, elephant herds and giraffes. I learned about birds, insects, snakes and mammals, and how to imitate hyena and lion sounds, as well as how to identify animal tracks. I filled my camera with an endless number of images. 


Every day the bush offered new and exciting experiences. Every day the Wilderness team made sure I would have the most memorable time. There was simply no chance to think about all the fears I once had. And along that way, friendships were made, connections established and a love for the bush and for solitude was awakened. Somewhere along the way I did not realise that I had turned into a cheetah.

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FAQs for your first solo safari

Let me help allay some of your fears about travelling alone, using my own experiences of my safari in Zimbabwe.

What do I do if I feel sick or unwell? 

The Wilderness camps have dedicated staff who will help you if there are any medical issues. They also have malaria testing kits, medication and first aid kits. The staff is prepared to assist you as soon as issues arise. And I was surprised to learn that there are medical centres even in remote areas, as well as pharmacies that offer common medications and feminine hygiene products. Furthermore, Wilderness has a 24-hour response service that will get you to the nearest hospital should the need arise. 




Is it safe for a woman alone in Zimbabwe? 

The one thing I can say about Zimbabweans, and especially the Wilderness staff, is that they are the most kind and respectful people I have ever met. I never had an unpleasant situation during my trip. Everyone I met was a lovely soul. I never had a situation in which I felt threatened. I came as a stranger and left as family. You never have to fear your safety as a solo female traveller with Wilderness. You are in the best hands. 




Is there internet to stay in touch with friends and family?

Internet is available in all camps so you can stay connected with loved ones back home. But as I realised, it is sometimes nice not to be available for anyone and to just connect with nature, instead of a router. 

Do I need to be scared of snakes, spiders and other wild animals?

When I arrived, I told Eustace, one of the guides, that I have never seen a snake in real life that was not stuck behind a glass wall. I told him that I would really, really love to see one but that that I was scared to do so. Interestingly, I did not see one during my trip but nevertheless you have to be cautious when walking around camp. Wild animals might roam the camp, but luckily you have the most knowledgeable guides escorting you to your rooms in the dark hours. It is also very unlikely that a snake or something else will sneak into your room, as the rooms are built in a way that the wild cannot find its way in. Spiders pop up every now and then, but more as adorable mosquito-eating flat-mates, than as unpleasant intruders. In fact, the only bug you should be afraid of, is the safari bug, because once you have it, you never want to leave.





Marina Barthez

Raised in France and Germany, studied digital media and photography in the US, Germany and Argentina. She was captivated by the beauty of the landscapes and the diversity of wildlife during her first trips to Africa. Today, she is a wildlife photographer, writer and creative mind who travels all over the world. She shares her experiences on Instagram @marinabarthez_.

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