Instead of Traveling Europe, One Girl Backpacked Africa

Girl backpacked Africa, Travel Europe, Girl Travels Africa, Kids in Africa, Backpacking Africa for Beginners
[Admin Note: I came across this awesome Austrian girl backpacking Africa solo. I asked her what she wanted the world to know about her experience traveling Africa, and this is what she had to say. Warning: It will make you want to become best friends with her & book a ticket to the continent ASAP! 🙂 ]

Hey! My name is Michi, I am 27 years old and on a world trip right now. I was traveling through Africa on my own for the last 6 months. And I can definitely say that it was the best time in my life.

I started my trip in Uganda and went all the way own to South Africa by land. I crossed Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho.

Route Traveling Africa, Backpacking Europe, Backpacking Africa for Beginners

Michi’s route in Africa–starting in Uganda and ending in Johannesburg

Yesterday I started my trip back home to Austria from Joburg.

 My heart is bleeding. I really fell in love with Africa.

I have to say that I didn’t know much about Africa when I started my trip.

It was my first time in Africa, it was my first time to do real backpacking and it was my first time to travel alone.

So you can imagine that I was totally excited and also a bit scared when i was sitting in the plane to Uganda. But I am young, single and I don’t have children. So it was the perfect moment to start to travel the world and to make adventures, which I will never forget.

Travel Europe, Girl Travels Africa, Kids in Africa, Backpacking Africa for Beginners

Kids in Africa are so friendly, and spending time with them is definitely one of the best parts of the journey

I can definitely recommend you to travel alone. I almost never felt lonely. You will meet other travelers all the time. I had such amazing travel partners on my trip. And sometimes I was just happy to travel alone, because it’s not easy to find somebody who expects exactly the same things like you from traveling. If you travel with people who you met on the way, you can split up again, whenever you want. If you travel alone it is also much easier to get in contact with locals and other travelers. And traveling alone makes you really strong.

Many people told me that they admire me, because I am so brave to travel alone. But let me tell you something: I was really not brave. I was always a bit shy, but I think this trip changed me a bit. Now I know that I am brave. I had to solve a lot of difficult situations on myself.

But I never felt really unsafe. And I never had really bad experiences. My phone once got stolen in Malawi and in Zambia a small amount of my money was stolen, that`s all. I traveled all the way with public transports (minibuses,…). Some travelers think that they are not very safe but I didn’t have any bad experience.

Girl backpacked Africa, Travel Europe, Girl Travels Africa, Kids in Africa, Backpacking Africa for Beginners

Experiencing Africa’s beach life

Most of the time I tried to do couchsurfing and I loved it. African people are great hosts and super friendly. But it`s not so easy to find hosts everywhere, especially in East Africa, so many times I also stayed in hostels.

If somebody has any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments below.

You are also very welcome to read my travel blog. Unfortunately I wrote it in German. But maybe you can translate it or just have a look at my pictures:

Best regards,


Travel Europe, Girl Travels Africa, Kids in Africa, Backpacking Africa for Beginners

Seeing penguins in South Africa

See Also:  What to Do & How to Get Around on a Layover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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12 responses to “Instead of Traveling Europe, One Girl Backpacked Africa”

  1. Maria says:

    Wow what a great trip and such a brave girl!
    I am so jealous!!

    • Val Bowden says:

      Aw thanks! But seriously, once you get going you’ll realize it’s much safer and easier than expected. I swear I feel braver traveling the US (especially Miami, Florida where I used to live) than I do in Africa. Lol. Download my book (for free if you want) because I give lots motivation and inspiration to travel Africa and how not to feel afraid about it. And keep me posted if you have any more questions! 🙂

  2. Anthony VLin says:

    Such a nice trip you did 😉
    I’m planning to travel in Rwanda and Uganda in September, and I have a question about it. Is it possible to camp everywhere? How much did you spend for all your trip?
    Thanks for answering 🙂
    best regards,


    • Val Bowden says:

      Hey Anthony! That’s awesome! I love both those countries. Rafting the Nile in Jinja, Uganda was also one of my top experiences! So you can and should camp a lot! It will save you a lot of $, plus it’s so beautiful, why not?? When I set up my tent though, I always did it in the camping section of a hostel. In Malawi, I found camping as cheap as $3 per night, but for Rwanda and Uganda, it will be $8-13 ish per night for your tent. Now that I live in Ethiopia, I’ve realized that there are lots of ways to camp without necessary being in a hostel– but you might have to be more careful about making sure your stuff stays protected. It’s up to you. A hostel will be easier, but if you meet some cool locals who show you free places to set up– you could save $. And costs for the trip will depend on what you do, eat, etc. For example, Uganda cost me more $, but it’s because I did gorilla trekking for $500, and rafting the Nile $150 ish, etc. I recommend downloading my e-book which lists how much I spent in total, broken down into categories, and also lists ways to save $, or check out hope this helps! 🙂

  3. Xplorato says:

    Wow truly such a great read and motivational to boot 🙂

  4. Kyle Krasneh says:

    Hi Michi,

    I’m so glad I came across this article. I am planning to backpack Africa in the near future. Reading your piece is incredibly helpful for me. Most people I ask about this journey tell me that camping, hitching/public transpo, and traveling solo across borders is an extremely dumb idea.

    A quick bit about me. I hitched across New Zealand, Tonga, and South America. Basically I’d love to hear about essential places to check out and any general suggestions you have for Africa. Traveling solo is not an issue for me, but I would like to do this trip accurately and logically.

    I’d love to link up on Facebook if you’re down.

    • Val Bowden says:

      Hey Kyle!

      Yeah people told me the same thing. They all thought I was going to die. BUt seriously, the people who say it are always the ones who have never traveled, been to Africa, or have any real info on the continent. Kind of annoying, right? lol. Anyways, so obviously I’m biased, but you’ll be fine. Especially if you’ve done South America, you already have the basic common sense safety knowledge on travel. And as long as you follow common sense & check in with locals on safety info specific to the region, you should have no problem.

      But with that being said, you’re right about there being a more logical way to travel the continent. And the countries are really different, so it depends what you want to do. How much time do you have to travel? I’m still a fan of my route (minus the few countries I missed in the beginning).

      So I’m not on FB too much these days… But feel free to check out my book or keep posting comments on here. I know it’s pretty hard to plan a trip to Africa with the lack of information, so seriously feel free to ask as many questions as you want 🙂

      AND PS- youll have a freaking good time, so don’t mind all the haters! 🙂

  5. Haley says:

    Hi! I’m planning on doing a similar route from Arusha, TZ to Cape Town and have about 4 weeks to do it. I’ve spent plenty of time in TZ so that will mostly be a pass-through country but i” a little nervous about all of the public transport! How did you find out where the busses were/where they were going and so on? Can you give me any tips about getting around??

    • Val Bowden says:

      Hey! That’s so awesome! Haha, and I know what you mean! I was super nervous before and the buses are a little confusing. Basically just know that there is a bus going everywhere. But the information is not online or posted anywhere… it’s just local knowledge. So start in Arusha, and figure out which city you’re going to next… and ask a local how to do it. Or sometimes you have to head to the main bus station for info. If it’s a short distance, there are usually buses going there all throughout the day. You just show up, and the bus takes off when its full. Sometimes you wait a long time. lol. If it’s a farther distance, you’ll need to buy a ticket the day before. Anyways, I know this is not helpful… but just trust it’s possible. And I promise that people will help you and that it can be done. 🙂

  6. Kayla says:


    I am looking to travel and South and East Africa this time next year and am very interested in doing gorilla trekking. So far, I have been unsuccessful in finding a tour that is simply a guided day-a few days in the jungle, most involved luxury hotels and the like, which I have no interest in. What company did you go with that charged $500 for the tour, and were there any extra associate costs?

    Thank you!!

    • Val Bowden says:

      Hey Kayla! Sounds like you have an awesome trip planned! Definitely do gorilla trekking! I know everybody wants to do a safari, but gorilla trekking is sooo special! So the park fees are expensive. DRC is the cheapest, then Uganda, and lastly Rwanda. There are some ecolodges in each place. But I’d just wait until you get to the country to plan your trip. Hostels can tell you the cheapest options… don’t book a tour. Just find a lodge and they’ll help you get the park fees. 🙂

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Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Do you want to see the real Africa and make some incredible memories?

Published Date : Jan 15, 2015

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