I had a total blast traveling to Zimbabwe alone
But time and again, local people and other travelers alike were shocked upon hearing that I, a girl, was traveling alone in Zimbabwe. I figured I would share my general experiences so that if you are planning on doing your own solo female travel to Zimbabwe shindig you will at least know what to expect. I went backpacking all around Zimbabwe independently.
Zimbabweans are the best, but…
Zimbabweans are SO friendly. This was great for meeting new friends, but I also felt like it emboldened some men to pester me.
If you stand out somehow (for example, I am a pasty white girl…but just having a tourist’s backpack is enough…) you will naturally attract more attention from people. I am pretty timid and intimidated around strangers so the attention I got from younger became frustrating at times.
At one point, on a train, a man stood in my compartment doorway and just stared at me for 20 minutes. He didn’t even stop when I confronted him about it. My Zimbabwean friend ended up slamming the compartment door and muttering “that was weird…”.
See also: My Lovely Zimbabwe Travel Guide
I was relieved that that wasn’t something normal for her, a Zimbabwean woman traveling long distances alone. I was afraid she was going to just say “oh yeah that happens all the time just ignore them…”
But I had so many good experiences with both men and women from Zimbabwe that it outweighs the bad experiences.
Some things that happened:
Most of the issues I had happened around Victoria Falls. I am actually going to write a separate post about how I hated Victoria Falls, but I will spare you from that right now.
Long story short, there are a lot of people who will walk up to you on the street and try to sell you things. Obviously this is very normal in such a tourist hot spot, but after repeated attempts to say no to buying things, some men would suddenly switch gears…
Long story short, they would solicit sex.
“You want to see my penis? I can find you later…”
But it wasn’t just at Victoria Falls. Some drunk grandpa asked me to give him a blowjob by toilet at a practically abandoned border post, so there ya go…once again, I declined.
The worst part
The worst part about this experience was that you would often end up passing the same men several times a day. I wasn’t going to let their inappropriate comments keep me locked in the house out of fear, but I felt uncomfortable while walking in certain areas.
Thankfully they never brought it up again.
When I spoke to one Zimbabwean couchsurfing host about my experience, he sighed and said that sometimes local men think tourist girls are there just to hook up with them. Why else would a girl travel alone to Zimbabwe?
Obviously everyone has their own reasons to travel and I am not commenting on that, but I seriously doubt ALL women go to Victoria Falls just to hook up with men they meet in bars…but hey I may have this whole solo female travel in Zimbabwe wrong…
More on this finding a husband during solo female travel in Zimbabwe idea…
I heard that theory for the first time in Zimbabwe, but then I heard it repeated throughout my travels in Zambia as well.
“Don’t all you women come here to find a husband?” People would ask me.
I mean, I don’t want to put down any women who decide to travel to Zimbabwe alone (or wherever) to try to meet someone special. There must be a couple of them if so many people were talking about it! Just for my own solo female travel in Zimbabwe adventure, well, that wasn’t the goal.
On Solo Female Travel in Zimbabwe and Alcohol…
One of my couchsurfing hosts took me to a local (non-tourist) bar. At the bar he ran into an ex girlfriend he ghosted (oops) who was there alone. He seemed really shocked and upset to see her, and so I assumed that had to do with his own personal relationship problems and didn’t pry.
Nope. I learned that women hanging out at bars alone (that aren’t tourist bars) are usually sex workers. I would be upset also if I ran into my ex in those conditions! He felt really bad for her.
This phenomenon exists all over the world, though, and not just in Zimbabwe.
Being a woman alone can send a strong message in certain conditions:
Why am I telling this story? It is mainly to bring to your attention that drinking alcohol in certain situations may send a strong message to the people around you, especially if you are traveling alone.
You may be completely unaware that you are shouting “solicit sex from me!” to people there.
This doesn’t apply to the tourist/hostel bars in cities or bars at safari lodges, though, but I would not recommend entering a local bar alone to enjoy a few beers.
When I stayed with different Zimbabwean families, it seemed like the women would socialize in and around the homes at night when the men would all go to the bar together.
I also had situations where there were some girls who would hang out and go to the bar with groups of guys as friends. But they would never just go alone unless they knew people already there.
Some final thoughts on Solo Female Travel in Zimbabwe
I don’t want to sound like an annoying American girl who arrives in a country and instantly starts to throw around her own ideas about how a society should be. I’m sure Zimbabweans would find plenty of faults in my own society (lol, I sure do…). I just wanted to present some of my own experiences so that you may know what to expect when you travel to Zimbabwe alone.
Also I don’t want to make it seem like I was the first woman ever to travel around Zimbabwe alone. Zimbabwean women travel all over the country and the region alone all the time. I was lucky enough to be able to hang out with lots of ladies doing this! It is not something abnormal there.
Sure, this post addresses harassment and some inappropriate situations, but I must emphasize that I never once felt unsafe during my solo female travel in Zimbabwe. It was all verbal but nobody ever touched me or followed me out of public spaces. But that obviously doesn’t excuse that kind of behavior!
I am so happy I traveled to Zimbabwe. Of course it is important to be aware of these realities, but I know you will probably have a wonderful time if you travel to Zimbabwe alone! Don’t let these anecdotes prevent you from making the trip!