The migration in the Maasai Mara in Kenya is in full swing now. Normally, we would be sending our clients to numerous safari camps throughout East Africa (and South Africa/Botswana) – this year is different. So we thought, we would write/imagine and dream what would be, in normal times, an iconic – and achievable – East African vacation.
If you’ve been feeling that need to travel to a place of adventure (and haven’t we all?), then East Africa has everything you’ve been longing for. Spend your days relaxing on the beaches of Tanzania, putting in a little face-to-face time with gorillas in Uganda, or watching cheetahs prowl the Masai Mara National Park of Kenya. And at night, oh the nightlife! You can’t go wrong in Kampala, Uganda’s version of the Big Apple, but Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam or Kenya’s Nairobi also offer everything from dance-all-night thumping bass to chill-to-the-reggae and sip a beer by the shore.
When the Morning Gathers the Rainbow
It’s time to explore the riches of East Africa, and your biggest challenge will be culling it all down to a manageable list. But before you begin laying out that itinerary, there are a few basics you’ll need to take care of. First, you need to know that all the major countries of East Africa require visas for travel, so you will need to apply in advance of your trip. Second, you’ll want to consult with your physician about necessary vaccinations and be sure you’re up-to-date. Malaria is an ever present threat in Africa so come prepared.
There are a few things you just shouldn’t miss while you explore East Africa. Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Parks are essentially an uninterrupted stretch of wildlife that traverses the countries’ borders. The wet seasons conveniently alternate between Kenya and Tanzania, so depending on when you’re traveling, you can pick your climate. Book a safari on either side of the border and you’ll find yourself immersed among Wildebeest, cheetahs, leopards, lions, elephants, hippos, warthogs, hyenas, antelopes, and more.
The western lakes of Nakuru and Bogoria in Kenya are also worth exploring. These bodies of water lay amid the Rift Valley’s soda lakes and are home to black and white rhinos. Lake Bogoria is also the gathering place to huge flocks of pink flamingos, plus you’ll see plenty of geysers that shoot nearly 20 feet in the air
For the birders, Aberdare National Park is a must see with over 250 species of birds. You may, however, encounter a few other inhabitants such as olive baboons, colobus monkeys, and the rare African golden cat.
Finally, don’t miss Kenya’s shoreline! Diani Beach is one of Africa’s leading beach destinations, and it’s white sand beaches are great for snorkeling, sunbathing, and monkey watching. Or if you prefer something a little quieter, go back in time to Wasini Island, where you will find no cars or bicycles. Strolling the coral trails and sandy beaches may lead to spotting a humpback whale offshore as they swim northbound through the east African current.
In Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a must-see for the populations of mountain gorillas that reside there. You’ll hike the beautiful dense forests of the Kanungu District and come so close to these gorgeous primates, it will take your breath away. Guided tours send trackers out in the morning to find local populations before you set out, so you’re not likely to be disappointed.
Continue your search for our near ancestors by visiting Kibale National Park to spend time in the rainforests and to commune with chimpanzees. Or to see the full force of nature, visit Murchison Falls to see the power of the 140 foot waterfall tumble into the rocky basin below.
While you’re trekking the wilds of east Africa, you must set aside time to visit Tanzania’s gem, Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the highest peak on the continent. At nearly 20,000 feet, this dormant volcano is the highest freestanding mountain in the world. The national park there is a hiker’s paradise where you can hike forest, snow trails, or rocky peaks.
And once you’ve had your fill of wilderness and trekking, plan on heading to a hidden paradise in Pangani, Tanzania. On this northern reach of the Swahili coast, you can snorkel with sea turtles, surf, paddleboard, or just chill on the beach.
Life Is One Big Road with Lots of Signs
And the signs are saying make your way to East Africa. You won’t regret the time you spend there with the friendly people, the stunning wildlife, the once in a lifetime landscapes, and the booming nightlife. A new continent of amazing experiences awaits you.