Five Great East African Destinations You Should Visit At Least Once in Your Lifetime
If you love traveling and visiting new places, Eastern Africa offers you an interesting choice of sites and places to enjoy.
Obviously, different people will have different opinions on what the “best” destinations are, but anyone with some good knowledge of East Africa will agree with me that those listed below rank among the very top.
If you would want to travel to any of these places, see the many great packages we have to offer at our main website.
1. The Virunga Mountains Range
This volcanic mountain range lies on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The jungles on the slopes of this mountain range are home to many primates and other wild animals, the most popular being the critically endangered mountain gorillas. Scientists estimate that there are fewer than 800 mountain gorillas remaining in the whole world. All of them are either found in the Virunga mountain jungle, or in the nearby Bwindi region in Uganda.
Mountain gorillas are very fascinating because of their huge muscular stature. When the males fully mature, the hair on the back turns silvery grey – thus the name silverback gorilla. Despite their intimidating size and the aggressive chest-thumping displays however, mountain gorillas are very gentle, and a bit shy, unless you disturb them.
Gorilla tracking is therefore one of the most sought after experiences in the Virunga mountains. It is also one of the top reasons many people travel to Uganda. However, be warned that gorilla trekking is a very strenuous activity, and an adventure like no other.
Besides the gorillas, you can also see the endangered golden monkeys in Virunga.
2. The Mara/Serengeti Ecosystem
You have most likely heard about the wildebeest migration. This is a spectacular event during which over one million wildebeest and several hundreds of thousands of other plain animals, move as one large herd across the plains of Masai Mara national park and the Serengeti national park. It is one of the most sought after Kenya safari experience.
The migration has been so well documented, that you’d think nothing else happens in the Masai Mara/Serengeti plains. The truth however is that this region is one of the best places on earth for wildlife watching, even without the migration.
The Mara, and Serengeti share the same savannah grassland plains ecosystem which makes for great animal photography. Between these two parks (and the Ngorongoro conservation area, which too is partly part of the same ecosystem), you will see all the big five animals, all the African big cats, some lesser known wild cats and other predators, and hundreds of other animal species.
If you want to have a great wildlife safari, but can only visit one place, the Mara or Serengeti will not disappoint you.
3. Mount Kilimanjaro
The snow-peaked Mt. Kilimanjaro is located in northern Tanzania, at the border with Kenya. It is Africa’s highest mountain and therefore a natural must see site. What makes the mountain even more fascinating to see is its massive height from the ground up (Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world).
Yet despite all these accolades, the mountain is not a very hard climb. You don’t have to be super-fit and an expert mountaineer to make it to the top. Anyone of reasonable fitness can make it to Uhuru peak without any specialized equipment.
After climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, many people opt to wind down with either a safari in Tanzania, or a beach holiday in Zanzibar.
Many people associate Zanzibar with romantic beach vacations, and there is nothing wrong with this. The islands are home to some of the most amazing beaches in the Eastern Africa coast. A beach holiday in Zanzibar is therefore most certainly an experience to yearn for.
But there is more to Zanzibar than just sun and beach. The Islands, also popularly known as the spice islands, are among the best places to learn about the swahili culture and the history of the East African coast. Starting from the historical Stone city, the spice gardens, and the slave market, there is a lot to explore and learn in Zanzibar. And if you travel in time for the annual Sauti za Busara music festival, you will get the very best Swahili cultural experience.
5. The Nile River
I know, most people associate the Nile River with Egypt, which is justifiable considering the many beautiful and historical sites along the Nile basin in Egypt. But the upper basin of the Nile has something interesting to offer too, in terms of adventure opportunities. If you are an adrenaline junkie, the rapids in Jinja are great for world-class white water rafting, up to class 5. You can also go bungee jumping at the 44 meters “Nile High Bungee”.
The Murchison falls are the other very spectacular site on the Victoria Nile. Here, the waters of the Nile are forced into a narrow gorge in the rocks, width of about 7 meters, the drop about 120 metres in a series of three cascades.