East Africa is a region with a diversity of unmissable places to visit endowed with fabulous things to see. Visiting East Africa is therefore a better way to marvel at the vast incredible plains of the savannah beaming with abundant wildlife, scenic views of mountain ranges, wafer falls, and many more. Here are the five incredible places to visit while in East Africa;
5. Masai Mara Kenya
Masai Mara is without doubt one of Africa’s most famous safari destination. The game reserve is 1510sq km with breathtaking vistas, abundant wildlife, and endless plains. This large game reserve is situated in Narok County in southwestern Kenya along the Tanzanian border with Serengeti national park. Masai Mara is renowned for its exceptional populations of lion, leopards, cheetahs, and elephants.
Masai Mara is popular for the annual migration of the wildebeest, zebra, Thompson’s gazelle, and other antelope species every year from Serengeti in what is termed the ‘great migration’. The reserve beams with incredible wildlife including the big cats, big five, antelopes, and over 450 bird species.
Masai Mara has a number of exclusive attractions which visitors view while at the reserve including Ol kinyei conservancy with its unspoiled terrain rolling with hills, swamps, streams among others. Mara triangle found along Mara River favors plenty of wildlife acting as an open door for both entrance and exit of the wildebeest migration. Mara Triangle is one of the richest locations at Masai Mara offering the best experiential game drives at the reserve.
Other attractions at the reserve include Lemek Conservancy, Olare Orok Conservancy, Mara North conservancy, Mara River, and Ol Choro Oiroua.
Visitors at the reserve enjoy unforgettable experiences which include: Game drive, Sky diving, balloon trip, Fly camping, walking safari, picnic view, cultural tour, horseback safari, seeing the wildebeest migration, and many others. It is from these unforgettable experiences that visitors travel far and wide to this land of spectacular wildlife viewing.
4. Serengeti National Park Tanzania
Located in northern Tanzania, Serengeti national park is one of the best-known wildlife sanctuaries in the world covering an area of 14763 sq km. The park has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa as well as home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth- the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. Aside from the wildebeest and zebra, Serengeti national park is home to other impressive wildlife including lion, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, and birds. The park also beams with elusive wild game species especially the black rhino and bat-eared fox which are frequently viewed while on safari in Tanzania.
Serengeti national park can be divided into three parts:
- The central part (Seronera Valley) also called Serengeti, renowned as the land of endless plains.
- The second part- the western corridor is marked by Grumeti River has more forests and dense bush.
- The third and last part is the north (Lobo area) which meets with Kenya’s Masai Mara and is the least visited section while on safari to the park.
Similarly, Serengeti national park is blessed with a variety of attractions including wildlife, bird species, wildebeest migration, Grumeti River, Seronera River valley, Olduvai Gorge, Moru Kopjes, Retina Hippo pool, and many others.
Once a visitor gets to Serengeti national park, there are a number of activities that make his or her trip memorable. Some of these interesting activities include game drives one of the fabulous opportunities to view the game and its wonders. The great experience of Serengeti can be fully executed through several game drives that take a visitor close to the gates of nature, viewing animals and other wildlife at the different sections of Serengeti national park. Game drives at the park are subdivided into four major forms:
Morning game drives are the most common and most rewarding at the Serengeti national park. At this time, most of the animals are lively and active, especially during the dry season. The early morning drives are well stocked with true African wilderness experiences. The big cats sunbathing and mission hunting is very incredible.
The afternoon game drive usually done after lunch is the second form of the game drive often done during transit on the first day when transferring from Arusha to Serengeti via Ngorongoro. It is the best en-route game drive at the park. Sometimes, this game drive is not rewarding with big cats as compared to the morning because during this time they are already hiding and taking shelter due to the hot sun.
Full day game drive is the third form of game drive which rewards visitors with the feeling of excitement towards the beauty at the park with a lot of animals to be seen like lions, wildebeest, giraffes, buffaloes and many more.
Night game drives although not common can be arranged at the park request but come with extra fees. They are a great adventure for viewing nocturnal animals at the national park. Nocturnal animals Serengeti National Park includes cats (Leopards, Lions, etc), Birds like nightjar, wood owls among others.
Access to the park and during game drives requires a strong 4×4 car, preferable Land cruiser, Nissan, or Land Rover. Some tracks are almost impassable during the rainy season and some areas flood. If you choose to self-drive in Tanzania, there are many car rental companies in Arusha, Dar-es-salaam, Mwanza, and Moshi where you can rent a strong 4×4 land cruiser to self-drive in Serengeti National Park. Such companies include 4×4 Tanzania, First Car Rental, Road Trip Africa, and many others.
Other activities include; bird watching, hot air balloon safari, historical site seeing, wildebeest migration viewing, cultural encounters among others. With so many truly spectacular natural wonders within relatively close proximity, it is no surprise that Tanzania’s Serengeti national park is such a popular first-time safari destination in East Africa.
3. Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
Situated in the land of a thousand hills, Volcanoes national park is located in northwestern Rwanda covering an area of 160 sq km. With surrounding views of volcanic peaks, the park is an ideal destination for luxurious gorilla safaris alongside other wildlife species. Volcanoes national park is home to mountain gorilla an iconic endangered species, golden monkeys, spotted hyena, buffaloes, black-fronted duiker, bushbuck, and about 178 bird species.
The park is home to 10 habituated gorilla families which can be tracked by interested visitors to the park. Volcanoes national park rewards visitors with a number of activities to the park ranging from mountain gorilla trekking, to golden monkey tracking, hiking, cultural tours, nature walks, and many more.
The park has elusive attractions located both inside the park and around such as Mount Bisoke, Mount Karisimbi, Musanze caves, Dian Fossey grave site, twin lakes, Iby’Iwacu cultural village, and many others. Amidst all these attractions, visitors to the park believe that coming face to face with a great silverback is truly one of the most exciting wildlife experiences on earth which in my opinion each visitor ought to experience in East Africa.
2. Kidepo Valley National Park
Lying in the rugged, semi-arid valleys, is Kidepo valley national park between Uganda’s border with South Sudan and Kenya. Kidepo is Uganda’s most isolated national park but also the most magnificent teeming with Africa’s finest wilderness. From Apoka, in the heart of the park, a savannah landscape extends far beyond the gazetted area towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.
The park contains one of the most exciting faunas of any Ugandan national park. It contains many species including the greater and lesser kudu, eland, cheetah, lion, leopard, spotted hyena, elephants, Burchell’s zebra, bush duiker, Defassa waterbuck, bush pig, Kavirondo and an extensive list of around 475 bird species.
Kidepo valley national park has a number of areas of interest such as; Apoka tourism centre, Narus valley, Kidepo valley, and Kanangorok hot springs, Mount Morungule, Namamukweny valley, Lamoj hills, Lonyili mountain, and Matheniko Bokora reserve.
The park boasts several activities such as game drive, birding, nature walks and cultural encounters. Travel to this off-the-beaten-path destination in Uganda to enjoy excellent photographic opportunities as well as viewing the most exclusive wild game.
1. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The Bwindi impenetrable national park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the rift valley. This impenetrable forest which dates back over 25000 years contains almost 400 species of plants and protects an estimated 400 mountain gorillas. The region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as forest baboons, forest chimpanzees. Other animals include forest elephants, forest antelopes, and around 350 species of birds. The neighboring towns have an impressive array of luxury lodges, rustic Bandas, campsites, restaurants craft stalls, and guiding services.
The park has several areas of interest such as the Buhoma sector, Nkuringo sector, Rushaga sector, and Ruhija sector which are trailheads for gorilla tracking at Bwindi impenetrable national park. Nyundo north of Buhoma on the Congo border offers wonderful guided hikes along the hill crests and rivers to discover waterfalls, glorious views, and the traditional lifestyle of the Kigezi people.
The major activity at the park is gorilla trekking which takes place in the four sectors fore-mentioned starting at 8:30 am daily. Visitors embark on a forest trek lasting a few hours up to a full day depending on the location of the gorillas. Tours are limited to a maximum of eight people and visitors spend a maximum of one hour in the company of gorillas.
Other activities at Bwindi impenetrable national park include; birding, nature walks, mountain biking, and cultural tours. The chance to sight half of the world’s mountain gorillas makes viewing exciting and trekkers have splendid photographic moments at Bwindi.
In conclusion, with the above five incredible places, each visitor is in a position to enjoy legendary safaris across frontiers. However, note, for those going for self-drive adventures, access to all those parks requires a strong 4×4 vehicle because some areas are inaccessible especially in the wet season.