The eastern coast of the African continent is a pure and largely untarnished region that not only contains some of the most fascinating creatures and thrilling landscapes in the entire world but is also not overrun with visitors like some of its more popular counterparts. Eastern Africa consists of sub-Saharan countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the islands of Zanzibar, part of Tanzania. The region is world-renowned for its incredible landscapes including some of the highest points in the world, like Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Seas, valleys, lakes and coastal plains can all be found here as well.
The climate in this region is tropical for the most part but the average temperatures are slightly reduced due to the high elevations in the area. Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya all receive ample rainfall during the year and thanks to this, they have plentiful grasslands and woodlands that draw in some of the world’s most fascinating beasts. Wildlife is found here in abundance and there is no place on earth quite like it. Where else could you find zebras, gazelles, lions, hyenas and leopards all in one place?
If going on a safari is your dream vacation, visiting Eastern Africa is a must for you. No other place allows you to get this close to these majestic animals in their natural habitats.
Kenya, Land of the Wild:
Kenya is among the top countries in the world a life-changing safari experience. If seeing the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo) is part of your bucket list, it is time to make it a reality in Kenya.
Nairobi is the capital of Kenya, the country’s largest city and most likely the city you will arrive in to start your expedition. Discover this gateway to your safari that is home to over 3 million people. Nairobi is one of the most modernized cities in the entire continent and has a plethora of things to see. Enjoy a visit to the famed farm of Karen Blixen, the author of “Out of Africa.” Continue to the Giraffe Centre where you will stand on an elevated platform and hand-feed the Rothschild Giraffes. This species of giraffe is only found on the grasslands of Eastern Africa. Here you will learn more about them and the breeding conservation being done to help this endangered species.
To the north is Samburu National Park, a fascinating reserve known for its strange and unique species including the beisa oryx and gerenuk. Learn more about the Samburu tribe that calls this area home and the difference between them and the Maasai tribe. While both tribes have their origins in the Maa language, the Samburu live north of the equator and embrace a nomadic lifestyle while the Maasai live south of the equator and are known for their iconic dress and culture.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most famous safari parks for spectacular game viewing and will not disappoint. Located in the southwest corner of Kenya, its name is derived from the local Maa language for which “Mara” means spotted. Spotted describes the land of the park which is scattered with thorn trees and dispersed with animals. See the stunning wildlife in the park including lions, rhinos, elephants, gazelles and hippos. The Masai Mara is a must visit to try and spot animals that are on your “Big Five” checklist.
Tanzania, the Safari Champion:
If you have already traveled to Eastern Africa to visit Kenya, you might as well stay for the underrated gem that is Tanzania. Kenya may be the country more famous for safari experiences but Tanzania easily keeps up.
Explore Tarangire National Park which contains the Tarangire River, the only fresh water supply for the Maasai people and their land during the dry season. Because of the fresh-water river, a huge diversity of wildlife comes to drink and look for food. This includes elephant, giraffe, buffalo, eland, lion, rhino and cheetah, to name a few. Get your camera charged because you will love taking pictures not only of the animals by the river but the distinguished baobab tree silhouetted against the savanna landscape. Take in this site because it is unique to Africa.
Lake Manyara is another location home to a diverse ecosystem that depends on a fresh-water source. At the lake, find monkeys, elephants and bright pink flamingos drinking from the water. If bird watching is more your thing, there are over 400 species here – so bring your binoculars.
One of the most important sanctuaries for wildlife in the entire world, the Serengeti National Park, is found in Tanzania. Welcome to the park that houses the largest concentration of animals in the entire continent. Wildlife may bring you to this park initially but you will be amazed at the amount of geological wonders, including kopjes, the inspiration for Pride Rock in the Lion King, caves, boulders, grasslands and savannas.
Uganda, Home of the Great Gorilla Trek:
Welcome to your gateway to one of the most unbelievable adventures you can experience in the entire world, trekking among the Bwindi gorillas. You have arrived in the rising star of Africa that is Uganda.
First, visit the Murchison Falls National Park, home to 100 mammal species and over 450 species of bird. Many important international visitors have traveled to this park, including Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt and members of the British Royal family. View this magnificent waterfall that is created by the Nile forcing its way through a gap in the rocks.
A large part of the Nile River is located in Uganda and joins Lake Albert and Lake Victoria here. Along the Ugandan portion of the Nile you will find crocodiles and hippos relaxing along the banks of the river in the sun and looking for food.
Another highlight of your time in Uganda will be your Chimp tracking adventure in Kibale National Park. Your guide will take you on a hike that lasts about 2-3 hours looking for the primates in the lush green forest. Spot these intelligent animals feeding, patrolling, hunting, resting and taking care of their young.
In Bwindi National Park, you will be on the look out for one of the gorilla families that call this park home. Your trek can last anywhere from ½ hour to 7 hours, depending on their location. You will be permitted 1 hour to watch them play, eat and live their lives. This is a truly unique experience and you will never forget your time with these incredible primates in their territory. If you love animals and enjoy once-in-a-lifetime adventures, do not miss this opportunity with Gate 1 Travel.
Zanzibar, The Spice Island of the Indian Ocean:
Zanzibar is not your typical African territory but this island is too fantastic not to talk about! The Zanzibar Archipelago is a small set of islands located off the eastern coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. The main island, Unguja, is commonly referred to as Zanzibar. The archipelago is not actually its own country but rather a semi-autonomous region of the country of Tanzania.
Stone Town is where the majority of people visiting the island pass through and it is an excellent example of an East African cultural hub. Stone Town is also the former hometown of Freddie Mercury and his childhood home is still here. Swahili architecture, mazes of alleyways and historical buildings all await in this traditional city.
Take a guided stroll through the Jozani Forest, the only national park in Zanzibar, and keep your eye out for monkeys, chameleons and many species of bird-life. Keep on high alert for the rare red Colobus monkey and the even more rare Zanzibar Sykes’ monkey while exploring. This forest acts as a natural pharmacy and contains countless remedies. Many of the plants and trees you will see in this park cure a variety of ailments.
En route to the eastern coast of the island you will see Mtoni Palace, one of the oldest structures in the area; explore a lush spice farm, where you will learn how spices are used in medicine and foods; and visit the ancient Persian baths, built by Sultan Seyyid Said for his wife. On the coast, you will notice the incredibly blue water and the beautiful white sand beaches. Zanzibar is an up-and-coming honeymoon destination for couples and a true hidden paradise for anyone who visits.
Eastern Africa is a promising destination for travelers who love nature and it is easy to see why. Unmatched wildlife, photographic landscapes and natural wonders all await you in these countries. Africa contains some of the last unblemished ecosystems on earth. Nowhere else can you see hundreds of different species living their lives together. It truly is a powerful experience that not everyone gets to appreciate. You may even get to enjoy the company of a family of mountain gorilla, some of only a few hundred left in the entire world! Let Gate 1 Travel take you to Eastern Africa and we will make sure all of the details are taken care of. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zanzibar are all waiting – it is time to see what you will find.
View Gate 1 Travels full list of East Africa tours here