When to go…
East Africa has a tropical climate and temperatures are usually pleasant year-round due to their proximity to the equator. In the low lands, it can be very hot whereas further south on the coast, the sea breeze cools temperatures. The hottest months are between November and February.
What to see…
Just south of the equator, Tanzania is one of Africa’s biggest destinations for game viewing. The National Parks and Game Reserves of the country allow tourists, with to view these animals up close in safari vehicles, on guided walks, on horseback or hot air balloon.
The forces of nature have worked together to create the magnificent solitary peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak and one of the highest freestanding mountains in the world. Accessible to veteran climbers as well as novices, there are six routes up the mountain which vary in levels of difficulty. Climbers will journey through five ecological zones, each with an array of fauna and flora. Some parts of Kilimanjaro are protected as a National Park and are home to the white colobus monkey, mountain hyrax, elephant, leopard and many more. Rising from a humid equatorial jungle and concluding in snow covered peaks, visitors to the mountain will be taken along an adventure of beautiful sights and landscapes and rewarded with a spectacular view at the summit. The best time to climb the mountain is between August and November.
Tanzania’s oldest park, the Serengeti National Park offers visitors one of the best game-viewing opportunities in the world. Usually starting in May, guests to the Park will be able to witness what is known as the Great Migration when huge herds of wild animals search for greener pastures after the rainy season. The most famous animal in this procession is the wildebeest as there are more than 1.5 million of this herbivore, but the annual migration into Kenya also follows hundreds of thousands zebra, buffalo and gazelle. The animals form a procession with the young and weak bringing up the rear. Stalking in the bushes behind them, are large numbers of patient predators including lions, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs. Crocodiles lurk in rivers. The best time to witness this incredible natural show is between May and July and again on their return in mid-November. Visitors can view game in four-wheel drive vehicles or by joining a game drive or even watching from above in a hot air balloon. The Serengeti’s ecosystem supports the largest concentration of wildlife in the world, with over three million different animals and birds.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest unbroken caldera in the world and has been described as one of the great natural wonders of the world. Once the site of an active volcano, the Crater forms a tenth of the Conservation Area in which it is located. Today, the crater floor attracts an abundance of wildlife with its swamps, lakes and rivers set amongst towering forests and mountains. The crater is estimated to have 30 000 animals and almost every species of African plains mammals. A rich variety of birdlife exists here as well, including the flamingo. Views from the rim of the crater are sensational.
One of the world’s largest Game Reserves, the Selous Game Reserve is also home to the biggest elephant herd in the world. About 32 000 elephants roam in the Reserve. Encompassing habitats from open grasslands, to acacia and miombo woodlands and extensive riverine forests, the Reserve supports an array of wildlife including black rhino and huge populations of buffalo and hunting dogs. The swamps support wetland plants, reptiles and a variety and number of bird species. A tourism policy of low volume and high cost ensure that the Reserve is unspoilt and preserved. The best time to go is in the cool season, between the end of June and the end of October.
If you want to search for chimpanzees, the best places to visit are the Gombe Stream National Park and Mahale Mountains National Park.
Kenya has been called the ‘jewel of East Africa’, boasting world renowned Game Reserves and National Parks. These are set against breathtaking scenery seen throughout the country, from its mountains to its beaches. With an incredibly sophisticated tourism infrastructure, Kenya will leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits it.
The Great Rift Valley is most dramatic in central Kenya, providing the highlands with beautiful surroundings. Valleys and plains are shadowed by hills and mountains of a range of altitudes. Visitors to this region can go on pretty walks and hikes, explore mysterious caves and view various wildlife. Africa’s second highest mountain peak, Mt Kenya rises up from forests and alpine vegetation, its summit coated with snow throughout the year. The Mt Kenya National Park preserves its stunning scenery and offers glimpses of a range of wildlife.
The Masai Mara National Reserve in western Kenya is known for its abundant wildlife population especially during the Great Migration. Hundreds of thousands of animals arrive from Tanzania and pass through the Reserve during their big trek. From a hot air balloon, the view of the migratory animals is phenomenal. Other animals which are commonly found in Masai Mara include elephants, cheetahs, baboons, gazelles, giraffes, jackals, hyenas, water buffaloes, ostriches and several types of antelope. The Masai tribes on the fringes of the Reserve sell traditional bead necklaces and other crafts.
Another popular game viewing spot is the Ambelosi National Park on the border, known for its herds of elephants and stunning view of the snow-capped Mount Kenya in the background. Adjacent to Mt Kenya, elephants, rhinos, dik-dik, leopards, lions, monkeys and rare forest antelopes roam in the densely wooded mountain range of Aberdare National Park. Other popular game viewing spots include Tsavo National Park, Kenya’s largest, the isolated Laikipia and the unspoiled wilderness of Meru.
The beautiful wilderness of Kenya meets the coast, where white sandy beaches invite tourists with their warm Indian Ocean waters. National Reserves and Marine Parks along the coast keep the beaches in their pristine condition, protecting the various fauna and flora here. Spectacular coral reefs provide some excellent diving spots, teeming with colourful fish. Deep sea fishing and snorkelling are also popular. Dhows are scattered along the coast and offer relaxing rides, from which lucky passengers might be able to spot dolphins swimming in the blue water. Interesting markets and pretty historical towns mark the coastline.
Tourists wishing for a comfortable and satisfying travel experience in East Africa will be taken care of by Africa Bespoke. Our special deals include romantic accommodation and unforgettable views in Masai Mara and the Serengeti.
Uganda is bursting with natural beauty found in tropical forests, rolling savannahs, misty mountain slopes and gleaming lakes.
Uganda is most known for being home to the endangered mountain gorilla. While they may seem intimidating at first site, these bulky primates are actually very placid animals. Visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Virunga Mountains can stare directly into the thoughtful brown eyes of these rare primates. The experience is an exhilarating one, made more so with only about 700 of these animals remaining today. The Kibale Forest in Uganda is a must-see with its communities of playful chimpanzees and monkeys. The Park boasts the greatest density of primates in East Africa as well as having twelve different types of them. Other viewing areas exist in the Budongo Forest, the Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Ngamba Island on Lake Victoria which has a community of orphaned chimps. One can find the rare golden monkey in the Mgahinga National Park and the patas monkey at the Murchison Falls. In Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, the earliest-known ancestors of apes and humans, which were unearthed in Uganda, can be found in the National Museum.
Uganda has ten National Parks, ten wildlife reserves and seven wildlife sanctuaries, thus promising tourists wonderful game-viewing opportunities considered to be some of Africa’s best. Ruwenzori National Park is said to be one of Africa’s most spectacular Parks. After exploring the Ruwenzori Mountains, the hot springs of Bandibugyo and the Semluke Wildlife Reserve are both close by.
Uganda has beautiful rainforests such as the Budongo Forest Reserve near Masindi, which is the largest mahogany forest in East Africa. Also worth visiting is the Kasyoha Kitomi Forest near the Albertine Rift Valley and the Kalinzu Forest Reserve in the southwest. In the Mpanga Forest, near Kampala, there is a drum-making village and an abundant wildlife.
Kampala, on the shores of Lake Victoria, is a bustling city with small town charm. The fresh food market at Nakasero produces a rainbow of colours with every kind of fruit and vegetable available under the sun. The city is the heart of Uganda’s intellectual and cultural scene. From here, one can take day trips like rafting at the Nile, viewing acrobatic monkeys and tropical birds at the Entebbe Botanical Gardens or taking a 45 minute boat trip to watch chimpanzees on Ngamba Island.
Various activities allow visitors to take advantage of the spectacular scenery in this country. Walking along nature trails in National Parks and around lakes is a great way to do this. Popular hiking trails exist at some mountains and range from easy to more difficult. The mountains of Mahavura and Mgahinga near Kisoro are beautiful to climb and Mount Elgon near Mbale is a popular hiking area with scenes of lush countryside. The rapids of the White Nile are popular with white water rafters who may spot hippos, crocodiles and monkeys along the way. Lakes provide excellent fishing opportunities. If you’d like to play a part in the conservation of the forests of Uganda, ecotourism projects have been set up at popular tourist routes for this purpose. Also aiming to benefitting local communities, these projects allow visitors to help out while viewing wildlife in its natural habitat.
Zanzibar consists of two large islands, Unguja and Pemba, and about 50 small ones, all surrounded by coral reefs rich in marine life. Zanzibar is famous for providing world class locations for scuba diving and snorkelling. Exploring the blue waters of the islands surrounded by bright tropical fish is an experience not easily forgotten.
The Unguja Island is referred to as Zanzibar by many and one can see why when you consider its lonely counterpart, Pemba Island, isolated by the deep channels that surround it. Unguja is home to endemic mammals with continental relatives. These include the Zanzibar red colobus and the Zanzibar leopard, which some say is endangered while others will argue its extinction.
The island’s historic centre, Stone Town, is a World Heritage Site and said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. Walking along the town’s cobbled street past intricately-carved wooden doors and ornate balconies, visitors will be escorted to an era long past while viewing numerous cultural and historical sites.
The Central Market in Stone Town appeals to all senses. Female merchants in brightly coloured khangas will raise their voices in competition and promise that their deal is the best. Tourists can observe all of this amidst a strong aroma of fresh fish and exotic spices, perhaps while tasting unusual fruit like pomegranates and red bananas.
Other points of interest in Stone Town is the National Museum, telling of Zanzibar’s fascinating history, the sturdy Old Fort with its henna painting stores and Cultural Centre, the massive Anglican Cathedral with a combination of Gothic and Arabic styles, and the rows of pillars and wraparound balconies of the House of Wonders. Further north, the undisturbed Maruhubi and Mtoni Palace ruins consist of undulating lawns, bathhouses and ponds covered in water lilies.
The Jozani Chwaka Bay Conservation Area is the largest conservation area on the island. Lying 23 miles south of Stone Town, Jozani is the only remaining natural mangrove forest and thus of huge importance to Zanzibar. The Conservation Area is known for its highly endangered Red Columbus Monkey, as well as its bush-pigs and small antelope. There are many different tree species as well as the birds they are home to, and some say the elusive Zanzibar leopard roams in this area.
The villages around Zanzibar provide a paradise of gorgeous white beaches and warm waters dotted with dhows. The isolated beaches of Maternwe are well known. These northern beaches are excellent for diving and deep-sea fishing. Mnemba’s coral reef is an especially good spot for diving.