We’ve compiled a list of 10 recommendations for the casual traveller in East Africa. Click the pictures below the map to find out more, or check out our Off the Beaten Path Recommendations for 10 of the less visited experiences in the region.
“For East Africa, this is a very good value and very well organised tour. You’ll certainly have ample opportunity to see the big five in the wild, and if you’re lucky you might even see a kill or two. Just be prepared to have to do a good bit of travelling between the national parks and reserves.”
“Though it’s not the easiest waterfall in the world to get to, the Blue Nile Falls is certainly one of the most impressive ones in this region. A rickety bus journey ride will take you out here, or you can hire a private driver and remove some of the stress and hassle. Either way, you’ll probably need a guide on arrival as there are no signs on the network of local tracks that criss-cross this beautiful scenery.”
“This is a rare opportunity to see wild chimpanzees in their natural environment. While this may not be much of a tracking experience (the chimps are often in the forest beside the tea plantations), it is a humbling experience to be able to observe man’s closest relative. This reserve is also locally run, and in an interesting part of the country.”
“This is one of the best opportunities in the country for a riverside safari. Deep in the heart of QENP, you’ll see hippos, crocodiles, waterbuck, elephants and more all close up on this boat cruise. Bring a camera along, because you’ll surely be wanting to snap away. Just don’t get too close to the edge of the boat!”
“To really get an understanding of the recent history of this small, landlocked and truly beautiful and welcoming country, you’ll have to visit this memorial in the centre of the capital city. While it might not be expansive or particularly enlightening, it offers a humbling and evocative entrance into the country and some context for what you’re about to experience.”
“While it may not have the birdlife or general wildlife of other lakes in East Africa thanks to its periodic methane releases, Lake Kivu is nonetheless a stunning place to spend a few days. There’s something about the light here, and the way the people live their lives beside such a potentially deadly lake. Rent a boat out or find a room lakeside and you won’t regret whiling away some considerable time here.”
“This is an excellent opportunity to witness what’s left of rural life in East Africa. Aside from having access to vehicles, lighters and a few packaged food products, the people here live as they have done for hundreds of years. Whether it’s about drinking blood, hunting lions, making jewellery or raising cattle, the local people are happy to answer your questions – especially if you’re willing to purchase a souvenir.”
“This is easily one of the best beaches on the island, and there’s stiff competition so that’s saying something! With soft and powdery white sand, a good array of accommodation and dining options, and a welcoming party scene, it’s easy to spend more than a few days here enjoying the cool and milky-blue Indian Ocean.”
“This is one of the best spots in the region, especially if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the nature these crater lakes have on offer. Bring a backpack, a tent, and pitch up a short distance away from the lake – you’ll soon enough be approached by up to 5 species of curious and playful monkey. And just listen to the hum of the insects by the lake at night; take a beer down and there and enjoy the strange combination of serenity and cacophony.”
“This is a four-day guided hike into the The Simien Mountains National Park in northern Ethiopia. Expect wonderful views, some fairly challenging hiking across afro alpine terrain, and the opportunity to see large groups of gelada baboons – and even the rare Ethiopian wolf if you’re lucky. You’ll have the opportunity to witness extremely rural village life, and you’ll no doubt learn all about the bizarre flora that inhabits mountains of this altitude in Africa. This is a true wilderness though in an underdeveloped country, so expect some pretty basic conditions… even if it does cost you a relative arm and a leg.”
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