East Africa Wildlife Encounters

Safaris & Wildlife in Kenya, Uganda & Tanzania

Planning a Safari? 

Our seasoned safari veterans are here to help.

But now that you're ready to plan - where to begin? And most importantly - what wildlife should you look out for (and be amazed by)?

We think East Africa is where to go - specifically Kenya, Uganda, or Tanzania. And our safari veterans are excited to share their experiences. 

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Table of Contents

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Kenya


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Kenya Wildlife Adventures


Kenya is located in eastern Africa and has borders with Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia and Sudan while also bordering the Indian Ocean. With 536 kilometers of coastline and a total area of 580,00 sq km you will be able to experience pristine beaches to the thrills of a safari through numerous national parks.

Maasai Mara Reserve Park

One of the most popular reserve parks is the Maasai Mara which is known as the greatest wildlife migration on planet earth. This reserve borders Tanzania and is connected to the Serengeti national park. Although you can visit the reserve year-round, it is best to go from July until October to witness the mass migration of wildebeest, buffaloes, zebras, plus many more as they risk their lives crossing the crocodile infested Mara river Kenya’s highest elevation is Mt. Kenya rising above the sea at nearly 5,200 meters, where you will meet glaciers after your long trek to the summit.

 

Kenya is also home to Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake and the second largest fresh water lake which is shared among Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. There are a variety of national parks and natural reserves are scattered between Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean, covering every imaginable landscape and featuring every animal in Africa from aardvarks to zebras. Check out this map of all of the game reserves and parks in Kenya.


Kenya Map

As you arrive in Nairobi, with its modernized city like atmosphere with bustling traffic, a skyline of tall buildings and countless people, you would never guess that a world just a few hours away will provide one of the most influential experiences of your lifetime.  As you may expect, safaris are the heart of the Kenyan tourism industry. And outside of the largest city, Nairobi, Kenya is also a great place for cultural encounters, with more than 40 different ethnic tribal groups. The most well-known, their multi-colors and bead-covered adornments are the Maasai tribe who inhabit the frontiers of the Maasai Mara reserve. The Maasai people are very rich in culture which makes them a must see during your trip.

Visa Information & Vaccinations

You may need a visa to enter Kenya, it is recommended to check these requirements when planning your trip. In most cases you can obtain a visa upon arrival, but it is best to obtain one prior to your arrival in country to avoid any potential delays upon entering the country. Vaccinations are another important item to remember while planning your trip, be sure to check with your doctor for any required vaccinations before you depart and bring and keep your vaccination cards with you during your stay.

Spectacular Beaches

Although Kenya is well known for its game reserves and wildlife safaris, you can also find spectacular peaceful beaches. The breathtaking views of pristine beaches and sparkling clear waters of the Indian Ocean.  Kenya’s Diani Beach is the most popular and easily accessible from Mombasa. This beach boasts plenty of amenities, where you will find a beautiful coral reef just off the coastline, plenty of shade from the groves of palm trees. You can do it all at Diani beach from swimming, surfing, snorkeling, or just catching some of the intense African sun rays. And lastly, the abundance of elegant beachside resorts will certainly make the trip valuable and unforgettable experience of a lifetime.  


Dania BeachDIANI BEACH, KENYA

Uganda


Pearl of Africa

In the words of Winston Churchill, "For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly the 'Pearl of Africa'.” In Uganda, you'll find a huge range of landscapes including snow-tinged mountain peaks, deep forests, and stretches of grassy savannas. You might also catch a rare glimpse of the endangered mountain gorilla residing in the Ruwenzori Mountains of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.  Experience the impressive views of the Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls

Also known as the Kabarega Falls, the Murchison Falls is a result of the entire Nile River flowing through a single crevice measuring only 23 feet wide that falls 141 feet below into Lake Albert.


WaterFallMURCHISON FALLS, UGANDA

These falls are located in the Murchison Falls National Park, which is considered one of the best parks in Uganda, where you can see the "Big Five" : elephants, lions, leopards, cape (African) buffaloes, and rhinos. The park offers "game drives" to follow specific tracks to see wildlife, which usually last between 3-4 hours. The park entrance fees for foreign non-residents are about 40 USD per adult and 20 USD per child.  

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

While home to over 120 species of mammals, over 300 types of birds - and a sanctuary of colobus monkeys and chipmanzees - the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is most famous for having half of the world's remaining population of endangered mountain gorillas. Overseen by the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, 14 gorilla groups are open for tourism. The best times to go are between June and September, as well as from December to February. To go "gorilla trekking," you need to apply for a permit, which are typically 600 USD per person. Only 80 people are allowed to go see gorillas per day, so this is a very rare and special experience. 

 

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Located in Southwest Uganda, Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda's most popular national park and spans 764 square miles. This park is teeming with wildlife, most notably the black-maned lion in the Ishasha Sector, which are the only tree-climbing lions in the world. You can also see herds of Ugandand Kob, African Buffalo, as well as chimpanzees, African bush elephants, and leopards. 

The Kazinga Channel connects Lake Edward to Lake George filled with hippos, Nile Crocodiles, flamingos, and more, which can all be seen on a boat cruise. This park is also famous for its Lake Katwe explosion craters.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

This Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda, and also contains over 300 bird species. The rhino re-introduction project is part of the Rhino Fund Uganda, which is overseen by the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. Rangers provide guided rhino trekking, which typically lasts about 1.5 to 2.5 hours. The Sanctuary recommends going between 8 am - 10 am or 4 pm - 6 pm. Most visitors bring their own vehicle, but you can request a vehicle and driver for an extra cost. 

rhino_animal_world_pachyderm_rhinoceros_safari_nature_park_rump_big_game-865946RHINOS

Another popular activity in this sanctuary is Shoebill Stork trekking, which involves a canoe ride through the Lugogo Swamp. This usually lasts about  4 hours and is an excellent way to see the Ugandan sunrise.

Tanzania


Vast Wilderness

Tanzania is an East African country known for its vast wilderness areas. They include the plains of Serengeti National Park, a safari mecca populated by the “big five” game (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino), and Kilimanjaro National Park, home to Africa’s highest mountain. Offshore lie the tropical islands of Zanzibar, with Arabic influences, and Mafia, with a marine park home to whale sharks and coral reefs.

Tanzania National Parks

For safari lovers, the world’s most renowned national parks await to mesmerize you and your friends with the most spectacular wildlife events you will NOT see on any other safari. Tanzania boosts 15 national parks and one more addition in the next few year compiling over 50,000 sq km of viewing areas. These parks have been formed to preserve the rich natural heritage of the country and protect animals against the growing human population.

 

Tanzania MapTANZANIA MAP

 

Arusha National Park

It is a popular destination for day trip visitors who are about to embark from the town of Arusha on longer northern circuit safaris. The small national park includes the slopes, summit, and ash cone of Mt. Meru, the Momela Lakes, Ngurdoto Crater, and the lush highland forests that blanket its lower slopes. Game viewing around the Momela Lakes is at a laid-back and quiet pace, and while passing through the forest many visitors stop to search for troupes of rare colubus monkeys playing in the canopy. The entrance leads to shadowy montane forest inhabited by inquisitive blue monkeys and colorful turacos and trogons – the only place on the northern safari circuit where the acrobatic black-and-white colobus monkey are visible. Further north, rolling grassy hills enclose the tranquil beauty of the Momela Lakes, each one having a different hue of green or blue. There are shallows sometimes tinged pink with thousands of flamingos. The lakes support a rich selection of resident and migrant waterfowl, and also shaggy waterbucks that display their large lyre-shaped horns on the watery fringes. Giraffes glide across the grassy hills, between grazing zebra herds, whilst pairs of wide-eyed dik-dik dart into scrubby bush like overgrown hares on spindly legs. The first wooded savannah to pass through the park is where buffalos and giraffes are frequently encountered. Elephants are uncommon in Arusha National Park, and lions are absent altogether, leopards and spotted hyenas may be seen slinking around in the early morning and late afternoon. It is also at dusk and dawn that the veil of cloud on the eastern horizon is most likely to clear, revealing the majestic snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro, which is only 50km (30 miles) away.

But it is Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin, Mount Meru – the fifth highest mountain in Africa at 4,566 meters (14,990 feet) dominating the park’s horizon. With its peaks and eastern foot slopes protected within the national park, Meru offers unparalleled views of its famous neighbor, while also forming a rewarding hiking destination in its own right.

Best time to visit – To climb Mt. Meru June to February and the best views of Mt. Kilimanjaro will occur December to February.

Size: 552 sq km (212 sq miles).


GiraffeGIRAFFE'S VIEW OF MT. KILIMANJARO

 

Gombe National Park

Gombe is the smallest of all the Tanzania’s national parks: a fragile strip of chimpanzee habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys that hem in the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Its chimpanzees – habituated to human visitors – were made famous by the pioneering work of Jane Goodall, whom in 1960 founded a behavioral research program that now stands as the longest-running study of its kind in the world. The matriarch Fifi, the last surviving member of the original community – that was only three-years old when Goodall first set foot in Gombe – is still regularly seen by visitors.

Gombe Stream’s main attraction is the chimpanzee families that live protected in the park’s boundaries. Guided walks are available that will take you deep into the forest to observe and sit with the extraordinary primates for an entire morning — an incredible experience and one that is the highlight of many visitors’ trips to Africa. Besides chimpanzee viewing, many other species of primates live in Gombe Stream’s tropical forests. Vervet and colobus monkeys, baboons, forest pigs and small antelopes inhabit the dense forest, in addition to a wide variety of tropical birdlife.

Chimpanzees share about 98% of their genes with humans, and no scientific expertise is required to distinguish between the individual repertoires of pants, hoots and screams that define the celebrities, the powerbrokers, and the supporting characters. Perhaps you will see a flicker of understanding when you look into a chimp’s eyes, assessing you in return – a look of apparent recognition across the narrowest of species barriers.

The park also has 200-odd bird species range from the iconic fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter’s twinspots that hop tamely around the visitors’ center.

After dusk, a dazzling night sky is complemented by the lanterns of hundreds of small wooden boats, bobbing on the lake like a sprawling city.

Best time to visit: The chimps do not adventure out very far in the wet season from February to June and November to mid December, so may be easier to find; better picture opportunities in the dry seasons of July to October and late December.
Size: 52 sq km (20 sq miles)
Location: 16 km (10 miles) north of Kigoma on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania.

Getting there
Kigoma is connected to Dar and Arusha by scheduled flights, to Dar and Mwanza by a slow rail service, to Mwanza, Dar and Mbeya by rough dirty roads, and to Mpulungu in Zambia by a weekly ferry. From Kigoma, local lake-taxis take up to three hours to reach Gombe, or motorboats can be chartered, taking less than one hour.

GombeChimp

CHIMPANZEE IN GOMBE PARK

 

Ruaha National Park

Ruaha national park is the largest park in Tanzania and one of the few areas where one can have a rare experience of game viewing spiced up by the fascinating landscape. The park is rich of plants and animals such as Greater Kudu which can not be found in any other national park. The park boasts of her almost untouched and unexplored ecosystem, making visitors’ safari experience very unique. The Great Ruaha River as other rivers like Mwagusi, Jongomero and Mzombe save as the life line of the park. During dry season, these rivers become mostly the main source of water for wildlife. There are few natural springs saving the same purpose. In the pick of dry season, elephants obtain water from dry sand rivers using their front feet and trunks. The remaining water falls along the Great Ruaha River are also important habitat for hippopotamus, fish and crocodiles.

The park is one of the Tanzania birds’ paradise with more than 571 species and some of them are known to be migrants from within and outside Africa. Ruaha is believed to have high concentration of elephants than any national park in East Africa.

Best time to Visit:

Predators and large mammals roam frequently during the dry season from mid May to December.

Size: 20,000 sq km

ElephantsRuahaELEPHANTS ROAMING IN RUAHA PARK

 

Udzungwa National park

Udzungwa is the largest, most biodiverse environment with a chain of a dozen large forest-swathed mountains that rise majestically from the flat coastal scrub of eastern Tanzania. Known collectively as the Eastern Arc Mountains, this archipelago of isolated massifs has also been dubbed as the African Galapagos for its treasure-trove of endemic plants and animals, most familiarly being the delicate African violet. Brooding and primeval, the forests of Udzungwa seem positively enchanted: a verdant refuge of sunshine-dappled glades enclosed by 30-meter (100 foot) high trees, their buttresses layered with fungi, lichens, mosses and ferns. Udzungwa alone among the ancient ranges of the Eastern Arc has been accorded the national park status. It is also unique within Tanzania in that its closed-canopy forest spans altitudes of 250 meters (820 feet) to above 2,000 meters (6,560 ft) without interruption. Although not a conventional game viewing destination, Udzungwa is a magnet for hikers. An excellent network of forest trails includes the popular half-day ramble to Sanje Waterfall, which plunges 170 meters (550 feet) through a misty spray into the forested valley below.

The more challenging two-night Mwanihana Trail leads to the high plateau, with its panoramic views over the surrounding sugar plantations, before ascending to Mwanihana peak, the second-highest point in the range. More than 400 species of birda, from the lovely and readily-located green-headed oriole to more than a dozen secretive Eastern Arc endemics.

Of six primate species recorded, the Iringa red colobus and Sanje Crested Mangabey both occur nowhere else in the world – the latter, remarkably, remained undetected by biologists prior to 1979.

Best time to visit:

Possible all year round although slippery during rainy seasons. The dry season is June-October before the short rains however be prepared for rain anytime.

Size: 1,990 sq km (770 sq miles)

 

SanjeRiverWaterfallsSANJE RIVER WATERFALLS

 

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