East Africa is one of the richest regions in wildlife in the world with the region boosting a huge number of mammals, primates, birds and other beautiful sceneries including stunning volcanoes, Lakes, Rivers and Mountains. The region is a home to some of the world’s most amazing features and attractions including the longest River in the world, the Nile, the second largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Victoria, the endangered mountain gorillas found in Uganda and Rwanda and the annual wildebeest migration in Tanzania and Kenya. Each of the East African nations namely; Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda has got something special to offer to the travelers and below is the breakdown of each country’s tourist package.
Perhaps most known for her incredible annual game migration that features the movement of the million-strong herds of wildebeest and zebra across its grassy plains of Serengeti national park. The park was recently voted as the best of all the 50 parks ranked the Africa Travel Magazine. Serengeti is simply African finest reserve hosting thousands of game species ranging from angulates to predators. Common game in the park includes lion, leopard, buffalo, cheetah, serval, spotted hyena, bat-eared fox plus a couple of jackal and mongoose species. The park is so vast in size that you hardly come into congestion with any group of tourists. The only place where you can encounter that form of overcrowding in the park is at the southern plains around Seronera lodge, a suitable site for leopard.
Another stunning site for the tree-climbing in East Africa in addition to the famous Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park in Western Uganda is in Lake Manyara national park. Lake Manyara lies on the Rift Valley floor and together withits resultant park, they occupy 330sq. km area with incredible game drives that lead you to thousands of elephants before you finally encounter the breathtaking tree-climbing lions.
A Kenya safari introduces to her wildlife variety that makes the country a compelling travel destination. Kenya’s South-central circuit that combines the country’s most popular reserve Maasai-Mara tend to attract the attention of most first-time visitors. Maasai-Mara carries the heaviest tourist traffic compared to any other game reserve in the region largely due to its large game densities that no other East African park holds. To curious travelers, the best time to visit the park is between July and October when you can watch live the wildebeest migration where game crosses over from Tanzania into Maasai-Mara. The migration offers visitors unforgettable sightings of the magically braying, croc-dodging beasts as they cross the Mara River. Among the profusion of wildlife supported in the reserve throughout the year include large numbers of buffalo, zebra, antelopes, elephant and black rhinos. The park is also a fantastic home for predators particularly the cheetah, spotted hyena and a group of lion that are easy to watch and photograph given their high degree of habituation.
Lake Nakuru National Park is another great wildlife spot that you shouldn’t miss while on your Kenya safari. The Park covers Kenya’s most famous of the Rift Valley lakes that have attracted a huge concentration of up to two million flamingos that act as an equal match to the wildebeest migration of Maasai Mara. Nakauru pauses such a beautiful view especially when seen from its surrounding cliffs where the flamingos can be spotted. Lake Nakuru National Park is also an important relocation site for the area’s endangered animals and a sight where both species of rhinos (black & white) and the Rothschild’s giraffe.
Tracking mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the highlight of most visits to Uganda. The park is a home to more than half of the global population of these endangered gentle giants. However, Bwindi has got much more to offer to her visitors than the mountain gorillas. There is superb forest birding in the park’s dense forests that protect 20 Albertine Rift endemics, dozens of butterfly species, localized forest mammals including the outsized yellow-backed duiker and handsome L’Hoest monkey. The Mubwindi Swamp found deeper into the park that hosts the eagerly sought African green broadbill and it is a hideout for the park’s small population of forest elephant.
Queen Elizabeth National Park located approximately 132km North of Bwindi is arguably the most ecologically diverse reserve in Africa with a checklist of more than 600 wildlife species. To explore the park fully you need not less than a week to see its popular highlights that include the launch trip to the hippo hub of Kazinga Channel, chimpanzee tracking in Forested Chambura Gorge while a game drive to the Southerly Ishasha sector introduces you to the breathtaking tree-climbing lions. Lastly you can visit the rush crater lakes and the Maramagambo forest where you can meet millions of bats in their forested colony.
Volcanoes National Park, the site of Dian Fossey’s famous gorilla habituation is Rwanda’s most popular tourist destination. It is also the site for Fossey’s anti-poaching project and the origin of the film, “Gorillas in the Mist”. The Park represents Rwanda’s share of the Virunga conservation area famous for mountain gorillas, which also extends into Congo (DRC) and one of the only four parks with this popular primate specie. The other 3 parks with mountain gorillas include Virunga National Park (DRC), and Uganda’s two destinations of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The park is a home to five of the eight volcano summits of the Virunga Mountains including Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo and this is great news to hikers and adventurous travelers in addition to trekking the gorillas and other safari activities in the park.
Gorilla trekking, arguably the most popular and breathtaking wildlife experience in the world, is the major tourist activity in the park with the Park issuing 96 gorilla permits daily to 12 groups of eight trekkers for the 12 gorilla families available in the park. Volcanoes’ gorilla photography is the best of all trekking destinations where the gorillas often hang out in the open bamboo zone unlike the murky forest depths in other areas.
Away from Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda’s must visit destination is Nyungwe Forest National Park located in the South towards Burundi. The park is outstanding in terms of primates’ diversity that include troops of over 400 Rwenzori colobus that surround the park headquarters. Other common primate species in the forest include over 500 chimpanzees, several monkey species including L’hoest, red-tailed, Dent’s and silver monkey. The bird count in the forest goes beyond 310 species and they include 27 Albertine Rift Endemics and the delightful great blue turaco. Nyungwe is also very rich in floral diversity that includes over 200 species of orchid.