East Africa has some of the most impressive national parks in the world, and a visit to one or several of these on your African safari will undoubtedly be a highlight of any travel in the region. Parks notable for their high concentrations of wildlife include Serengeti national park and Ngorongoro conservation area in Tanzania, Masai Mara national reserve and Amboseli national park in Kenya. Others are famous for a particular type of animals, such as Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla national parks in Uganda are set aside for the protection of the endangered Mountain Gorilla, or Gombe Stream and Mahale mountains national parks in Tanzania and Kibale Forest national park in Uganda where Chimpanzees are the main attraction. Parks offering trekking opportunities include Mt Kenya national park in Kenya, Mt Elgon national park in Uganda and Kenya, Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Udzungwa mountains national parks and Ngorongoro conservation area in Tanzania. There are also several maritime national parks where you can go diving or snorkelling on an ‘underwater safari’. The main ones are Malindi and Watamu marine national parks in Kenya. There is also a mafia Island Marine Park in Tanzania.

What to Do on Rwanda Safaris, Some find it strange to talk about Rwanda safaris after the genocide, yet most Rwandans want people to look to the present and future, as well as understand their past. The thickly forested Virunga volcanoes along the entire border with Congo and Uganda to the north from a formidable natural border are the home of the endangered mountain gorillas. Many of these family groups have been habituated to human contact over many years; spending some time in their presence is undoubtedly the highlight of a trip to Rwanda and one of life’s great experiences. With peace now re-established, it is possible to visit these remarkable animals once again. Rwanda was the first place to develop gorilla tourism and is still the best place to view them. Trekking the volcanoes is, for the intrepid, equal to a buzz but require a high degree of resilience. They are a tough climb and discomfort is the name of the game but the views across the volcanic chain are awesome on a clear day. However, the stunning Nyungwe forest national park has fared much better and is home to many species of primate, including some huge troops of colobus monkeys and chimpanzees. And for beach lovers who thought their luck was out, there are some of Africa’s best inland beaches on the shores of Lake Kivu. Both Gisenyi and Kibuye have white sand and water sports plus fantastic views across the beautiful waters to the mountains of Congo and beyond.

Go Walking, Hiking and Cycling on Your Africa Safaris. At many national parks, you can arrange relatively short walks of two to three hours in the early morning or late afternoon hours during your Africa safaris. The focus is on watching animals rather than covering distance, and walks like these are often included in organized vehicle safari packages, especially at the top end. For keen walkers, and those who want to minimize their time in safari minibuses, there are an increasing number of more vigorous options, usually involving point-to-walks or longer circuits. Kenya in particular has a wide array of organized safaris combining walking, hiking and cycling, with side trips by vehicle into the parks to see wildlife. Popular areas include Mt Kenya, Mt Elgon, the Cherangani hills and the rift valley lakes. In Tanzania, activity-oriented safaris have now gotten into full swing, so expect lots of exciting new developments. For now, the best areas include the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Kilimanjaro and Udzungwa mountains national parks and Mt Meru- all with highly rewarding hiking -and the area around Lake Manyara national park, where you can combine walking, bicycling and canoeing. Uganda also offers some excellent opportunities -everything from gorilla trekking and chimpanzee tracking to bird-watching walks in Bwindi impenetrable, Kibale forest and Mgahinga gorilla national parks, to climbing Mt Elgon or the Rwenzoris.

When to Do Your Safaris in East Africa

African safari to East Africa is usually better in the dry season from late June to October, and in many national parks, this is when animals are easier to find around water holes and rivers. Flora is also less dense, thus making it easier to spot game. However, because the dry season corresponds partly with the high travel season, hotels, lodges and camps get crowded causing accommodation prices to shoot up. Besides all that, the perfect time to come on a safari depends a lot on which national parks and game reserves you want to tour plus what you want to do or see. If it’s gorilla tracking you want to do, the dry season is best for this activity, if it’s bird watching then the wet season is the best time in most areas. Wildlife concentrations tend to vary distinctly, depending on the season of course, and some lowland parks can be completely unreachable during the rainy seasons. For example, Tanzania’s Tarangire national park is best visited during the dry season when the animal concentrations are very high; in Serengeti national park, there are relatively fewer animals in the park during the dry season as they tend to move to look for food -but then again the numbers in the park continue to rise and you’re almost sure to spot wildlife there at any time of year. If you’re timing your safari around particular events like the wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara national reserve and the Serengeti national park keep in mind that there are no guarantees because seasons differ from year to year and are difficult to predict in advance.

The Top Five Wildlife Safari Destinations in Africa. Do you love animals; well there are many African safari destinations where you can see a profusion of wildlife in their natural habitats. They include the following;

Uganda; Uganda’s great beauty led Winston Churchill to refer to it as the ‘Pearl of Africa’. Take your pick from the highest mountain range in Africa- the Rwenzori Mountains; one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world- Murchison falls, a sizable mountain gorilla population in Bwindi and Mgahinga parks, or perhaps the highest primate density in the world, in Kibale forest national park- Uganda has all this and more.

South Africa; South Africa is home to 20 national parks among them two of the most renowned wildlife parks; Kruger national park is situated on the border of South Africa with Mozambique and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is located on the border of South Africa and Botswana. These parks are habitats to plenty of wildlife, with lions, buffaloes, white rhinos, elephants, zebra etc and plenty of birdlife.

Kenya; For many Kenya means wildlife. Kenya’s national parks and game reserves rate among the best in Africa and despite the ravages of human land exploitation and poaching, there is still an incredible variety of birds and mammals. Up to a million wildebeest and zebras cross southern Kenya on their migration attracting an entourage of predators.

Tanzania; When it comes to wildlife, Tanzania is practical without peers. An unprecedented 25% of the country is protected in national parks and other conservation areas. Together these sustain an estimated 20% of Africa’s large mammal population. The Serengeti national park hosts the remarkable spectacle of an annual migration of about two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle. Tanzania also boasts of containing a remarkable bird list of more than 1130 bird species recorded and new endemics being discovered all the time. A number of African game species are well represented in Namibia, with the largest concentration in the Etosha National Park. Rare and endangered animal species, birds and plant life are protected in Namibia’s national parks which occupy about 15.5% of the country.

Camel and Balloon Safaris on Your African Safari,

Going on a camel safari as part of your itinerary offers you the opportunity to get off the compressed road to explore the areas where vehicles can’t or don’t go. The majority take place in Kenya’s Samburu and Turkana tribal areas between Isiolo and Lake Turkana. In Tanzania, they can be done in Mikuru. On your camel safari, you have the chance to see wildlife along the way, though the purpose of this is to mingle and immerse yourself in the nomadic life of the native people. You could either ride the camels or walk beside them. Most of the travelling is done in the cooler parts of the day with a campsite established around noon. Flying over the Serengeti or along a riverbed in a hot air balloon is a fabulous way to experience nature and wildlife if you have the funds as the balloon safari is quite expensive. The balloon safari depends on the condition of the wind and weather, and also the fact that wildlife can’t be guaranteed. The captains stay between 500m and 1000m above the ground meaning it’s possible to see the animals but only if they are there. The main places for balloon safaris are Kenya’s Masai Mara national reserve and Serengeti national park.

Uganda Safari Itineraries.

Uganda is a compressed country in contrast with some of its neighbours, like Kenya and Tanzania, therefore, most Uganda safari itineraries are quite short, averaging from one to three weeks with some including a detour to Rwanda. Short trips to view the mountain gorillas in the southwest or Murchison falls in the north are very popular with visitors combining Uganda with visits to Kenya and Tanzania.

The shortest safaris, take a week or less, concentrating on the mountain gorillas in the southwest, sometimes combining a gorilla visit in Uganda (Bwindi impenetrable park) or Rwanda (Volcanoes national park) with Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo or the chimp habitat Kibale Forest. With ten to twelve days, you should be in a position to cover most of Uganda’s highlights circling from Kampala to the south via Lake Mburo to visit Bwindi impenetrable, Mgahinga gorilla or Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda, before heading north through Queen Elizabeth and Kibale forest on to Murchison falls. If you have two or more weeks, your itinerary should include other national parks in the west such as Semliki national park plus the possibility of taking a flying safari to the isolated Kidepo valley national park in the northeast. If you still have more time on your vacation then you could relax or take part in other activities such as bird watching, walking safaris, village walks or white water rafting on the Victoria Nile.

Kenya Safari Itineraries;

Whether it’s camping or lodging you want during your Kenya safari, there are plenty of alternatives available ranging from two days itineraries to 15 days and, in some cases, up to six weeks. Short itineraries of half a week or less concentrate on Amboseli national park and the Masai Mara national reserve then Amboseli and Tsavo national parks safaris are also common. You need plenty of time to visit the other popular parks of Samburu and Buffalo Springs national reserves in the north. A week gives you time to visit Lakes Nakuru, Bogoria and Baringo plus Masai Mara and Amboseli. With a week and a half on vacation, you could visit two or more of the rift valley lakes plus the Masai Mara, Amboseli and Tsavo, or alternatively the Samburu and Buffalo Springs, Meru, Lake Nakuru itinerary. An itinerary for Mt Elgon, Saiwa swamp and the Aberdare national parks is possible too. Itineraries combining wildlife safaris with visits to Lake Turkana for example, visiting either or both of Samburu and Buffalo Springs, and either Meru national park or Shaba national reserve and then heading up to Marsabit national park before crossing the Chalbi Desert to Lake Turkana are also popular.