Top Unmissable East African Safari Destinations
01: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Located in the extreme southwest of the country on the border with Tanzania, Maasai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s quintessential safari destination. Covering over 580 square miles/ 1,500 square kilometers, it is a true wildlife haven. You can spot the Big Five, or keep an eye out for the reserve’s plentiful big cats. In particular, it is one of the best places on the continent to see lions in their natural environment. Special Maasai Mara experiences include visits to traditional Maasai villages; and the annual Great Migration. Between July and October, the latter sees approximately two million wildebeest, zebra and other antelope migrate en masse across the mighty Mara River.
02: Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda
Murchison Falls National Park lies in the North wards of Uganda adjacent to Lake Albert Delta tip of the Nile River northwest corner of Uganda. Its vast expanse includes four distinct eco-systems, allowing for an incredibly diverse array of animal and bird life. In particular, the park’s Savuti Marsh offers one of Africa’s highest year-round concentrations of wildlife. Murchison Falls is especially famous for its elephants, with lots of the Roth’s Child Giraffes and lots of Wild Antelopes. The best time to visit is during the dry season (April to October), when vast herds of elephant and other animals gather to drink along the banks of the The River Nile. The river also allows for unique boat-based game-viewing and rewarding birding.
03 of 10 Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
In northern Tanzania, Serengeti National Park lies adjacent to Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. It is the classic African safari setting, thanks to sprawling grasslands dotted with lone acacia trees and grazing herds of zebra and antelope. These herbivores attract high numbers of predators, and the open environment makes this one of the best destinations for watching lion and cheetah in action. The Serengeti is much larger than the Maasai Mara, and as such it often feels less crowded. From November to June, the Serengeti acts as the main stage for the dramatic Great Migration. At this time, endless herds of zebra and wildebeest gather to graze, mate and give birth.
04 of 10 Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwest Uganda on the edge of the legendary Rift Valley. This dense rainforest is home to nearly half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas – a critically endangered subspecies with approximately 880 individuals remaining in the wild. Here, you can track the park’s habituated gorilla groups on foot, allowing you to come face-to-face with these fascinating great apes. The forest is also home to chimpanzees, baboons and other mammals including elephant and antelope. Its birdlife is diverse, with more than 20 endemic species. The park also offers the opportunity to meet the region’s native pygmy people.
05 of 10 Par’c De Viruga Volcanoes, Rwanda
In northern Namibia lies Etosha National Park, a diverse collection of different habitats arranged around a salt pan so large it can be seen from space. This self-drive park is generally arid, and many of the animals here are adapted for life in the desert – including the gemsbok and springbok antelopes. Elephants are common here, and you’re likely to see lion, hyena and cheetah. You won’t find buffalo or hippo, though – it’s simply too dry. Etosha’s main highlight is its population of critically endangered black rhino. These remarkable creatures are best spotted at the floodlit waterholes of the three main camps, alongside an array of other nocturnal animals.
06 of 10 Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania is made exceptional by its volcanic crater – the largest un-flooded and unbroken caldera in the world. This vast depression acts as a natural enclosure for countless wildlife species, including the Big Five. Highlights include a healthy population of black rhino, and some of the largest tusker elephants on the continent. The lake at the center of the crater also hosts huge flocks of rose-colored flamingos, while Maasai tribespeople still live within the conservation area. Another unmissable attraction is the Olduvai Gorge, an important paleoanthropological site that has contributed hugely to our understanding of human evolution.
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