Best East African country for wildlife safari – East Africa has for long been known as the best African destination in the world for wildlife viewing safari vacation. Within East Africa, there are a number of countries that deliver outstanding photographic safari experience, each with their unique benefits and differences. The key when choosing a destination for your safari is to consider your specific wildlife interests, and any other priorities for the trip, such as activities other than wildlife viewing, or landmarks you want to visit. From there, Great Adventure Safaris team of safari experts can share how each of these various destinations would or would not meet your needs. Together, we arrive at a conclusive decision on the best choice for your East African safari vacation.
Below is an overview of the top safari destinations in East Africa listed for a more detailed information contact Great Adventure Safaris to tailor your East Africa safari holiday. Each country has it’s best of” factors that could fit your interests.
Kenya is the original safari country. It maintains its rank among the best wild own “life viewing countries today, offering the classic safari experience and the best East African country for wildlife safari. The Masai Mara Game Reserve remains the most prolific area for big cat viewing, and arguably the best game viewing overall. The top quality year-round viewing of resident wildlife is further augmented by a portion of the Great Migration pouring into Kenya from June through November.
Kenya is diverse, with vibrant culture and a wide range of activities possible. Quality walking, biking, horseback riding, and cultural experiences are all available. The creation of Community Conservancies has lifted the quality and diversity of activities offered in Kenya. The Conservancies bordering the Masai Mara offer the high quality game viewing of the reserve combined with a restricted number of camps with rights to use the Conservancy areas, ensuring a non-crowded experience. This allows for quality and exclusivity with off-road driving, night drives, and walking at many camps.
Outside of the Mara ecosystem, the Laikipia plateau in Central Kenya has become an outstanding place for game viewing of rare species like African wild dog, reticulated giraffe and Grevy’s zebra. This area also offers great adventure with diverse activities, such as hiking and horseback riding that appeal to active travelers seeking more variety than a heavy dose of game drives.
Rwanda is best known for mountain gorilla trekking which is the driving force for the bulk of tourism in the country. Gorilla trekking is one of the pinnacle wildlife experiences on Earth and well worth the trip to Rwanda for that reason alone. Rwanda has excellent logistics for high quality gorilla trekking in the virunga volcano massiff. Because it is a very small country, it is possible to experience a good deal of the ‘flavor’ of the country during a brief 2 to 3 night stay focused on the gorillas.
Rwanda is forever linked with the tragic genocide that occurred there during 1994. However, it has rebounded from that turbulent time to become one of Africa’s most progressive countries. Visitors comment on how friendly, welcoming, and lovely the people are. This creates a real awakening opportunity for travelers who are struck by the friendly culture and yet realize how shocking it is that horrific genocide occurred here, driving home the point that all human cultures are at such risk.
There is a great national pride, and the country has made the decision to keep the genocide history out there to educate rather than shrink from it. As such, there is an impressive genocide museum, which recounts just how often genocide has happened throughout the world. Shocking reminders still exist at many sites where atrocities occurred.
Often logistics make it necessary to stay a night in the capital city of Kigali. Including the Genocide Museum and a city tour rounds out a full picture of Rwanda during your visit, Travelling to the mountains where the gorillas reside is simple with just a 2 ½ to 3 hours of driving on good quality roads that wind through scenic mountain areas with terraced farming communities. Small villages give a glimpse into local culture, with the possibility to visit local businesses or schools to expand your cultural experiences.
Beyond the gorilla focus, other wildlife areas have recently gained traction. Nyungwe National Park features a unique forest that is ecologically important. It is an outstanding park for a variety of primates, but sightings are not reliable enough to compete with other chimpanzee trekking regions such as Kibale, Uganda and Mahale, Tanzania. However, travelers to Nyungwe are helping to protect the best preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa.
Akagera is the only general safari game area in Rwanda, and has recently undergone extensive investments with African Parks. The park now features Big Five viewing opportunities; however most of our clientele combine gorilla trekking in Rwanda with traditional game viewing in Kenya or Tanzania.
Tanzania is often considered the ultimate safari country. In Tanzania, you find the classic safari of most people’s dreams: staying under tented canvas and traversing wide, open plains teeming with animals in amazing quantities. Tanzania is loaded with famous destinations, like the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar and Mount Kilimanjaro. It also has parks that are barely known, yet would be the crowned jewel in almost any other country, like Ruaha, Katavi and Mahale National Parks. All of this supports the greatest wildlife quantities in all of Africa. With an estimated 4 million wild animals, Tanzania is home to the continent’s largest populations of many safari species, such as lions. Tanzania is home to the legendary Great Migration of roughly 2 million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle moving through the Serengeti ecosystem.
The majority of tourism takes place on the Northern Circuit, which includes the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire. The best locations to visit within the Serengeti change throughout the year in accordance with the movement of the Great Migration. As such, many of the best camps are seasonal tented camps that move with the Migration. A special feature of a Northern Circuit safari is that travelers will have a private guide and vehicle that stays with them throughout their entire safari.
Safaris in southern and western Tanzania are very different scenically from the typical northern circuit area and can provide unique experiences in remote wilderness. At Lake Tanganyika, you can experience the magic of Mahale National park with white sand beaches, thick jungles, and the thrill of hiking to view chimpanzees. Katavi and Ruaha are among Africa’s best kept secrets, offering astounding big game viewing in very wild areas.
Gorilla trekking is the driving force of tourism in Uganda even though the country is full of other safari gems. Many people combine mountain gorilla trekking with excellent chimpanzee treks in Kibale Forest for the ultimate primate safari. Between Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (where the gorillas are) and Kibale Forest (where the best chimp viewing is) lies Queen Elizabeth National Park, making it a natural inclusion to see general game on a primate-focused safari.
Murchison Falls is a popular addition for those looking for an extended safari in Uganda. Possibly the best-kept secret in Africa is Kidepo Valley National Park. It is hidden away against the border with Sudan and Kenya in an extremely remote corner of Uganda. Unfortunately, expensive flights are needed to include Kidepo Valley.
Bush flights between destinations are available for those who want to avoid long drives over poor roads. Comparatively, Uganda safari lodging and activities are lower cost (and more rustic) than most other safari countries, but the high costs of logistics equalize many of the savings on lodging. Gorilla trekking permits cost about half of what they cost in Rwanda, and Uganda really stands out for its overall diversity of scenery, experiences, and wildlife.For those who have tested what Uganda offers to the first time visitors, call Uganda the best East African country for wildlife safari and primates trekking as you get the ultimate and life time experience on your holiday vacation.