If you’re looking to get as close to Africa as possible, then East Africa is the place to go. Offering gritty camping adventures, genuine experiences with fauna, locals and their cultures, a voyage across East Africa will completely immerse you in the spirit of ‘real’ Africa.
East Africa is a destination that allows travellers to tick off the ‘must-see’ tourist boxes of game viewing in Africa, but also offers a wide variety of non-commercialised travel experiences. When touring East Africa, you will have the chance to properly interact with the Masai cultures and instead of being targeted as a tourist and being pushed into purchasing things at local markets, you can simply enjoy a stroll through the village, as well as the leisure of experiencing towns as locals would. This is not to say that Southern Africa is the wrong choice, because it most certainly isn’t – it’s just not as ‘rough’ as East Africa. Some might prefer home comforts or a little bit of luxury, no matter how small, on their tours, whereas others would rather embark on a more authentic experience of Africa –which is where the East African tours come into play. As beautiful and fascinating as Southern Africa is, some travellers would, instead of coming across an ATM at a National Park, opt for journeying on bumpy gravel roads, waving at the friendly locals, exploring local markets, and ‘roughing it’ in terms of camping. What makes East Africa really great though, is that you’ll still be able to end off your days with fantastic game viewing and gorgeous sunsets, because no matter where you travel in Africa, its beauty will always follow you.
The game viewing through East Africa is exquisite, and perfectly combines Africa’s top three national parks:Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Masai Mara National Reserve. From August through to September, the Masai Mara boasts the incredible wildebeest migration, and will be the busiest in regards to the amount of wildlife and game viewing action. The migration is simply phenomenal, consisting of almost 1.5 million wildebeest that traverse the landscapes along with thousands of zebra, antelope and big cats. Some travellers have even been lucky enough to spot both lion and cheetah kills on their first day in the park!
Though the Mara will be the busiest, the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater lie adjacent to each other and are both wonderful year-round game-viewing destinations. The Ngorongoro was once an active volcano, but is now a caldera with its own unique eco-system. It contains a diverse range of plant life on the crater floor and rim, which attracts a variety of wildlife and bird species. On the crater floor you’ll find changes in scenery from dense forest to more arid savannahs, which draw in lion, zebra, antelope and other big cats. In the middle of the crater, there are small lakes surrounded by lush marshlands that are home to a wide diversity of birdlife, as well as hippo!
Camping in East Africa is much more basic than in Southern Africa, adding to the authentic ‘rough’ experience. Though all campsites are well situated and have flushing toilets, there might be some places you visit that will be experiencing difficulties with their boilers or have a lot of tour groups at the same site, meaning that a long hot shower may not be available for you at the end of each day. If you still want that hot shower, though, advice is to shower upon arrival at the site, or the next morning – avoiding the peak hours of 7-9. In the end, roughing it through East Africa is a far better way to gain a more ‘hands on’ African experience with a group of like-minded travellers.