Best East African Safaris

By Ricky
Last Updated: 2023-01-24

Safari is an African word. It is the Kiswahili (or Swahili) word meaning “journey”. And where better to start your safari than East Africa, where Kiswahili is the main language spoken across a few East African countries? Going on an African safari holiday is a journey which is an experience like no other. No doubt you have seen countless wildlife documentaries of life in the African savannah with endless footage of the most impressive landscapes and wildlife but nothing will have prepared you for the ultimate wonder and joy that fills you when you’re right there in the wilds of Africa experiencing it for yourself. Whether you choose to stay in a luxury tented camp, a safari lodge or a combination of both, on your safari, Africa will not disappoint. She will envelop you in her glorious landscape filled with mountains, valleys, volcanoes, and crater lakes and provide you with the ultimate wildlife sight and sound show. The perfect place for luxury holidays 2023.

You might forget many holidays in your life but you will never forget your incredible African adventure. Starting from the early hours of the morning when the magnificent African sun rises over the horizon and lights up the world of the remarkable wildlife beneath it, all the way through to dusk when it provides you with the most splendid and colourful sunset as it sits back down to make way for the night sky and the most awesome display of an array of stars that feel so close that you believe you could reach out and touch them. And with the night skies, comes the abundance of natural soundtracks – tree frogs calling for a mate, knocking sounds of the nightjar, whooping calls of the hyena, roars of the lion, hoarse coughs of the leopard, scary, yet peaceful and soothing at the same time.

Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti National Park, in Tanzania, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site teeming with wildlife and together with its neighbour the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, hosts the Great Migration as the enormous population of wildebeests, zebras, antelopes and all grazing animals cross from one to the other in search of greener plains on the other side of the river. Many are lost to the waiting crocodiles in the river who get easy pickings during this time and to the lions, cheetahs and other predators who are of course awaiting their arrival on the other side. And yet, they all continue to thrive – prey and predator alike – in this amazing ecosystem. You have probably seen this magnificent phenomenon of the Great Migration on many wildlife programmes and this is where you get to experience it for yourself. The Maasai Mara’s and Serengeti’s open plains are filled with hillocks and dotted with flat-topped acacia trees and riverine forests close to the rivers offer an abundance of ideal habitat for the grazing animals who thrive in this area and this in turn provides for the predators that follow on behind them. These two national parks in Kenya and Tanzania are home to a large concentration of animals including the elusive leopard that is a joy to spot, with the Maasai Mara being home to the BCC’s “The Big Cat Diaries”. If you only go on one safari in your lifetime, then let it be either in the Maasai Mara or the Serengeti or one that combines a few days in each of these two, amazingly abundant in wildlife, and national parks.

Ngorongoro Crater

Millions of years ago a large volcano whose height is believed to have been somewhere in the region of 4,500 – 5,500 metres, in Tanzania, erupted and created the most magnificent caldera which is approximately 600 metres deep and 260 square kilometres and we know it as the Ngorongoro Crater today and lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which is a protected area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to some 25 thousand wild animals, the densest assembly of wildlife in one place including the rare and endangered black rhino. Travel down the 600 metres along the rim of the caldera to experience the magnificent wildlife that lives in landscapes of forest inhabited by elephants, lakes where hippos wallow, and lush open plains where herbivores such as buffalo, zebras, and antelopes are abundant and their predators such as lions, roam freely. The Crater Lake at its centre, Lake Magadi, is a soda lake and is home to a large species of birds including flamingos. Ngorongoro Crater is where to come to see the largest number of animals in one place.

Lake Manyara National Park

Not far from Ngorongoro Crater, we find the Lake Manyara National Park. Named after the soda ash lake, Lake Manyara, this park offers breathtaking scenery so lush and green and a unique groundwater forest. It is home to thousands of flamingos attracted by the soda lake, one of Tanzania’s biggest elephant populations, zebras, warthogs, impalas, and waterbucks and famous for its tree-climbing lions. These lions tend to climb trees much more often than any lions in any other national park and there is no known scientific reason for this. The unique and unforgettable experience of spotting lions up in the trees is amazing and Lake Manyara National Park is where you come for this.

The ideal safari in Tanzania would be one where you start by flying into Arusha and set off from there to spend the next few days on a safari taking in Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park. You can also choose whether you want to fly home at the end of your safari or fly to the tropical island idyll of Zanzibar where you can finish your holiday off by spending a few days relaxing and enjoying the warmth of the African sunshine under the whispering palms on a white sandy beach and the spectacular sunrises and sunsets that colour the skies above, for a few days before you come back.

Tsavo East and Tsavo West

Apart from the marvel that is the Maasai Mara, Kenya boasts some 20 – 30 National Parks, Reserves and conservancies so the choice for an ideal safari here is overwhelming. The biggest National Park is Tsavo broken into two parts – Tsavo East and Tsavo West. It is famous for the large herds of elephants that live here. With its rich red soil full of iron oxide which the elephants enjoy throughout the day during their mud and dust baths giving them their red-coloured appearance that is unique to Tsavo Elephants, it is also famous for its lions whose adult male population lack manes almost completely. It is also home to two important water and wetlands sources, the Mzima Springs and Lake Jipe as well as the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary which is an enclosed area within the park that offers protection to some 80 endangered black rhinos.

Amboseli National Park

The nearby Amboseli National Park enjoys spectacular views of Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain, in neighbouring Tanzania and is the location of a unique study, over many years, of the lives of the elephants here. You may have seen the documentary of Echo the Elephant whose family was the main focus of this study and it is here, in Amboseli where Echo lived and her family still do. Between them, these two parks are home to elephants, lions, buffalos, zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, impalas, kudu, warthogs, waterbucks, hyenas, cheetahs, hippos, crocodiles and many more wild animals and birds that will simply take your breath away. An ideal holiday in Kenya would be a safari combining the Tsavo and Amboseli National parks followed by a few days on the south coast of Diani where you can relax and unwind on an expansive white sandy beach in the tropical sunshine.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

For a more active experience, neighbouring Uganda offers a completely different experience on safari. This is where you get to go safari trekking through thick forests and climbing craggy hills in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. And why, you may ask, would you do that? Because this national park is home to chimpanzees and the gorilla sanctuary. Two days of trekking in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, tracking a gorilla family and observing their way of life is an unforgettable way to get up close and connect with the endangered mountain gorillas.

East Africa is the ultimate destination for a safari experience like no other. From the early morning sun rises to the colourful sunsets, the African savannah is filled with magnificent landscapes and wildlife that will leave you in awe. Whether you choose to stay in a luxury tented camp or safari lodge, Africa will not disappoint.

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