Tucked in the eastern part of Africa lies Kenya and Tanzania – countries that are famous for classic savannah tours. Both are home to classical contrasts and dramatic extremes evidenced in their coral reefs, freshwater lakes, colorful tribal cultures, forests, and open plains and deserts. The countries are also home to the iconic Great Wildebeest Migration. If you are planning to tour any of these countries, here is a list of the top tourist attractions.
Kenya is a country of great diversity and a very popular tourist destination. On the one hand, you have the wildlife-rich savannahs, lush forests, geographical formations, and craggy mountains, while on the other hand, you have sandy beaches, crystal clear ocean waters, and access to a huge network of lakes. Right after landing in the country’s bubbling metropolis Nairobi, here are some of the places you should visit.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the famous tourist destinations across the globe. To escape the crowds that flock to the destination, especially during the Wildebeest migration season, one can opt for a private concession, which offers access to extra benefits such as night drives and bush walks.
Come July to September during the iconic wildebeest migration – an annual natural phenomenon and a spectacle that features the movement of millions of wildebeest accompanied by impalas, elands, Thompson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle, and zebras cross the Mara River. You get to watch a constant battle of survival as the wildebeest try to get past the crocodile-infested river to get to the other side.
Nairobi national park
Kenya is nothing short of amazing. Its capital Nairobi is the only city with a park, which is easily accessible within a 10-minute drive from the city center. The park offers a large variety of wildlife populations despite its relatively small size. Migrating zebras can be seen around the park in the dry season. You can also bring your photography skills alive and capture the breathtaking views of the city’s skyline that is clearly visible from the park.
The Rift Valley
Kenya is home to one of the major geological formations – the Great Rift Valley, which holds a majority of Kenya’s wetlands and lakes. The lakes are vital ecosystems offering habitat to some of the World’s diverse and beautiful avid-fauna species. The shores of Lake Nakuru offer you breath-taking views of millions of flamingos as they feed on the algae responsible for their pink plumage. Lake Bogoria is popular for its geysers, and hot springs and is home to over 373 species of blood.
Away from the lakes, there are mountains and craters. A hike on Mt. Longonot – a dormant volcanic mountain will take you about 3-4 hours and take you through an inspiring and interesting day, feeding you some of the exciting and best views in Kenya. A few kilometers away is the single largest surviving craters in the World that will offer you striking views of the crater, Lake Bogoria, and Lake Nakuru. Get your camera ready, trek 8 km under the sun, and once at the top, go to town on your photography skills.
Lamu Island and the coastal areas
Kenya is home to some of the magical coastal areas, including Lamu, which has remained untouched and unspoiled by an outside culture. Lamu is the oldest town in Kenya and has retained its character and charm built up through the centuries. The island has no roads, only footpaths, and alleyways, which limits the number of motorized vehicles available. Movement through the island is done either on foot, on donkeys, or on boats.
Mount Kenya is Kenya’s highest mountain and second to Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro, which is the highest in Africa. The mountain features snow-crowned peaks that stand 17,057 ft above sea level, making it a difficult climb. However, do not be discouraged as the mountain also offers several lower peaks that are an easy destination for any fit individual.
Samburu national reserve
Located in the dry and reserve northern Kenya, the Samburu National Reserve is a less popular destination but offers one of the best experiences for tourists visiting Kenya. Not only does it offer access to a variety of wildlife such as cheetahs, leopards, lions, elephants, and rare species such as the East African Oryx, wild dogs, reticulated giraffe, and the grevy’s zebra, but it is also home to the Samburu people. The Samburu are very distinctive tribespeople who stand out due to their ornaments made up of brightly colored beads.
Tanzania neighbors Kenya to the South and will only cost you $150 for a 40-minute flight from Kenya’s capital. It is home to some of Africa’s most popular natural attractions and national parks, such as the Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro. Apart from game life, Tanzania offers access to some of the scenic beaches and islands across the East African region.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and Tanzania’s Iconic image. Its snow-crowned peak stands at 5,895 meters above sea level and is mostly visited for its scenic views and mountain climbing adventures during the dry season from late June through October. The heritage sight was formed through a volcanic movement that occurred over 1 million years ago. The mountain slopes provide a natural habitat for various wildlife such as eland, elephants, monkeys, leopards, and buffalos.
Serengeti national park
The Serengeti national park is Tanzania’s second-largest national park located on a vast treeless plain that is home to millions of animals. The park and its Kenyan counterpart Masai Mara reserve are popular for the annual wildebeest migration. It is also home to the Big Five and over 500 species of birds. The migration from Serengeti to Mara occurs during May or early June, which are the ideal months to visit the park.
Sandy beaches and exotic Islands
Tanzania is also home to sandy beaches and exotic islands that boast crystal clear water and reefs ideal for scuba diving. Zanzibar Island or Unguja is Tanzania’s popular holiday destination famous for its white beaches, shallow water, and rides on traditional boats. The island features an iconic coastal theme of whitewashed old Arabian townhouses, a busy port, and narrow alleyways. If you are looking to enjoy the nightlife, Zanzibar should be your first choice.
Olduvai George is an archaeological site discovered by Dr. Leakey, a German professor, back in 1911 when he uncovered the presence of remnants and fossils of early mankind. This site is responsible for uncovering important information regarding the history of early mankind. In the vicinity of Olduvai are the famous footprints of a man and child at Laetoli, which provides evidence regarding the presence of more than three hominoid species within the region over 2 million years ago.
All parks, reserves, and sites are open for a private visit. There are a few parks that have great improvements geared towards facilitating tourism, such as lodges, signposts, and graded tracks. However, none of these have any form of transport available to take you inside apart from the Nairobi National Park, which has a weekend bus service that takes visitors around the park.
If you do not have any transport means of your own, there are a number of options such as taxis, car hires, and tour travels. Ensure you opt for a 4WD as these are the only vehicles that can get you in and out of the parks without getting stuck, especially during the rainy seasons.
The entry fees to parks and reserves across the two countries are set in dollar terms and are payable using dollars, pounds, and the nations’ currencies. The charges apply to a single person and are charged per 24 hours of visit.
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If you are looking to spend in the park lodges and tented camps, it is advisable to make prior reservations as there is a high demand for bed space, especially during peak seasons. If you are on a budget, you can opt to carry your tent to help reduce the accommodation costs.