How Good and How Pleasant It Would Be
Bob Marley said it, but you’ve been thinking it. If you’ve been feeling that need to travel to a place of adventure (and haven’t we all?), then East Africa has everything you’ve been longing for. Spend your days chilling on the beaches of Tanzania, putting in a little face-to-face time with gorillas in Uganda, or watching cheetahs prowl the Masai Mara National Park of Kenya. And at night, oh the nightlife! You can’t go wrong in Kampala, Uganda’s version of the Big Apple, but Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam or Kenya’s Nairobi also offer everything from dance-all-night thumping bass to chill-to-the-reggae and sip a beer by the shore.
When the Morning Gathers the Rainbow
It’s time to explore the riches of East Africa, and your biggest challenge will be culling it all down to a manageable list. But before you begin laying out that itinerary, there are a few basics you’ll need to take care of. First, you need to know that all the major countries of East Africa require visas for travel, so you will need to apply in advance of your trip. Second, you’ll want to consult with your physician about necessary vaccinations and be sure you’re up-to-date. Malaria is an ever present threat in Africa so come prepared.
Now are you ready for adventure? There are, of course, a few things you just shouldn’t miss while you explore East Africa. Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara National Parks are essentially an uninterrupted stretch of wildlife that traverse the countries’ borders. Conveniently, the wet seasons alternate between Kenya and Tanzania, so depending on when you’re traveling, you can pick your climate. Book a safari on either side of the border and you’ll find yourself immersed among Wildebeest, cheetahs, leopards, lions, elephants, hippos, warthogs, hyenas, antelopes, and more.
The western lakes of Nakuru and Bogoria in Kenya are also worth exploring. These saline alkaline bodies of water lay amid the Rift Valley’s soda lakes and are home to black and white rhinos. Lake Bogoria is also the gathering place to huge flocks of pink flamingoes, plus you’ll see plenty of geysers that shoot nearly 20 feet in the air.
For the birders, Aberdare National Park is a must see with over 250 species of birds. You may. however, encounter a few other of its inhabitants such as olive baboons, colobus monkeys, and the rare African golden cat.
Finally, don’t miss Kenya’s shoreline! Diani Beach is one of Africa’s leading beach destinations, and it’s white sand beaches are great for snorkeling, sunbathing, and monkey watching. Or if you prefer something a little quieter, go back in time to Wasini Island, where you will find no cars or bicycles. Strolling the coral trails and sandy beaches may lead to spotting a humpback whale offshore as they swim northbound through the east African current.
In Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a must see for the populations of mountain gorillas that reside there. You’ll not only hike the beautiful dense forests of the Kanungu District, but you’ll come so close to these gorgeous primates it will take your breath away. Guided tours send trackers out in the morning to find local populations before you set out, so you’re not likely to be disappointed.
Continue your search for our near ancestors by visiting Kibale National Park to spend time in the rainforests there and to commune with chimpanzees. Or to see the full force of nature, visit Murchison falls to see the power of the 140 foot waterfall tumble into the rocky basin below.
While you’re trekking the wilds of east Africa, you must set aside time to visit Tanzania’s gem, Mount Kilmanjaro, which is the highest peak on the continent. At nearly 20,000 feet, this dormant volcano is the highest freestanding mountain in the world. The national park there is a hiker’s paradise where you can hike forest, snow trails, or rocky peaks.
And once you’ve had your fill of wilderness and trekking, plan on heading to a hidden paradise in Pangani, Tanzania. On this northern reach of the Swahili coast, you can snorkel with sea turtles, surf, paddleboard, or just chill on the beach.
I Hope You Like Jammin’ Too
It’s not just the days that are adventurous in East Africa. Nightlife in the region is full on and some areas party all night–I’m talking til the sun comes up. But, as with anywhere where drinking occurs, a few cautions first. Most party areas will warn you not to leave your drink unattended nor to take food or drink from strangers. It is not unheard of to wake up not knowing what happened and with no wallet, passport, or valuables. You should also research transportation and have a reliable means of getting back to your accommodations. Some cities are very strict on drunk driving.
Now that we’re done with the buzz kill, here are some of East Africa’s best party spots. Kampala, Uganda’s mantra is “you’ll be sleeping in your shoes,” and they take this seriously. Like New York, Kampala never sleeps, and it offers a wide range of excellent clubs. There’s everything from the local hang, Just Kickin’ where you can mingle with government workers and expats, to Canyenne, the dance club du jour. A word of warning, you may find the boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) an enticing form of transportation, but they are also the most dangerous way to travel the city.
While in Tanzania do as the revellers of Tanzania do and spend a night or two in Dar es Salaam. Want some reggae? A little R & B? Visit The Waterfront Sunset Restaurant & Beach Bar, where you’ll find great views of the ocean, some tasty seafood, and a nice selection of wines and beers. Or if dancing is your thing, don’t miss the New Maisha Club. It has multiple bars, a huge dance floor, and absolutely delicious food!
One final party mention is Nairobi, where you’ll find excellent nightlife but where you’ll also have to be most careful. Nairobi has a reputation for crime, so you will definitely want to exercise every caution. But should you feel the urge for a little Nairobi nightlife splurge, be sure to check out Klub House, or K1, which is famous for it’s Thursday night reggae. Nairobi also boasts Bubbles O’Learys ranked by the Irish Times as one of the top ten best pubs outside of Ireland.
Life Is One Big Road with Lots of Signs
And the signs are saying make your way to East Africa. You won’t regret the time you spend there with the friendly people, the stunning wildlife, the once in a lifetime landscapes, and the booming nightlife. A new continent awaits you. Wake up and live, y’all!