East Africa Safari Ideas

The Right East Africa Safari For You

No matter what your preferences, our team of specialists can plan your perfect East Africa Safari, whether you’re looking for a family safari, wildlife-focused honeymoon or time on the beach combined with a wildlife experience.

Where to go for big cats

Kenya’s Big Four National Parks

Kenya's Big Cats Safari

Masai Mara National Reserve, Tsavo East & West National Parks, Amboseli National Park and Lake Nakuru National Park.

Kenya’s wild places rank among Africa’s best places to see lions, leopards and cheetahs. These are the carnivores that bring the savannah alive, the apex predators that bring fear and frisson to vast herds of prey wildlife and safari-goers alike, animating the East African plains by their mere presence. And if you know where to look, you may just see all three in a single day.

It is a little-known fact that three-quarters of Kenya’s wildlife lives outside of officially protected areas, and the country’s big cats are no exception to this rule. While the parks remain the best places to see the big cats if your time is limited, the privately-run conservancies of Laikipia and surrounding the Masai Mara are increasingly winning plaudits for their big-cat-viewing opportunities. Best of all, their policies of limited access and exclusive accommodation opportunities keep away the herds of safari vehicles. The result is a more intimate experience of watching wildlife – very often it’s just you and the big cats in some remote corner of the African wilderness.

Where to go for a honeymoon

Queen Elizabeth National Park – Uganda

Queen Elizabeth National Park, Mweya Safari Lodge

Covering 1978 sq km, scenic Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the most popular parks in Uganda. Few reserves in the world can boast such a high biodiversity rating and with landscapes including savannah, bushland, wetlands and lush forests, the park is inhabited by 96 species of mammals, including healthy numbers of hippos, elephants, lions and leopards as well as chimps and hyenas. The remote Ishasha sector, in the far south of the park, is famous for its tree-climbing lions; these females, who enjoy spending the long, hot afternoons snoozing photogenically in fig trees, are the most memorable sight in the entire park, but don’t miss the superb birdlife or the wonderful boat trip on the Kazinga Channel either.

While in QENP, stay at Mweya Safari Lodge; a collection of 44 rooms and two suites, each defined by their simple safari atmosphere and delightful comfort. Individual balconies bring Queen Elizabeth National Park’s majestic natural beauty to the forefront, while private en-suite facilities and cozy furnishings lend to the sense of home. The suites of Mweya Safari Lodge have additional space, with living areas and sofas and minibars for relaxing refreshments after a day of adventure in the park.

View our ‘5 Day Queen Elizabeth Safari‘ trip idea

Where to go for safari & beach

Selous Game Reserve and Zanzibar, Tanzania by Mike

Zanzibar Beach Holiday Safari

If you are looking for a quintessential safari and beach holiday, Tanzania and Zanzibar really should be right at the top of your list. The remote southern region of Tanzania, and in particular the Selous Game Reserve, offers excellent value ‘one stop’ wildlife viewing within easy reach of Zanzibar’s palm-fringed beaches. It is one of my favourite locations.

Set among the waterways of the Rufiji River and covering some 50,000 square kilometres, the Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest protected areas within Africa and feels far more remote than the short flight from Dar es Salaam suggests.

With only a handful of small camps operating within the reserve, it is still relatively hidden and a far cry from the busier safari destinations. The wildlife viewing is excellent too (the only big game you are unlikely to see are cheetah and rhino) and the reserve has one of the largest populations of the incredibly rare wild dog anywhere in Africa, as well as some fantastic birdlife.

Offering the opportunity to enjoy game drives, bush walks and year-round boat safaris, the Selous really does have it all. With Zanzibar less than two hours away, it makes for a fantastic hassle-free combination that doesn’t have to blow the budget.

Where to go for great value

Murchison Falls National Park – Uganda

The Mighty Nile, Murchison Falls Safari

Uganda may be most famous for gorilla trekking adventures in mountainous rainforests but Murchison Falls National Park (sometimes referred to as Kabarega National Park) is the kind of place that is making safari travellers sit up and take notice.

Located close to Lake Albert in north-west Uganda, Murchison Falls provides the setting for a classic savannah safari featuring a familiar cast of elephant, hippo, buffalo and giraffe with lion, leopard, spotted hyena and the occasional cheetah making up the predator list.

But it is the Victoria Nile – dividing the park into northern and southern halves – that gives rise to the park’s greatest draw card, the Murchison Falls. Tumbling along a rocky canyon, the river is squeezed through a 7-metre wide fissure to create a spectacular waterfall, making river cruises a must-do activity on a Murchison Falls safari. Not only can you take in the drama of the Falls, but you’ll enjoy good game viewing from the comfort of the boat – keep an eye out for hippos and crocodiles – plus (thanks to a bird list of over 500) amazing bird watching.

And while it’s these activities that have long attracted adventurous visitors to this corner of Uganda, Murchison Falls National Park is also home to several primate species. Baboon and colobus monkeys are commonly seen but it is the chimpanzee troops that provide the biggest thrills.

Head for the park’s Rabongo Forest or the next-door Bundongo Forest Reserve for a chimpanzee tracking safari and watch our closest living relatives close up and in their magisterial natural surroundings. There aren’t many places to see chimps safely and easily in Africa but Murchison Falls is one of them.

Explore Murchison Falls National Park on one of our packaged itineraries. There’s comfortable accommodation available in the park and it’s easy enough to combine with other great Uganda destinations. Search for more big game at Queen Elizabeth National Park or go gorilla trekking at the legendary Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – talk to us about the best combinations.

View our ‘3 Murchison Falls Big 5 Safari‘ trip idea

Where to go for something unique

Masai Mara Conservancies, Kenya

Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Safari

Great wildebeest migration in Kenya

The Masai Mara National Reserve’s reputation as one of Africa’s prime safari locations is certainly well deserved. Famed for dramatic images of wildebeest plunging across its crocodile-infested waterways, the Mara has earned its place in any wildlife enthusiast’s consciousness. However, due to its popularity, in recent years the Kenyan park has also become one of the busier areas for game watching. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of opportunities to get off the beaten track and away from the crowds if you know where to look.

Around the edge of the main national park, vast swathes of land have been set aside for a select number of camps to be used as exclusive conservancies. They have strict access rights and curbs on visitor numbers. As a result of this, these areas not only significantly extend the protected wildlife area of the Mara ecosystem but also put money back into the local economy as the land is owned in conjunction with the local communities. A conservancy safari in the Mara offers the safari goer an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy a range of activities such as walking safaris, off-road game driving, fly camping and night game drives – these activities are restricted within the park itself, and allow you to get away from the crowds.

One of our favourite itineraries offers the chance to walk between two camps and head out on foot for a night of fly camping in the heart of the bush, with an expert guide explaining the nuances of the savannah, from the wonderful birdlife to the paw prints in the dirt.

Where to go for a gorilla tracking adventure

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda by James

best time to go gorilla tracking in Uganda and Rwanda Safari

Uganda is the perfect country to visit if you’re interested in animals and enjoy variety on your travels. The traditional circuit in the west of Uganda starts with a flight to Entebbe, on the banks of Lake Victoria. Next, head west to the Kibale National Park to see chimpanzees. The 95% sighting success rate and the flat topography mean you have an excellent chance to get very close to our distant cousins.

Continue to journey south through Queen Elizabeth National Park, a stunning area for a traditional safari and home to Uganda’s famed tree-climbing lions. The final stop on the classic itinerary will be, for many, the absolute highlight of the trip: trekking to see the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. To sit with these gentle giants is a humbling experience that will live with you forever.

In the months of September and October new bamboo shoots start to grow, which are the gorilla equivalent of chocolate. This is an excellent time to visit as their favourite snack makes them very active and excited. Watching them play together is heart-warming and breathtaking – a memorable end to an unforgettable adventure.

View our ‘4 Days Gorilla Trekking Safari‘ trip idea

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