10 Tips for First Timer Visitors to East Africa

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Planning to explore East Africa? East Africa is one of the most diverse geographical regions in Africa. Its home to Mount Kilimanjaro -Africa’s highest mountain range, Lake Victoria- Africa’s largest fresh water lake and its tropical Sesse islands. It is the source of the Nile -the world’s longest river, the Great East African Rift valleys, huge plains of lush savannah grasslands, semi-arid deserts, tropical forests, volcanoes, glaciers etc. For holiday makers the Indian Ocean beaches and islands make it a tropical paradise.

This is the best region where you can enjoy African safaris. The vast national parks and game reserves of East Africa offer a great spectacle to those looking to see the African big game. From popular savanna national parks such as Masai Mara and Serengeti to forest parks such as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, a lot awaits you to explore.

Most often first time travelers have mixed reactions about a new place to be visited. This advice is prepared to help you stay safe on your travels.

1. Plan in advance

One of the most important tips for travelers visiting east Africa for the first time is to plan at least 3-5 months in advance. Some even plan a year before the actual travel date. Regardless of the destination you wish to visit, be sure to find a registered tour operator to organize a tailor made trip. You can look at the list of safari companies listed in this website and get started with planning your safari.

2. Be in the Know

It is important to be in the know of the current political and social life of the host communities. This will help you to fuse easily with the local people and you will enjoy traveling just like a local.

3. Guided Tours vs Self Drive

It is also important to book a guided tour if you are a first time traveler. With a local guide you will get in-depth knowledge about the places and people you encounter.

Also note that if you have ever been in southern Africa, you can still enjoy a self drive safari in East Africa. If you are really planning a self-drive safari, then you should deal particularly with a car rental company that specializes in self-drive holidays instead of a general tour company.

4. What to Wear

Bring clothes and accessories depending on the activities, while keeping your luggage light. Your clothes should also be easy to dry when washed and does not need ironing since most lodges use solar energy or generator.

While many parts of East Africa are hot, don’t underestimate how cold it can be in the rain forests. For jungle adventures like gorilla tracking in the mist covered Bwindi and chimpanzee tracking in Kibale, Nyungwe or Gombe stream you will need hiking boots, long pants and sleeved shirts/ T-shirts, rain jacket for walks in the dense rain forests like Bwindi and kibale.

If you are on honeymoon beach activities or swimming pools, you will need swimsuits. Don’t forget that east Africa has cosmopolitan cities that need decent clothes especially if you are going for city tours, or venues like theatres, museums.

5. Don’t Forget Sunscreen

You need essentials like mosquito repellant and sunscreen. The sunscreen will protect you from the scotching sun.

Insect repellants are also essential to protect you from stinging insects.

6. Some Money For Souvenirs

Souvenirs help in storing memories of the places visited. There are unique items that you can buy as souvenirs while in East Africa e.g drums, bungles, baskets, craft shoes, bags etc. Visitors can find craft shops in major towns and tourist destinations where to shop some souvenirs.

7. There’s much more to do than wildlife safaris

Although the wildlife viewing national parks like Serengeti and Masai Mara, top most visitors bucket list, there are other adventures to try even on budget. For instance chimpanzee tracking in Uganda, honeymoon vacation in Zanzibar, Lake Victoria Sesse islands, hiking virunga volcanoes in Uganda and Rwanda, visiting local communities such as BaTwa pygmies and Masai among others.

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