East Africa is arguably a best place to go for safaris and the most ideal part to go, is the eastern part of the continent which contains everything that makes Africa a favorite safari destination. Are you a wildlife lover, birder, primate lover, or a photographer? East Africa is the best spot and below, are the five (5) best safari national parks that combine all the uniqueness of East Africa and Africa entirely:
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
This is a major attraction not only in East Africa and Uganda but also in the entire Africa and the world. Bwindi is located in the southwestern parts of Uganda, about 6 to 8 hours’ drive. The Park is very popular and heavily visited due to its uniqueness of holding almost half of the total population of the rare endangered mountain gorillas in the world. Currently, the world is estimated to be with a total population of almost 1000-plus mountain gorillas of which, about 500 of them are protected in the tropical mountainous forests of Bwindi national park. Though the world comprises of four national parks protecting the endangered mountain gorillas, Bwindi is definitely the best one and if you really want to attain an ultimate mountain gorilla experience, do not look anywhere else rather than Bwindi. Bwindi has four different sectors where the gorilla safari expeditions take place, and these are; Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija and Nkuringo sectors, of which the four sectors comprise of 19 habituated gorilla families that are open to trekkers and each family consists of over 10 individuals (gorillas).
Indeed East Africa is a very unique place for gorilla lovers because three of the four refuge Parks of mountain gorillas are found in East Africa; Bwindi and Mgahinga National Parks in Uganda, and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The fourth Park, Virunga National Park, is found in the Sub-Saharan Central Africa in the Democratic Republic of Congo which is also a close neighbor to East Africa and the Park itself (Virunga) is contiguous to Uganda’s Mgahinga and Rwanda’s Volcanoes, of which the three Parks are under the same conservation area called the Virunga massif which comprises of over 500 mountain gorillas.
Masai Mara National Park
The Masai Mara National Park, also known as Masai Mara National Reserve, is a large game reserve perched in the southwestern parts of Kenya, in the Narok County. Do you want to see wonders? Do want remarkable wildlife safaris in Africa? Are you a cultural enthusiast? Masai Mara is then the best destination to procure all those; the remarkable wildlife safaris, wonders and amazing culture. The Park is a northern extension of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and the most popular attraction (wonder) in both Parks is the annual wildebeest migration which involves a very large number of wildebeests, Zebras, and many antelope species congregating the Masai Mara from Serengeti in search of virgin pastures. The migration of Wildebeests in Masai Mara is very spectacular and stunning especially when over 1.5 million wildebeests, half a million of Thomson’s gazelles, over 250,000 Zebras, and thousands of various antelope species cross the Mara River to invade Masai Mara Park to enjoy its pastures which are fresh in the months of June to early November, and it is in those months that the migration occurs.
Besides the Park’s great annual migration of wildebeests, tourists will also view all the Africa’s big five which include; African lions, Cape buffaloes, African leopards, African elephants and Rhinos. The other wildlife species to see in the Park are; cheetahs (all big 3 cats present), Nile crocodiles, Hippos, hyenas, jackals, nocturnal bat-eared foxes, Topis, impalas, duikers, large roan antelopes, Grant’s gazelles, Coke’s hartebeests, Masai giraffes, elands, and almost 500 bird species.
Serengeti National Park
This is one of the most popular national parks in Africa and it is basically known for its great annual migration of wildebeests that wander through out the Park’s various provinces before heading to the northern ends of the Park, Masai Mara National Park, in search of better pastures. The great annual wildebeest migration is among the new 7 World Natural Wonders and it is also referred to as the ‘’world cup of wildlife’’ due to a very large number of animals seen during the course. It is only in Serengeti and Masai Mara that you will ever watch this spectacular event which happens each and every year. If you are really a true wildlife lover, this is something you should not miss (wildebeest migration) because it offers a lifetime experience. The wildebeests and other migrants start vacating from Serengeti in March and they are clearly viewed while crossing the Park’s Grumeti River. The animals reach Masai Mara in June or July and the best vantage point to view them from there is the Mara River.
Serengeti is surely everyone’s pride as it contains all the wildlife favorites for most of the travelers to Africa, such as; Africa’s big five (Lions, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos and leopards), cheetahs, Nile crocodiles, hippos, zebras, topis, gazelles, impalas, Grant’s gazelles, serval, caracals, bat-eared foxes, elands, hartebeests, hrax, genets, hares, Masai giraffes, porcupine, mongooses, aardwolves, monitor lizards, and various primate species like baboons and others, plus over 500 bird species. Every species in Serengeti exists in a very large number, hence getting a fantastic safari.
Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo is a real picture of African wilderness and its rugged terrain and semi-arid valleys make it the most beautiful Park in Africa, thus being ideal for photographers. The Park is a perfect resort for a true African safari because it is not only classified with its varied wildlife but also its spectacular and photogenic landscape. The ‘’True African Wilderness’’, Kidepo, lies in the northern parts of Uganda, in the remote Karamoja town, about 10 to 13 hours’ drive away from Uganda’s capital city (Kampala). Being isolated very many kilometers away from the city centre is one of the major reasons as to why it does not get very many travelers annually as it should but if you really know what you want, just bear with the distance and I assure you that when you access the Park you won’t even remember of how tiresome it was to reach there.
Like Kenya’s Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti, Kidepo has all what you may wish to see on your African safari, let it be wildlife, birds, amazing culture and more fascinating in Kidepo is that the beauty of its landscape is extraordinary and unrivalled in East and entire Africa. The Park protects a variety of wildlife species more than even those in the remarkable Kenya’s Masai Mara, and these include; Lions Rothschild’s giraffe, buffaloes, leopards, hyenas, elephants, hippos, Nile Crocodiles, zebras, bat-eared foxes, oribis, Jackson’s hartebeests, jackals, caracals, pangolin, civets, and many others, plus over 500 bird species. Besides all that, the Park is another great spot for a cultural trail especially to those who would like to experience the amazing cultures of the Karamojongs, Acholis plus other great tribes.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
You have already travelled to the Masai Mara, Serengeti and Kidepo national parks and you have viewed almost every sort of wildlife species in a large quantity but if you have not yet visited the ‘’Medley of Wonders’’ – Queen Elizabeth Park, in western Uganda, then don’t say you have fully experienced Africa. You will surely have missed a lot if you don’t visit this Park because there are very many unique features that the Park possesses, with the major uniqueness being its tree climbing lions which are really amazing. It is really uncommon for most of the lions to climb trees but if you visit the Ishasha province of Queen Elizabeth National Park, you will find these unusual and amazing tree climbing lions which are mostly seen in the noon hours when they climb the fig tree branches to seek out shade in the sweltering African heat, especially the hotness of noon hours. These unique tree climbing lions can best be observed from Queen Elizabeth Park though some Parks are also claimed to have them such as LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK in Tanzania and KRUGER NATIONAL PARK in South Africa, but if at all you don’t want gambling, then the most ideal destination for these unique lions is Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The other unique feature in the Park is its spectacular Kazinga Channel which is centered in the heart of the Park connecting two lakes; Lake Albert and Lake George. The channel is a major attraction to many wildlife species, such as; Nile Crocodiles and hippos, which are permanent residents, and the other regular visitors which are seen on the shores drinking some water, and these include; elephants, buffaloes, antelopes and others. All these animals can best be seen during the launch trips on the channel. The other interesting activities in the Park besides launch trips on the Kazinga channel, include; game drives and game viewing, chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge, bird watching (over 600 bird species), and others.