If it is your first time planning an Africa safari vacation, East Africa, the pioneer safari destination, is a great choice for first-timers. The safari concept was started in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, and the word translates to “making a journey” in Swahili. It referred to the long distances people would have to traverse for trade routes and so forth in its original context. Today, Africa safari has been popularized in film and literature through grand tales of adventure, romance, and thrills, and that’s what it just is.
If you’ve never been to Africa before, you have so much to look forward to. East Africa offers the most leisurely introduction to the continent for first-time travelers, and it has the wildlife, scenery, ambiance, and expertise to show for it. East Africa is the eastern region of the African continent. It includes safari heavyweights like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and the Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar and Seychelles.
The region is renowned for its massive concentrations of wild animals and stunning scenery. Shaped by the tectonic forces that created the Great East African Rift, some of East Africa’s biggest geographic landmarks include Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Rwenzori Mountains, and the Virunga Mountains. East Africa is also home to the world’s second-largest freshwater lake, Lake Victoria, and Lake Tanganyika, the world’s second deepest lake.
In East Africa’s rainforest are rare primates that have come to win the fascination of both seasoned and first time Africa safari travelers. No other wildlife encounter can rival sitting with endangered gorillas in their natural habitat and observing our ancient relatives’ fascinating family dynamics. The emerald rainforests of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park are incredible destinations for gorilla trekking, Africa’s most powerful wildlife experience.
East Africa’s climate is atypical of equatorial regions, surprisingly cool and dry for its latitude. Thanks to this temperate climate and East Africa’s abundant resident wildlife, the region is widely regarded as a fantastic year-round safari destination. Its wide and open plains mean there is virtually always game to see, no matter what time of year you visit.
From the wide-open plains of Masai Mara to the Virunga Mountains’ enchanted misty jungles, let’s take a look at our selection of the 5 best East Africa safari vacations for first-timers.
The iconic destinations, Masai Mara in Kenya, Serengeti in Tanzania, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda, and the tucked-away beaches in Zanzibar and Seychelles islands feature more on East Africa safari first-timers’ itineraries.
Each one of our safari itineraries is tailor-made in the traveler’s style of travel. So the trips we’re suggesting here are meant to inspire your travel lust and engage our consultants to help you plan your first-time East African safari.
This one of the most famous East African safari for first-timers. Between July and November is traditionally thought of as the best season to view the migration. Between July and August, the wildebeest move into Kenya’s Masai Mara, crossing the Mara River in large numbers. These river crossings are among the most sought-after moments of the migration.
Recommended for 9-10 days, the safari trip kicks off in Kenya’s Masai Mara before heading south into Tanzania for the Serengeti, Lake Manyara, and the Ngorongoro Crater. Focused on the ‘big five’ wildlife experience, this trip is a great opportunity to witness the world-renowned wildebeest and zebra migration within the Serengeti-Mara triangle.
Couples, Honeymooners, Families & Groups
This safari trip is perfect for first-timers looking for an authentic safari experience that gives them a dose of both the savannah and the rainforest wilderness experience. Recommended for a duration of two weeks, this East Africa safari trip adventure focuses on special cultural encounters, exceptional game-viewing, breathtaking scenery, and unmatched gorilla trekking in the misty jungles of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Couples, Honeymooners, Families & Groups
Combine three iconic experiences – Rwanda’s gorillas, and the Serengeti plains, and awe-inspiring Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania on this unforgettable East Africa safari recommended for first-timers. The trip starts in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, where you’ll spend a day exploring the capital’s culture and genocide history.
Heading into the mountains rainforest, Volcanoes National Park, where you’ll be escorted into the jungle to meet the elusive mountain gorilla family. By flight, you’ll connect directly from Kigali to Serengeti, where you’ll follow the predictable path of the great migration and join to Ngorongoro Crater after 3 days. Kilimanjaro International Airport is your exit back home.
This East African safari trip for first-timers is best recommended for couples, friends travelling together, honeymooners, families and groups.
Like no other African destination, Uganda sets itself apart by offering the best of both the savannah and the rainforest wilderness. For a safari first-timer, this would be a great trip to get introduced to the best of Africa’s wilderness for both forest and savanna.
This Uganda safari trip will take you through the most popular safari circuit in the country. You’ll take the western route from Entebbe through the small but impressive Lake Mburo NP, then into the mountain jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. After the challenging gorilla trekking experience, you’ll also be challenged to a canoe and hiking experience before heading up north into Queen Elizabeth NP’s savannah plains for a game drive and boat safari. You’ll then into the primates capital of Kibale Forest then end the safari trip in the magnificent Murchison Falls NP.
Solo travelers, Birders, couples, family and groups
There is nothing better than sharing a moment with wild gorillas in their magnificent alpine forests. So your trip will begin in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, from where you’ll be transferred into the gorilla jungle to meet with the magnificent primate giants. From Kigali, you’ll connect to Ngorongoro Crater, where you can put your feet up and enjoy game drives and the spectacular views over this primordial land. A trip to Tanzania would not be complete without the Serengeti plains and the wide array of animals that call this place home. You’ll spend a couple of days on the Serengeti plains and maybe catching sight of the early stages of the great wildebeest migration. End your journey in Zanzibar, relax in a truly remote and exclusive barefoot paradise.
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