Say the word safari (actually the Swahili word for “journey”), and most people immediately imagine Kenya. This East African country has a reputation as the birthplace of big-game trips, yet fewer people know about the great beaches and interesting heritage that have long drawn European travelers.
What to Do
Kenya Safari Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya’s most celebrated game park, sits in the northern Great Rift Valley, extending from the northern edge of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. It’s named after the elegant, cattle-raising Maasai people who traditionally inhabited the land; and you can take a village tour to learn more about them and their way of life. An established infrastructure and long-standing tradition of acclaimed safari camps makes it a perfect choice for couples that want to safari in style.
Mombasa A longtime favorite of European travelers, Kenya’s second largest city draws tourism with its balmy weather and pristine white-sand beaches. There are animal experiences here as well, such as at the Shimba Hills National Reserve, home to elephants, leopards and sable antelope. Offshore is excellent snorkeling and scuba diving.
African Culture The six-island Lamu archipelago sits 150 miles off Kenya’s northeast coast. You can fly from Nairobi to Manda Island, then get around by ferry. Lamu Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and was a thriving Portugeuse port in the 1500s. It remains relatively off the beaten path for tourists, with cultural cues coming from the predominantly Muslim population. Accommodations are simple and the pace is slow, offering a great place for intrepid travelers to wind down after their mainland adventure.
This East African country is lesser-known than its northern neighbor, Kenya, but it boasts loads of appeal, from game-filled plains to one of Africa’s most iconic peaks, Mount Kilimanjaro. With welcoming locals and a stable political climate, it’s one of the best places in the world to go on safari, and the offshore island of Zanzibar makes the perfect place to recoup from a week in the bush.
Tanzania Safaris There are few places as beautiful as Serengeti National Park, an 8,000-mile nature preserve on the country’s northwest border. Game viewing is best during the annual wildebeest migration when giant herds make their annual move between feeding grounds, accompanied by zebra, gazelles and predators like leopards and hyena. Elephant, giraffe and lion sightings are common any time of year, whether you overnight in cushy tented camps or well-appointed safari lodges.
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro This dormant volcano is Africa’s highest peak, topping 19,000 feet. It’s also surprisingly accessible to climbers with limited mountaineering experience. Hire an outfitter in the base town of Arusha, and plan for a five- to seven-day climb. Porters will help carry supplies, and you’ll overnight in a series of huts or campsites, depending on the route you take (Marangu is the easiest).
Zanzibar Africa meets Arabia on this fascinating archipelago 30 miles off the coast, accessible via a 15-minute flight from Dar Es Salaam. The island, once a major trading post between Africa and the East and ruled by the Sultan of Zanzibar, still features traces of its Arabic heritage in the capital, Stone Town. The island of Pemba offers great beaches and a handful of luxury resorts.
Great Rift Valley The Great Rift Valley is called the Cradle of Mankind, home to some of the world’s oldest fossils. At the Olduvai Gorge Museum, founded by pioneering archaeologist Mary Leakey, you can learn about excavations done there and the history that was uncovered, including artifacts that date back to almost two million years.