If you plan to do one safari to Africa in your lifetime, how do you select the essential experiences from this vast continent? Focus on East Africa, the world’s most legendary safari destination and original explorers’ adventureland. Here you’ll find timeless encounters to define any safari-goer’s resume.
1. The Classic: The Great Migration
The world's largest land-based mammal migration, this phenomenon of nearly two million wildebeest and zebra has persisted for centuries in vast grasslands of the Serengeti and Maasai Mara. See our Great Migration map to find the ideal camps from which to view the migration at any time of year.
2. The Unique: The "Northern Five" of Laikipia
Five unique subspecies of northern Kenya are known collectively as the “Northern Five.” They include the reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, gerenuk, Somali ostrich and beisa oryx, some of Africa's most beautiful versions of these animals. Visit Laikipia or Samburu to see them.
3. The Spectacular: Ngorongoro Crater
Formed when a volcano collapsed on itself over two million years ago, the crater is the largest inactive, intact caldera in the world. Filled with more than 25,000 large animals such as black rhino, buffalo, wildebeest, elephant, hyena and a dense population of lions, Ngorongoro is one of Africa’s most coveted wildlife destinations.
4. The Life Changer: Gorillas of Rwanda
Tracking gorillas in the lush mountains of Rwanda and sitting quietly with them in their wild habitat is a deeply moving event. It's also an experience most travelers will never have, to observe a family of mountain gorillas, similar to us in so many ways, up close. Given that their entire population numbers less than 900, this experience is the rarest of gifts.
5. The Connection: Meet the Maasai and Samburu
East Africa is home to many traditional tribal peoples, including the Maasai and Samburu. Meet the Maasai on cultural visits in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. Their close relations, the Samburu, live in the Samburu region of northern Kenya. For a truly authentic encounter, slaughter a goat with the men or learn to bead with the women.
6. The Bragging Right: Chimps of the Mahale Mountains
What would a trip to Africa be without seeing its beloved chimpanzees? Go trekking in search of them in the Mahale Mountains of western Tanzania. It's not likely something your friends have done, and it's considered by many to be the best chimpanzee viewing experience in the world.
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