A safari to Africa is like no other trip on earth.
Most who have ventured to Africans rate it as the best travel experience of their lives. Why? A safari is a real adventure! Africa allows you to experience nature at its finest , almost devoid of human interference. The continent pulses to a natural rhythm of life that has remained basically unchanged since the beginning of time.At our deepest roots, the African continent communicates with our souls.
Travellers return home, not only with exciting stories and adventures to share with friends and family, but with a better understanding of nature, a feeling of accomplishment, increased self-confidence and broader horizons from having ventured where few have gone. Here’s the kind of adventure about which many dream but few experiences!
Having visited Africa once, you will want to return again and again to the peace, tranquillity and adventure it has to offer. In this book, I invite you to explore the reasons for this ceaseless pull as we journey to some of the most fascinating places on earth.Most people travel to Africa to see the large and spectacular wildlife, unique to this fascinating continent, in its natural surroundings. In addition to lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, hippo and giraffe, there is an amazing array of other large and small mammals, as well as spectacular birds and a tapestry of compelling cultures.
The finest safaris are not only those that provide the thrill of seeing the big mammals, but also explore the whole ecosystem and capture the true spirit of the African wilderness — making your visit an exciting and educational experience. The combination of unforgettable adventures, great food, service, accommodations and meeting interesting people is the perfect formula for the trip of a lifetime!
Africa has such a tremendous variety of attractions that most everyone can find something fascinating to do. In addition to fabulous wildlife, the continent boasts one of the world’s largest waterfalls (Victoria Falls), the world’s longest river (the Nile), the world’s largest inland delta (the Okavango), the world’s oldest desert (the Namib), the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera (Ngorongoro), the world’s highest mountain that is not part of a range (Mt. Kilimanjaro) and beautiful cities like Cape Town. Africa is also home to some of the world’s last and largest animal migrations. Accommodations ranging from comfortable to opulent have made Africa extremely inviting to even the most discerning traveller and the adventurer as well.
Africa is huge. It is the second largest continent on earth, covering over 20% of the planet’s land surface. More than 3 times the size of the United States, it is also larger than Europe, the United States and China combined. No wonder it has so much to offer!
East Africa is a region that begins in Tanzania in the south and extends north through the great grasslands and scrub forest of the savannas of Kenya and Uganda and then across the highlands of Ethiopia, including the Great Rift Valley.
The highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet), is located in Tanzania near the border with Kenya. The second highest peak, Mt. Kenya (17,058 feet), located just north of the country’s capital of Nairobi, near the equator, is the source of Kenya’s name. Both mountains are inactive volcanoes and have permanent snow at their peaks. They provide fresh water, which flows down their mountainsides, to the surrounding areas. Mountain ranges in the Western Highlands of the Congo have a greater effect on climate than these two massive peaks. For example, the Rwenzori Mountains on the Congo–Uganda border have permanent snow and glaciers and reach elevations of more than sixteen thousand feet. These ranges create a rain shadow effect that cuts off moisture for the region from the westerly equatorial winds.
Shaped by global plate tectonic forces that have created the East African Rift, East Africa is the site of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, the two tallest peaks in Africa. It also includes the world’s second largest freshwater lake, Lake Victoria, and the world’s second deepest lake, Lake Tanganyika.
Exploring the Great Rift Valley
If you’re looking to experience nature in East Africa, there’s nothing quite like the Great Rift Valley.
The Great Rift Valley provides evidence of a split in the African Plate, dividing it into two smaller tectonic plates: the Somalian Plate and the Nubian Plate. The Great Rift Valley in East Africa is divided into the Western Rift and the Eastern Rift. The Western Rift runs along the border with the Congo. A series of deepwater lakes run along its valley. On the western edge of the Western Rift are the highlands, which have a series of high-elevation mountain ranges, including the Rwenzori Mountains, the highest in the series. The Virunga Mountains on the Congo–Uganda border are home to endangered mountain gorillas. The Western Rift includes a series of deepwater lakes, such as Lake Tanganyika, Lake Edward, and Lake Albert. Lake Victoria is located between the Western Rift and the Eastern Rift.
The Eastern Rift does not have deepwater lakes; rather, it is a wide valley or basin with shallow lakes that do not have outlets. The lakes have higher levels of sodium carbonate and mineral buildup because of a high rate of evaporation. The differences in water composition of the lakes along the Eastern Rift vary from freshwater to extremely alkaline. Alkaline water creates an ideal breeding ground for algae and other species of fish, such as tilapia, which thrive in this environment. Millions of birds feed off the abundant supply of algae and fish. Birds attract other wildlife, which in turn creates a unique set of environmental ecosystems. The eastern edge of the Eastern Rift is home to the inactive volcanic peaks of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya. A number of other volcanic peaks are present in the Eastern Rift, such as Ol Doinyo Lengai, an active volcano.
The erosion patterns of the highlands have caused a buildup of sediments on the rift valley floor, creating a favourable environment for the preservation of biological remains, including both human and animal remains. Important fossils and bones of several hominid species have been found in the Great Rift Valley. One of the most famous finds came in 1974 when the nearly complete skeleton of an australopithecine was nicknamed “Lucy.” Lucy was discovered by anthropologist Donald Johanson. Noted anthropologists Richard and Mary Leakey have also done significant work in this region. Since the 1970s, remains of hominids from about ten million years ago have been discovered in the northern region of the Great Rift Valley. Discoveries at the thirty-mile-long Olduvai Gorge indicate that early hominid species might have lived in the region for millions of years.
The Great Rift Valley and the surrounding savannas in Kenya and Tanzania are home to some of the largest game reserves in Africa, with a broad variety of big game animals. One of these large regions is the vast Serengeti Plain, located in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. The governments of Tanzania and Kenya maintain national parks, national game reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries in their countries, most notably in the Serengeti Plain. Legal protection for as much as 80 percent of the Serengeti has been provided. The protections restrict hunting and commercial agriculture and provide protection status for the wildlife. The word Serengeti means “Endless Plains.”
The Serengeti Plain is host to an extraordinary diversity of large mammals and fauna. The largest migration of land animals in the world occurs in the Serengeti. Every fall and spring, as many as two million wildebeests, antelope, and other grazing animals migrate from the northern hills to the southern plains in search of grass and food. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Ngorongoro Crater are located on the Tanzanian side of the border. The enormous crater is the basin of an extinct volcano that has been transformed into a protected national park for the animals that graze on the grassy plains. This is a dry region because the Ngorongoro Highlands create a rain shadow for the area.Dozens of other protected areas throughout Eastern Africa have been established in an effort to protect and sustain the valuable ecosystems for the large animals that have found their habitat encroached upon elsewhere by the ever-expanding human population. Kenya has more than fifty-five nationally protected areas that serve as parks, reserves, or sanctuaries for wildlife. The Amboseli National Reserve and Mt. Kenya National Park are two of the more well-known protected areas. The “big five” game animals—elephants, rhinoceroses, lions, leopards, and buffalo—and all the other unique animals found in the same ecosystems, translate into economic income from tourists from around the world that wish to experience this type of environment. The national park systems in Uganda and Ethiopia have made provisions to provide more sanctuaries for wildlife in areas where the human population is growing and the political situation has not always been stable.
A brief history of Uganda
Uganda, once the “Pearl of the British Empire in East Africa,” is one of the most beautiful countries on the continent. One-sixth of its area is covered by water.
The climate in Uganda is similar to Kenya except that Uganda is wetter. The driest times of the year are December to February and June to July, and the wettest is from mid-March to mid-May, with lighter rains October to November.English is spoken as widely here as in Kenya or Tanzania. The main religions are Christianity and Islam
A safari to Uganda is like visiting your own Garden of Eden. The parks have few tourists, and hotels and lodges give you the personal attention rarely found in this day of international travel.
Uganda is a small, landlocked country on the northern shores of Lake Victoria. The Western Rift borders it on the west, forming both high mountains and deep lakes. Lakes Albert, Edward, and George are three of the larger bodies of water. The Nile River flows out of Lake Victoria through Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert on its way north, providing an abundant fresh water supply and a transportation route. The Rwenzori Mountains and the Virunga Mountains shadow the country from the west. Mountain gorillas, an eastern gorilla subspecies, inhabit this region. They are extremely endangered: only about seven hundred mountain gorillas live in Africa. One of the two main populations of gorillas lives in the national parks of the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Congo. The second population is found only in a national park in Uganda. The lowland eastern gorilla population is also threatened; their population continues to decline. Poaching, habitat loss, disease, and warfare have devastated their populations in the past century.
Uganda is a poor country and has experienced serious political and ethnic conflicts in recent decades. In 1971, the brutal dictator Idi Amin sought to rid the country of his opponents and many foreigners. He killed many of Uganda’s own people and destroyed the economy in the process. He was ousted in 1979 and lived in exile in Saudi Arabia until his death. Uganda was in conflict with Sudan in the 1990s, during the bloody civil war in neighbouring Rwanda. Uganda sided with the Tutsi groups in the region and has had to deal with ethnic division within its own borders. Uganda has many troops engaged in the conflict along the unstable border region of The Congo.
Uganda is an agrarian state with natural mineral wealth. The potential for added national wealth through mineral extraction exists, but there is no way to fund the extraction operations. Agriculture is the principal employment of Uganda’s labour force, and most workers earn fewer than two dollars per day US equivalent. Coffee has been and continues to be a main export crop. Uganda is about the same size in terms of land area as the US state of Wyoming, but whereas Uganda has an estimated population of more than thirty-two million people, Wyoming has fewer than half a million. Population growth without economic growth places a heavy strain on Uganda’s natural resources.
A brief history of Kenya
The word “safari” is Swahili for “journey,” and Kenya is where it all began. Hemingway immortalised the safari experience, although he was a sport and trophy hunter rather than a naturalist or photographer.
Joy Adamson was among the group of expatriates, in the 1960s and 1970s, whose endeavours to conserve African wildlife captured the world’s attention. The writings of Karen Blixen, and the adaptation of her classic book Out of
Africa into a motion picture starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, helped establish Kenya as a great safari destination in the modern era. Michael Poliza new oversized coffee table book Kenya (te Neues) is a fabulous photographic treatise of the variety this country has to offer.
Visitors to Kenya can enjoy fabulous game viewing, birdwatching, hot-air ballooning, horseback riding, scenic flights, mountaineering, scuba diving, freshwater and deep-sea fishing, and numerous other activities.
Kenya is well known for the magnificent Serengeti Migration (shared with Tanzania) of more than one million wildebeest and zebra in the Maasai Mara and for the colourful Maasai, Samburu and other tribes that contribute so much to making this an attractive safari destination.
Kenya has one of the most diverse and majestic landscapes on the continent. The Great Rift Valley, with the steep-walled valley floor dropping as much as 2,000 to 3,000 feet (610 to 915 m) from the surrounding countryside,
During colonial times, the British considered the land area now called Kenya to be a Crown protectorate area. The coastal city of Mombasa has been an international shipping port for centuries and is now the busiest port in the region. Persian, Arab, Indian, and even Chinese ships made port in Mombassa during its earliest years to take part in the lucrative trade of slaves, ivory, and spices. Portugal sought early control of the trade centre but eventually lost out to Britain. Arab and Middle Eastern shippers brought Islam to the region; Europeans brought Christianity. Hinduism and Sikhism from India found their way into the country with workers brought over by the British to help build a railroad to Uganda. Kenya gained independence in 1963 and has worked throughout the latter part of the twentieth century to establish a stable democratic government.
Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, has become a central core urban area that serves the greater East African region as an economic hub for development and globalisation. The largest city in the region, Nairobi is an ever-expanding city that draws in people from rural areas seeking opportunities and advantages. It also has become a destination for international corporations planning to expand business ventures into Africa. Kenya has experienced economic growth and decline as market prices and agricultural production have fluctuated. The Kenyan government has been working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to support its economic reform initiatives and reduce waste and corruption in its fiscal processes. The countries of Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya developed the East African Community (EAC) as a trading bloc to support mutual development and economic partnerships.
Kenya has no one culture that identifies it. There are more than forty different ethnic groups in Kenya, each with its own unique cultural history and traditions. Of the many ethnic groups in Kenya, the Maasai have gained international attention and are often given wide exposure in tourism information. The Maasai are a small minority of Kenya’s population but are known for wearing vivid attire and unique jewellery. Their historical lands have been the border region between Kenya and Tanzania. Cattle, a sign of wealth, have been at the centre of Maasai traditions and culture and provide for their subsistence and livelihood. Tourism brings to the surface the diversity of cultures that coexist within Kenya’s environmental attractions, and the country is working to enhance its international draw in the tourism marketplace.
A brief history of Tanzania
Between Africa’s highest mountain (Kilimanjaro) and Africa’s largest lake (Victoria) lies one of the best game viewing areas on the continent. This region also includes the world’s largest unflooded intact volcanic caldera (Ngorongoro) and the most famous wildlife park (the Serengeti). There is great chimpanzee trekking at Mahale in the west, and to the southeast lies one of the world’s largest game reserves — the Selous.
Germany gained control of the region of what is now Tanzania in their scramble for African territory in the late 1800s. Germany relinquished the colony to Britain after World War I. Off the coast of East Africa is the island of Zanzibar, which has been an island trading post for centuries and drew in shipping trade from the Middle East, India, and other parts of Africa. The spice trade attracted European ships throughout colonial times. During British occupation, the mainland region was called Tanganyika, named after the large lake on the eastern edge. In 1960, the colony gained independence from Great Britain, and four years later Zanzibar and Tanganyika came together to form the country of Tanzania. Zanzibar remains an important travel destination; major tourism infrastructure has been developed there. The coastal city of Dar es Salaam is the primate city of the country and acts as the capital. In 1996, Dodoma was declared the official capital. Dodoma is a type of forward capital, because the declaration of Dodoma as the official capital was intended to move the political power inland, toward the country’s centre. The parliament meets in Dodoma, but major government offices remain in Dar es Salaam, making Dar es Salaam the de facto capital of the country.
Tanzania is an agricultural country; as much as 80 percent of the people make their living off the land. The rural nature of the population signifies that the country is at the lower end of the index of economic development with larger families and lower incomes. An emphasis on tourism is a growing trend in Tanzania. The government has stepped up efforts to expand the tourism sector of the economy. Oil and natural gas exploration has also been emphasised in hopes of raising the level of national wealth.
There are more than one hundred ethnic groups in Tanzania. Swahili, an indigenous language, is the lingua franca, and English is used in the higher legal courts and in the universities for higher education. Swahili is used as a second language throughout much of East Africa and serves as a major cultural connection between the many ethnic groups. Tanzania is unique in this aspect; an indigenous language—that is, Swahili—was chosen as the lingua franca rather than the colonial language. Most people learn at least two or three languages, depending on their circumstances. The religious balance of Tanzania’s population of more than forty million people is almost evenly split three ways between Christianity, Islam, and traditional religions.
A brief history of Rwanda
Appropriately called “The Land of a Thousand Hills,” Rwanda is predominantly grassy highlands and hills, with altitudes above sea level varying from a low of 3,960 feet (1,207 m) to Mt. Karisimbi, the highest of a range of extinct volcanoes in the northwest, which reaches 14,786 feet (4,507 m). Lake Kivu forms part of the border with the Congo and is one of the most beautiful lakes in Africa. In fact, most visitors are impressed by the beauty and cleanliness of the country as a whole. Also called “The Country of Perpetual Spring,” Rwanda’s comfortable climate is temperate and mild with an average daytime temperature of 77°F (25°C). The main rainy season is from March to mid-May, and the shorter one is from November to mid-December.