Many travelers visiting East Africa come to see the wildebeest migration, climb a mountain and relax on the beach. Kenya and Tanzania offer all of these experiences and the quintessential safari combines all three experiences across both countries. But where to start? Planning your vacation is full of challenges because you want to make it perfect, so here is a short guide to help you plan your East Africa safari.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya is the largest transportation hub for international flights, so there’s a good chance you’ll get there. So it makes sense to start your safari in Kenya. You can shower and rest in Nairobi after your long flight or head straight away to the game reserves. After an international flight, do you really feel like catching another flight to Tanzania or spending your first day in Africa driving on a highway from one city to another?
Working backwards in planning your trip also gives clues about the order of the route. Majority of travelers like to end their safari on the coast where they can spend a few days washing the dust in the Indian Ocean. Kenya and Tanzania both have beautiful coastlines, but it is the mythical Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, that attracts the most people. Especially with the recent wave of attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, the Tanzanian coast is increasingly popular. There are regular flights from Zanzibar to Nairobi to catch your departure flight, so ending here is a relaxing end to your vacation.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Mount Kenya is another popular activity that travelers to East Africa often include in their itineraries. So surely it is better to start with the climb and then relax for the rest of the safari? Not really. It is best to start with the safari and climb up after appreciating the animals and sights. Despite the number of people tackling the summit of Kilimanjaro, it is not a walk in the park and the altitude and physical exertion can strike a person. You don’t want to be sick or chipped in the back of the safari vehicle while your fellow travelers are watching a lion hunt.
So in planning your East African safari vacation, start in Kenya with the famous Maasai Mara or other game reserves before heading south to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or enjoy the beaches of Zanzibar.