Many travellers visiting East Africa come to see the Wildebeest Migration, climb a mountain, and relax on the beach. Kenya and Tanzania offer all these experiences and the quintessential safari combines the three experiences across the two countries. But where to start? Planning any holiday is fraught with challenges as you want to make it perfect, so here’s a short guide to help you plan your East African safari.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya is the biggest transport hub for international flights, so the chances are you will arrive there. Therefore it makes sense to start your safari in Kenya. You can take a shower and rest in Nairobi after your long flight or set off immediately to the game reserves. After an international flight, do you really want to transfer onto another flight to Tanzania or spend your first day in Africa driving along a highway from one city to another?
Working backwards in planning your trip also gives some clues about the order of the itinerary. The majority of travellers like to finish their safari on the coast where they can spend a few days washing the dust off in the Indian Ocean. Both Kenya and Tanzania have beautiful coastlines, but it’s mythical Zanzibar, off the Tanzanian coast, that attracts most people. Especially with the recent spate of attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, the Tanzanian coast is increasingly popular. There are regular flights from Zanzibar back to Nairobi to catch your departing flight home, so finishing here is a relaxing end to your holiday.
Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Mt Kenya is another popular pursuit that travellers to East Africa often include in their itineraries. So surely it’s better start with the climb and then you can relax for the rest of the safari? Not really. It is better to start with the safari and climb after you have enjoyed the animals and sights. Despite the numbers of people tackling Kilimanjaro’s summit, it is not a walk in the park and the altitude and physical exertion can knock a person around. You don’t want to be sick or flaked out in the back of the safari vehicle while your fellow passengers are watching a lion hunt.
So in planning your East African safari holiday, start in Kenya with the famous Maasai Mara or other game reserves before heading south to Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro or enjoy the beaches of Zanzibar.