East Africa’s Most Spectacular National Parks
If going on safari has always been a dream vacation, then East Africa has to be the ultimate destination. There is a fine choice of magnificent national parks to visit and matchless opportunities to observe wild animals in their natural habitat. Here are the most outstanding of all East Africa’s national parks.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Widely considered to be the best wildlife reserve in Africa, the Serengeti National Park has an impressive number of predators and prey packed into its 5,700 square miles of savanna, or grassland plains, as well as its forests and woodlands situated on riverbanks. A world heritage site, there are marvelous opportunities to observe the “big five” of the game world here – the African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, lion and rhinoceros. There is also a wealth of other animals, including giraffe and gazelle, and somewhere in the region of 500 bird species, including the crowned crane and marabou stork ostrich.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Originally part of the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is located in the southeast, and its topography, geology and wildlife are various and unique. The Ngorongoro Crater is home to approximately 25,000 animals, including black rhinoceros, wildebeest and, unusually, hippopotamus. There are also grasslands, mountain forests and waterfalls that sustain both animal life and human life, notably the Masai tribe.
Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya
The Masai Mara is a northerly continuation of the Serengeti National Park, separated from it by the Mara River. The big attraction here is the annual migration between July and October of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra – almost two million creatures in all pour across the river, while lions, leopard and crocodiles stalk them in order to prey on the weak and vulnerable. Besides catching a glimpse of the big five, lucky travelers can also spot cheetah, hyena and eland, plus many more.
Amboseli National Park, Kenya
A popular park with tourists, Amboseli offers unique access to the local Masai people and has the highest concentration of elephants anywhere in Kenya. With extremely picturesque scenery and Kilimanjaro as a backdrop, it is a favorite destination for photographers who love to capture some of the 600 species of bird life in the area, along with bats, impalas and gerenuks, as well as many other species.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
Perhaps not on the same scale as other national parks, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is nevertheless a UNESCO world heritage site and home to one of the last remaining wilderness experiences on the planet. Accessible only by foot, the 128 square miles of jungle forests here are one of the most diverse forest environments in East Africa for plants as well as one of the richest ecosystems found on the continent. They are home to approximately 340 Mountain Gorillas and are a sanctuary for many more primates, including chimpanzees, as well as butterflies, birds, frogs and geckos.
Travelling to East Africa is straightforward and cheap flight tickets are easy to find. Depending on the itinerary, travelers can choose from airports in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Upon arrival, land travel by 4×4 vehicles is a wise choice when visiting the national parks.
Photo by merlune on Flickr.