Away from the wars, poverty, diseases, starvation, and other despairs, Africa is truly a natural treasure of unique flora and fauna. Once you pack your bags and set off to go on a road trip, you will be enthralled and mesmerized by the profound and unprecedented natural beauties of those protected in the national parks and the ones in the opening on the roadside.
Africa is full of exotic animals, seething lakes and flowing rivers, free-standing mountains, absorbing cultures, and mouth-licking foods. The best way to get exposed to the aforementioned attractions is by taking up a self-driven trip across East Africa. A road trip is not your usual travel experience, it is an expedition that involves driving on your own and exploring the various wildlife gems.
It could seem and look so risky because of Africa being remote and foreign to most travellers but so rewarding. This is an experience that brings excitement, and independence and also makes you discover what is beyond the African classic safari.
Apart from southern Africa, road trips are not popular in every country on the continent. They are mostly done in the four East African countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. You can either do a within-country road trip that comprises traveling around one country or a cross-border road trip that involves exploring more than one country.
It is so easy to travel across the various East African countries because of their cordial relationship; they have treaties that allow people to travel swiftly within the region.
To get the best out of your road trip, you have to plan and prepare so well. The basics are drafting a realistic itinerary, hiring a car with a reputable rental company, and packing the right safari travel items.
A well-prepared and planned road trip offers opportunities of discovering most of the unique natural treasures in Africa and some of them are as below.
The big five
The sightings of the big five (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos) in the wilderness are breathtaking and one of the few places to marvel at these remarkable mammals is the East African region.
The big five are found in the various savannah national parks in Africa. Travelers to Tanzania travel to Serengeti national park, Ngorongoro Crater, Kilimanjaro Mountains, etc.
Travelers on self-drive in Uganda often do not miss Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo National Park, and Queen Elizabeth in Uganda.
In Kenya, Masai Mara and Amboseli are the most popular parks often included in tour itineraries. The experience of encountering the big five gets better when you embark on a self-game drive which is only possible on a road trip.
Don’t Miss the Gorillas in the mist
You might have seen gorillas in the zoos but never in the wild. Gorillas are rare creatures only found in a few places. Uganda is one of the few places where you can see the endangered mountain gorillas.
Therefore, embark on a road trip to Bwindi National Park in Uganda or Mgahinga National Park in southwestern Uganda. A road trip to these tropical rainforests is quite amazing and possible. A gorilla permit costs only US$700 per person.
You can also travel to the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to interact and watch the gorillas at close range. The gorillas are gentle and peaceful animals and provide the most intimate experience.
On a gorilla safari, visitors observe their intriguing social behavior, and communication and also take their pictures and videos in one hour once you approach them.
River Nile and its Source
Have you ever wondered where River Nile originates from? If so, explore Uganda, the Pearl of Africa on a self-drive adventure to Jinja where you will meet the source of the Nile. To get close to the source of the Nile, you will have to take a boat ride to the small rocky island.
Adjacent to the small island, there is a watermark seething from underneath that produces vigorous water which spreads and flows to form a River. The watermark is regarded to be the source of the Nile.
As River Nile comes to life in Jinja, it creates lots of water features such as falls, rapids, tides, gorges, and cliffs. These water features support lots of adventurous activities notably whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, tubing, water sliding, sport fishing, and kayaking.
The watermark where the river Nile begins its long journey as far as North Africa lies on Lake Victoria and this is why the freshwater lake is called the source of the Nile. Lake Victoria does not only serve as the source of the Nile but also as a tourist site with lots of attractions to enjoy on a road trip.
This fresh greywater lake spans its territories in the three East African countries of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Within the three nations, Lake Victoria harbors a wealth of resort islands and beaches for sunbathing, swimming, honeymooning, boat rides, beach walks, and so many other adventures.
The actual spots to visit experience Lake Victoria in East Africa are Entebbe and Ssesse Islands in Uganda, Mwanza in Tanzania, and Kisumu in Kenya.
The Great Migration of Wildebeests
The great Serengeti of Tanzania and Masai Mara of Kenya offer opportunities of seeing the highest concentration of animals ever. Thousands and thousands of ungulates including wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles are witnessed moving from the Serengeti to Masai Mara forth and back in search of water and greener pastures.
The migration of the ungulates depends on the climatic seasons. The best time to experience this great phenomenon is June through September and December through Mid-March. The great migration of the ungulates draws lots of exciting scenes, lions and other predators are seen tussling it out with wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles.
Mount Kilimanjaro – the Roof of Africa
Taking on a road trip is a brave move but hiking Mount Kilimanjaro is sheer bravery. Kilimanjaro Mountain has the highest peak in Africa, Uhuru which has an altitude of 5,895 meters above sea level.
It is only 2,950 meters shorter than Mount Everest and is the fourth highest mountain in the world. At the highest summit of Kilimanjaro, you will be on the roof of Africa and will have conquered and overcome the hardest task in the world.
The Mountains of the Moon
It is surreal to find a snow awash area in an equatorial region, here you are, the Rwenzori Mountains in western Uganda has snowcapped summits. It is very intriguing that even science has failed to explain this feature.
If you cannot decipher its existence, visit the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, get to experience it, and enjoy the glacier peaks at the mountains of the moon. It is one of the rare treasures in Africa; you would not want to miss out on your road trip.
The Masai Culture
Africa to be exact east Africa is a culturally diverse area though the Masai Culture stands out most due to its history and authenticity. The Masai people residing in the semi-arid areas of Kenya and Tanzania have stuck to their ethos and traditions and if you wish to roll back to the African traditional society era, the Masai land is the place to be.
The Masai are cattle keepers who live in the wild areas of Kenya and Tanzania and have lived with exotic animals harmoniously. This is so surprising because of the way the world has turned out to be where people are destroying wildlife for settlement and development. After a game drive in either Serengeti or Masai Mara, take some time to visit their communities to enjoy their history, social life, and traditional performances and buy some of the craft items such as sandals, and necklaces, bangles, and their unique attire popularly known as the shuka. A moment with the Masai will make you appreciate humanity more.
The Ngorongoro Crater
The Ngorongoro crater is the largest intact caldera in the world; it was named among the seven natural wonders in Africa. The Ngorongoro crater is situated in Northern Tanzania and its expanses are one of the popular national parks in the country.
In the crater and around its rims, there is a wealth of wild animals, and among them are the big five. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a place where you can easily sight wildlife without a search; they linger in every part of this natural property.