The site of the largest fresh water lake and the two highest peaks in Africa, this region is one of splendid landscapes. In this part of Africa tectonic plate movement has created the East African Rift, two parallel rift valleys.
Starting at the Red Sea the Great Rift Valley runs through Kenya into Tanzania. The area is populated by a wide range of wildlife including the Big Five and mountain gorilla. The grasslands of Kenya and Tanzania teem with life. Annually the famed migration of herds across the plains draws visitors from around the world.
More than one hundred and sixty ethnic groups lend diversity to the culture and language in the area, once colonized by a number of European countries including the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Portugal and Germany.
Countries in Eastern Africa
Due to political tensions Burundi is currently considered unsafe for travel. Covered mostly by agricultural lands, there is just six hundred square kilometers of equatorial forest left in the country, which is home to hippo, elephant, chimpanzees and tigers.
The capital city Bujumbura is situated on the beautiful beaches of Lake Tanganyika, a lake so large it has waves. Hotels, restaurants, a golf course and stables line the lakeside.
Bujumbura is a pretty town full of wide-open grassy parks. It has retained some of its French colonial culture and offers some of the best cuisine in East Africa. The open-air bazaars sell colorful local artworks including hand woven baskets, sculptures and beadwork.
The lush green hills in the countryside are dotted with circular thatched mud hut villages. Visitors to traditional villages can dance and sing with the locals to the beat of wooden drums that form part of their ancient culture, drink traditional sorghum bear and grind corn with traditional stone tools.
Comoros like most Indian Ocean islands has been blessed by nature. Ringed by beautiful beaches where warm waters lap, they lack the tourist infrastructure and the crowded beaches of other such islands.
The islands are surrounded by coral reefs, teeming with fish, turtles and dugongs and in winter humpback whales migrate into the area. The interior is covered in tropical forest.
Hike into the forests to see the Livingstone fruit bats, swim in the beautiful saltwater caldera right on the beach or climb the slopes of the active volcano, Mount Karthala.
Cloves and vanilla grow on these the “Perfume Islands” which are also the biggest producers of Ylang-ylang, in the world. The culture of the islands is influenced by African and Arabic elements, as most inhabitants are of mixed African and Arab descent.
On the horn of Africa, this East African country between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia has in the past been colonized by both France and Arabia. At one stage it formed an important trading post between Asia and Africa.
In this land three tectonic plates are being forced apart by the angry earth. This force of nature sends fumaroles and steamy emissions from beneath the earth’s crust onto the land above. Weird and wonderful rock structures pierce the skyline in the dry a hostile landscapes.
Visit the saline Lake Assal, one of the most unusual and alien places on earth, which is why it was used as the filming location for the Planet of the Apes. This lake holds earth’s largest reserve of salt. It is the third lowest point on earth and is one of the most saline lakes in the world. The bright green water is surrounded by black fields of lava.
In this land of fire and water you can swim with whale sharks, the biggest such creatures on earth, on the bright blue shores on the Gulf of Aden and view beautiful flamingos on Lake Abbe.
This small and secretive North East African country has a one-thousand-kilometer coastline along the Red Sea.
The Red Sea boasts lively coral reefs with some of the best diving spots on earth. Sail out to isolated Red Sea islands for a day of diving and a night under the stars.
Low lying along the coast Eritrea rises into mountainous heights that attain two thousand eight hundred meters. The mountains are populated with a huge variety of wildlife that includes baboons, elephants, lions, ostriches and some of the rarest of birdlife.
Over the centuries the country has been colonized by Turks and Egyptians and more recently in 1885 by the Italians. The result is a culture that has mixed influences of African, Middle Eastern and European backgrounds. Eritrea’s cities boast both modernistic and European architecture and modern infrastructure.
Ethiopia’s history spans thousands of years. It adopted Christianity early and unlike other African countries not from colonialists. Ancient Orthodox churches boasting colorful murals are dotted all over the country.
The famous rock churches in Lalibela were built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and have literally been cut into the surrounding rock. Fourteenth century monasteries, housing ancient treasures are built on the islands of Lake Tana.
On the horn of Africa and divided by the Great Rift Valley, Ethiopia is a country endowed with great natural beauty. The landscapes are many and varied ranging from Savannah grasslands to rugged mountainous areas with great peaks and cliffs. The Rift Valley into which the peaks fall is scattered with large sparkling lakes.
A wide variety of wildlife roams the forests and the grasslands. The Gelada monkey, the Walia ibex and the Ethiopian wolf are found nowhere else on earth. Ethiopia is one of the top birding destinations in Africa.
On the east coast of Africa, Kenya straddles the equator and its shores are touched by the warm Indian Ocean. Kenya is one of the world’s foremost wildlife destinations and is known for the annual migration of wildebeest and zebra which are followed by the large predators.
Its landscapes are varied and spectacular with Savannah’s, snow-capped mountains, forests, emerald green valleys, and in the beautiful Great Rift Valley lakes fringed by brightly colored flamingos.
Along the coast, Kenya’s lovely tropical beaches are served by an assortment of hotels and resorts. Here you can dive or snorkel in colorful coral gardens filled with tropical fish, take a camel ride along the palm-lined beaches, try your hand at fishing or sail along the coast in a canoe hand carved from a tree stump.
Kenya’s coastline boasts Portuguese forts and ancient Arab buildings. The cities still carry reminders of the colonial rule of the British in the architecture, golf courses and the language, English, which is spoken by most Kenyans.
Madagascar is a large Island in the Indian Ocean close to the coast of Africa. It is a place with a unique ecosystem and is home to several species of plant and animals found nowhere else on earth. Five percent of all earth’s species can be found on this island.
The landscapes include a desert, several types of forest, sandstone canyons, limestone pinnacles, terraced rice paddies, and five thousand kilometers of coastline. Many of the beaches are paradise on earth with long white powdery sand, washed by the warm Indian Ocean currents and shaded by palms in some places, touched by the tropical rainforests in others.
The island has only been occupied by people for the last two thousand years ago. The architecture of the buildings is unique and beautiful as are the ostentatious tombs. The people of these parts observe cultural ceremonies seen nowhere else on earth.
Although the infrastructure is somewhat lacking, there is plenty to do. Here you can kitesurf, hike, cycle, snorkel and dive.
In 2014, Lonely Planet named Malawi one of the top ten places to go and yet is largely shunned by tourists. The country on the east of Africa is landlocked, but it is graced with beautiful beaches along the banks of Lake Malawi.
Dominated by the beautiful Great Continental Rift, Malawi is blessed with mountains, lush valleys and tropical forests. The rehabilitated game reserves teem with wildlife The magnificent lake has been formed in the basin of the continental rift. With up to one thousand fish species this lake has the highest number of fish species of any in the world. The colorful fish draw many to dive and snorkel in these waters. The clear water also draws a variety of birds and animals.
Malawi is one of the rare examples of peaceful co-existence on a continent riddled with conflict. It is safe and there is little crime. The people of the country are known for their friendly outlook and will invariably greet and welcome visitors.
Located just east of Madagascar, Mauritius is an island blessed with sandy white beaches, azure warm waters and volcanic backdrops. Biodiverse surrounding waters, offer some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Indian Ocean. Off the beaches, the ocean water is shallow and surrounded by coral reefs which drop sharply off the ocean shelf.
The island caters to tourists, with golf courses, a plethora of water sports, ziplining and extraordinary cuisine, a reflection of the mixed culture of the island. The mountainous interior boasts rain forests, waterfalls and wildlife.
Rent a car you don’t need an international driver’s licence. Take a catamaran or yacht trip to one of the nearby islands. Nibble on crocodile curry at the Giant Tortoise and Crocodile Park. Visit the beautiful botanical gardens. They cover sixty acres of land.
Go to the horse races at the second oldest race course in the world, the Champ de Mars. Hike through the national park. It is home to almost three hundred species of flowering plants and the pink pigeon the rarest bird on earth.
Once a part of Comoros, Mayotte chose to remain part of the French collective when Comoros attained independence. Located in the Mozambique Channel, the country consists of two islands and several islets.
It is surrounded by tropical coral reef more than one hundred and sixty kilometers long, and it boasts one of the deepest and largest lagoons on earth, and yet it is largely forgotten by the tourist industry.
Here the warm Indian Ocean is home to more than eight hundred species of fish, three hundred species of coral, turtles, dolphins, humpback whales and the almost extinct dugong. This is a diving wonderland.
The interior is covered with steep volcanic peaks and deep valleys and scattered about tranquil lagoon lakes. One-third of the of the coastline is lined with mangroves and the rest is covered by black and white sandy beaches.
On the south-east coast of Africa, Mozambique with one thousand five hundred kilometers of coastline is unsurprisingly known for its long white sandy beaches and warm clear waters.
Some of the world’s most beautiful beaches are found on this coastline and most of them are deserted. The waters are filled with sea life from whale sharks to manta rays, dolphins and dugongs. Dive down into the clear waters with the parrotfish, stonefish and trumpetfish.
To the south of the country, the beaches are well developed and boast a number of hotels, restaurants and holiday resorts. In Mozambique, there is seafood in abundance and delicious seafood cuisine, with a nod to Portugal, can be enjoyed at reasonable prices.
Here you can ride horseback along a deserted beach, take a boat ride to one of the tropical islands in one of two sun-drenched archipelagos, game fish or view the diverse wildlife in the Gorongosa National Game Park.
This captivating French island in the Indian Ocean, is rimmed by soft black and white beaches and touched by warm turquoise waters but it is the interior landscapes that are most impressive.
The island boasts an active volcano, verdant rainforests, quaint villages, and many magnificent waterfalls. Here craggy, green mountains have been shaped by eruptions and gushing rivers
The culture and cuisine has been influenced by the African, Asian and French people that called this place home. The many restaurants feature just caught fresh seafood, and French inspired pastries.
Here you can hike, paraglide, mountain bike or ride horses through the many forest trails. Visit the caldera, or climb the highest mountain peak.
Dive on the west coast where five hundred species of colorful fish inspect the vivid coral gardens.
Take a ride in a transparent boat, try your hand at stand-up boarding, swim with whales and dolphins or just sip cocktails on the beach.
Landlocked Rwanda is a country with a tragic recent history, but it is a country seeking renewal from its grim past. It is clean and orderly with very little crime.
Funds from the International community has seen the skyline of Kigali change as shiny new buildings have been erected. The capital also has some decent hotels and plenty of restaurants serving international cuisine.
Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is a beautiful mountainous country. Volcano National Park is known for its silverback mountain gorillas, and golden monkeys that roam the slopes of some of the five volcanos in the park.
Nyungwe Forest is one of the oldest and largest and one of the last remaining high-altitude forests in Africa. Here you will find one of the highest concentrations of chimpanzees in the world.
The forest has over one thousand plant species and more than two hundred and fifty bird species which can be viewed from the canopy walkways.
Rwanda may be landlocked but amongst the mountains lie plenty of tranquil lakes. The biggest of these, Lake Kivu, has tropical beaches and stunning mountain backdrops.
Seychelles is an archipelago of one hundred and fifteen islands in the Indian Ocean. Here the main attraction is the uncrowded beaches decked with soft white sand, kissed by the sun and wrapped in warm blue water.
From place to place granite cliffs drop onto the sands creating secluded coves. The interior is filled with verdant green forest where beautiful and unusual creatures live.
With the exception of pirates that sometimes hid out on the islands, Seychelles was uninhabited until the 1700’s.
They are home to a collection of rare birds, plants and animals. This is the only place where the rare Black Parrot can be found, and the Coco de Mer palms, which produce the biggest nuts on earth, are unique to Seychelles.
Ferry between Mahe and the other islands and see the best that each has to offer. Dive in the coral reefs and granite outcrops in the beautifully clear surrounding waters and enjoy the many luxury facilities available on the islands.
Somalia located on the horn of Africa is a war zone plagued by pirates, terrorists and kidnappers. Only the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland is relatively safe for travel.
Somalia has the longest coastline on the African continent. It has a variety of natural habitats from rainforests to grasslands and mountains, but after years of drought, war and famine the beautiful landscapes are somewhat jaded.
The capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, is considered one of the most dangerous places on earth. Here bullet-scarred buildings form a backdrop to busy markets. The cathedral in Mogadishu is nothing but a battle-scarred shell.
Some vestiges of Mogadishu’s former splendor peak through the drab reminders of war, where colorful fishing boats bob on the sapphire waters that lap the Italian colonial inspired waterfront.
The largest country in Eastern Africa is a natural paradise, land of the Serengeti, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar.
Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain on earth. The landscapes were once created by volcanic activity and huge craters and volcanic cones covered in tropical jungle and dotted with salt water lakes are all part of the surroundings.
Tanzania has an abundance of wildlife just wandering around in their natural habitat. The rainforests are home to large populations of monkeys, whilst the grasslands host grazing herds and their predators.
Ngorongoro Crater is the largest caldera in the world and harbors one of the loveliest wildlife parks with the highest density of wildlife on earth.
The coastline sports long white sandy beaches and warm Indian Ocean currents. Coral reefs teem with colorful fish and Tanzania’s offshore islands offer world-class diving.
Landlocked Uganda is one of the most bio-diverse countries on earth. It also boasts Africa’s highest mountain range, its largest lake and the source of its longest river, The Nile.
The country’s landscapes include dense equatorial forest, snow-capped mountains and dry flat Savannah. Lion’s prowl the Savannah amid the antelope, elephant and buffalo, whilst hippos cool off in the lake. The country also boasts some of the richest birdlife in Africa.
The Kibale National Park, cloaked in lush equatorial forest, is home to Africa’s largest primate population. Here tourists can join researchers in following troupes of gentle Bwindi Gorillas through their natural habitat, watching them in their daily interactions. Chimpanzee Treks can also be arranged.
For a real adrenaline rush whitewater raft down the Nile River rapids near Jinja. Take a motorbike tour through Kampala with the motorbike driver as your guide, and just enjoy this land of exaggerated spectacles.
Landlocked Zambia is a land of diverse wildlife and rugged and isolated landscapes. Zambia is as good a safari destination as any of the other Southern African wildlife hotspots, with almost one-third of its huge land area under national park curatorship.
Here the Big Five roam free in the Savana grasslands, along with an abundance of zebra, giraffe and antelope.
Zambia shares the mighty Zambezi River with its neighbor Zimbabwe. The world’s largest waterfall, the beautiful Victoria Falls, draws visitors to its shores throughout the year. The river plays host to canoe safaris, sunset cruises and satisfies adrenaline seeking whitewater rafters.
Houseboats gently glide across the waters of Lake Kariba, the largest manmade lake in Africa, and fishermen ply their trade on the banks of Lake Tanganyika, the world’s second largest lake.
Zimbabwe, a land of stunning beauty, boasts some of the best game reserves in Southern Africa. Here you don’t have to go looking for the wildlife. The Big Five roam amongst zebra and antelope and the grasslands reverberate with the roar of a lion and the cackle of hyena.
There are six hundred species of birdlife in Zimbabwe and to top it all this is one of the least expensive safari destinations in Southern Africa.
Enjoy high tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel whilst watching bungee jumpers and rope swingers plunge hundreds of meters into a gorge near the falls. Gaze in stunned delight upon one of the earth’s great wonders, the world’s largest waterfall.
Named after Great Zimbabwe, the splendid eleventh century ruins built of rocks and still standing proudly today, the country also boasts Africa’s oldest rock art collection.