Traveling Around East Africa: Essential Things To Know

There are many reasons why someone might want to travel to East Africa. First and foremost, the region is home to some of the world’s most iconic natural wonders, where visitors can witness incredible wildlife, beautiful beaches, and stunning waterfalls like Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In addition to its natural beauty, East Africa is a culturally rich region with a diverse population of people from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The region also offers many opportunities for adventure, from hiking and trekking in the mountains to whitewater rafting on the Nile River.

Overall, East Africa is a unique and fascinating destination that offers travelers a wealth of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and adventure opportunities. Traveling to East Africa can be a truly rewarding and unforgettable experience. In this article, you will find some things you should know before traveling to East Africa.

Best spots in East Africa

East Africa is a diverse and exciting region with many natural and cultural attractions. Here are some of the best tourist spots in East Africa, here are some of the best tourist spots in East Africa to get you excited and inspire you:

  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania: The Serengeti is one of the most famous parks in Africa, known for its wildebeest migration and large populations of lions, elephants, and giraffes.
  • Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya: The Masai Mara is one of the best places to see the “Big Five” game animals (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffaloes) and is also home to the annual wildebeest migration.
  • Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania: The Ngorongoro Crater is a large, volcanic crater with some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa, including lions, elephants, and black rhinos.
  • Zanzibar, Tanzania: Zanzibar is a tropical paradise with pristine beaches, coral reefs, and a rich history and culture that reflects the island’s Arabic, Indian, and African influences.
  • Maasai Village, Kenya, and Tanzania: Visit a Maasai village to learn about the culture and traditions of the Maasai people, including their dress, customs, and traditional practices.
  • Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda: Bwindi is home to the endangered mountain gorillas and is one of the best places in the world to go gorilla trekking.
  • Victoria Falls, Zambia, and Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls is one of the world’s largest waterfalls, with a width of 1.7 kilometers and a height of 108 meters. Visitors can take a helicopter or microlight flight over the falls or go whitewater rafting in the Zambezi River.
  • Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya: Lake Nakuru is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 400 species of birds, including flamingos, pelicans, and storks.

These are just a few of the many tourist spots in East Africa, and each country has its own unique attractions and experiences to offer.

Get into East Africa

If you’re in any way familiar with the great animal migrations in East Africa, you know that nature doesn’t have borders. Good thing it is possible to obtain a single visa to travel to multiple countries in East Africa. The East African Tourist Visa is a joint tourist visa that allows travelers to visit Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda with a single visa.

It’s important to note that not all countries in East Africa participate in the East African Tourist Visa program. For example, Tanzania is not included in the program and requires a separate visa. If you plan to travel to other countries in East Africa, check each country’s visa requirements and obtain the necessary visas before you travel.

To apply for the East African Tourist Visa:

  • Contact the embassy or consulate of one of the participating countries (Kenya, Rwanda, or Uganda) in your home country to apply;
  • Fill out the application form and provide the necessary documents, such as a valid application photo, a copy of your passport, and proof of travel itinerary;
  • Pay the visa fee, which varies depending on the country and your nationality;
  • Wait for processing.

Health and safety

Like any other destination, East Africa has risks, but by taking some precautions, you can stay safe during your trip. Before you go, research the specific risks and safety concerns of the country you plan to visit. This will help you prepare and take the necessary precautions.

Some areas in East Africa may be more prone to crime than others. Avoid walking alone at night or in poorly lit areas, and keep your valuables out of sight. Avoid carrying large sums of cash and be wary of pickpockets or thieves. Keep your money and important documents secure, such as a money belt.

Dress conservatively, particularly in more traditional or religious areas. This will help you blend in and avoid unwanted attention.

Keep abreast of local news and events, and be aware of any political unrest or social unrest in the area.

East Africa is home to some of the most amazing wildlife in the world, but it’s important to be careful when viewing them. Follow park rules and regulations, and maintain a safe distance from the animals.

Travel to East Africa may pose risk to infectious diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, and typhoid. Make sure you are up to date with your routine vaccinations, and consider getting additional vaccines or preventive medicines based on the specific country you plan to visit. Consult with a travel doctor or your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate vaccines for you.

By following these tips, you can reduce the risks of danger and have a safe and enjoyable trip to East Africa. Remember to always be vigilant and stay alert to your surroundings.

Getting around

Public transport in East Africa can vary greatly depending on the country and location. In some places, it can be unreliable or uncomfortable, while in others, it can be a convenient and affordable way to get around. There are some options for getting around East Africa safely and conveniently.

Taxis are a common way to get around in East Africa, and they can be found in most cities and towns. It’s important to use licensed taxis or ride-sharing services, such as Uber or Bolt, and settle the fare in advance.

Buses are a popular mode of public transport in countries in East Africa, and they can be a cost-effective way to get around. However, they can be crowded and uncomfortable, and they may not always run on schedule. 

There are also Matatus: Matatus are minibus taxis that operate on fixed routes and are popular in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. They can be an affordable way to get around, but they can also be crowded and unsafe. 

Still on the topic of “unique” public transport: motorcycle taxis, also known as boda-bodas, are a popular way to get around in some East African countries. They can be a fast and convenient way to get around, but they can also be dangerous. 

Always look for transport providers with proper safety equipment, and avoid those not licensed or with a good safety record.

If you prefer, rental cars can also be a good option. Rental cars are available in most major cities in East Africa, and they can be a convenient way to get around if you are comfortable driving in unfamiliar territory. However, it’s important to be aware of the traffic laws and local driving customs and to avoid driving at night in areas that are not well-lit or are known to be unsafe.

Regardless of how you choose to get around, it’s important to take precautions to stay safe, such as avoiding poorly lit areas and staying aware of your surroundings. It’s also a good idea to ask locals for advice on the safest and most convenient ways to get around.