Jambo from Kenya! I’m writing to you from Nairobi, where I’ll be starting my overland trip with Africa Travel Co around East Africa. After a few hectic months of working on my new book and the magazine, it’s time to give myself a well-deserved break so I’m taking the opportunity to give myself a digital detox. This is an unofficial vacation for me as I get disconnected from both the internet and work, and head deep into the African wilderness for a month of camping.
It’s been more than five years since we’ve been back in East Africa – having spent a few months volunteering in Tanzania in 2007. This part of the world is still very special to us and I’m really glad to be back. It’s a pity Alberto won’t be joining me this time (he’s got plenty of work on his plate) but I’m sure he’ll be enjoying himself back in Spain. I’m definitely looking forward to this trip as it’s my first time in Kenya and Uganda, and gorilla trekking has always been top on my list!
I’ll be traveling on the 24-day Gorillas, Game Parks and Zanzibar trip and criss-crossing Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. To give you a glimpse of where I’ll be going, here’s a look at some of the major areas:
Masai Mara Reserve
For the first part of the journey, we’ll be game driving in Masai Mara Reserve. The Masai Mara is well known as one of East Africa’s best national reserves and is most famous for the annual migration. Each year, impressive herds of over 1 million wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle cross over from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. I’ll be there towards the end of the season, hopefully I’ll be able to catch some of the action.
Lake Nakuru National Park
We’ll also be visiting the Lake Nakuru National Park – famous for the thousands of lesser and greater flamingos that flock to this soda lake’s edge. The numbers vary depending on the water level, and when it’s low, the lake almost turns pink. The park was established as a sanctuary for black and white rhino, which I hope to see on this trip. From there, we’ll head to Lake Naivasha, home to a multitude of bird life, the most magnificent being the African Fish Eagle with his regal cry. At 1880 m, this is the highest of the Rift Valley lakes.
Our journey then takes us across the border into Lake Bunyoni, Uganda, where our gorilla trek begins. There are only about 700 mountain gorillas left in the world, and they are mostly concentrated in this region although we might have to trek in the the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo or the Ruhengeri National Park in Rwanda depending on where the gorillas are. I’ve heard that seeing a gorilla in the wild is an extraordinary experience, some even say it’s life-changing. I’m bursting with excitement about having the opportunity to see gorillas, but I’m also excited about having the chance to cross into Congo or Rwanda.
Our next stop brings us to the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary for more interactions with native primates before we head to Jinja, the adventure hub of Uganda, for some wild and fun activities including white water rafting at the source of the Nile, quad biking or visiting a community project.
Flickr photo by Hjalmar Gislason
Before heading into wilderness of Tanzania, we will spend some time in Arusha, the main gateway for safaris. During our volunteering stint in 2007, we spent quite a lot of time in this town as our village was just an hour away. This was where we’d go to visit the internet cafe, stock up on some medication, and basically spend our weekends. It will be very interesting to return and see if things have changed.
Ngorongoro Crater & Serengeti
The world famous Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park promise to be another highlight of the trip. I’ve been to both parks and know just how rich and vibrant the wildlife population is in the area. I remember seeing cheetahs lounging by the jeep trail, with blood dripping down their cheeks after feasting on an impala; as well as lions lazing out under the sun on the crater floor in Ngorongoro. We also visited a Maasai village in the area, which definitely gave us insights into the life of these native tribes.
Our journey eventually brings us to the capital Dar es Salaam where we’ll take a boat over to the island of Zanzibar where our trip ends. Packed with history and fringed with stunning beaches, Zanzibar is definitely one of my favorite islands in the world. There’s so much to do here: from wandering through the Arabic-influenced cobbled streets of Stone Town to scuba diving in Nungw and going fishing on a traditional dhow. Oh and I loved the seafood here: cheap, fresh and excellent!
After this epic trip, I’ll be back online at the end of October. Meanwhile I have prepared a slew of photo essays and stories from Antarctica to Nicaragua to keep you entertained. Stay tuned for my stories from East Africa, and see you in November!
Disclaimer: This trip is made possible by Africa Travel Co, but all opinions expressed are our own.