east africa – UK 0

by: Jenica Szymanski

Planning a trip to Africa this year” Youre sure to be inspired by this weeks featured itinerary from Michelle Finkelstein,a world travel and travel expert who recently went to the eastern partof Africa to visit parks, beaches, the big 5, and more.

Here are some highlights from her 10 day trip, East Africa Great Migration :

Eachyear 1.5 million wildebeest (also called gnu), 200,000 zebra, 18,000eland (similar to an antelope) and 50,000 Thompsons gazelle migratefrom the southeastern Serengeti plains in Tanzania to the Masai Mara inKenya and back again down along the eastern corridor. The movement isdriven by seasonal weather conditions, preferring the wet season (March May) in the southeastern Tanzania plains and the dry season (June October) in northwest Kenya woodlands. The animals travel as theirgrass supply is depleted and return to the renewed green and lushsavannah in Tanzania in time for the wildebeest calving from January toMarch.

Day 1: Nairobi

Getting to Nairobi

Tostart this trip of a lifetime, youll to fly into Jomo KenyattaInternational Airport in Nairobi. In most cases youll need toovernight, as the charter flights to the safari lodges usually departin early morning.

To Do in Nairobi

Ifyou must overnight Nairobi, a lovely hotel is Giraffe Manor, named sobecause the friendly creatures living on the mansion grounds frequentlystick their heads through the breakfast room window in the morning.

Nairobi is a large, noisy and somewhat dangerous city so if you have time to sightsee be sure to hire a car and driver.

Thegrounds and farmhouse of Karen Blixen, the author of Out of Africa,located on the outskirts of Nairobi is now a museum preserved andrestored to convey what life was like when she lived in the propertyfrom 1914 1931.

Days 2 & 3: Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Witha stay at any lodge, two game drives are normally included in the rate.Typically you are woken up around 6 am with coffee, tea and cookies toget ready for your first drive. Pile into your 44 vehicle (some havecanvas tops, others are open) with your experienced guide and head intothe Mara.

Expect to see the Big Five: lion, elephant, buffalo,rhino and leopard (although more difficult to spot) as well as massesof wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, Thompsons gazelle, warthogs, baboonsand beautifully colored birds.

At the river, watch the stealthcrocodiles and listen to the deep snorting sounds of the hippopotamus,but dont be fooled by their lumbering size and seemingly slow pace hippos have killed more people in the bush than any other animal!

Asthe migration is one of the most concentrated animal viewing times, youwill undoubtedly witness a kill and be amazed at the raw power ofnature.

Return to the lodge for breakfast and relax at thelodges pool or sit on your veranda reading or searching the plains foranimals (binoculars usually provided) Depart for the afternoon gamedrive around 4 pm when it is cooler and the animals are more active.Youll perhaps see nocturnal creatures such as the porcupine and civet.(more)

Days 4, 5 & 6 – River Camps and Ngorongoro Crater

What to Do in Ngorongoro Crater:

Gamedrives to the 2000-ft deep crater floor to track the usual suspectsalong with hopes of spotting the endangered and elusive black rhino.

Picnic lunches on the crater floor and sundowners overlooking Lake Eyasi complete the experience.

Here too you will see the Masai in their scarlet robes and a visit to a village is possible.

Takean excursion to the Olduvai Gorge, oftentimes called The Cradle ofMankind as it is one of the most prominent prehistoric sites in theworld.

In the late 1950s Louis and Mary Leakey discovered apart-man/part-ape skull dating back 1.75 million years, and3.7-million-year-old hominid footprints fossilized in volcanic ash. Youcan take a guided tour of the gorge and explore the museum founded byMary Leakey, now housing local archaeological finds and a photographyexhibit of the excavations in the area. (more)

Day 7: Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Afantastic way to end a safari trip is on a beach and Zanzibar is theperfect choice. It is close to safari camps, easy to access, relativelyinexpensive and has the allure of the exotic: spice plantations (youcan smell the cloves and cinnamon), white coral beaches, a thrivingArab culture and the crystalline Indian Ocean peppered with traditionaldhows and fishing boats.

Getting to Zanzibar

FromNgorongoro you will be driven back to Manyara airstrip and flown toKilimanjaro to pick up a flight to Zanzibar Airport, on the west coastof the island. Alternately you can fly to Dar es Salaam and take aferry, but this is only advised if you have time and want to check outDar. The Zanzibar airport is a 15-min taxi ride from Stone Town, theold city and cultural center of the island.

With labyrinthinealleys, crumbing buildings and massive carved and studded wood doors,Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site is best experienced bywandering through the narrow streets stopping at antique shops,woodcarving studios and spice markets, and perhaps buying a colorfulpainting or watercolor from a local artist. Please note that Stone Townhas a conservative Muslim community so its respectful to dressmodestly. Sleeveless tops for men and women are not recommended, norabove-the-knee skirts or shorts for women. (more)

Days 8, 9 & 10: Zanzibar Beach Destination

Zanzibarsdifferent coasts offer a range of natural beauty and accommodations. Ifound the east coast to have the best beaches, diving and hotels. Manytimes the beaches are rocky so bring a pair of flip-flops for the wateras not all hotels provide reef shoes.

Getting to the East Coast of Zanzibar

Youmust arrange for a taxi or hotel transfer to get around the island. Youcan combine a spice tour with transfer to the next hotel for anadditional charge. In some cases the roads off the main highway to thecoastal towns and hotels arent paved and can be fairly bumpy.

Where to Stay on the East Coast of Zanzibar

Thereare a myriad of choices varying from backpacker hostel to five-starluxury resort. My favorite was the newest in the area, the ZamaniZanzibar Kempinski on the northeast coast.

Each sleekly designed room has a private terrace, oversized tub, and plush beds with crisp white linens and down comforters.

Relax by the infinity pool or use the hotels complimentary kayaks or bicycles and cruise along the beach.

Go tidepooling with reef shoes provided by the activity desk.

The concierge can arrange dive and snorkel trips

Finish your afternoon with a sunset cocktail at the thatched-roof bar at the end of the hotels dock. (more)

Here are some other great itineraries to help you plan your trip to Africa:

Bill Bs 12 day trip to East Africa including Kenya and Tanzania

Voices of Africas month long trip to Tanzania

Canadiantraveller200 headed to Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa as part of her trip around the world.

Other Useful links: Africa Travel Guide Ngorongoro Crater Travel Guide Tanzania Travel Guide More Editors Picks for Africa

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posted Wednesday July 2007

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