East Africa

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Find a reputable tour operator to help you scout for the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) and mountain gorillas. You’ll also see a diverse assortment of exotic birds, sinister crocodiles, comical warthogs and spectacular scenery. Despite the region’s recent horrors, depicted in numerous memorials, residents are warm and welcoming.

Things to do in East Africa

Climb Kilimanjaro

The easiest and most common hike up Kilimanjaro is the Marangu Route (the “tourist” route). Newly reopened Rongai is also relatively easy and un-crowded. Machame is more strenuous and beautiful, while serious trekkers prefer Umbwe.

Geographic Expeditions, 800-777-8183, www.geoex.com
Tags: hiking | things to do | outdoors | adventure

For the Birds

Birders should flock to East Africa for unrivalled bird sighting. Kenya and Tanzania have over 1,000 different species. Bwindi and Murchison Falls are also teeming with flight. 95% of the world’s flamingos live in East Africa.

Birding & Beyond Safaris, 011-255-754-286058, www.tanzaniabirding.com
Tags: things to do | outdoors | wildlife

Kasubi Tombs

These domed, thatch-roof tombs have comprised the burial site of the kings of Buganda since the 19th century. Buganda, a traditional kingdom within Uganda, is still ruled by a king (Kabaka). The site is maintained by the previous Kabaka’s widows.

Kasubi Hill, 011-256-41-273600, www.kasubitombs.org
Tags: things to do | culture | history | archeology

Lake Tanganyika

Henry Stanley uttered the famous words, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume” on the banks of Lake Tanganyika. MV Liemba, a former German warship from WWI, ferries passengers from Kigoma to Lagosa, the stop for Mahale National Park, a sanctuary for chimpanzees, on Wednesdays.

CC Africa, www.ccafrica.com
Tags: things to do | outdoors | wildlife

Masai Mara National Reserve

In addition to spectacular wildlife sightings, a visit to Masai Mara offers the opportunity to meet with Masai tribesmen, the cattle herders who maintain their traditional lifestyle. Go with Cottars Safari Service, founded in 1919.

Cottars Safari Service, 888-870-0903, www.cottars.com
Tags: luxury | smart splurge | things to do | outdoors | culture | tour | adventure

Monkey business

In Bwindi’s Impenetrable Forest you can stand just feet from a massive silverback watching baby gorillas tumble between their parents. The hair on your legs bristles as young gorillas whoosh by.

Abercrombie & Kent, 800-554-7016, www.abercrombiekent.com
Tags: things to do | outdoors | wildlife | adventure

Never forget

The poignant and educational Kigali Memorial Centre honors the victims of the 1994 genocide and was designed to be a place where relatives could mourn for their loved ones. Over 250,000 people are buried at the site.

Kigali Memorial Centre, Rwanda, 011-250-08-30-76-66, www.kigalimemorialcentre.org
Tags: things to do | culture | history

Parc National des Volcans

For Rwanda, Governors’ Camps has an excellent five-day program that includes two treks to see Mountain Gorillas. Guests stay in stone cottages with Rwandan terracotta roofs at the new Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge overlooking the Virungas, a chain of 15,000 foot volcanoes.

Governor's Camps, www.governorscamp.com
Tags: luxury | things to do | outdoors | tour | adventure

Rwanda Gorilla Safari

Tracking endangered mountain gorillas with JK Safaris in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park is an unforgettable experience. No more than 700 mountain gorillas remain, but this is still the best place on the earth to spot - and maybe even touch - one of these gentle herbivores. Following in the footsteps of Dian Fossey, the anthropologist immortalized in the 1988 movie Gorillas in the Mist, you'll get to know their distinctive personalities during four- to seven-day excursions. The ruins of the Karisoke Research station where Fossey was murdered and buried are also quite moving. 2008 Smart Luxury Award winner

, www.gorillasafaris.net
Tags: safari | smart luxury winner | things to do

Visit Zanzibar

After a morning winding through the streets of Zanzibar’s Stone Town and bargaining at its colorful market, tour its spice plantations. Zanzibar was once one of the world’s preeminent trading posts, and fragrant cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg perfume the island.

Micato Safaris, 800-642-2861, www.micato.com
Tags: things to do | culture | history | market

Witness the Annual Migration

Though with fewer animals than Kenya and Tanzania, this Ugandan park also has fewer crowds, so you’ll have the animals to yourself. Plus, with its burnt sienna clay and lush green foliage, the landscape is staggeringly beautiful. Abercrombie and Kent started in Africa (owner Geoffrey Kent was born while his parents were on safari).

Abercrombie & Kent, 800-554-7016, www.abercrombiekent.com
Tags: luxury | things to do | outdoors | tour | adventure

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