Journey Around East Africa
1. Tourism in Rwanda: Land of a Thousand Hills
When things got bad for Rwanda in the 1990’s, the future seemed to be forlorn. Conversely, “the land of 1,000 hills” turned over a new leaf, its expansion and change of heart now an envy of many states of Africa. How the public perceives the heartfelt events that moved us to the blink of dismay is not in the equation anymore. “No one who watched or has read about it sees things the same way they did”. Or again, “Rwanda will never ever leave me. It’s in the pores of my body. My soul is in those hills, my spirit is with the spirits of all those people.” And, as Rick Warren concludes, “In all my travels, I’ve never seen a country’s population more determined to forgive, build and succeed than in Rwanda.” Today, Rwanda is looking to diversify its range of available touring resources beyond the iconic Gorilla and wildlife tourism. It has demonstrated an enviable commitment to safeguarding the existence of wildlife within her four National Parks. Withal, Rwanda has fine endless vistas, with a fresh perspective around every bend. Indeed an expedition of East Africa now warrants a trip to Rwanda.
2. Tourism in Tanzania: The Land of Variety
Tanzania is the land of variety. The Northern Region of Tanzania offers East Africa’s highest mountain – 19,340 ft, Mount Kilimanjaro. The Serengeti Plains, world famous for the dazzling displays of wildlife, also contains Olduvai Gorge, one of the most salient archaeological sites in Tanzania at which the remains of prehistoric man have been unearthed, to provide links in the chain of human evolution. Outstanding in East Africa’s tourism is Tanzania’s famed 10 National Parks; which collectively cover 68,000 km2. They vary in size from the 14,500 km2 Serengeti National Park to the stunning 318 km2 Lake Manyara National Park. Some of her other parks include the Arusha National Park with its couthy heather fringed Momela Lakes, Mount Meru National Reserve, Ngorongoro Crater National Park, Mikumi National Park, Ruaha National Park, Tarangire National Park, Gombe Stream National Park, Mkomazi Game Reserve, Selous Game Reserve, Rungwa Game Reserve Katavi Plains Game Reserve, Ugalla River Game Reserve, Kilimanjaro Game Reserve, Rumanyika Orugunda Game Reserve, Rubondo and the Saa Nane Game Reserve; all with abounding wildlife.
Aside from her unfamiliar and absolutely magnificent horizons and landscapes, Tanzania has well over 120 different cultures, and travellers to Tanzania can be assured that in whichever direction they traverse, they will encounter a cheerful and friendly welcome from the diverse communities. Tanzania is also home to Zanzibar. Situated close to the coast of Tanzania are the two beautiful islands of Zanzibar, 1,657 km2 and Pemba, 984 km2. Pemba lies about 64 kms east of Tanga while Zanzibar Island lies about 48 kilometres north of Dar es Salaam. The channel which separates the two island from the mainland is only twenty metres deep in some areas. Zanzibar is one of the most popular destinations in Tanzania; second only to Mount Kilimanjaro. Aside from its highly developed beaches, Zanzibar Island is also commonly referred to as the “Spice Island” where cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper are produced. The island, which has been occupied for over 20,000 years, also holds a captivating history.
3. Tourism in Uganda: The Pearl of Africa
While Uganda may be smallest of the countries within the earlier East African Community, it packs a great catalog of places to see. Uganda which marches astride the equator has an unexpectedly pleasant year-round weather, thanks to its altitude, and it experiences a warm summer climate throughout the year. Uganda, whose fabulous Lake Victoria is the source of the legendary Nile, is a country of scenic fertile valleys and epic plains. Among the variety of attractions in Uganda are its eye-catching National Parks. The Queen Elizabeth National Park on the western border of Uganda includes large portions of Lakes Edward and George, and the chain of crater lakes beneath the slopes of the Ruwenzori Mountains – the fabled Mountain of the Moon. The Murchison Falls National Park, in the Northern Region of Uganda, straddles the River Nile and includes the magnificent Murchison Falls which cascades down 140 feet in a fantastic turbulence through a narrow gap of only 20 feet wide. A trip up the Nile, to the base of the falls, is one of the unforgettable experience of Uganda. Then, there’s Toro N. Game Reserve, Kidepo Valley National Park and the Mount Elgon Park.
For the ardent hikers, Uganda provides magnificent opportunities for climbing expeditions. The snow capped Ruwenzori Mountains rising to 16,000 ft., offer a climbing experience which some say rivals that of the Alps in both character and steep. The main peaks of Stanley, Speke, Baker, Margarita and Alexandra are served with mountain huts. On the eastern boundary of Uganda rises the 14,000 ft., Mount Elgon, a vast extinct volcano with a base 66 kms across; and in the south of Uganda is the mountainous landscape of Kigezi. In the Kabale Region of Uganda is to be found one of the most dumbfounding landscapes in all of Africa. Kanaba Gap, 8,000 ft., above sea level, is a pearl of Uganda and a most breathtaking view. At one’s feet a steep slope falls away into the valley and in the distance the extensive volcanic peaks with exotic names – Muhavura, Mgahinga and Sabinio, rise 13,000 ft., out of the green plains and limpid blue lakes. On the slopes of these volcanoes is the home of the rare mountain gorilla.