One travels with the hope of finding something worthwhile as well as making a lifetime worth of memories. East Africa guarantees you this and much more. From the beautiful landscapes to the unforgettable cuisine and amazing hospitality. East Africa is all about life-changing cultural experiences.
So, if you are planning to travel soon, here is why you should start with East Africa.
There is no shortage of events to attend in East Africa. There are numerous festivals throughout the year that showcase the rich East African culture.
Here are some of the festivals you should make a point of attending in East Africa include :
1. Rusinga Festival
This is a two-day festival that aims to celebrate and preserve the Suba culture. The festival takes place right before Christmas on Rusinga island, Homabay County, Kenya. Some of the things you will get to experience include traditional music and dance, cultural sporting activities, art, and local cuisine.
2. Nile River Festival
If you are looking for an adrenaline-pumping experience, then this is the festival for you. The festival happens in January in Uganda and brings together professional and amateur kayakers and whitewater rafters in an attempt to conquer the Nile River rapids.
3. Maralal Camel Derby
This is an annual festival that attracts a lot of local and international travelers. It is held in Samburu County, Kenya. You can participate in the camel race, whether you are an amateur or professional camel rider. If that is not your thing, you can look forward to the cycling race or sampling the Samburu culture through local art and food.
4. Zanzibar International Film Festival
Described as one of the most significant cultural events in Africa, this is an annual film festival that brings together some of the best local and international filmmakers. Over ten days, you can look forward to enjoying film screenings, discussions, as well as the vibrant Tanzania culture.
5. Nyege Nyege Festival
For music lovers and travelers looking for something new, Uganda is the place to be for the Nyege Nyege festival. Over four days, revelers are treated to hundreds of musical performances from Uganda and elsewhere. The Nyege Nyege festival attracts thousands of visitors every year, making it one of the biggest music celebration platforms in East Africa. Afraid you will miss something? Try camping at the event grounds for the ultimate travel experience.
6. Lamu Festival
The Swahili culture is ancient, profoundly layered, and quite rich. You can get to learn more about it at the Lamu festival if you travel to East Africa in November. At the festival, you get to explore the Swahili’s life through art, music, dance, storytelling, and food. Some other activities you can engage in include dhow racing, donkey racing, and highly competitive Bao games.
Historical Site’s Visits
As the birthplace of humanity, East Africa is full of history for anyone interested in history. For starters, Turkana, “the cradle of mankind,” offers a rich history of the early humans.
Take a trip to the Coast region of Kenya and head to Fort Jesus. Here, you will learn all about the earliest trading centers and the Portuguese conquest for Africa. If you still have enough time, head over to the Gedi Ruins in Watamu.
In Rwanda, the Kigali Genocide Memorial is one of the historical sites that everyone should visit. It was built to honor the more than 250,000 lives that were lost in the Rwandan Genocide. The mood here is somber, and too many lessons to be learned about humanity and loving one another.
Read more on Historical Sites in Africa.
For Adventure Junkies
If you are looking for adventure, go gorilla trekking at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, which is home to half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas.
In Tanzania, you can get to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, which is the highest point in Africa. This is one of the few spots in Africa that has snow. Also, the Kilimanjaro National Park holds numerous endangered mammals.
Kenya is not one to disappoint when it comes to hiking spots. From climbing the Elephant Hill in Aberdare’s National Park to following nature trails at Hells’ Gate and Mt. Longonot. If you are well prepared, you can also climb Mt. Kenya.
Sample Traditional Cuisine’s
East African food is a feast for the senses and a delight to your taste buds. As a traveler, sampling East African cooking may leave you spoilt for anything else. You can expect the food to be spicy, colorful, and absolutely delicious with unexpected combinations that work.
While different tribes have their signature dishes, food in East Africa is all about creating an unforgettable experience. From the preparation to the presentation of the final meal, you will never see anything like it anywhere else.
The Great Wildebeest Migration
Do you want to witness the biggest and greatest wildlife show on earth in person? Then pack your bags and head on over to East Africa for the great wildebeest migration. This magnificent natural wonder takes place every year between June and August.
During this time, millions of wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras move from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. Along the way, they also encounter predators, like lions, who lie in wait ready to attack any wildebeest left behind.
A wildlife safari across the East African Savannah is an experience like no other! East Africa is one of the only places in the world that you can find The Big Five, as well as unique flora and fauna. One can experience the wildlife safaris in every individual country.
Also, the parks have guides to show you around. The means of transport is mostly via roads, train, boat, or even camels. The remarkable biodiversity makes it a treat for any traveler looking for that wow factor in their trip.
No visit to East Africa is complete without going back with some souvenirs. There’s a lot for you to choose from, most of which are significant culturally.
East African souvenirs are famous for their excellent craftsmanship, incredible detail, and colour. You can pick up an animal wood or stone carving in Tanzania, a Maasai shuka and jewelry in Kenya, as well as a hand-woven basket in Rwanda.
Most of these items are quite cheap. You will also find them by the roadside or at local markets. You can also get a good deal, especially if you go with a local guide.
Have you been to East Africa? What was your cultural experience?