With year-round amazing weather and world-famous safari opportunities, East Africa is one of the world's most exhilirating destinations (Photo: Getty Images)

With year-round amazing weather, iconic wildlife and dazzling cultural marvels, East Africa is one of the world's most exhilirating destinations. Throw in dazzling white-sand beaches, world-famous safari opportunities and a cluster of vibrant cities – and you have an irresistible invitation to adventure. Here's how to embrace it.

Basking on blissful beaches

Woman walking on idyllic beach

Fringed by the Indian Ocean, East Africa’s coastline is one of the most magical in the world, with idyllic islands and beautiful reefs awaiting just offshore (Photo: Getty Images)

Stretching more than 2,800 miles, East Africa’s stunning coastline offers endless white-sand beaches, fringed by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, while dreamy islands, coral reefs and amazing marine life lie offshore.

Kenya’s coastal hub, Mombasa, makes for a perfect urban beach stay, with untouched and more laid-back beach options of Malindi, Watamu and Diani all excellent spots to try diving and snorkelling, join a whale shark watching tour, or sail into the sunset on a traditional dhow boat cruise.

The islands of East Africa’s “Swahili Coast”, including Kenya’s Lamu archipelago and Tanzania’s legendary “Spice Island” of Zanzibar, allow visitors a fascinating glimpse into Swahili culture, and the centuries of international trade which have shaped the historic UNESCO World Heritage Centres of Lamu Old Town and Zanzibar’s Stone Town.

Just 22 miles off the coast of Zanzibar, you could find yourself on a thrilling safari in Kenya or Tanzania, where you can marvel at the natural wonders of East Africa. After, it’s a short hop to the island for a relaxing stay in a traditional Makuti-thatched seaview room at Nungwi Beach Resort by Turaco.

Embarking on urban adventures

Young woman in a city

Exciting, culturally rich cities complement your wildlife adventures when visting East Africa, be it Kenya's capital Nairobi, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania or Rwandan capital Kigali (Photo: Getty Images)

While East Africa is known for its incredible wildlife encounters, it's important to remember that beyond its natural wonders, there are also vibrant urban landscapes just waiting to be explored.

Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has a thriving nightlife scene. Expect hip neighbourhoods pulsing with live music and DJ sets, cool cafés to watch the world go by over a cup of the world-famous Kenyan coffee, and chic sky-soaring restaurants and bars – not least the five internationally inspired dining destinations at the JW Marriott Hotel Nairobi. Rising high above the upmarket district of Westlands, this towering sanctuary also offers a must-see luxury spa.

Located on the Swahili Coast in Tanzania, Dar es Salaam promises great shopping, museums and galleries – all a stone’s throw from the Indian Ocean. A tasteful and tranquil retreat, Protea Hotel Dar es Salaam Courtyard is the perfect base for exploring, with a lush green courtyard and pool to cool off after a day soaking up the sights and sounds of the city.

And before you head off on your gorilla trek in Rwanda, spend a few nights at the Four Points by Sheraton Kigali to sample this thriving capital’s fantastic street food, art and music in Nyamirambo, and to visit the buzzing bars and restaurants of leafy Kimihurura, or “Kimi”.

Cherishing wild encounters

Elephants

From the “Big Five” – rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant – to gorilla trekking, opportunities for once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experiences abound in East Africa (Photo: Getty Images)

With some of the best-known wildlife reserves and most iconic animal species on Earth, East Africa is the spiritual home of the safari and the world’s premier gorilla trekking destination.

With twenty stylish ensuite tents overlooking the legendary Masai Mara Reserve, the JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge is a luxury safari lodge that puts you at the heart of the action. From here, it’s a short drive into the realm of Africa’s “Big Five” – rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant – and the famous plains where the “Great Migration” sees more than 1.5 million wildebeest, plus thousands of zebras and gazelles, moving clockwise around the Masai Mara and Tanzania’s breathtaking Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The lodge also invites guests to relax and rejuvenate before the next stage of their adventure.

In Zambia, guests at the Protea Hotel Lusaka Safari Lodge have their own private game reserve on the doorstep, just thirty minutes' drive from the capital Lusaka. You'll also have the chance to visit some of the country’s twenty national parks, including spectacular South Luangwa, Kafue and the Lower Zambezi.

Intrepid travellers to Rwanda, meanwhile, can experience the ultimate bucket-list wildlife adventure – trekking to see mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park – while wild chimpanzees can be tracked on foot in Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park and Tanzania’s Mahale Mountains.  

Embracing rich cultural experiences

Rainbow over Victoria Falls walkway

Victoria Falls isn't just a spectacular sight: it's also a hub of fascinating historical stories (Photo: Getty Images)

Known as the “Cradle of Humankind”, Africa has fossil evidence from every key stage in human evolution, with many key discoveries found in Tanzania’s Olduvai Gorge. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the excavation site and Olduvai Gorge Museum make a fascinating stop on the way to Serengeti National Park, while Tanzania’s port city of Dar es Salaam is the place to embrace music, theatre and art. A highlight here is the open-air Makumbusho Cultural Centre & Village Museum, which showcases the country’s rich cultural heritage and traditional dance shows. 

A stay at the Protea Hotel Livingstone, in Zambia’s tourist hub near the mighty Victoria Falls, offers the chance to uncover important aspects of East Africa’s history at the Livingstone Museum, as well as to wander the historic town named after Dr David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer and missionary who visited the falls in 1855.

Across Kenya and northern Tanzania, there are opportunities to responsibly visit local Maasai tribal communities, and meet some of the many Maasai who work as skilled animal trackers and guides. Marriott’s Tribe Hotel, Nairobi, a Member of Design Hotels, honours the continent’s rich tribal culture with 900 hand-sculpted artefacts and architecture inspired by authentic Kenyan design.

Experiencing the serenity of wellness and relaxation

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Hiking and biking opportunities are endless in East Africa, with some of the world's greatest scenery – not least Victoria Falls – as your backdrop (Photo: Getty Images)

Whether you’re looking to get a little fitter, spend some time unwinding in nature, or escape for a full-on pampering holiday, you’ll find plenty of ways to reach your wellness goals in East Africa.

From the awe-inducing Victoria Falls, to soaring mountains like Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, the sparkling African Great Lakes including Victoria and Tanganyika, and the rainforest-clad peaks of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, hiking and biking opportunities are endless. 

Be sure to balance the physical side of your East African adventure with some tender loving care - the Saray Spa at the Kigali Marriott Hotel in Rwanda’s capital is the perfect tranquil oasis for a swim, sauna and massage before you head home. 

For a deep wellness dive, Ciêla, Lusaka, a Tribute Portfolio Resort and Spa, on the outskirts of Zambia’s capital, has all you need for a rejuvenating break, with a golf course, a large indoor/outdoor pool, a gym and bright contemporary rooms overlooking the resort’s expansive grounds. At The Spa, choose from a range of treatments, which include natural local ingredients, including sandalwood, coffee and baobab, or soak any stress away in the hydrotherapy room. 

Published: April 26, 2024

Last Updated: May 09, 2024

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