One of the best things to do in East Africa is to go on Safari. The region is very famous for exciting animal encounters in the wild and rightly so! Places like the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya offer some of the best wildlife viewings in the world.
In Rwanda, Uganda and The Congo, gorilla trekking is a famous activity to do while in the area. But East Africa offers a lot more than safari destinations.
Don’t get me wrong though, you should go on a safari of some sort if you visit. It is an incredibly worthwhile experience and there are several options available to suit most budget types. However, if you would like to see more of what the region offers, sans the wild encounters, here are 15 other things to do in East Africa that don’t involve safaris.
1. Things to do in East Africa: Enjoy the Beauty of Nature All Around You
The East African landscape is truly one to behold! It has rolling hills, mountains, oceans, lakes, forests, waterfalls and so much more! Visitors who simply relish being in the great outdoors will be spoilt for choice in this region. There’s just so much natural beauty all around.
I have witnessed truly spectacular sunrises over oceans and plains and sunsets on ridges and lakes. Naturally, the countryside offers more of these breathtaking views than the busy capital cities. Therefore, you should allocate some time to spend outside of the cities to truly appreciate nature’s gifts.
2. Things to do in East Africa: Go Hiking
East Africa offers numerous hiking trails for all difficulty levels. And of course, it is home to the highest mountains know the continent, including the famous Mount Kilimanjaro. Whether you’re a hiking novice or a pro, you’ll find a trail that is just right for you.
I went from being a hiking novice to reaching the summit of Africa’s second-highest mountain – Mount Kenya, and it remains one of the best highlights of all my travels! The views were immaculate and were so worth the experience!
Several other trails offer stunning views as well if you aren’t quite ready yet to climb the big names. They often lead to gorgeous waterfalls (like this one to Ngare Ndare or Castle Forest), and can even present a chance to encounter some wildlife – for free! There’s just something for everyone!
3. Things to do in East Africa: Visit Stunning Beaches
My love for the Kenyan Coast grows with each visit and I always encourage travellers to the region to allocate some time to spend at the beach.
Kenya and Tanzania have super gorgeous white sandy beaches with turquoise waters and often offer a cheaper beach holiday experience than you will find in many other places.
4. Things to do in East Africa: Explore the Museums
A good way to learn about the countries you visit is to check out their museums. One example of a great display is the Nairobi National Museum, where visitors can learn about Kenya as a country, its history and people, as well as its flora and fauna.
All over the region, you will find museums that showcase cultural and historic monuments and give a glimpse into the country’s past and present.
5. Things to do in East Africa: Go White Water Rafting
For adventure seekers, another fun activity to indulge in that does not involve a game drive is to go white water rafting. A few places offer this experience but the best place to do it in East Africa is in Jinja, Uganda.
Apart from rafting, there are other fun and adventurous things to do in the area, including bungee jumping, horseback riding and exploring the area on quad bikes.
6. Things to do in East Africa: Go Camping
Camping out goes hand-in-hand with some of the other activities I have mentioned and visitors will be thrilled to know that there are incredibly beautiful and well-equipped campsites all over East Africa.
My favourite campsites in Kenya include Camp Carnelly’s in Naivasha, Castle Forest and the Aberdare Cottages and Fishing Lodge.
7. Things to do in East Africa: Explore the Blended Cuisine
Embark on a gastronomic adventure by exploring the blended cuisine, which has Arab, Indian and African influences.
Of the places I have been to in East Africa, I’ve found the most delicious foods in the coastal areas, including Lamu, Watamu and Zanzibar. So you should visit at least one of these places if you’re keen on experiencing a food tour of the region.
8. Things to do in East Africa: Relax in an Amazing Lodge
If your goal for your holiday is to relax and take time off from your day-to-day, you will be sure to find unique and stunning lodges to help you achieve this.
I would say though, that some of the best lodges often come with a heavy price tag, but depending on when you book and how you book, you can experience a wonderful and relaxing lodging experience at a reasonable price.
9. Things to do in East Africa: Go Shopping in Boutique Stores
Shopaholics can explore boutiques to find beautifully crafted and unique items, including fabric, paintings and sculptures, trinkets, and so on to bring back home.
10. Things to do in East Africa: Immerse yourself in the Culture
One of the best experiences I’ve had was going on a bush walk with a Maasai. It was interesting to listen to his coming-of-age stories, as well as those of his people back in the villages. I also loved witnessing Swahili culture and architecture in Mombasa and Lamu.
If you find yourself in East Africa, go out, meet people, learn about the different tribes, eat locally, and generally, just enjoy being there. It is a truly wonderful opportunity and gift.
There are so many other things to do in East Africa, so please feel free to include your suggestions in the comment section below!
As I mentioned earlier, safaris here are wonderful but if you find them too expensive to fit into your budget or perhaps, you’d like to experience a different side of the region, then these suggestions are sure to give you a wholesome experience!