So many things to do, so many experiences to enjoy! Thanks to its diversity of terrain and climates, East Africa offers an unrivalled choice of adventure holiday activities ranging from game drives to nature walks; and from mountain climbing to deep-sea diving.
Once you have chosen any activities that you would like to include, Safari Joe will then design a bespoke trip perfect for you. Listed below is the broad range of high adventure action sports and wilderness discovery activities available in the East African region. It is not, however, conclusive; so should you want to know about an extreme sport or wilderness travel pursuit that is not listed - just let us know: we'll be delighted to research it and offer you an itinerary. East Africa has them all......
Land Based Activities
Day Game Drives
A game drive is an exploration of the wilderness, in search of wildlife. Ideally taking place in the cooler parts of the day, game drives take place in our custom-built safari vehicles, which offers comfort, panoramic viewing and optional refreshment on-board. The best time for wildlife viewing is 6.30am- 9.30 am and 3.30pm-6.30pm; this is due to the fact that most of the animals retire to the shade to rest during the middle (hottest) part of the day.
Night Game Drives
Guided night game-drives are usually only permitted on private reserves; typically they set off after dinner and feature the use of a spotlight. A uniquely specialised activity, which is usually not permitted within the boundaries of the national parks and reserves a night game drive, is the ultimate safari luxury. Leaving your accommodation after dinner, you will set off to discover the creatures of the night. This is the exclusive domain of hunters such as lions and leopards, and the only time when you may catch a glimpse of such elusive nocturnal creatures as aardvarks, civet cats, white-tailed mongoose and cape hares.
Guided Bird Watching
Enjoy a guided ornithological walk in the bush or around the lodge or camp. East Africa offers an unusually wide range of bird species. Kenya and Uganda both boast well over 1000 bird species. Ranging from giant herons to tiny sunbirds, the diversity of African birdlife is startling in its colour and vibrancy. A wide variety of guided bird-watching walks are offered - some take place around the lodge or camp, others in the national parks and reserves. More professionally oriented ornithological tours can also be provided for dedicated ornithologists - for a few hours, or for a few days.
Guided Nature and Wilderness Walks
To really appreciate the wonders of the East African bush, you have to leave the safari vehicle behind; and take a nature walk. Slow in pace, wide-ranging in scenery and led by one a trained safari guide, nature walks are designed to offer gentle exercise and a fascinating insight into the world of African trees, flowers, insects, reptiles, birds and animals. Guided nature walk in the bush or around the lodge showcases a variety of flora, fauna and avifauna.
Bush Breakfasts, Safari Campfire & Bush Dinners
Nothing is quite so essentially 'Safari' as the traditional bush dinner or breakfast, typically located in a scenic spot. There is nothing better than enjoying an al fresco meal in the wilds of Africa. Presentation is of the highest quality and, if the meal takes place in the evening, campfires and hurricane lanterns are provided; sometimes entertainment in the form of dancing and/or music. Dine in the wild and taste safari-life at its best. Cheese and Wine at a scenic spot is also super!
Drinks in scenic location as the sun goes down - typically 6-7pm... The 'sundowner' is an essential part of safari life and dates back to the time of the great 'white hunter' safaris of the 1920's. Timed to commence as the sun starts its descent, the sundowner typically begins with a gentle evening game drive, arriving at a specially chosen scenic spot as the evening sky turns golden-pink. Sundowners range from a simple cool box containing cold drinks and nibbles up to a full safari bar serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. As night falls, you will be driven back to the camp in time for dinner. This is an experience not to be missed.
Manyatta and Village Cultural Visits
Usually these will be to an authentic local village where visitors are invited to enter a typical ethnic home, watch a dance display, or watch beading and handicrafts being done. Often they will also be invited to purchase locally-made items - which will often be much more authentic than those available in the usual gift shops. Part of the eco-cultural revolution, cultural visits play a vital part both in ensuring that the people of East Africa benefit from the national tourism income, and that Africa's ancient cultural heritage is sustained and supported for the future. A naturally welcoming and friendly people, the East Africans are also usually genuinely delighted to welcome guests and meet people from other countries.
Cultural Performance (Masai and Samburu Dances)
Typically a dance performance by a group of local dancers in traditional dress and accompanied by local musicians. Most camps offer some form of cultural performance usually in the evening. This may take the form of a dance display (usually Masai), singing, jumping or drumming. At the coast acrobatic displays are popular.
Community and Conservation Projects
Work together with the local community is an unforgettable experience for the whole family; take part in rewarding community and conservation projects such as painting, teaching, building, tree planting and recycling to name but a few. Projects can be arranged from a day upwards in duration.
Spices are available from local markets and cooking in East Africa gives you the chance to experiment with flavours and discover the wonderful palette of Africa. Visit a village and enjoy the experience of learning to cook some of the local dishes with the Mamas in their homes.
Horse Riding Safari
We can accommodate riders with all levels of ability, from the complete beginner to the advanced rider; there is fun to be had by everyone. On the private ranches and reserves, game rides are offered. These allow visitors to get much closer to the wildlife than in a vehicle. Hard hats are not always provided. Along the Nile River in Uganda offers spectacular opportunities for seeing this stunning area on horseback, rides can be arranged from 1hr up to 2-3 days or longer. You cannot imagine how much you will learn about wildlife while having so much fun. There are no words to explain the thrill of cantering alongside giraffes or galloping along the beach.
Camel Rides and Camel Trekking Tours
Camel rides are offered by some of the safari lodges as well as at the coast. Offering more than just an hourly ride, some lodges will offer camel trekking safaris for the more adventure loving visitors who would enjoy trekking the wilderness with camels for days on end. Usually accompanied by Masai or Samburu tribesmen, the camels make the ideal form of transport in the arid northern frontier districts.
Bwindi Walking Safari
Visit the Batwa Pygmies, various local villages or take your binoculars for the spectacular birding. As children under “15 are not allowed to do Gorilla Trekking, the walking safari in Bwindi explores the forest from an educational view, which makes it ideal for adults and kids alike.
Walk with the Rhino's at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda, the re-introduction programme follows the necessary steps for raising and re-releasing Rhino's into the National Parks in Uganda.
Experience the wonder of the Mountain Gorilla up close and personal. Trek in the beautiful rainforests of Uganda and Rwanda and learn about these majestic animals. Specific guided tours to locate specific groups of mountain gorillas. Permits must be obtained in advance. A limited, well-regulated, expensive and relatively non-intrusive natural history tourist activity, gorilla trekking is East Africa's fastest-growing tourism opportunity. Its primary objective, however, is to protect the mountain gorillas; the tourist experience being of secondary importance. By promoting gorilla viewing, it is hoped that the local communities will also perceive the gorillas and their forested homes as important national resources, thus ensuring that their future may be insured.
Whether in Kibale Forest National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park or Budongo Forest in Murchison National Park, take a nature hike and listen for the calls of the Chimpanzee in their natural habitat as you draw closer to where they are foraging and observe them quietly. A visit to Ngamba Island in Lake Victoria is a popular way to see the chimps. In Kenya a trip to Sweetwaters is a fantastic way to see these primates that have 98.5% DNA the same as a human.
Don your hiking boots and feel like you're on top of the world. The Volcano Climb offers superb hiking to the outdoor enthusiast. Great sites are available in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
Mountain Climbing (Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon and Mount Kilimanjaro)
East Africa is home to two of the most famous mountains in the world, Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the highest mountain on the continent, and Mount Kenya, the second highest. Mount Elgon is shared by Kenya and Uganda and is a very rewarding and scenic climb. These mountains can be climbed by anyone in reasonable health with a good level of fitness. Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro are the only two tropical mountains to be topped by ice. There is something other-worldly about leaving the hot plains of Africa behind and climbing up beyond the snow line: especially when you're on the Equator.
Hiking and Trekking
Popular hiking venues in Kenya are: The Aberdare National Park, Mount Elgon, and parts of Tsavo West. Hiking is also popular in some of the national parks of Uganda, most particularly in the Ruwenzori Mountains and in Tanzania around the most beautiful Usambara region.
From family rides to fun rides to full day rides, through villages and fields “ get into gear on a Quad Bike in Jinja. Diani Beach and Watamu also offer great routes for quads along the coast.
A number of lodges/camps hire mountain bikes. Mountain bikes are more usually used on the private conservancies and in Hell's Gate National Park, Kenya. In Tanzania, mountain biking is particularly popular around Lake Manyara National Park. There is a number of mountain biking trips along the coastal region, both guided and unguided.
Kenya has strong flying traditions and boasts famous pilots like the aviatrix Beryl Markham, the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo. Wilson Airport in Nairobi, which services small planes, is one of the busiest airports in Africa with as many as 450 landings a day in the high season. Flying safaris have gained in popularity as people have less time and wish to spend it in the prime game-viewing areas. Internal flights are reasonably priced and private air charters are also available.
Helicopter Flights and Tours
Helicopters offer a novel method of exploring the wilder and inaccessible areas - also of attaining the summit of, in particular, Mount Kenya, quickly and without a five-day climb. Typically, a helicopter is hired for a specific party (maximum 5) and for a specific duration (usually not less than one day).
Hot Air Balloon
Trips typically begin with a dawn wake-up call, a cup of tea, and a short drive to the take-off site. Here guests can watch as the balloons are inflated then, as they right themselves, guests are invited to climb into the 8-10 person baskets (which are equipped with safety belts). Piloted by a qualified balloon pilot, the balloon will drift in the direction of the prevailing wind and can rise up and down according to the pilot's wishes. An ideal way of viewing game, it is an unforgettable experience that usually lasts around 45 minutes to an hour before coming down to a controlled landing. Traditionally a champagne breakfast is then served (usually a full English breakfast) as flying certificates are handed out. The support team then load the balloon while the guests enjoy a game drive back to the lodge in another vehicle.
18-Hole Championship Golfing
East Africa offers some of the most picturesque golf courses in the world. As well as offering specific golfing resorts, many of East Africa's leading resorts and hotels offer immediate access to the nearest golf course, many of which are either overlooking the Indian Ocean, or scenically located. Kenya, for instance, has over forty golf clubs mostly around Nairobi (including an18-hole international standard course at the Windsor Golf and Country Club). There are also some fine courses on the coast. In addition the Muthaiga Golf Club plays host each year to the Kenya Open Golf Championship, which is an important stepping-stone to the European PGA circuit. Kenya is also the only country in the world to have the following rule: “If a ball comes to rest...close to a hippopotamus or crocodile, another ball may be dropped at a safe distance, but no nearer the hole, without a penalty'.
Many of the upcountry lodges and coastal resorts offer outdoor tennis courts. Particularly at the coast, specific matches are often arranged (look in the entertainment guide of your hotel). Alternatively the resort will often be able to supply you with a partner from their dedicated “animation teams'. Rackets and kit not usually supplied - bring your own.
Many of the upcountry lodges and coastal resorts offer indoor squash courts. Particularly at the coast, specific matches are often arranged (look in the entertainment guide of your hotel). Alternatively the resort will often be able to supply you with a partner from their dedicated “animation teams'. Rackets and kit not usually supplied - bring your own.
Gym and Fitness Centres
The majority of good city hotels offer a gymnasium or fitness centre as do the majority of beach resorts: the range of equipment offered, however, varies greatly - from a few machines to a complete set of cardio machines and free weights. Similarly, some clubs offer workout studios with trainers as well as saunas, steam rooms and Jacuzzis.
Water Based Activities
East African Rivers have a rare combination of white water (up to grade 5) and rich scenic diversity. They also offer the opportunity to take in some game viewing and bird watching on the way. Trips are usually designed so as to encourage the full participation of the guests, typically using rubber dinghies which are equipped with optimum safety equipment and operated by qualified guides. Remember to take a change of clothes as you are guaranteed to get wet. You may also need to sign a disclaimer, so check before booking that you are covered by your insurance. All safety equipment is provided plus pre-trip safety talks. White water river rafting trips typically feature rafting one way, return in safari vehicle, picnic lunches provided, and sometimes swimming as an option.
River and Lake Fishing
Freshwater fishing in rivers or lakes is very popular in East Africa. For example good trout fishing (fly) is done in the streams of Mount Kenya and the Aberdare's, or on private dams in western Kenya. Nile Perch are a sport fish and off-boat and off-shore fishing is done in various areas around Lake Victoria, the River Nile and Murchison National Park. Spinning for black bass and tilapia is popular on Lake Naivasha. Equipment is usually provided.
East Africa is a Mecca for deep-sea fishermen, many world and all-Africa records being held in Kenya. There are six types of billfish in Kenyan waters, striped, blue and black marlin being the main species together with sailfish, swordfish, sharks, yellow fin, tuna and Dorado. Kenya operates a “tag and release' system. Boats typically depart in the early morning, trawl for bait and then head out to the deep water to wait for the big catch. The fishing season is August to March (billfish season from November to March). Big game fishing is usually in search of priced game such as marlin, tuna, king fish etc using fully-equipped and crewed boats.
Sailing (Dhow Sailing, Catamaran and Dinghy Sailing)
Options for sailing vary greatly ranging from hired catamarans and dinghies to trips on traditional fishing boats. Sailing is good all year round although October is particularly good. At the coast, the traditional Arab dhows are typically used - some of which offer sundowners, others a full dinner with music and entertainment. The small traditional Ngalawa fishing boats are a fun way to explore the coastline inside the reef.
East Africa offers many forms of boat trips. On Lake Naivasha, one of the Great Rift Valley lakes, shaded motor boats offer tours of the perimeter of the lake, highlighting both birdlife and hippos. Similar tours take place on Lake Victoria and many of the other inland lakes.
Snorkelling and Glass Bottom Boats
The Kenyan barrier reef is one of the most extensive and accessible in the world. Most Kenyan beaches offer glass-bottom boats, which carry snorkelers out the short distance to the reef. Most supply snorkelling equipment and guides - however you may prefer to bring you own. If swimming a marine park, you will have to buy a ticket - which is usually available from the hotel or the boat captain. Snorkelling can be done at all times of the year, but conditions are considered best from December to March. The best visibility for snorkelling is at low tide just before the tide turns.
Surfing, Boogie Boarding and SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board)
A great way to stay active and have some fun is to hire a surf board, boogie board or stand up paddle board.
With perfect conditions almost year round, the East African Coast has become an extremely popular spot for Kite Surfing. Whether you are a complete beginner and just fancy a taster session or a pro looking to have some serious adrenalin pumping action then this is definitely the place for you.
Kite surfing or kite boarding is a “surface water sport' that uses wind-power to pull a rider through the water on a small surf board or kite board. Speed is addictive, which is why kite surfing is the world's fastest-growing “extreme sport'. Water sports don't GET any faster than kite surfing, which holds the world record for the fastest means of moving by sail on water: over ninety-two miles an hour to be exact. It's not just the sheer speed that sets the adrenalin pumping though; it's also the fact that the kite surfer can skim the waves like a vast, vividly-coloured bird; dipping, swooping, and flying up to 100 feet in the air.
With good winds almost year round the coast is a great place to try out some windsurfing, equipment can be used or hired from some hotels or water sports centres.
Experience the thrill of learning to water ski in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the calm waters protected by the reef make waterskiing here an exhilarating experience.
The Indian Ocean coast features some magnificent dive sites and a wide selection of dive centres, which cater for complete beginners and experienced divers alike. It is also possible to do a “fun dive' where no experience is required and a guide takes you down to 6 metres. Due to the Indo-Pacific current, the Indian Ocean boasts the same fish species as Australia: manta rays; reef, hammerhead and whale sharks; turtles and multi-coloured reef fish in coral gardens. Wall and pinnacle dives with dramatic drop-offs together with wreck, drift and night drives are also offered. Divers must carry internationally recognized accreditation both PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club) are acceptable. Exotic Zanzibar offers excellent snorkelling and diving, with companies trusted for safety records. Experience the underwater beauty of the coastlines of Africa. Kisite Marine National Park and Watamu are wonderful dive sites in Kenya.
Canoe & Kayak
Hire your own Canoes on the Bujagali dam or do a multi-day safari on Lake Bunyonyi. Excellent for birding and observing Uganda at a tranquil floating pace or get your thrills over various grade 3 to 5 white water rapids. Canoe or Kayak the Tana River in Kenya or along the coast for a peaceful way to see the region. Learn to kayak or join a multi-day trip on the Nile. Kayakers around the world wide would enjoy the surfing wave at Nile Special.
Wild Nile Jet Boat
For an exhilarating white knuckle ride, jump in a Jet Boat around the Source of the Nile River in Jinja.