Nature has no political borders, but habitats extend and blend into other habitats across national boundaries. These different habitats support different animal species. Combining multiple countries into your safari is not only possible but also adds contrast and depth to your experience.
Tanzania is best known for Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and Serengeti National Park, home to the world’s largest ungulate migration. However, to conservationists and those interested in biodiversity (and guides like Ethan), Tanzania is one of the richest and most fascinating places to be. Tanzania is a “mega-diverse” country. Only South Africa and the Congo have more ecological regions, and Tanzania hosts portions of two of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots. The Eastern Arc Mountains are among the oldest in the world, where science is still discovering new species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals, including primates.
In addition to the amazing diversity of living organisms, Tanzania’s landscapes are breathtaking. The Rift Valley splits into two major arms just north of Tanzania. The eastern arm travels through northern and central Tanzania and is associated with an active volcano (Oldonyo Lengai), the famous Ngorongoro crater, and a number of alkaline soda lakes that are an important habitat for flamingos. The western arm moves along the west of Tanzania and is called the Albertine Rift. This is home to gorillas (though not in Tanzania) and chimpanzees. It also forms Lake Tanganyika, which is the longest and second deepest lake in the world, isolated for so long that ocean-animal like organisms have evolved.
Northern Kenya is arid and dry, and home to endangered species of animal not found in Tanzania — including, but not limited to the charismatic Grevy’s Zebra and Reticulated Giraffe. It is also home to Lesser Kudu, Gerenuk, and the stunning Oryx, which are also found in Tanzania, although less commonly. Kenya is also a prime destination for Black and White Rhino, the latter of which is an introduced species. Conservancies such as Lewa protect these endangered species and provide wonderful viewing opportunities, especially for family safaris. In addition to amazing bush homes and community lodges, Kenya has perfected the luxury mobile safari.
Rwanda, now one of the safest and cleanest countries in Africa, is home to one of the most impressive mammals on Earth. The Mountain Gorilla, an animal whose calm intelligence is so apparent in its facial expressions and mannerisms that are almost human, occupies the rich forests of the Virunga massif. The experience is unparalleled; not by an adrenalin rush, or by an overwhelming expanse of wilderness, but by the self-reflection of human society.
Direct flights to and from Tanzania, coupled with an efficient infrastructure make Rwanda an easy component to include in any safari.
VIRUNGA IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Viruna National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has recently become one of Ethan’s favorite destinations. Not only does it offer exceptional mountain gorilla viewing but also an incredible experience on Nyiragongo, a volcano with the largest lava lake in the world. This experience should feature on any outdoor enthusiast or nature lover’s bucket list and combines with Tanzania for an exceptional safari experience.