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East Africa Self Drive & Travel Guide

There are lots of car rental options for travelers looking for self-drive holidays in East Africa. Opt for Camping with rooftop tents on our 4×4 Land Cruisers and save on your trip. Drive-in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda on Cross country Road trips.

Take on a road trip in East Africa with a single rented car where you have free mileage and insurance. We keep our vehicles serviced making them roadworthy.  This is because they go off-road and longer distances. Go camping with a Rooftop tent on a 4×4 Land Cruiser on your road trip. Choose to have one or two double tents on the rooftop.

We introduce the strategy of multi-place self-drive safaris. There’s more information about diverse African nations and have penned a want listing of spots they want to find out. Increase to your preferred listing. Include the beloved Experience the freedom of the self-drive safari and discover probably the most attractive locations and fascinating wildlife East Africa offers you.

Below are our top self-drive destinations in East Africa.

UGANDA

Uganda is a relatively small country; it is a little destination that is often toured by road! With some sealed highways radiating from Kampala, the capital of Uganda to regional towns, there is a growing number of travelers who explore the country on self-drive adventures!

A self-drive holiday in Uganda amazingly offers the best and the most flexible road trip to holidaymakers who prefer traveling independently. When it comes to self-drive trips, no better destination beats Uganda within East Africa. It is a safe and secure country to explore and experience as a family, a group, solo traveler on a self-drive tour. The friendly and hospitable people also make it easy for travelers to explore the country on self-guided vacations.

Kampala city

Its unending charm starts in Kampala, the capital. A city tour alone will expose you a plethora of things including the historical sites like Kasubi tombs, religious sites, local markets, craft shops to name but a few.

Jinja

Jinja is incredibly one magical destination worth visiting while on a self-drive holiday in Uganda. Best known as the adrenaline adventure capital of East Africa, Jinja is an exceptional place where you can find the only world’s source of the River Nile. Your exploration in Jinja begins with an en-route visit to explore Ssezibwa Falls, Mabira Forest where you can engage in forest hike, zip-lining, bird watching, and others.

While in Jinja, you have plenty of thrilling adrenaline adventures to keep you busy throughout the day. They range from kayaking, bungee jumping, speed boat cruise white water rafting, and quad biking to horseback riding. A complete self-drive tour in Jinja requires at least 3 days, 4 days, or 5 days and there is the possibility to extend it to the Sipi Falls or Kidepo Valley National Park in Eastern Uganda.

Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest park with area coverage of 3840sq.km boasts of its biodiversity worthy exploring using a self-drive rental car. On your self-drive holiday in Murchison Falls, expect more than the big game. There are also numerous Oribis, waterbucks, over 451 bird species, primates including chimpanzees, and above all, do not leave without witnessing the Murchison Falls as it tries to get itself a narrow gorge of about 8 meters before dropping off its waters 43m.

Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s only park on the Northwestern side. It is a 4-5 hours drive from Kampala and on your self-drive holiday, expects to enjoy more than game drives but also chimpanzee tracking, birding, boat cruise, nature walks.

Rwenzori Mountains

If you are interested in the mystical challenge, the best place to consider a must-visit is the Rwenzori Mountains, National Park. The Rwenzori Mountains are arguably Uganda’s most dramatic and scenic region. Located between Lake Albert in the north and Lake George in the south, the terrain rises above to over 4000 meters above sea level making it the second highest mountain in Africa.

Climbing the Rwenzoris is such a rewarding experience that takes you through dramatic landscape characterized with crater lakes, tropical forests, savanna, and Alpine before you reach the snow-capped summits of Margherita Peak. A complete trek to the highest peak takes 7 days of both ascent and descent.

Southwestern Destinations

If there is the one most endowed part of Uganda when it comes to nature then it is the Southwestern. Imagine of a place to find the world’s rare mountain gorillas in the wild and think not beyond a self-drive holiday in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a small park in South Western Uganda that is home to two rare primates; the mountain gorillas and the golden monkeys. These two primates can be tracked in the park through the gorillas are known to roam “out of bounds” into Rwanda and Congo.

Still, as an enthusiastic primate lover, Kibale Forest National Park and Semuliki National Park have you sorted. To enjoy the amazing view of East Africa’s rare tree climbing lions, a visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park is worthy of your self-drive holiday.

Other magical places to visit include Lake Mburo National Park, Lake Bunyonyi (one of the deepest lakes in Africa), and Kisizi Falls.

KENYA

A country of great diversity, both physically and culturally, Kenya is one of Africa’s most popular destinations for very good reason. With blissful Indian Ocean beaches, craggy mountains, lush forests and wildlife-rich savannahs, there are endless beautiful places to visit in Kenya. You can go on a self drive in Kenya with a rental car from various car rental agencies.

Nairobi city

Kenya’s capital and largest city, Nairobi is the base for many tourists visiting Kenya for their African safari experience on the Masai Mara or other protected area. As the city’s main tourist attractions, there is even the Nairobi National Park within the city boundary, Giraffe center, Nairobi National museum among others.

The capital, Nairobi has changed immensely over the past decade transforming into a cosmopolitan city with western style shopping malls, supermarkets, restaurants and specialty stores offering everything from hip designer shoes, traditional German sausages to artisan bakeries.

Mount Kenya

At 5,199m/17,057ft high, the largest mountain in Kenya is also the second highest in Africa after Kilimanjaro across the border in Tanzania. The strato volcano was created around three million years ago when the East African Rift (part of the Great Rift Valley) opened up. Today its lower slopes are covered in forests of bamboo and African rosewood trees and the mountain runoff provides water for over two million people. With its rugged snowy peaks and glaciers along the upper slopes, Mount Kenya is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Kenya. Travelers hoping to summit can either hike to Point Lenana, one of the three peaks, taking the world’s highest via ferrata route, or climb to the highest point, Batian Peak, though this requires experience of technical climbing.

Ol Pejeta

A Big Five conservancy in the foothills of Mount Kenya, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is known for its conservation initiatives. It was where the last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died in 2018; the last females of the sub-species still live at Ol Pejeta, protected around the clock. The Sweet waters Chimpanzee Sanctuary is in the Laikipia conservancy, too, providing a home for chimps rescued from the black market. One of the most interesting places to visit in Kenya, Ol Pejeta is a great destination to learn about the relationship between people and wildlife and the challenges faced in the conservation industry. Come for the day or enjoy a longer stay for lion tracking, bush walks and night drive.

Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru National Park is home to a vast number of bird species, most notably huge flocks of flamingos – they have been known to number in their millions, though the lake has seen a decrease in the last few years. Lake Nakuru is one of the Rift Valley lakes, and the birds are attracted to the high levels of algae in the water. Pelicans, cormorants, the African fish eagle, Verreaux’s eagle, the Goliath heron and hammerkops are also seen around the lake. In addition, you can spot black and white rhinos, Rothschild’s giraffes, lions and cheetahs throughout the national park.

Masai Mara National Reserve

How can we not mention the Masai Mara National Reserve? It’s one of the most famous safari destinations on the continent, but you can escape the crowds by heading to a private concession on the edge of the park. Aside from not being accessible to the general public, concessions have the advantage of allowing activities not permitted in national parks: bush walks and night drives, for example. The Masai Mara is one of the best places in Africa for big cat sightings: lions, leopards and cheetahs are all easy to spot. Then of course, there’s the big-ticket draw: the year-round migration that sees nearly two million wildebeest, plus half a million antelopes and thousands of zebras, following the rains around Tanzania and Kenya. The most anticipated part of this journey is the dramatic Mara River crossings that occur between July and September as the animals enter Kenya.

Diani Beach

Easily amongst the most picturesque shores in Africa, Diani Beach is about 30km/20mi south of Mombasa and a short flight from Nairobi. Its white sands are lapped by the brilliant Indian Ocean and backed by verdant forests, into which you can take nature walks when you tire of sunbathing or kite-surfing. Head out for a snorkeling tour, swim with whale sharks, enjoy a sunset dhow cruise – or simply kick back in a hammock with a good book.

TANZANIA

From vast wilderness to lush green islands, and from the Big 5 game to colorful corals, the East African country of Tanzania is known for its vivid wildlife, and rich aquatic life. Home to numerous islands, and monumental structures, the tropical town of Zanzibar also boasts of some of the most thrilling adventure sports, and alluring places to visit in Tanzania.

Dodoma city

Situated in Tanzania’ heartland, Dodoma is the nation’s seat of government and political capital. Economically and commercially, it is less vibrant and developed than the country’s port city and commercial nerve, Dar es Salaam. But what Dodoma lacks in glitz and glamour it perhaps compensates with its rich agricultural highlands and has many places of interest for any passing visitor. It is also the centre of Tanzania’s wine growing industry. Other attractions are Parliament building Bunge, the lion rock, Gaddaffi mosque, Disco, Playing parks among others.

Serengeti National Park Game Drive

Serengeti National Park is a vast treeless plain with millions of animals living here or passing through in search of fresh grasslands. It’s most famous for the annual wildebeest migration but you can also see the Big Five here, and nearly 500 species of birds have been recorded on the Serengeti.

As the second largest national park in Tanzania, the Serengeti attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year. The best months for wildlife viewing in Serengeti National Park are between June and September. The wet season is from March to May, with the coldest period from June to October.

The annual migration of over 1.5 million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebra and gazelle takes place in May or early June. This migration is one of the most impressive natural events and the primary draw for many tourists.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Located between the Serengeti and Lake Manyara, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the famous volcanic Ngorongoro Crater and is one of Tanzania’s most popular wildlife viewing areas. This huge volcanic crater has a permanent supply of water, which draws thousands of animals who stay in this area rather than migrating.

Visitors come here primarily for viewing large animals and bird watching. Thousands of animals can be seen on the crater floor, including lions, elephants, rhinos, Thomson’s gazelles, and buffaloes, but wildebeests and zebras account for over half of the animals that call the Ngorongoro Crater home.

Bird watching is superb, especially around Lake Magadi, which attracts flocks of flamingoes to the shallows. Hippos are content to submerge themselves during the day and then graze in the nearby grass in the evening.

The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest intact ancient caldera in the world, nearly three million years old. The Ngorongoro volcano was one of the world’s tallest mountains before it exploded and collapsed.

Mount Kilimanjaro

Measuring 5,895 meters tall, the prodigal mountain of Kilimanjaro is the highest peak of the African continent and also the tallest freestanding mountain on Earth. This mountain is a part of the Kilimanjaro National Park which is famous for its unique faunal variety. This peak is also one of the most popular Tanzania tourist attractions amongst adventure enthusiasts as it is the base to some of the most arduous hiking, and trekking trails.

Mahale Mountains – spectacular scenery and habituated chimpanzees

Nestled on the Lake Tanganyika shoreline with its forested mountains rising up from the lakeshore, mesmerizing Mahale Mountains National Park boasts stunning scenery and close encounters with habituated chimpanzees. The mist-covered peak of Mount Nkungwe stands sentinel in the background and the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tanganyika lap against white-sand beaches. Without road access, many safari stalwarts regard 1,613km2/623mi2 Mahale as Tanzania’s most remote park, but also one of its most enthralling.

The Holy Grail for most visitors is the 60-strong Mimikere or ‘M’ group of chimpanzees, which has been studied by Japanese researchers for more than four decades. While the M group is well habituated, finding our closest relatives can be a challenge. Be prepared for some sweaty, steep climbs through dense vegetation, but the final reward is well worth the trials and tribulations of getting there.

RWANDA

Rwanda is the smallest country in East Africa. Like its neighbor in the North Uganda, it’s also a land locked country and has no Sea port. It is bordered by countries like Uganda in the north, Burundi in the south, Tanzania in the east and Congo in the west.

Kigali city

Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda and is located with-in the heart of the country. The capital city serves as the country’s business center and port entry with the international Airport. Many travelers spend only a night in Kigali before gorilla trekking, missing out on the vibrant culture, cuisine, and sightseeing in Rwanda’s capital city. Plan to spend at least a few days here at the beginning or end of your trip.

Stock up on bespoke clothes from swirling patterned textiles and experience the energetic atmosphere at Kimironko Market, Kigali’s largest marketplace. The warehouse space is like a maze, with surprises around every corner. Then, check out Kigali’s creative scene at Inema Arts Center, a gallery that showcases the works of up to 10 local artists in residence. Make your way to the Rwanda Art Museum at the former Presidential Palace.

Volcano National Park

The Volcanoes National Park is arguably the most visited wildlife conservation site in Rwanda. Each year thousands of international visitors go to the park to see mountain gorillas alongside other popular activities in the park. The park has 10 habituated gorilla groups and only 8 people may track a group in a day. Gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park starts with a briefing at 7am from the park office in Kinigi.  From there visitors are taken out to track one of the gorilla groups in the company of armed Guides. Gorilla trekking is one of the most unforgettable experiences while visiting Africa.

Nyungwe National park

One of the most important forest conservation areas in all of Africa, Nyungwe Forest National Park contains a spectacular array of biodiversity, including 1,068 plant species, 322 species of birds, and 75 types of mammals. Most tourists come to this rainforest to track chimpanzees, which have been habituated to humans by park rangers. This animal encounter is a fraction of the cost of gorilla trekking, yet no less memorable.

Hanging out with primates isn’t the only thing to do in Nyungwe. The park is also home to the only canopy walk in East Africa, roughly a 90-minute hike from the Uwinka Visitor Center. You’ll walk across a 91-meter-long suspension bridge dangling more than 50 meters above the verdant rainforest, getting a dizzying view of the treetops and mountains in the distance.

Akagera National Park

No trip to Africa is complete without a game drive. Tourists can scratch the itch to go on safari just two-and-a-half hours away from Kigali at Akagera National Park. Managed by the African Parks organization, Akagera and its biodiversity have made an incredible recovery from near decimation after the Rwandan genocide. The 1,140-square-kilometer expanse (one of Central Africa’s largest protected wetlands) now boasts all of the Big Five animals, along with an abundance of birds and antelope.

You’ll need to have a lot of luck to spot a lion or rhino conservationists are still working on boosting their populations, and for now, there aren’t that many at Akagera. However, you’ll have no trouble spotting zebras, hippos, Nile crocodiles, elephants, and giraffes on a self-drive safari.

The landscape itself is just as spectacular as the animals that live here. You’ll see the environment make a glorious shift from savannah plains to wetlands and lakes.

Lake Kivu

After all your outdoor adventures, you’ll be ready to kick up your feet and there’s no better place to relax in Rwanda than at Lake Kivu. The 2,700-square-kilometer, emerald-green oasis, surrounded by misty mountains, is Rwanda’s largest lake.

Soak it all up from Rubavu, a resort town on the northern tip of Lake Kivu. It has a lively waterfront, sandy beach, and stunning resorts (including the Lake Kivu Serena Hotel). A few days in this peaceful town will leave you restored.

Get even closer to the landscape with Kingfisher Journeys. The tour operator can arrange a stunning sunset kayak trip with singing fisherman on Lake Kivu, as well as multi-day paddling adventures that will leave you in awe.

Conclusion

East Africa is mainly a catalogue of countless adventures. From gorilla trekking, to chimpanzee tracking, the great migration, sandy beaches and undisputed cultural encounters. With all these activities on your table, you are left wondering what are really the best self-drive destinations in East Africa amidst of all these attractions being at your disposal.

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