East Africa: Highlights, Itinerary & Costs

Africa had been on our list for a long time and we were rapt to get there, though we weren’t really sure how to start! As with most North Americans, we settled on East Africa; Tanzania to be exact. We knew we wanted to go on safari and climb Kilimanjaro so it was the obvious choice. We looked at different tour companies and spoke to some friends before reaching out to local companies for both Kili and safaris. We also knew that we wanted to go Gorilla Tracking and after some reading we decided on Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda (which holds approximately 50% of the world’s Mountain Gorilla population). The rest we kind of winged!

Before we get into the nitty gritty, check out this video I made of our highlights. With background music by Toto, for obvious reasons. [As an aside I have always loved this song (it was on the playlist for my wedding, for real) and was thrilled to have a relevant use for it! :D]

We didn’t anticipate spending 5+ weeks in East Africa alone, but if you’ve ever been you’ll understand why we stayed! Our itinerary looked like this (I’ve included relevant links to hotels, tour companies and the blog posts I’ve written on each below):

  • September 7th – 9th: Arrive and stay in the Parkview Inn Hotel in Moshi (the gateway for Kilimanjaro)
  • September 9th – 14th: Machame Route, Kilmanjaro (a detailed post of our experience can be found here and travel tips here)
  • September 14th – 16th: Parkview Inn (note: we went with Mar Tours for both Kili and safaris and they included at least one night accommodation on either end)
  • September 16th – 21st: Safari. Included visits to Tarangire, Ngorongoro, Serengeti and Lake Manyara (you can read about our experience here)
  • September 21st – 23rd: Parkview Inn, Moshi (was starting to feel like home by this point!)
  • September 23rd – 26th: Jafferji House & Spa in Stone Town, Zanzibar (read about it here)
  • September 26th – 30th: Villa Kiva in Matemwe, Zanzibar (blog post with our scuba diving experience here)
  • October 1st – 2nd: Kigali, Rwanda (this was a short and sweet stay, but very special all the same. Read about our visit to the Genocide Memorial here)
  • October 2nd – 7th: Chimpanzee & Gorilla Tracking tour with Engagi Safaris including visit and stay at Lake Bunyoni (read about our experience here)
  • October 7th – 9th: Namayiba Park Hotel in Kampala, Uganda. Though our hotel was in a weird location, we were happily there for the weekend celebrations of Independence Day
  • October 9th – 11th: River Explorers Camp in Jinja, Uganda (we went White Water Rafting on the Nile which was insane – read about it and see pictures here)
  • October 11th – 14th: Airbnb in Nairobi, Kenya (this was all kinds of adorable since our visit centered around baby elephants and giraffes that you can read about here)

This handy little map will show all the places we visited, stayed at and dined at (click here to open the interactive map):

EA map

There aren’t many things, if any, that I would cross off our list – but if I had to pick my top three they would be:

  1. Climbing Kilimanjaro
  2. Safari in Serengeti National Park
  3. Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Unfortunately, these were also the most expensive things we did during our time in East Africa! I think that was one of the most surprising things about this trip – it was much more expensive than we had anticipated. In light of being completely transparent for those who are planning a trip like this our total cost was $18,615 AUD – so $9,307 AUD per person. That breaks down to nearly $250 AUD per person per day, which is more than double what we generally aiming for on this RTW trip. But nearly 70% of this cost was for the three tours listed above! Kind of insane when you think of it.

Here are our total costs per person, categorized (note the only flights included are internal):

EA costs

This all being said, park fees are a huge contributor to the costs for these tours. For Tanzania and Uganda, it is a major source of revenue for the government. Though as a tourist it’s a bit annoying, one of the redeeming factors is that the high costs protect these parks and animals. For example, if it was inexpensive, everyone would go Gorilla Tracking which would hugely disrupt the nature in which these animals live. I’ve broken down the cost of the tours to the best of my knowledge and ability – we were told the park fees and we determined the tip amounts (though any tour company will give you guidelines) so those ones were easy to figure out. As you can see, park fees are nearly 50% of the total tour costs.

EA tours

Don’t let these costs totally deter you from visiting this wonderful part of the world! There are ample opportunities to see wildlife, go on hikes, and enjoy the people. Do your research and speak to local companies who often offer better rates (and ensure the money stays locally). If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to comment below with your contact details and I can reach out to you directly.

Happy Travels!

Catie xx

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