Are you dreaming of jungle and ocean safaris? Ready to channel your inner Tarzan or Jane and go gorilla trekking through the wild rainforests? Or do you want to dive into warm waves to explore the kaleidoscopic, mysterious underwater world? Well, why choose when in Africa, you can have both! We share our personal favourite jungle and ocean safaris hand-picked by our Travel Experts.
An Unusual But Winning Match
Some of life's greatest matches are unlikely pairs, like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and banana, and jungle and ocean safaris. And in East Africa, you can easily combine the two.
From gorilla trekking in Rwanda, followed by swimming in predator-free Lake Kivu found in the same country, to Uganda and the Republic of Congo primate trekking before jumping over to Tanzania's shores to visit Zanzibar, a chain of islands in the warm Indian Ocean, your jungle and ocean safari awaits!
It's a Jungle out There – The Best Kind
Imagine trekking up steep emerald forested hills, smelling the wet soil, hearing a symphony of bird songs, watching butterfly wings flapping overhead, and anticipation building in you of what will await when you break through the bushes. This is Africa, where any wild thing could greet you…Here are the best places for trekking through rainforests that will easily combine with beachside relaxation.
Gorilla Trekking in East Africa
Gorilla trekking in East Africa is one of our favourite things to do on our continent – no, scrap that – in the world! It's a truly exclusive experience few are ever privy to enjoy. There are only a handful of places to still see the mountain gorilla in its natural habitat, all of which are found in East Africa.
With only around 900 of these animals left on Earth, it's also very important that we protect the species. And you get to contribute to that when you go gorilla trekking as you'll have to buy a permit, with those proceeds directly going to safeguarding these remarkable primates.
Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park is one of our top destinations to recommend to our guests if they want a gorilla trekking adventure. It offers the most accessible trekking opportunities, plus you can combine it with a lakeside stay…more on that later.
It's also famous for being where Dian Fossey studied the endangered mountain gorilla and their human-like behaviour for 20 years. Later, this is also where "Gorillas in the Mist" was filmed. And still today, many celebrities flock to this unique slice of Africa to admire the primates, including Ellen DeGeneres, whose wife, Portia de Rossi, opened the Ellen DeGeneres Campus in Rwanda as a birthday gift for Ellen, which works to further protect the primates.
There are so many luxury lodges to choose from, and many of them offer incredible wellness experiences as a cherry on top of an already unbelievable holiday.
- Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park
- Visit Nyungwe Forest National Park, where you can also see the chimpanzee and other primate species
- Coffee and tea tastings and tours in the plantations
- Wellness experiences at luxury lodges
- The capital Kigali is one of the safest and cleanest African cities, with lots to see and do
Nicknamed the "Pearl of Africa", Uganda is not as popular as Rwanda yet, but one of our favourite best-kept secrets. The country shelters half of the world's remaining mountain gorillas, allowing you to meet them and chimpanzees face to face.
Plus, you can see other remarkable creatures here, like elephants, unique tree-climbing lions, over 350 bird species, bushbuck, African golden cats, giant forest hogs, and more.
There's also a lot of sightseeing and activities you can enjoy, from game drives to white water rafting.
- Gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
- Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest National Park
- Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park, including seeing the famous tree-climbing lions
- Visit the beautiful Murchison Falls
- The Mountains of the Moon and visiting the source of the Nile River in Jinja, where you can enjoy water activities like white water rafting
Captivating Republic of Congo
The Republic of Congo is lesser known among international tourists when compared to Rwanda and Uganda However, it's got so much to offer! Firstly, you can see the critically endangered western lowland gorilla here. It's also home to the second-largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon!
You can go gorilla trekking in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, a recognised UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve. Here, you can see Central Africa's biggest elephant population, over 400 bird species, forest buffalo, chimpanzees, and mangabey. In fact, there are more than 16 primate species living here! The plant life is also remarkable, with an impressive 4,400 plant species growing in the park.
For your dose of culture, visit the capital city, Brazzaville. Set on the banks of the Congo River, it has a laid-back yet vibrant atmosphere with plenty of architecture, markets, and more to peruse.
- Here you'll find the second-largest rainforest in the whole world
- Explore the culturally-rich Brazzaville, the capital city, set on the banks of the Congo River
- Odzala-Kokoua National Park offers plenty of wildlife-viewing activities like gorilla trekking, day and night game drives, boat safaris and forest walks
- Unique opportunity to see the critically endangered western lowland gorilla
- The Odzala-Kokoua National Park is a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve
From Trekking to Tanning in East Africa
As much as we love adventure, we also like to relax. It's your holiday, after all! Well, in many of East Africa's top destinations, it's easy for us to tailor-make a tour that combines a gorilla trekking experience in the jungle with a tranquil lake- or beachside breakaway.
Lake Kivu, Rwanda
Rwanda's biggest lake, and sixth largest globally, Lake Kivu, is unexpectedly located in this jungle destination. With sandy shores and waters that are safe to swim in – free from crocodiles and hippos – it's the perfect destination for some downtime after your gorilla trekking experience.
The lakeside town of Rubavu is super close to Volcanoes National Park, only about an hour's drive, so you don't need to sacrifice more time to travel. You can expect a vibey atmosphere with many hotels, bars, and more to explore.
You can go kayaking on the river, hiking or mountain biking in the area, or simply lounge in the sun while sipping on a cocktail (or two!).
- Known as one of the most beautiful lakes in Central Africa
- Easy lakeside add-on to your gorilla trekking experience
- Predator-free waters perfect for swimming
- Many water- and land-based activities, or you can simply relax on the beach
- Lots of hotels, restaurants and trendy bars to explore
Ah, Zanzibar. A chain of islands famous for its seaside resorts and ancient architecture, we love the combination of culture and slow-living island life it offers. Fun fact, Freddy Mercury was born here in the capital Stone Town.
It baffles many of our guests when they find out that this paradise exists in East Africa. Plus, personally, we think it offers a better experience than the Mediterranean! Especially, if you love a quieter cultural beach escape. Picture swathes of talcum sand lapped by the warm Indian Ocean, with traditional dhow sailboats floating serenely in the distance. The culture is also a fascinating mix of Arab and Swahili influences.
It's the perfect add-on to your gorilla trekking experience. And while you're at it, why not add a Great Migration safari (seasonal) in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park?
- Stone Town is a cultural hub featuring Indo-Arabian architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Forodhani Gardens' night market and delicious local and fresh seafood
- Located only 40 km from Tanzania's mainland, making it very accessible
- Plenty of spectacular beaches and resorts
- Jozani Forest trails
Lamu Island, Kenya
A culturally and historically rich part of Kenya, Lamu Island is also home to incredible beach-front accommodation, offering barefoot luxury in combination with your East Africa gorilla trekking and safari adventure.
We recommend you add a stop-over in Maasai Mara National Reserve for a Great Migration safari (seasonal) while you're here as well.
Whether you're learning more about the history and culture, sailing in a traditional dhow boat, snorkelling, or simply lazing on the beach, it's the perfect laidback ending to your African holiday.
- Lamu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was given this title because it has the best-preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa
- Shela is a popular tourist beachside destination
- Sailing on a traditional dhow boat
- Plenty of watersports to enjoy
- Unique architecture, tombs and mosques to see
Let's Plan Your Jungle and Ocean Safaris Today
Ready to experience the best of both worlds? Our jungle and ocean safaris will tick every box! Whatever combination you prefer, you can take your pick! Because in Africa, anything's possible. Contact our Travel Experts today, and let's start planning!
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