So deep is the penetration of mankind into nature that one can find respite only in the cradle of life. Blessed with variegated strata, abundant life-forms nestling at the foot of the Great Rift Valley, snow-capped edifice mountains, and tribal heritage dating back to time immemorial, East Africa is where life still thrives with primordial instincts in its most unadulterated forms. Without much ado, we give you five big reasons to book your tickets to the land of the Big Five today.
1. The Big Five
Thanks to the nether end of the Great Rift Valley penetrating the sub-continent, Africa is home to an abundance of wildlife, some of which still remain unnamed. Almost everyone who has heard of African safaris knows about Africa’s Big Five: the lion, the African elephant, the Cape Buffalo, the leopard, and the black and the white rhinoceros. Few deep diggers also boast of the small five in answer to above: the elephant shrew, the rhinoceros beetle, the buffalo weaver, the leopard tortoise, and the antlion.
But it is only when you set foot in one of Africa’s many national parks that you notice hundreds of wild beasts ambling across lush green landscapes. Peering from the safety of your safari jeep at the millions of animals grazing serenely against a molten sun is one of those experiences that warms your heart from within. African wildlife, preserved in their homes perfectly organized as protected natural reserves and national parks, is where Lion King’s Pride Rock comes to life.
2. A Trek to Mt. Kilimanjaro
One does not merely visit East Africa and head back without touching the roof of the world. Mt. Kilimanjaro erupts from the Great Rift Valley and scales high above the African landscape on Tanzania’s north-eastern plateaus. With nothing but six paths to reach its summit, Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the most unadulterated and scalable peaks in the world.
It is essentially an island of lush greenery flanked by dry savannahs on all its sides, making it a perfect breeding ground for life forms to survive in a variety of ecosystems. A diversity of both known and unknown birds and insects flutter in and out of the forests on the way. After scaling a significant stretch uphill, you open up to scintillating views of the thickets below, which makes it truly memorable.
3. The Great Migration
It is one thing to listen to stories of animal and bird migrations passively. It is an entirely different spectacle to witness millions of four-legged beasts trickle down the vast highlands as a means of ensuring continuity to life. Every year, the greatest wildlife migration commences from the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania, continues up to the green pastures of the Masai Mara Reserve, and comes full circle back to the start.
An entourage of wildebeests in the company of zebras and gazelles trot along with their young ones towards the Masai Mara Reserve in search of food. With other predators at their heels and the Masai river rife with crocodiles, witnessing the Great Migration, especially from a hot air balloon above, is one of the best natural visual treats on this planet. No matter what time of the year you are visiting, you can always catch a glimpse of a scattered herd if you find yourself a correct place.
4. Pristine Beaches
The eastern coast of the African sub-continent runs bordering along the sublime and rich waters of the Indian ocean. Although safaris have put Africa on the tourism map, discovering its pristine white beaches is one of its lesser-known wonders you can look forward to. Stretching up to 2000 km, East Africa’s Indian-ocean coastline is home to more than a hundred beaches and dozens of archipelagoes. Depending on the type of the beach you choose to loll around, you can either soak your feet in the warm sand near shallow waters or give in to an adventurous day of watersports on coastlines where the waters run deep. Be it Mombasa or Zanzibar, East Africa’s beaches are less crowded than your average beaches. Yet, they guarantee an equally relaxing time.
5. The African Tribal Heritage
If Africa’s wildlife and forest uphold its natural beauty, then the tribes residing in its deep-pocketed regions are torch-bearers of its cultural heritage. It is sheer marvelous to see humans living in perfect harmony with nature. Their art is a marvel in itself, ranging from pottery to bead-making and even body painting. Each of this unique way of living is rooted deep in their unique culture which is one large fascinating storybook waiting to be explored. Like we’ve already said, safaris may be East Africa’s crowning glory, but there is a lot more to it.
This is precisely why travel diaries are incomplete without a trip to the land of the Big Five. For one seeking a true escape from mundane weekdays should head to East Africa, one of the few places on the blue planet where life still thrives as it did ages ago when it first began and mankind still lives in harmony with nature.
Author: Vishnu Rajamanickam
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