As time has passed so has some perspective been obtained. For those planning to visit any of these countries I hope the lists will give some idea of my personal opinions. Most of the lists are in no particular order and in fact are probably incomplete.
In order of preference.
2. Kenya (a very short head behind, not quite as wild as Tanzania).
DESTINATIONS I WOULD SUGGEST FOR FLY-IN VISITS.
In other words places that alone or with one other destination, warrant a “luxury” visit in their own right.
• Mara Triangle
• Okavango Swamps
• Erta Ale Volcano and Danakil Depression
• The churches and history of the north of Ethiopia – Gheralta Lodge
• Kasanka in bat season and Bangweulu Swamps in Zambia
• The Tanzanian Southern Safari Circuit (Katavi, Ruaha and Selous)
• The Tanzanian Northern Safari Circuit (Lake Manyara, Tarangira, Ngorongora Crater and Serengeti)
• Lake Tanganyika and the chimps, perhaps at Mahale
• Gorillas in Rwanda
• Khartoum and the ruins in the desert, Sudan
• Murchison Falls NP Uganda
• Kidepo Valley NP Uganda
• Samburu and other northern NPs Kenya
• Highlands, Mt Kenya and Aberdares Kenya
• Amboseli and Tsavo NPs Kenya
• Bale and Simien Mountain NPs Ethiopia
• Swahili coast of Kenya and Tanzania
A). OUTSIDE NATIONAL PARKS.
The first 5 are in strict order of preference the rest are more or less random order. These exclude wild camping.
1. The Haven, near Jinja, Uganda. Fantastic view over the White Nile. Camp on grass. Best ablutions and facilities overall. Full access to lodge and pool.
2. Lakeshore Lodge, near Kipili, Lake Tanganyika, Uganda. Great owners. Great access to a pristine part of the beautiful Lake. Good pub and restaurant. Facilities good.
3. Kluge’s Guest Farm, near Fort Portal, Uganda. Very good facilities. Good restaurant. Nice owners. Beautiful gardens. Convenient access to the lovely Fort Portal area.
4. Zikoma Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Rustic facilities. Lovely view from bank of Luangwa River. Convenient access to quiet Nsefu Sector SLNP.
5. Peponi Beach Resort, near Pangani, Tanzania. Good facilities, pub, restaurant. Secure camping on seaside. Usually very quiet. Pool.
6. Maramba River Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia.
7. Kapishya Hot Springs, Northern Zambia.
8. Nsobe Community Campsite, Bangweulu Swamps, Zambia.
9. Kisiolanza Farm Campsite, near Iringa, Tanzania.
10. Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort, Uganda.
11. Red Chili Hideaway, Kampala, Uganda.
12. Barnley’s Guesthouse, near Saiwa Swamp, Kenya.
13. Jungle Junction, Nairobi, Kenya.
14. Carnelly’s Camp, Lale Naivasha, Kenya.
15. Tim and Kim’s Village, Gorgora, Ethiopia.
16. Senyati Safari Camp, near Kazangula, Botswana.
17. Peregrine’s Nest Campsite, near Livingstone, Zambia.
18. Chobe Houseboat Safaris, near Katimo Mlilo, Namibia.
19. Wildlife Campsite, near South Luangwa NP, Zambia.
20. Hondo Hondo Campsite, near Udzungwa NP, Tanzania.
21. Meserani Snake Park, near Arusha, Tanzania.
22. Tan Swiss Camp, Mikumi, Tanzania.
23. Robert’s Camp, Lake Baringo, Kenya.
24. Kembu Campsite, near Nakuru, Kenya.
B). INSIDE NATIONAL PARKS AND RESERVES.
1. Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Serowe, Botswana.
2. Passarge Campsite no 2, CKGR, Botswana.
3. South Camp no 2, Nxai Pan NP, Botswana.
4. Ihaha Campsite, Chobe NP, Botswana.
5. Rupara Community Campsite no 1, Nkasa Lupala NP (Mamili), Namibia.
6. Katavi. Special campsite near Ikuu ranger post. Tanzania.
7. Ruaha NP, Public Campsite no 1. Tanzania.
8. Tagalala Public Campsite, Selous GR. Tanzania.
9. Ngare Nanyuki Special Campsite (Serengeti). Tanzania.
10. Kira Wira Special Campsite no 1 (Serengeti, Western Corridor). Tanzania.
11. Ishasha River public campsite no 2. Queen Elizabeth NP. Uganda.
12. Kanyanchu River Camp, Kibale Forest NP. Uganda.
13. Northern Bank Public Campsite no 1, Murchison Falls NP. Uganda.
14. Nagusukopire Public Campsite, Kidepo Valley NP. Uganda.
15. Eluai Public Campsite, Mara Triangle. Kenya.
16. Reedbuck Public Campsite, Aberdare NP. Kenya.
17. Riverside Campsite, Samburu National Reserve. Kenya.
18. Bwatherongi Public Campsite, Meru National Park. Kenya.
19. Chyulu public campsite, Tsavo West National Park. Kenya.
20. Ndololo Public Campsite, Tsavo East National Park. Kenya.
21. Webb Valley (Sodota Campsite), Bale National Park. Ethiopia.
In no special order.
• The gorillas in Volcanos NP Rwanda.
• Seeing the shoebill and black lechwe herds in Bangweulu Swamps, Zambia.
• Living amongst the large lion pride at Kira Wira Camp Serengeti.
• The uniquely high animal densities on the Serengeti Plains.
• Seeing the wildebeest migratory herds in the north of Serengeti and in the Mara Triangle.
• Witnessing the Mara River wildebeest crossings in the Mara Triangle.
• The “wild camping” in special campsites, Serengeti.
• Sleeping wild in the desert in Sudan.
• Driving the Lake Turkana route.
• The Hamar initiation in Turmi.
• Erta Ale volcano lava lake, probably the most amazing natural phenomenon I will ever witness (it puts the Victoria Falls to shame).
• The Danakil Depression, with the hostile, barren salt flats, mineral springs and salt mountains.
• Witnessing the ageless salt-bearing caravans of camels around the Danakil area.
• Seeing the herdsmen in the north of Kenya and south of Ethiopia bearing automatic rifles, some hardly in their teens.
• Seeing the dryland animal species in Samburu NP.
• Snorkeling in the Red Sea.
• The chimpanzees at Gombe Streams.
• The genocide memorials, Rwanda.
• Seeing the more traditional tribes such as the Masai of Tanzania, Pokot, Turkana and Samburu of Kenya, the Karamajong of Uganda and the Hamar and Mursi of Ethiopia.
• The very close friendship we struck up with Wayne Jos. who accompanied us through some of the toughest sections of the trip. We enjoyed his adventurous escapades vicariously.
• Visiting the highest all weather road in Africa, Sanetti Plateau and Tulu Dimtu Peak, Bale Mountains.
• Seeing the Walia Ibex.
• Seeing a giant forest hog.
• First sighting of the malformed and long-necked Gerenuk antelope.
• Sighting subspecies of relatively common animals such as Grevys Zebra, reticulated giraffe, Cokes Hartebeest and fringe-eared oryx.
• Seeing the relatively common East African species such as the Tomsons and Grants Gazelles for the first time.
• Seeing numerous totally new species of spectacular monkeys in forests in Tanzania and Uganda. I was surprised how enthralled I was.
• Wild campsite at Old Kokai camp on the shore of Lake Turkana.
• The views from the mountain top situation of Dorze Lodge, central Ethiopia.
• The Bale Mountain National Park and in particular great sightings of the Ethiopian (Simien) wolf.
• The fresh fruit juices of Ethiopia.
• Ethiopian coffee made the traditional way.
• Wild camping in the desert in Sudan.
• The whirling dervishes in Khartoum.
• The old souk in historic central Khartoum, Omduruman.
• The isolation in the southern Tanzanian National Parks, Katavi, Ruaha and Selous.
• The White Nile, Uganda.
• The forests of East Africa, particularly the magnificent forests of Uganda and Rwanda.
• The mountains of Ethiopia.
• Visiting the site of David Livingstone’s death near Lake Bangweulu, where his heart and innards were buried and then following his trail to Ujiji and Zanzibar.
• Murchisons Falls NP, the area north of the Nile in particular.
• The rhinos at Khama Rhino Sanctuary Botswana.
• The lions at Nxai Pan and Kira Wira, Serengeti.
• Seeing the Karamajong and the remote Kidepo NP in northern Uganda.
• Pokot people in the remote Marich and Kitso Passes areas western Kenya.
• Our visit to the remote northern Zambia, including the waterfalls and Lake Tanganyika.
• Overnighting in a houseboat on a sandbank in the center of the Zambezi in Caprivi.
• The drive around the so-called Explosion Craters in QENP Uganda.
• Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania, specifically Lakeshore Lodge.
• Snorkeling in the Red Sea.
• The drive around Lake Burera near the Volcanos NP Rwanda.
• The shortcut lakeside route to Lake Bunyonyi.
• Being visited in camp by a herd of forest elephant at Kanyanchu River Camp, Kibale Forest, Uganda.
• The great birding in places like The Haven, Jinja, the Golden Mile in Budonga Forest QENP, Saiwa Swamp Kenya and Bigodi Swamp Uganda.
• The new species of birds seen whilst lazing in camp.
• The sounds of the African bush at night; owls, nightjars, hippos, elephant, hyenas and most thrilling of all, the roar of lions.
• The friendly and helpful attitude of the rural people of most of Africa.
• The short but warm friendships struck up with fellow self-drive travelers.
• Our best restaurant meal of the trip, at the Khana Gazana Indian restaurant in Kigali.
THE THREE MOST OUTSTANDING EXPERIENCES WERE PROBABLY THE ERTA ALE LAVA LAKE, THE MARA RIVER WILDEBEEST CROSSINGS AND THE GORILLAS.
• The drive up Passarge Valley in CKGR, Botswana. Animals, scenery, green.
• The drive from Khumaga across the plains of Makgadikgadi to Tree Island campsite, Botswana
• Drive to Black Pools and Xini Lagoon near South Gate, Moremi NP, Botswana.
• The drive to Paradise Pools near Xakanaxa Moremi NP.
• The route from Savuti Public Campsite to Savuti Marsh.
• Driving the river route from Ihaha, Chobe NP.
• Drive on main road between Kasane and Nata, Botswana, all the wildlife.
• Drive on the C49 between Mamili and Mudumu NP.
• Drive via Lavushi Manda NP to Bangweulu Swamps.
• Along the Luangwa River in the Nsefu sector of the NP, Zambia.
• On the tracks of the grassy plains near the Bangweulu Swamps and seeing the vast herds of black lechwe.
• Drives along the Katuma River and to Lake Chala, Katavi NP, Tanzania.
• Route along the Ruaha River in the NP.
• Drive on Great North Road between Mikumi and Iringa, Tanzania.
• The drive on the open plains and rolling hills east and south of Seronera, Serengeti.
• The parts of the Congo-Nile Trail we covered.
• The route through Nyungwe Forest NP.
• The obscure drive around Lakes Burera and Ruhondo near the Volcanos NP.
• The drive along the northern lakeshore approaching Lake Bunyonyi.
• The drive through Bwindi Forest.
• The drive amongst the Katwe explosion craters in Queen Elizabeth NP.
• The drive through the Kibale Forest National Park.
• The drive to and from Kidepo Valley NP.
• The drive up Mt Elgon in the NP.
• The road between Baragoi and South Horr along dry river beds and tall Acacia woodlands.
• The very rugged road between South Horr and Loiyangalani, along moon-like lava landscapes, weaving through camel trains and along the beautiful eastern shores of Lake Turkana. (? rate as no 1).
• The route up the Marich Pass and along the Kerio Valley.
• The route through Marsabit NP.
• The road into the Webb Valley in the Bale Mountains National Park.
• The road through the Blue Nile Gorge between Addis Abiba and Bahir Dar.
• The drive through Simien Mountain NP.
• The drive down to the Danakil Depression.
• The drive through the Nubian desert to Port Sudan.
THE BEST VIEWS.
*BOTSWANA. The view over the grassy Sunday Pan and grazing animals at Sunday Pan campsites 2 and 3.
*BOTSWANA. Ihaha Campsite over the Chobe River. The animals and birds on the river bank in front of you and the sunsets are very evocative.
*ZAMBIA. From Taita Falcon Lodge into the Batoka Gorge, Zambezi River.
*ZAMBIA. The view over the floodplains and black lechwe herds at Bagweulu.
*ZAMBIA. Wildlife and Zikoma Campsites over the Luangwa River. Again on the river bank just outside the unfenced park.
*TANZANIA. Kitavi NP. The view from special campsite over the river.
*TANZANIA. Ruaha NP. The view from the campsite over the Ruaha River.
*TANZANIA. From Panorama Camp over Lake Manyara.
*TANZANIA. The view from the crater rim into Ngorongora Crater.
*TANZANIA. The beach views at sunset, Zanzibar.
*RWANDA. Generally possibly the most scenic country of all. Lovely hills, forests, lakes and terraced cultivation.
*UGANDA. From Lake Albert Safari Lodge from the cliff edge onto the lake. Especially wonderful at night with all the lights from the fishing boats.
*UGANDA. The view into the explosion craters QENP.
*UGANDA. From the top of Murchison Falls. The earth moves from the force of the water.
*UGANDA. From The Haven on the White Nile. Camp right on the banks of the 900m wide river. From the nearby lodge lovely view of a grand rapid.
*UGANDA. From Nagusokopire Campsite, Kidepo Valley NP. From the heights sweeping views of the savannah below.
*UGANDA. From Sipi Falls Community Campsite, Mt Elgon, Uganda. Best view of the falls and the valleys below.
*KENYA. From Mt Elgon NP, Kenya. Panoramic view from the heights that you can drive up to.
*KENYA. From Eluai Public Campsite , Mara Triangle. From the heights could watch and wait for the wildebeest herds to gather for the Mara River crossings.
KENYA. The view from Reedbuck Camp, Aberdares, over the mountain moors.
*KENYA. View at World’s End, from Lesiolo Viewpoint, into Sugutu Valley. Massive drop-off.
*KENYA. First view of Lake Turkana after entering Sibiloi NP. The Jade Sea!
*KENYA. The view of Kilimanjaro from Amboseli NP.
*KENYA. The view of the sunrise from the campsite on the beach at Tiwi Beach.
*ETHIOPIA. From Dorze Lodge campsite, down onto the twin lakes from a great height.
*ETHIOPIA. From Sodoto Campsite in Webb Valley, Bale. Down the Webb Valley, even could see Simien Wolves close to the campsite.
*ETHIOPIA. The views of the Alpine vegetation Sanetti Plateau, Bale Mountains.
*ETHIOPIA. The Blue Nile Gorge, whilst driving from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar.
*ETHIOPIA. In the Simien Mountain NP. Jaw-dropping views from more than 4,000m.
*ETHIOPIA. The views from the numerous mountain passes in the Highlands, too many to detail.
*SUDAN. The pyramids at Meroe in the Sudan desert.
*SUDAN. The views over the desert from the wild campsites.
1. The nocturnal roaring of the resident lion pride around the campsite at Sunday Pan Camp no 2 CKGR.
2. Barn owl bathing in shower bucket at Passarge 2 camp CKGR.
3. Leopard sighting by torch next to camp Passarge 2.
4. The absolute solitude of our first night at Tree Island campsite Makgadikgadi NP.
5. The lions roaring then filing 20m past our camp, Nxai Pan.
6. The migrating zebra herds (tail end) at Nxai Pan.
7. Porcupine visiting campsite at Xakanaxa, Moremi NP in the dark.
8. Seeing for the first time the Savuti Channel and Marsh in Chobe NP, with water in them.
9. The lion pride viewed at length and alone at Savuti, Chobe NP.
10. The lion pride on their elephant calf kill on the bank of the Chobe River.
• Overnighting on the Zambezi on a houseboat at Caprivi Houseboat Safaris.
• Having a lion kill overnight right next door, without knowing it, at Nakwata Campsite, Mudumu NP.
1. The stay at Zikoma Camp, Nsefu sector SLNP.
2. Bathing in the hot springs at Kapishya Hot Springs.
3. The stay and shoebill sightings at Nsobe Community Camp, Bangweulu Swamps. Also the black lechwe herds.
4. The visit to the site of David Livingstone’s death.
1. Lake Tanganyika at Lakeshore Lodge.
2. The chimps at Gombe Streams NP.
3. Katavi NP.
4. Isimilia Gorge and pillars near Iringa.
5. Elephants and hippo wandering through the campsite at Ruaha.
6. The primates and birds at Hondo Hondo.
7. The food at Hondo Hondo restaurant.
8. The cheetah sighting near Ngorongoro.
9. Day trip into Arusha NP.
10. Tree climbing lions at Selous GR.
11. The special campsites in Serengeti.
12. The animal densities east of Seronera, Serengeti.
13. The wildebeest herds in the north and the Western Corridor of Serengeti.
14. The lion pride at Kira Wira special campsite, Serengeti.
15. The stay on the coast at Peponi.
• The gorillas.
• The Genocide memorials especially at the churches south of Kigali.
• The parts of the Congo-Nile Trail we covered.
1. Lake Bunyonyi.
2. The crater explosion area , QENP.
3. The stay at the Haven, on the White Nile near Jinja.
4. Murchison’s Falls, north of the Nile.
5. Being visited by a herd of forest elephant, Kibale Forest.
6. Birding the Golden Mile, Budongo Forest.
7. Kidepo Valley NP.
8. Murchison Falls NP, the drive along and inland of the Nile on the north bank of the park. Surprisingly high animal densities, including a shoebill stork.
• The trip to the Marich and Kito Passes in northwestern Kenya.
• The Lake Turkana Route.
• The wildebeest river crossings in the Mara Triangle.
• The wildebeest herds in the south of the Mara Triangle.
• The new animals seen in Samburu and other dryland northern NPs.
1. The Hamer bull jumping South Omo.
2. Bale Mountains NP.
3. Danakil depression.
4. Erta Ale Volcano.
6. Simien Mountain NP.
• Bush camping in the desert.
• The historical ruins and pyramids in the desert.
• Snorkeling the Red Sea.
FAVOURITE AFRICAN CITIES.
• Khartoum, Sudan, historic and atmospheric.
• Kigali, Ruanda, clean, well-organized.
• Nairobi, especially around Karen, as long as you avoid the city center.
NOTABLE OFF THE BEATEN TRACK EXPERIENCES.
1. Bangweulu Swamps and Livingstone Memorial, Zambia.
2. Waterfalls route, Zambia.
3. Southern Lake Tanganyika, Zambia.
4. Southern Lake Tanganyika and Lakeshore Lodge, Tanzania.
5. Katavi NP, Tanzania.
6. Route from Katavi to the south, very rural.
7. Udzungwa Forest, Tanzania.
8. Ruaha NP and Selous GR Southern Tanzania.
9. Lake Turkana route, Kenya.
10. Marich Pass and Kerio Valley, Kenya.
11. Kidepo NP, Uganda.
12. Bale Mountain NP, Ethiopia.
13. Danakil Depression and Erta Ale Volcano, Ethiopia.