History of East Africa

East Africa has a rich history compared to any other region globally. It is home to the earliest human ancestors and a key focus point to trade, migration, and exploration. The earliest human-like remains were discovered in East Africa over 3 million years ago in places like Oldupai Gorge and in Lake Turkana, Kenya. Though there are other places where such remains have been discovered, most scientists agree that East Africa is the origin of humanity.

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The Khoisans, who were hunters and gatherers were the first inhabitants of East Africa 10000 years ago. In Rwanda and Burundi, there were some few Pygmy groups that are also believed to have been in existence during this time.

Around 3000 or 5000 years ago, there were multiple migrations which are believed to have shaped the present day East Africa.  The Cushites and the Nilotes in the north and the Bantus from the East came together and formed the rich tribal diversity that makes East Africa presently. As the people continued with their migration, some like the Pygmy were absorbed while others established themselves as the greatest in the region. When traveling around East Africa, you’ll love the diversity that was a product of these ancient migrations and settlements.

As the rest of the region was being shaped by the ongoing migrations, the coastal region was under a different influence. The ancient Greeks set up trading posts in the 400BC one of which was Raphta that believed to have been either in Kenya or Tanzania. Trade grew steadily which led to the establishment of permanent settlements by the people that took part in the trade. The Arabs and the Persians freely intermingled with the locals and as a result, the Swahili language and culture were born. Within the same time, the Islamic religion was introduced and spread widely towards the 11th century. 

In 1498, the first European settler, Vasco da Gama arrived on his way to Orient. 3 decades later the Portuguese greatly disrupted the trading patterns and taken over the coastal region. They built forts in different places such as Kilwa and Mombasa and this went on until the 18th century when the Oman Arabs took over. Their influence was too strong and with time, the Sultan of Oman transferred his capital to Zanzibar from Muscat. Slave trade also flourished within this time where thousands of slaves were abducted and transported through Zanzibar every year.

Towards 1980, the western interest on East Africa was aroused and this made the Germans and the British to sign an agreement that defined their spheres of influence. With this, the British took over Zanzibar, which is known as Tanzania today and later Kenya and Uganda. The Germans took over power in Rwanda and Burundi. The British and the Germans took up the task of building railway lines and roads in an effort to open up their territories to more trade opportunities. They also established schools and hospitals which encourage more missionaries to come into the region. 

The locals were unhappy with the European reign over them and as a result, the raised demands to regain their independence. Tanzania attained its independence in 1961, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi in 1962 and in 1963, Kenya attained its independence. The countries have continued to grow both economically and politically though the effects of colonization are felt up to date.

Climate of East Africa

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The climate of East Africa is unique as it is a combination of high attitudes and rain shadows of the western monsoon winds originating from the Ruwenzori and the Ethiopian Highlands. The region is made up of plateaus and here, you’ll find some of the highest mountains in the world. Among the striking highlands is Kenya & Ethiopia whose elevations are can be as high as 65oo – 10000 feet.

Though the climate in this region is tropical, the average temperatures and precipitation are greatly affected by different elevations. Countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, and the western part of Kenya received plenty of rainfall whereas Somalia, NE Kenya, and eastern Ethiopia experience very little rainfall.

It is evident that life, including that of wild animals, in East Africa is greatly influenced by the weather. The highlight for this is the wildebeest migration that happens seasonally which you cannot afford to miss. Planning your visit at the time when this migration is happening will make you fall in love with East Africa!

Among the driest parts of East Africa is Somalia which can go for years without a raindrop.  For other places, however, the annual rainfall increases as you head southwards. For instance, Mogadishu experiences 400mm annually, Mombasa 1200mm, and over 1100mm in Moshi due to its nearness to Mt. Kilimanjaro. The rains come in 2 distinct seasons one in April and the other one between October and November. 

The western side of the Ruwenzori Mountains and the Ethiopian Highlands experiences a more tropical climate. There is only one wet season which stretches between June and September and when you get to Asmara, the rain comes between July and August. For most parts of East Africa, the El Nino greatly influences the rainfall intensity with some damaging effects when the rain is too much.

With the exception of the hot and hot and humid coastal region, the temperature in East Africa is moderate, ranging between 25 and 15 degrees at 1500m altitude. Where the altitude is over 2500 meters, the maximum temperature can be 21 degrees or less.

East Africa is a unique tourist destination which makes tourists in their millions to make it their annual holiday destination. Most of the regions are suitable for farming which was the reason why most European colonizers and explorers targeted the region during the 19th century. You’ll also discover that most of the countries in this region rely on tourism as a main source of funds. The only downside with the region is the terror attacks that could happen randomly but if you stay up to date with the current security alerts, you’ll be able to find places where you will be safe throughout your visit.

If you are looking for an escape from the harsh winter in the West, East Africa is your idea tourist destination. Regardless of the season, you’ll find your stay very comfortable as it never gets too hot or too cold. To make it even better, you’ll never miss a fun activity that will make your stay interesting every time you visit the region.


When visiting East Africa you will need to have enough funds to cater for all your needs. You will be paying for your accommodation, meals, travels, and everything else you’ll need during your stay. Unfortunately, there are people that see you as their solution to all their needs and will do anything to get your money.

Here are some of the common scams that people who want to steal from you will use:

1. Making false hotel wakeup calls

When in your hotel, you may receive a call where the caller claims to be the front desk operator at the hotel at odd hours, mostly at night. The person will lie to you that they are calling to verify your credit card details and that you should submit them immediately. Most of the time, this is not a genuine caller but a scammer seeking to get your credit details so that he can steal from you.

If this happens, do not disclose any details. Instead, inform the caller that you’ll sort out the issue in the morning personally. If indeed it was the front office, they’ll have the courtesy to wait until daybreak to get the details they wanted from you.

2. Avoid flirtatious women

When you get to your destination, it is possible to see some beautiful women paying too much attention to you.  The women may even offer to take you out for a drink or even a dance which is quite tempting. Do not fall for them! Most of these women will go out with you and after taking their fill, they will disappear leaving you to pay the huge bills. They could even drug you and rob you in collaboration with a gang that works together with them.

To stay safe and keep your money and other possessions safe, do not pay any attention to a woman who is hitting on you. If you must go out, get a good company as the woman will have minimal chances of stealing from you when you have company.

3. Do not buy travel tickets from unknown sources

In an effort to spend less on your travels, you may ask your taxi driver to recommend a place where you can get affordable bus, plane or train tickets. If he is fraudulent, he may mislead you and you end up getting fake tickets and when you present them for your travel, they will get rejected. To stay safe, always ensure that you buy your tickets at the designated offices or online where you’ll be assured of getting the right ticket.

4. Stay away from friendly ATM helpers

When planning to withdraw money from a local ATM, you may find some people who’ll offer to help you get a better deal and avoid high bank charges. Do not fall for these tricks as these people will scan your card using a card skimmer and immediately you enter your pin, they will take note. You’ll receive the shock of your life when a few hours later, you’ll have huge sums of money missing from your account.

Traveling Safely

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Most East African countries are relatively safe and you’ll not have too many security threats during your stay. However, due to the past security threats in the region, it is advisable to check the security status of the country you intend to visit before embarking on your journey. The truth is, no country is exempted from security threats and anyone, local or a visitor can become a victim.

You need to remain conscious of what is happening around you to avoid losing your possessions to muggers or even suffering from physical injuries as a result of an attack. Most of the attacks happen where western tourist frequent and you, therefore, need to remain alert especially in crowded areas. 

Here are some safety precautions you need to observe when traveling in East Africa:

  • Carry your items to your front: though it is easier to carry your luggage on your backpack, it is important that you do not lose sight of your luggage. It is easier for a mugger to snatch your backpack than it is to get a bag you are carrying to your front. 
  • When you get to a hotel, do not hang your bag on your chair, keep it on the floor or even place it on the sidewalk. It is likely that you’ll get distracted and if someone is interested in your bag, he will use the opportunity to get away with it. If possible, keep your bag on your laps, on the floor with the strap tied around your legs or anywhere else where you’ll feel whenever anyone tries to take it. 
  • Check around you before you leave: if you are in a hotel or other public places, make it a habit to look back before you leave. You may discover that you were leaving behind an important item such as a shopping bag or even a purse. 
  • Reserve your expensive jewelry for when you return home: wearing expensive jewelry is one way of attracting unnecessary attention from people that would want to steal from you. Keeping it simple when in East Africa will may you to blend well with the locals who will be a form of security during your stay. If you have an expensive camera to capture the moments, keep it safe when not in use. 
  • Avoid accepting food or drinks from unknown people when traveling: there are many instances where tourists have been drugged and on regaining their consciousness, they discover that all their valuables are missing. To avoid this, only take your food in restaurants where your safety is a primary concern and where you have a guarantee that the food you’ll be taking is safe.
  • Do not fight with muggers: in the event that a mugger attacks you with an aim of stealing from you, do not fight back. It is possible that he is armed and will not hesitate to harm you if you don’t give him what he wants. To be safe, give him what he wants and he’ll leave you alone! You still have a great life ahead of you where you can get even better possessions compared to what he’ll take from you.

Foods in East Africa

Food in East Africa is quite diverse just like the people and their culture. The foods keep changing as a result of western influence and the introduction of new cousins by the people that visit other countries. Whether you are from Europe, the Middle East, or even the United States, do not get shocked if you find your favorite home delicacy in a local East Africa restaurant.

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Most of the foods in East Africa have a starchy base where a meal will most likely have sorghum, cornmeal, potatoes, yams, rice, and millet among others. The starchy food is usually served with some protein which could be chicken, beef or mutton.


There are thousands of hotels in East Africa and all you need is to choose the hotel that serves the kind of meals that you want. Whether you need Chinese restaurants or hotel that serves international cuisines, you’ll be lost for choice. Most of the large cities and places where international tourists frequent will have almost all types of foods. The best part is that these foods are less expensive compared to what similar foods will cost in places like the US.


There are restaurants where you’ll find a kitchen attached to the suite you’ll be using for your accommodation which will come in handy if you prefer to prepare your own meals. All you’ll need in this case is to find a nearby market and buy all the stuff you’ll be needing for your meals. The greatest benefit for this is that you’ll get to eat what you want and save on the cost of food when visiting East Africa.

You can also choose to buy imported canned food in supermarkets that include meat, fish or cheese. With this, you will never miss your favorite delicacy back home for the time you will be touring East Africa. You need to check the expiry date on the canned food so that you don’t end up buying expired food that will negatively affect your health.

Street Food

When touring East Africa, it will not be unusual to see people preparing meals such as samosas, fried yams, kebabs or roasted maize, among other delicacies along the streets. These foods will be sold at a lower price compared to the price you’d pay for them if you purchased in a restaurant. However, you need to ensure that the food is freshly made and that the person who is preparing them observed a high level of hygiene when preparing them. You don’t want to suffer from ill health or even food poisoning as a result of taking unclean food. Always remember that your health comes first and you’d rather spend more on food than spending less and then head to the hospital as a result of health complications. 

If you’ve never tasted some of the foods you will find in some East African travel destinations, be very careful when taking them. You can start by taking only a small portion and feel how your body reacts to the new food. From this, you can decide if this is the right food for you or you need to make another choice.

Things to do in East Africa

Among all the tourist destinations in Africa, East Africa is the most popular due to its beautiful landscape and diverse wildlife and sceneries. Whatever form of adventure you’ve always desired, it will become a reality once you get to East Africa. Here are some of the amazing things you can do every time you visit East Africa:

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Visit the National Parks

Your visit to East Africa will never be complete if you don’t visit the hundreds of national parks in the region. You will get to enjoy some amazing sights such as the annual migration and also see other unique animals that can only be found in East Africa. Among the best national parks to visit include the Maasai Mara which is in Kenya, Serengeti in Tanzania, and Bwindi National Park in Uganda among others. Whether you are traveling alone or as a group, there is no limit to the amount of fun you’ll have on your vacation.

Go for Hiking in the Mountains

There is no greater adventure than going for hiking in Africa’s tallest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro or even Mt. Kenya which has an amazing habitat. If you choose to visit Ethiopia, you can hike in the Simien Mountains where you’ll enjoy an outstanding trekking experience. While at it, you will also get to see animals such as gelada baboons, Simien foxes, and Walia ibex, among other rare animals.

Explore the Coastline

If you ever dreamt of touring a great coastline where the ocean waters look glassy, the East Africa Coastline is the place to be. You can go to Mombasa, Malindi, Zanzibar or Lamu beaches either alone or a group. While at the coastline, you can enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving or even go on a dhow sailing trip in the waters.

Visit Popular Heritage Sites

East African countries have great ancient sites and among them, there are those that are recognized as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It will be great to access the wealth of information in sites such as museums, ancient ruins, tombs, and ancient churches, among others. 

Taste the Delicious East African Delicacies

When visiting East Africa, get your taste buds ready to sample some of the most delicious foods. From staple foods such as injera in Ethiopia to international cuisines, there is no limit to what the chefs can offer. Do not forget to enjoy your favorite drink after your meal as the local hotels offer local and international brands.

Explore East Africa’s Great Lakes

Most of East African Lakes are on the Rift Valley floor which stretches in all the member countries. You will love 

The sight of beautiful birds in their thousands, hippos, and the crocodiles in lakes such as Lake Victoria, Lake Naivasha, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Tana, and Lake Nakuru, among others.

East Africa has a lot to offer whether you’ll be visiting the region for the first time or you are a regular visitor. All you need is to get the right transport, know the best timing, and have enough funds to visit as many places as possible.

Getting Around in East Africa

There is never a bad time for visiting East Africa as every season has its own advantages. To make it even better, you will be able to get around East Africa cheaply if you make proper arrangements and choose your destinations wisely. Whether you want to hire a car, use a bus, train or even travel by air, you have the freedom to make your choice!

Here are some of the factors you need to consider when choosing the best means of transport when getting around in East Africa:

1. Cost

There are various means of transport to choose from and each of them will cost differently. You need to choose a transport means that will not overstretch your budget and one that will allow you to carry your luggage comfortably. If you plan to visit different destinations within a short time, the most convenient means for you would be air transport. 

2. Convenience

There are some means of transport that will cost less but will cause a lot of inconveniences when getting around East Africa. One of these is railway transport as it is quite slow and you’d take ages to move from one place to the other. You need to settle on a means of transport that will not cause unnecessary delays or even fail to get you to your destination. 

3. Availability

It is important to note that East Africa is made up of different countries. Though most of the transport means are available in all countries, there are countries where there are fewer means of transport. For instance, Uganda is a landlocked country and you can, therefore, not use water transport to get there. You’ll need to make inquiries so that you can settle on a means that is available for your destination.

4. Safety

When choosing a means of transport, never forget that your safety comes first. You need to choose a transport means where you are assured of getting to your destination without getting into any ugly incidents or accidents. Air transport is considered the safest where you and your valuables will be safe and sound to and from your travels.

Air Transport

All the countries in East Africa have an airport and this means you can travel by air to any destination. The organization in charge of aviation ensures that wherever you travel by air, you will be safe and will arrive on time.

Road Transport

All East African countries have a reliable road network and it will be possible to cross borders using a car. You can choose to use public means of transport for your travels, hire a taxi or even rent a car. If you’ll be driving, you need to ensure that you have all your papers in order in case you encounter the law enforcement authorities along the way. You also need to ensure that your car is insured before embarking on your journey.

Sea Transport

You can also choose to travel by sea where you can pass through ports such as Mombasa, Dar Es Salaam, Mtwapa, and Tanga. 

Whichever means of transport you use for your travels, you can rest assured that you’ll have the best experience.

Top Sites in East Africa

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East Africa is among the best vacation destination in Africa due to its strategic location, amazing landscape, and the ever-friendly climate. You’ll get to enjoy seeing various wildlife such as the big 5, the Indian Ocean, classy resorts, and the unique mountains such as Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Here are some of the top sites that you cannot afford to miss every time you visit East Africa:

Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya’s signature attractions where you’ll get a chance to see huge-tusked elephants in hundreds. From this amazing destination, you can also get to see Africa’s highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro when the weather is clear. There are also animals such as wildebeests, zebras, hyenas, lions, and hundreds of bird species.

Ruwenzori Mountains National Park, Uganda

Mt. Ruwenzori is the third highest peak in Africa and will make an excellent tourist destination every time you visit East Africa. Here, you’ll get to enjoy amazing sceneries, go hiking in the mountains, and also enjoy exceptional services in hotels and lodges within the national park.

Tsavo National Park, Kenya

Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Parks in Taita Taveta have numerous attractions that make this the ideal tourist destination. The hotels and lodges in the area will make you feel at home as you enjoy the best delicacies from all over the globe. Tsavo National Park is quite extensive and you need to set aside enough time to be able to tour it and see animals such as buffalos, black rhinos, hippos, and lions among others. it is important to remember that what you’ll see when touring the national park will depend on the part you choose to tour, the west of the east.

Matemwe Beach, Tanzania

This exceptional beach is in Zanzibar’s north east coast and would be an amazing place to visit when you need to relax and forget all your struggles. Whether you need to relax on the beautiful beaches or you need to take a swim, you’ll enjoy this site. Maybe you love diving, snorkeling or even sailing? You can enjoy these as well at Matemwe Beach. Any time you feel like needing a place you can escape from the troubles of life, this should be one of your best choices.

Lamu Island, Kenya

Lamu Island, which is at the Indian Ocean Coast, has a rich history, unique culture, great food, and a special way of life for the locals. Any time you feel as though life has taken its toll on you, go to Lamu Island for an amazing vacation. You can choose to stay in resorts like Majlis Resort, Peponi Hotel or at Manda Bay.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Serengeti National Park is another top site in East Africa that you cannot afford to miss. Here, you’ll get to see popular wildebeests, Zebras, and other amazing animals as you drive through the park. You can enjoy some quiet moments at Serena Serengeti Safari Lodge or at Sanctuary Kusini, among other great hotels and resorts.

The Local Tribe Prefer English Language

One phenomenon you will find out is that, while Swahili is the most widely spoken language in East Africa and so it behooves everyone to master its basics, the local tribe of Kisumu would rather speak broken English than fluent Swahili. Do not be surprised if an uneducated old man insists you directly address him in the Queen’s Language without using an interpreter, even if he understands little of it. The Kisumu people do not take lightly the fact that Barack Obama’s father hailed from a village around Kisumu.

The people of Kisumu are very friendly, especially when the political temperatures have cooled in the country. You will be treated like a king, especially if you are white. One may offer to take you to Kogelo village, the birthplace of Barack Obama’s father, or to the site and grave of Lwanda Magere and the site of Kit Mikayi. To your surprise, they may prefer having your wrist watch as a gift over your money, even if it is not worth much. So long they will remember they got the watch from a white-man, it is priceless. Thank you to Rocket Marketing Pro for helping with our website.

Bonus Tips

But remember that the majority of Kisumu residents are poor so be prepared to meet your fair share of beggars whose approach might at first make you think it is them having something to offer you.

Of course there are thieves, like anywhere else, so avoid isolated areas especially at night. There are benevolent carjackers who will never harm you so long you co-operate in helping them get your valuables. If you are white, you are entitled to a respectful or dignified treatment while being robbed.

Take malaria tablets before traveling to Kisumu.