East Africa is without doubt one of the most magical places of the planet. From the wilds of the Serengeti and Masaai Mara, to the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda and mighty peaks of Kilimanjaro, Meru and Kenya, there’s a reason the best East Africa trekking holidays are considered some of the most popular in the world.
With many towering peaks, volcanic craters, forests, plains and parks to explore, combined with the iconic animal life, trekking here is as varied as it gets. Check out our picks of the best East Africa trekking holidays below, and remember that while Kilimanjaro is an epic adventure, it is just one of many incredible East Africa adventures you can enjoy.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
This majestic mountain, the tallest on the African continent and highest free-standing mountain on earth, has a name shrouded in mystery. It might mean Mountain of Light, Greatness or Caravans – the exact meaning is long lost. The summit is one of the world’s most accessible, with most climbers reaching the summit with little more than a walking stick, some warm clothing and will power.
Understandably many travelers are drawn to this enigmatic mountain, with Uhuru peak on Kibo being the highest point in Africa. Kilimanjaro’s two summit’s – the craggier Mawenzi at 5,149 metres and flatter Kibo at 5,896 metres – give views of glaciers, screes, alpine moorland and the vast plains all around in every direction.
Follow the Marangu Route through gentle forests up to 4,700 metres, or take the tougher Machame and Umbwe Routes through steep forest paths, scrambling over rocks – taking the Mweka route back down. Tour operators like Safiri Afrika offer these main routes, as well as the more remote Shira, Nanjara and Oloitokitok options.
Mount Meru, Tanzania
Kilimanjaro’s little sister, Meru, still stands at an impressive 4,566. This free-standing volcano is a four-day climb to the top and does involve some serious Grade C trekking so you need to have a high fitness level and some technical ability. Meru is also significantly less crowded than Kilimanjaro, which can get a little busy at certain times of the year.
The presence of certain wild animals on the mountain also mean you need an armed ranger to accompany your trekking adventure. There are a number of trekking companies, again including Safiri Afrika, that offer Meru adventures.
Mount Kenya, Kenya
Africa’s second highest peak, Mount Kenya is 5,199 metres tall and has routes suitable for everyone from serious technical climbers to novice hikers. There are three main routes, each taking between four and five days, called Naro Moru, Sirimoni and Chogoria.
Mount Elgon, Uganda
A huge volcano with the largest crater of all the East Africa peaks, and one of the largest calderas in the world. This is also much less crowded than Kilimanjaro and some of the other peaks, meaning there is a greater chance of spotting wildlife. You can also take a few hours out to soak in the waterfalls on the ascent, and hot springs inside the crater.
Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda/DRC
Home to the scintillating scenery of the Nyamwamba Valley and Africa’s third highest peak, Margherita, at 5,109 metres, found on mount Stanley. Follow the beautiful Kilembe route, passing through forests and valleys with diverse flora and fauna, including giant heather trees and fearns. It’s a technical trek, owing to the many crevasses, but all the scrambling is well worth the effort when you experience the view from the summit.
As well as tackling the East African peaks there is plenty of adventure to be found at lower altitudes. Experience a camping safari to Lake Manyara, marvel at the Ngorongoro crater and explore the legendary Serengeti national park. With many trekking options available, ranging from two-day to week-long treks, this is the perfect accompaniment and training for a tougher mountain trek.
If you’re looking to create the best East Africa trekking holidays Safiri Afrika have a range of walking safaris to choose from. You can experience luxury or budget camping, private tented safaris or a luxury hotel safari. Popular destinations include Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Mikumi, Ruaha, Arusha park, the Ngorongoro crater and the legendary Serengeti national park.