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East African Countries

East African Countries

Five nations comprise the East African Community (EAC): Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia which are collectively known as The Horn of Africa is also typically considered part of East Africa. Comoros, Mauritius and Seychelles are small island nations in the Indian Ocean while Mozambique and Madagascar are often considered part of Southern Africa. Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe – often also included in Southern Africa, and formerly of the Central African Federation.

The region offers some of the world’s most exciting outdoor tourism. Most countries in the region were colonized by United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, Belgium and France

Climate in this part of the continent is unusually cool and dry for an equatorial region, due to its mountainous configuration and westerly monsoon effects. The world’s third highest ‘Mount Kilimanjaro’ is situated in this East African and over 20,000 visitors reach its summit each year. Also, the largest river in the world, the Nile, runs through East Africa. Its source, Lake Victoria, is the world’s largest tropical lake. Lake Tanganyika, the world’s second deepest, is the source of the Congo river system. The lakes, rivers and tributaries of East Africa are among the world’s best for all forms of swimming, scuba and whitewater activity.

East Africa is also home to amazing concentrations of large wild animals, most famously the great ape, elephant, lion, rhinoceros, and wildebeest. All types of corporate and independent guided tours through the outdoor beauty are available. In this article will take you through some of the things you need to know about the history, economy and politics of the following East African countries. Sit down, relax and enjoy this piece!

South Sudan

South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 and Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city. South Sudan is notable for having a varied geology. Part of the country lies in the region of the Sahara Desert, but the Nile River flows through the middle section of the country. Due to this, the nation is vulnerable to floods whenever there is a torrential rainfall. Couple of months ago, thousands of people fled their homes, houses were destroyed and more than hundred people died.

In recent years, Sudan had been marred with political violence as a result a conflict between President Salva Kirr and his Vice which led to the death of thousands of its citizens. During this political violence, UN report had it that, Sudan were recruiting child soldiers; which now raised a question if the country’s civil war is back?. But, South Sudan government refuted the claim and later agreed with the UN for new international peacekeeping force to come in and save the nation from going into another era of civil war.

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the countries known as “the horn of Africa”. Legend has it that the Ark of the Covenant has been secreted away in a tiny Ethiopian village for centuries. The most striking geological element in the country is its division by the Great Rift Valley. This fissure was caused by volcanic lava deep within the canyons and gorges. Ethiopia is also blanketed by thick jungle, and is home to many rivers and lakes. Its capital, Adida Ababa, is among the most beautiful cities in Africa. Recently, Ethiopia became Africa’s largest producer of coffee which had led its to be among the top 15 fastest growing economies in Africa with a GDP growth of 4.5 percent. The first East African plant by South Korea’s Kia Motors Corp will be on Ethiopia soil with a mega deal signed with a local company to start assembling cars.

 
Eritrea

This small country has a very varied terrain. The interior of Eritrea is dominated by the Ethiopian Highlands that rise over 7,000 feet. Within these highlands can be found scattered rivers and streams. The coastal region of the country is bordered by the Red Sea and is actually semiarid in climatic conditions.

Kenya

One of the most well-known countries of East Africa is Kenya with coastline on the Indian Ocean. There are lowlands in both the northern and coastal regions of the country. Down south Kenya becomes flat and very dry. The Rift Valley also slices through Kenya, having created lakes as well as volcanic peaks rising to 17,000 feet. Kenya is east African biggest economy and its also among top 10 investment destination in Africa. September 2016, Kenya signed a business deal with Volkswagen South Africa to assemble cars in the country. And with the way its economy is fast growing, Kenya’s vision could transformed the country into a middle-income economy by 2030. With the recent visit of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, it shows that Kenyan developers are the best in East Africa. Kenya is also ranked among the most friendly African countries for expatriates In 2016. Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar-award winning actress who took Hollywood by storm is a Kenyan and she is doing this great continent proud.

Uganda

The highlight of any visit to Uganda will take you to the southeastern corner, where you will find Lake Victoria. The land is very mountainous otherwise, with elevations between 3,000 and 6,000 feet quite common. Mountains reaching over 16,000 feet run alongside the western border, while to the east you’ll find Mt. Elgon, which is an impressive 14,000 feet. Uganda is also among the most friendly African countries for expatriates in 2016 and its occupies 25th position globally.

Just like Lupita Nyong’o from Kenya, Florence Kasumba, German actress of Ugandan origin, also took Hollywood by storm early this year after she appeared in the most popular film “Captain America: Civil War”. Arguably, Uganda president, Yoweri Museveni is currently the best president in East Africa with his leadership quality and excellent work since 30 years that he had been in power.

This came with the backing of former vice president, Prof Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya, asking the country’s parliament to enact a law that will enable President Museveni to rule for life. In terms of economy, Uganda will become the first East African Country to open a gold refinery by the end of 2016 after signing a deal with a Belgian investor. Also, its government recently reduced single entry visa to boost tourism and i think that’s a great move from the path of the government and it’s a good news for tourists that are willing to travel to the country. Uganda is also among the East African countries who offer free public WiFi services to its citizens.

Seychelles

The Seychelles is actually an archipelago that is made up of roughly 90 small islands within the Indian Ocean. The Mahe group of islands are rocky with interior mountains. The Coralline islands are coral and inhospitable. The climate of the Seychelles is warm and wet.

Burundi

Burundi is mainly a country of plateaus. The Great Rift Valley has done its work here as well, creating peaks that rise 7,000 feet as well as having a hand in the shaping of long and narrow Lake Tanganyika. The high elevation of Burundi helps to moderate the otherwise tropical climate.

List of Southern African Countries

List of Southern African Countries

%name List of Southern African Countries

Southern Africa Countries

This are the southernmost region of the African continent, comprising the countries of Angola, Botswana,Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The island nation of Madagascar is excluded because of its distinct language and cultural heritage. The interior of Southern Africa consists of a series of undulating plateaus that cover most of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana and extend into central Angola. Contiguous with this are uplands in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Coastal mountains and escarpments, flanking the high ground, are found in northern Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, and along the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border. Coastal plains about the Indian Ocean in Mozambique and the Atlantic in Angola and Namibia. Below are some of the things you need to know about the Southern African countries.

South Africa

The Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost sovereign state in Africa. It is bounded on the south by 2,798 kilometres of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, on the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and on the east and northeast by Mozambique and Swaziland, and surrounding the kingdom of Lesotho.

South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and also the world’s 24th-most populous nation. It is the only country that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, ivied among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status.

South Africa is a multi ethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution’s recognition of 11 official languages, which is among the highest number of any country in the world.

Two of these languages are of European origin: Afrikaans developed from Dutch and serves as the first language of most white and coloured South Africans; English reflects the legacy of British colonialism, and is commonly used in public and commercial life, though it is fourth-ranked as a spoken first language. The country is one of the few in Africa never to have had a coup d’état, and regular elections have been held for almost a century. However, the vast majority of black South Africans were not enfranchised until 1994.

Since 1994, all ethnic and linguistic groups have had political representation in the country’s democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. South Africa is often referred to as the “Rainbow Nation” to describe the country’s newly developing multicultural diversity in the wake of segregationist apartheid ideology.

The World Bank classifies South Africa as an upper-middle-income economy, and a newly industrialized country. Its economy is the largest in Africa and its also among the Africa’s richest countries. However, this is contrary to the fact that at least a quarter of the country’s population is unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 per day. Nevertheless, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence. The first Africa’s solar powered airport is in South Africa named George airport.

Botswana

Officially the Republic of Botswana is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens refer to themselves as Batswana. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966. Since then, it has maintained a strong tradition of stable representative democracy, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections.

Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert.

Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated nations in the world. Around 10 percent of the population lives in the capital and largest city, Gaborone. Formerly one of the poorest countries in the world—with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960. Botswana is among the world’s most peaceful countries in the Global Peace Index 2016.

The country has been among the hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The death rate due to AIDS or AIDS-related causes has fallen sharply (57%) from 2005 to 2013 and the number of new infections in children has also fallen. Despite the success in programmes to make treatments available to those infected, and to educate the populace in general about how to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, the number of people with AIDS rose from 290,000 in 2005 to 320,000 in 2013. Despite these reasons for hope, Botswana has the third highest prevalence rate for HIV AIDS, reported in 2014.

Lesotho

Officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is an enclaved, landlocked country in southern Africa completely surrounded by South Africa. It is just over 30,000 km(11,583 sq mi) in size and has a population slightly over two million. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sesotho. About 40% of the population lives below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day.

Namibia

Officially, the Republic of Namibia is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by the San, Damara, and Nama peoples. Since about the 14th century, immigrating Bantu peoples arrived as part of the Bantu expansion. Since then the Bantu groups in total, known as the Ovambo people, have dominated the population of the country and since the late 19th century, have constituted a large majority.

Namibia has a population of 2.1 million people and a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, herding, tourism and the mining industry – including mining for gem diamonds, uranium, gold, silver, and base metals – form the basis of its economy. The large, arid Namib Desert has resulted in Namibia being overall one of the least densely populated countries in the world. Namibia enjoys high political, economic and social stability.

Swaziland

The Kingdom of Swaziland is a sovereign state in Southern Africa. It is neighboured by Mozambique to its east and by South Africa to its north, west and south. The country and its people take their names from Mswati II, the 19th-century king under whose rule Swazi territory was expanded and unified. The Swaziland is well known for its culture “Umhlanga”, held in August/September and “incwala”, the kingship dance held in December/January, are the nation’s most important events.

The population is primarily ethnic Swazis whose language is Swati. They established their kingdom in the mid-18th century under the leadership of Ngwane III; the present boundaries were drawn up in 1881. After the Anglo-Boer War, Swaziland was a British protectorate from 1903 until 1967. It regained its independence on 6 September 1968.

The country is an absolute monarchy, currently ruled by Ngwenyama (“King”) Mswati III. He is head of state and appoints the country’s prime ministers and a number of representatives of both chambers (Senate and House of Assembly) in the country’s parliament. Elections are held every five years to determine the House of Assembly majority. The current constitution was adopted in 2005.

Swaziland is a developing country with a small economy. It’s GDP per capita of $9,714 means it is classified as a country with a lower-middle income. As a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), its main local trading partner is South Africa. Swaziland’s currency, the lilangeni, is pegged to the South African rand. Swaziland’s major overseas trading partners are the United States and the European Union. The majority of the country’s employment is provided by its agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

The Swazi population faces major health issues: HIV/AIDS and, to a lesser extent, tuberculosis are serious challenges. As of 2013, Swaziland has an estimated life expectancy of 50 years.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa known for its dramatic landscape and diverse wildlife, much of it within parks, reserves and safari areas. On the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls make a thundering 108m drop into narrow Batoka Gorge, where there’s white-water rafting and bungee-jumping. Downstream are Matusadona and Mana Pools national parks, home to hippos, rhinos and birdlife.

The Republic of Zimbabwe is an ethnically diverse nation, with a population of around 13 million people. Its official languages are English, Shona, Ndebele. The nation has poor human rights record. Zimbabwe has a presidential system of government. Gold, mineral exports, agriculture and tourism are the main foreign currency earners of the country. The mining sector continues to be very lucrative.

List of Northern African Countries

List of Northern African Countries

%name List of Northern African Countries 

North Africa also includes a number of Spanish possessions (Ceuta and Melilla and tiny Spanish islets off the coast of Morocco). The Canary Islands and Madeira in the North Atlantic Ocean northwest of the African mainland are included in considerations of the region.

The distinction between North Africa and much of Sub-Saharan Africa is historically and ecologically significant because of the effective barrier created by the Sahara Desert for much of modern history. From 3500 BC, following the abrupt desertification of the Sahara due to gradual changes in the Earth’s orbit, this barrier has culturally separated the North from the rest of the continent.

As the seafaring civilizations of the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Muslims and others facilitated communication and migration across the Mediterranean Sea, the cultures of North Africa became much more closely tied to South western Asia and Europe than Sub-Saharan Africa. The Islamic influence in the area is also significant, and North Africa is a major part of the Muslim world. In this article, “How Africa” will take you through some of the things you need to know about the North African countries, in terms of history, culture, economy, technology and politics.

Algeria

Algeria, officially the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is a sovereign state in North Africa on the Mediterranean coast. Its capital and most populous city is Algiers, located in the Country’s far north. With an area of 2,381,741 square kilometres (919,595 sq mi), Algeria is the tenth-largest country in the world, and the largest in Africa.

Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by the Western Saharan territory, Mauritania, and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea. The country is a semi-presidential republic consisting of 48 provinces and 1,541 communes (counties). Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been President since 1999.

Algeria is a regional and middle power. The North African country supplies large amounts of natural gas to Europe, and energy exports are the backbone of the economy. According to OPEC Algeria has the 17th largest oil reserves in the world and the second largest in Africa, while it has the 9th largest reserves of natural gas. Riyad Mahrez of Algeria is the first African player to have won PFA player of the year award in the English premiership after his club, Leicester City emerged champion in 2015/2016 season.

Egypt

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, and across from the Sinai Peninsula lies Saudi Arabia, although Jordan and Saudi Arabia do not share a land border with Egypt. It is the world’s only contiguous Eurafrasian nation.

Egypt has the longest histories of any modern country, emerging as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government.

Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest worldwide. Ancient Egyptian Prince Khaemwaset was the World’s first archaeologist. Egypt’s rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and at times assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European.

One of the earliest centers of Christianity, Egypt was Islamized in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority. Most Egyptians believed their descendant were not black that’s why they don’t really see themselves as part of Africa. Recently, one of Egyptian scholars revealed their true descendant saying they were truly black according to history.

In terms of economy, its economy is among the biggest in Africa with a GDP of $270 billion according to latest projections in 2016 by IMF. Egyptian universities are always ranked among the best in Africa and World. In 2015, Egypt became the world’s fourth-biggest weapons importer, spending almost US$2.3 billion according Global Defence Trade Report. Also, its army is ranked the first greatest African military and 12th of 126 greatest world militaries.

Libya

Libya, officially the State of Libya is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west. The three traditional parts of the country are Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica.

With an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometres (700,000 sq mi), Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa, and is the 16th largest country in the world. Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world. 

Libya was an early center of Christianity. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the area of Libya was mostly occupied by the Vandals until the 7th century, when invasions brought Islam and Arab colonization. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish Empire and the Knights of St John occupied Tripoli, until Ottoman rule began in 1551.

Libya was involved in the Barbary Wars of the 18th and 19th centuries. Ottoman rule continued until the Italian occupation of Libya resulted in the temporary Italian Libya colony from 1911 to 1943. During the Second World War Libya was an important area of warfare in the North African Campaign. The Italian population then went into decline. Libya became an independent kingdom in 1951.

Morocco

Morocco is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. Geographically, Morocco is characterized by rugged mountainous interior and large portions of desert. It is one of only three countries (with Spain and France) to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines.

Morocco has a population of over 33.8 million and an area of 446,550 km2 (172,410 sq mi). Its political capital is Rabat. The largest city is Casablanca. Other major cities include Marrakesh, Tangier, Tetouan,Salé, Fes, Agadir, Meknes, Oujda, Kenitra, and Nador. A historically prominent regional power, Morocco has a history of independence not shared by its neighbours. Its distinct culture is a blend of Arab, indigenous Berber, Sub-Saharan African, and European influences. Also, the world oldest library is in Fez, Morocco.

Morocco is the only African country that’s not a member of African Union. The north African country withdrew from the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1984 over the admission of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara) as a full member of the body. But, Morocco has officially applied to rejoin African Union after been isolated for 32 years. Early this year, Morocco launched one of the world’s largest solar thermal plants at Ouarzazate, which supplies power to over one million people.

Sudan

Sudan also known as North Sudan and officially the Republic of the Sudan is a country in north eastern Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Eritrea, and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. It is the third largest country in Africa. The River Nile divides the country into eastern and western halves. Its predominant religion is Islam.

Sudan was home to numerous ancient civilizations, such as the Kingdom of Kush, Kerma, Nobatia, Alodia, Makuria,Meroë and others, most of which flourished along the Nile. During the pre-dynastic period Nubia and Nagadan Upper Egypt were identical, simultaneously evolved systems of pharaonic kingship by 3300 BC. By virtue of its proximity to Egypt, the Sudan participated in the wider history of the Near East inasmuch as it was Christianized by the 6th century, and Islamized in the 15th.

As a result of Christianization, the Old Nubian language stands as the oldest recorded Nilo-Saharan language (earliest records dating to the 9th century). Sudan was the largest country in Africa and the Arab world until 2011, when South Sudan separated into an independent country, following an independence referendum. Sudan is now the third largest country in Africa (after Algeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and also the third largest country in the Arab world (after Algeria and Saudi Arabia).

Sudan is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as an observer in the World Trade Organization. Its capital is Khartoum, the political, cultural and commercial centre of the nation. It is a presidential representative democratic federal republic. The politics of Sudan is regulated by a parliamentary organization called the National Assembly. The Sudanese legal system is based on Islamic law.

Tunisia

Tunisia, officially the Tunisian Republic is the northernmost country in Africa, covering 165,000 square kilometres (64,000 square miles). Its northernmost point, Cape Angela, is the northernmost point on the African continent. It is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Tunisia’s population was estimated to be just fewer than 11 million in 2014. Tunisia’s name is derived from its capital city, Tunis, which is located on Tunisia’s northeast coast.

Geographically, Tunisia contains the eastern end of the Atlas Mountains and the northern reaches of the Sahara desert. Much of the rest of the country’s land is fertile soil. Its 1,300 kilometres (810 miles) of coastline includes the African conjunction of the western and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Basin and, by means of the Sicilian Straitand Sardinian Channel, features the African mainland’s second and third nearest points to Europe after Gibraltar.

Tunisia is a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic. It is considered to be the only full democracy in the Arab World. It has a high human development index. It has an association agreement with the European Union; is a member of La Francophonie, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Arab League, the OIC, the Greater Arab Free Trade Area, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77; and has obtained the status of major non-NATO ally of the United States. In addition, Tunisia is also a member state of the United Nations and a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Close relations with Europe  – in particular with France and with Italy– have been forged through economic cooperation, privatisation and industrial modernization.

Activities to Do in Karatu Tanzania

Activities to Do in Karatu Tanzania

karatu Activities to Do in Karatu Tanzania

Karatu, Tanzania is a colorful  town which serves as a relaxing pause after wildlife safari. Located along the northern safari circuit, Karatu serves as gateway to the Ngorongoro Highlands and is located between Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater.

Due to its location, many safari goers end up overnight or stopping here for a quick break earning it the nickname “Safari Junction”. The busy downtown of Karatu is a mix of old and new with safari vehicles, local buses, and brightly colored  tuk-tuks riding alongside Maasai herders and ox-carts, while just outside town cultivated Iraqw farms and villages merge into the green vegetation of the Ngorongoro Forest.

Whether you are looking for cultural tours, hiking and biking opportunities, a chance to enjoy a slice of peaceful rural Tanzania, or simply a break from the dusty safari game drives, we think you should consider a stop in this underrated town. Here is our list of the top 10 things to do in Karatu Tanzania based on our visit. 

Top 10 Things to Do in Karatu Tanzania

As we noted, there are few guides written on things to do in Karatu. In fact, here is Lonely Planet’s description of Karatu: “This charmless town 14km southeast of Lodoare gate makes a convenient base for visiting Ngorongoro if you want to economize on entry fees” and the popular guidebook lists practically no suggestions for things to do.

We would not say Karatu is charming exactly (not sure we’d describe any of the towns in Tanzania as “charming”), but we found Karatu to be a delightful bustling town that serves as a great stop for a bit of relaxation between game parks and an excellent place to engage in some cultural tourism.

We chose to explore the area with a local guide and specifically arranged a few different guided tours with friendly and knowledgable Richard Njuga, coordinator of the Ganako Karatu Cultural Tourism Program. Proceeds from the cultural tours are used to support local environmental, educational, and health projects through KCECHO, a non-profit organization in Karatu. Almost all the listed experiences in this article can be arranged through Ganako Karatu and your hotelier who might offer additional options as well. Below is our top 10 things to do in Karatu in no particular order.

Take a Karatu Town Tour

A great way to  spend a couple of hours is to take a stroll around the town of Karatu. Visit the marketplace where you can explore rainbow-colored stalls and small shops that sell a bit of everything from vegetables and spices to Tinga Tinga paintings and carved wooden ornaments. This is a great place to barter for souvenirs and mingle with the locals. Along the way you might want to stop at a street vendor for a local snack such as fried cassava, chapati (fried flat bread), or fried bananas.

Keep a look out for the little mobile kiosks alongside the main road which have some colorful American namesakes such as the Mrs. Obama and John Kerry gift shops (there is also a Obama Hotel in town) which were featured in the The Amazing Race. In addition to the marketplace, we’d recommend venturing to one of the local brickmaking sites as brickmaking serves as a major industry in the area and the process is interesting to watch. If you are interested in a richer exploration of the town, consider booking a guided tour which can likely be arranged from your hotel or through the Ganako Karatu Cultural Tourism Program. 

Drink the Local Coffee

Tanzanian coffee may not have the international recognition of coffee from nearby countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya, but coffee has been grown in Tanzania for centuries and is one of the country’s largest exports. Karatu is an ideal growing area because of the mineral-rich volcanic soil and the altitude of the northern highlands.

There are a number of coffee plantations in the area, including the plantation at the well-known Gibb’s FarmShangri-La Estate  which produces NgoroNgoro Mountain Coffee, Blackburn Coffee Estate, and Ngila Coffee Estate. You can decide your level of interest in the local brew from simply sipping some of the local coffee at your lodge, buying a bag of beans to take back home, visiting a coffee plantation to learn the coffee production process, or actually staying on a working farm and coffee plantation such as Gibb’s Farm or the Shangri-La Estate.

Visit a Local Brewery

Travelers should try the local coffee while in Karatu; however, we also found out that Karatu has another type of brew for those wanting to be a bit more adventurous. It is probably best to visit with a guide but almost any local can also point you towards the brewery. We followed our guide Richard away from the market and through a maze of streets to the local brewery. The beer is boiled in one smoky room and stirred, fermented, bottled, and drank in another large room.

For less than a dollar, you are welcome to sample a cup of the beer. Richard asked that they give us beer that had been recently boiled to avoid any gastrointestinal issues (the safety and sanitation standards are not exactly up to par with Coors). A woman used a ladle to scoop a plastic cup full of beer from a plastic bucket of warm beer. The beer was warm and chewy as there were grains still remaining, but surprisingly it was mild and smooth in flavor. We made some quick (and tipsy) friends at the brewery before parting who seemed amused at our visit. We also walked by some other local people nearby who were grinding corn and other grains to be used for beer and spirits.

Volunteer your Time to a Worthy Project

There are a number of potential volunteer and charity opportunities in and around Karatu where you can benefit the local schools and orphanages, community centers, churches, or environment. Such opportunities can take place over the course of a day or last months depending on your interests and background. Remember that while you may want to work directly with kids, unless you can devote a significant amount of time (e.g., be a steady presence), it is less disruptive to children to help in other ways such as building school furniture, putting up a fence at the local orphanage, collecting school supplies, or painting a classroom.

It is best to commit to a project in advance so that the organizer can be prepared for your visit. Even if you don’t want to volunteer your actual time, you can still donate to a local project by donating money or supplies (e.g., school or medical supplies). Given our healthcare background, we took the time to visit the non-profit Foundation for African Medicine and Education (FAME) clinic and hospital founded and run by American husband-wife team Dr. Frank Artres and Susan Gustafson. Our visit here and discussion with both “Dr. Frank” and Susan was really inspiring and the clinic is an amazing example of what people can do when they dedicate their time to making a difference! Free guided visits to FAME can be arranged but must be done so in advance.

Explore the Karatu Iraqw Market

On the seventh day of each month a large market springs up in Karatu with a smaller version also taking place on the 25th of each month. This bimonthly market with local Iraqw vendors sells handicrafts, livestock, food, spices, clothing, household goods, pottery, and other items. A visit to the market is a great opportunity to pick up some unique souvenirs and stretch your legs. If your visit doesn’t correspond with the dates of the market, you can still visit the marketplace in Karatu town. 

Learn about the Iraqw culture

The Iraqw people are a Cushitic-speaking ethnic group who are well-known for their agricultural skills. The Iraqw have a large presence in the Karatu region and you can learn more about the Iraqw culture by interacting at the local markets, visiting a village, or even arranging a homestay. We took a hiking tour with Richard at Ganako-Karatu to an area studded with small Iraqw villages, farms, and homes just outside of Karatu. While many Iraqw now live in more modern housing, some Iraqw still live in traditional Iraqw houses made of mud, sticks, and straw.

Historically, the Iraqw and Maasai were warring tribes (there is still some animosity between some members of these groups) and the Iraqw devised a way to keep the Maasai from being able to steal their cattle by building their homes up against hillsides and keeping the animals inside the home. At night Maasai raiders would not be able to locate the homes or animal pens as they’d walk right along the roofs without realizing the Iraqw were dwelling inside with their goats and cattle. Along the hike we were able to see some of the traditional homes, meet some locals tending to their animals and crops, and even got to both try our hands at grinding and pounding maize.

We also visited a homestead of a lovely Iraqw woman who lives with her eight children and her mother in a traditional home. Sadly the husband/father ran out on the family several years ago, making it very difficult for the family to earn a living. We were offered seats on wooden stools and cups of hot tea. While no one in the family speaks English, we were able to converse a bit with the family with Richard serving as a translator.

Chickens, goats, and dog walk in and out of the home with a goat pen located in the center of the home and a cattle pen outside. It was very humbling to see how simply the family lives and it is clear that they sometimes struggle to be able to feed and clothe themselves. There was definitely something voyeuristic about the visit akin to slum tourism, but we learned from Richard that this family depends on the supplemental income from visits (Richard provides them with some money from each tour and they often receive tips from visitors) to be able to provide for the children. If you visit a homestead, it is appreciated if you leave a small monetary (preferably in Tanzanian shillings) or food donation to the visited family if you enjoyed their hospitality.

Search for Elephant Caves and Waterfalls in the Ngorongoro Forest Highlands

Nature lovers will want to consider a walk in the Ngorongoro Forest Highlands which is a nice compliment to a visit to the Ngorongoro Crater. With a guide, you’ll learn about medicinal plants, view a number of bird species, watch waterfalls tumble down a cliff, and see the elephant caves. If you are lucky, you may also see a number of animals who live in the forest such as elephants, buffalo, baboons, and various reptiles. The so-called elephant caves are where elephants, as well as a number of other species, come to extract salt and other minerals from the soil.

We saw lots of evidence of elephants and buffalo along the paths in the form of dung, vegetation destruction, and footprints, but the only animals we spotted were baboons and birds. The entrance to the trail is located near Gibb’s Farm and while you can come here independently or with a local guide, you’ll be required to have one of the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority guides with you once you pass the entry booth. The Endoro Gate Post is open from 7:30am – 4:00pm (7:30-16:00) and the hike is best done in the cooler morning hours as it requires some moderate exertion. Come prepared with sun protection, good walking shoes, and insect repellent and remember that while your chances of seeing a buffalo or elephants aren’t high these animals walk these same paths every day.

Hike or Bike in the Countryside

If you need a break from being cooped up in a safari vehicle all day, Karatu is a place where you get out and explore on your own two feet. Whether you want to bike along a dirt country road to take in pastoral scenery, hike inside the lush Ngorongoro Highland Forest, or climb a hill for some great views, you can find something that will appeal. Tours catering to specific interests such as medicinal plants or ornithology can also be arranged with a local knowledgable guide.

Also, just because you are outside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area doesn’t mean the animals stick to the boundaries, and buffalo, elephants, baboons, hyena, bushback, and other animals are often spotted around the countryside of Karatu. Ask your hotelier for help in arranging for bike rentals (consider if you’ll need regular bikes or mountain bikes) and to find out about scenic walking and hiking opportunities.

Use Karatu as a Base for Day Trips

Many budget and camping safari operators use Karatu as a base for visits to the nearby Ngorongoro Crater as the town is located not far from the gate to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and a stay in Karatu may save money on entrance fees and lodging. In addition to visits to the amazing Ngorongoro Crater, Karatu can also be used as a base for day trips to Lake Manyara, Lake Eyasi (where the Hadzabe Bushmen reside), Mlima Nyoka (climb “Snake Hill” for some great views), Oldean Village (a historical German settlement), and hikes along the Rift Valley. It can also be used as a base to visit Tarangire National Park, but we would not recommend it as it is a long drive. Depending on the day trip, you’ll want to take into account the extra time you might need to spend driving back and forth in relation to any cost savings or added convenience of staying in Karatu. 

Relax and Recharge 

Most travelers arriving in Karatu have been riding along dusty, bumpy roads, standing in Jeeps to observe the local wildlife, and eating lunches out of a box. Some are only a day or two into their safari while others have been at it for a week or more. Karatu is a perfect place to relax and recharge your traveler batteries. It can be the perfect place to enjoy a soft bed, a day without a full safari sightseeing schedule, and the peace of rural Tanzania. Karatu offers a range of accommodations from basic campsites to luxury lodges.

We stayed for two nights at the Karatu Simba Lodge and enjoyed having two full days to sleep in, relax by the pool, do some reading and blogging, go hiking, and take in cultural activities. If you are looking for some extra luxury, consider booking a lodge with massage and spa services such as Gibb’s Farm or Kitela Lodge. As amazing as seeing lions and elephants every day can be, sometimes you need a break to better appreciate the experience and to give your back a break from those bumpy roads!

So there are our top 10 things to do in Karatu Tanzania! We found Karatu to be a delightful bustling town that serves as a great stop for a bit of relaxation between game parks and an excellent place to engage in some cultural tourism. Those traveling through Karatu may want to spend a day or two exploring this often overlooked town.

Do you agree with Lonely Planet’s opinion or would you consider a stop here to explore this colorful town? If you’ve been, we’d love to hear about your visit and opinion on things to do in Karatu. Any questions about visiting Karatu, just ask us!

Volcanoes to Climb in East Africa

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Volcanoes to Climb in East Africa

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Africa has much to offer those willing and brave enough to venture to this beautiful continent. Many activities are at every tourist’s disposal, including safaris deep into the Serengeti, shopping in the many local markets and bazaars, or even a visit to one of the many pristine beaches found in the North and South.

All of these are great options to consider during one’s trip, but nothing will be quite as memorable as a climb to the top of some of the most beautiful (and still active) volcanoes this side of the world has to offer.

The most well-known Kilimanjaro is talked about and often frequented by climbing enthusiasts from around the world.

Below are the 8 best volcanoes you have to climb during your next trip to Africa.

1. Mount Kilimanjaro

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Mount Kilimanjaro – Hikers Underway on Their Journey

Mount Kilimanjaro, nicknamed as the roof of Africa, has earned its name for good reason – if you reach the top of this mountain, you’ll be at the highest point in all of Africa. Not only the highest mountain, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest dormant volcano.

Kilimanjaro is a great place for intermediate climbers since technical skills or special equipment are not a requirement to be able to complete the climb. Rather, one must simply be in great physical condition and be able to undertake extreme physical exertion during this climb.

Starting at the bottom, you’ll have six different routes you can choose to take, all of which include their own level of difficulty. Choose accordingly, as not only the difficulty varies, but also the scenery you’ll be taking in during your climb to the top.

2. Mount Meru

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Mount Meru – Known as Mount Kilimanjaro’s Neighbor

Known as Kilimanjaro’s neighbor, Mount Meru is the second-highest mountain in Tanzania measuring in at nearly 4,565 meters high. Living in the shadows of Kilimanjaro’s legacy, Mount Meru offers an excellent climb with both impressive views and a diverse rainforest that will accompany you for most of your journey.

For climbers who wish to climb Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru is an excellent starting point to first become accustomed since both ranges are quite similar to one another. Expect the full climb to require between 3-4 days.

3. Mount Kenya

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Mount Kenya – East Africa’s Most Difficult Volcano to Climb

Kenya’s highest mountain, Mount Kenya, has its highest peak measuring in at roughly 5200 meters. This extinct volcano is considered as East Africa’s most difficult technical climb, requiring climbers between a half week and up to a full week to complete.

The peaks of Batian and Nelion both require technical climbing ability, whereas Lenana is a better option for those with no previous technical climbing skills.

4. Mount Elgon

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Mount Elgon – Packed with Caves, Gorges and Waterfalls

Mount Elgon sits between the borders of both Kenya and Uganda, and contains 5 total peaks. The two highest peaks include Wagagai (4,321 meters high, located on the Uganda side) and Sudek (4,301 meters high, and found in Kenya). Packed with caves, gorges and waterfalls, expect plenty of beautiful sights along the way.

In order to climb Mount Elgon, you’ll need to hire an official guide. One should also expect to spend about 5 days total when climbing to its highest peaks.

5. Simien Mountains

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Mount Simien – Home to One of Africa’s Rarest Species

The Simien Mountains include an array of peaks above the 4,000 meters’ range including the well-known Ras Dejen, at 4,533 meters. Located in Ethiopia, the Simien climb is a great option if you’re interested in wildlife and visiting one of Africa’s rarest species – the Ethiopian wolf. Additionally, the gelada baboon and Ibex can be found in the range’s gorges and valleys.

The climb length varies greatly, and depending on the chosen route, expect to spend anywhere between 1 and 12 days on this mountain range.

6. Mount Karisimbi

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Mount Karisimbi – Sitting Between Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of Congo

At its highest peak, Mount Karisimbi is situated at roughly 4,507 meters, and the fifth highest volcano in Africa. Mount Karisimbi is situated between Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of Congo, and finds itself located inside of the famous Volcanoes National Park. Along the climb, expect to see various primates, as well as the popular gorillas that inhabit the park.

The total climb will require 2 days, including one night of camping.

7. Mount Nyiragongo

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Mount Nyiragongo – Home to The World’s Largest Lava Lake

Mount Nyiragongo is yet another active volcano located in East Africa, with a total elevation of 3,470 meters. Certainly one for the more adventurous types, this volcanoes’ most recent eruption recently occurred in 2002, and it continues to be active.

This volcano is home to the world’s largest lava lake, and is another great reason why this climb is worth your time. A spectacular night view from the top directly into the caldera, no climb is complete without a night spent in the mountain’s tiny man-made cabins.

Expect two days to complete the hike up Mount Nyiragongo.

8. Mulanje Massif

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Mulanje Massif – Africa’s Largest Unbroken Climbing Wall

Also known by its name Mount Mulanje, Mulanje Massif reaches an elevation of 3,002 meters at its highest peak, Sapitwa. Scattered along the hike, many rental huts can be found which make this mountain also a popular destination for campers and hikers alike.

Most of Muljanje Massif’s peaks can be reached without the need for technical climbing. It is worth the note that the first day of the ascent is very steep, and can be quite demanding.

This mountain range also includes Africa’s longest unbroken wall, allowing rock climbers an uninterrupted 1,700 meter climb.

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