A visit to East Africa is an extraordinary and unforgettable experience, as it allows tourists to enjoy a range of activities such as water sports, safaris, mountain climbing, and cultural tours. Some travelers, however, would like a more authentic insight into the local life and culture, so they want to partake in non-touristy activities during their stay. Here is a guide to the 10 best non touristy things that you can do in East Africa during your vacation.
SHOP AT LOCAL MARKETS
Shopping at local marketplaces is a great way to immerse oneself in the culture of the region. In East Africa, one can enjoy bargaining for lower prices, and observing the colorful vibrance of the markets. Tourists can watch local craftsmen and artisans as they demonstrate their skills, and buy from them to support the local economy.
TRAVEL IN A DALA DALA
A dala dala is a minibus that operates in most areas of East Africa. Traveling in a Dala Dala is very cheap, and gives a very authentic experience of local culture. Dala Dalas can be a bit uncomfortable or crowded, but they are generally safe and offer an enjoyable experience to visitors.
EAT STREET FOOD
Instead of visiting top class restaurants and eateries, one can enjoy the street food that provides the taste of local cuisine. Ugali is a staple food, served with Nyama Choma (grilled meat), so it is a must-have for tourists. Travelers can also enjoy dishes such as Kuku Paka (spicy curry), biryani (spiced rice), Mshikaki (meat skewers), fried fish, Mandazi (doughnuts), date nut bread, and octopus curry.
JOIN A FISH AUCTION
Fish auctions are an integral part of local culture, so tourists can visit Darajani Market to buy fresh seafood by offering prices at an auction. This is a fun filled experience, and offers an insight into local lifestyle.
TAKE A WALK IN STONE TOWN
Tourists can walk in the winding streets of Stone Town and observe the historical Swahili architecture. The city is home to an Old Fort, ancient houses, and historic graves. It is also a good idea to visit local marketplaces and vendors.
GO FISHING WITH THE LOCALS
Fishing is an important activity that is the backbone of the economy in many regions of East Africa. Tourists can join the locals as they go fishing, at locations such as Kilwa, Lupita Island, Lake Manyara, Kiunga, and Lake Victoria.
VISIT A LOCAL VILLAGE
A cultural tour to local villages such as Matemwe, Jambiani, Bomas, and Makangale, is an enriching experience. Tourists can observe indigenous populations and learn about their rich culture and history. They can taste local food, learn about their rituals and lifestyles, and watch tribal music and dance performances. This can also find ancient tools.
EAT FRESH SEAFOOD
At beaches in East Africa, tourists can find fresh seafood, which includes squid, prawns, lobster, crabs, shrimp, tuna, octopus, scallops, oysters, mussels, and calamari.
SUPPORT A LOCAL BUSINESS
East Africa has a number of small businesses led by women, such as the Seaweed Center where women make products out of seaweed, and the Kazuri Factory which employs disadvantaged local women for bead-making and pottery. Visitors can help the local economy, and buy souvenirs and keepsakes.
TASTE FRESH FRUITS
East Africa is known for its unique biodiversity and flora and fauna. Here, tourists can find a range of fresh fruits, spices, and vegetables, which they can taste to get a deep insight into the natural roots of the region. Tourists can go to spice farms where they can find spices such as cumin, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, lemongrass, and cloves. Visitors can go to vendors and buy fresh fruits such as pineapples, durian, jackfruit, pomelo, coconuts, mangoes, lychees, starfruits, and bananas!