Looking to experience the very best that East Africa has to offer? Look no further than this all-encompassing journey from Zimbabwe to Kenya. From the furious beauty of Victoria Falls to the fragrant delights of Zanzibar's spices, and the peaceful shores of Lake Malawi to the modern culture of Nairobi, this trip features changing landscapes, the chance to meet some truly remote peoples and wildlife galore. Spot elephants in Zimbabwe, see lions in the Serengeti and track gorillas in Uganda. Abundant in natural wonders and colourful cultures, this amazing region is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Days : 43
Price : From AED 26,455*
*Per person twin sharing and excluding flights
Trip Style : Basic
Trip Type : Individuals
Physical Grading : 3
Mhoro! Welcome to Zimbabwe. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 4pm. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for this, consider arriving a day early so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting. Your campground is centrally located in the town of Victoria Falls. Accommodation upgrades are available here – ask your leader if you are interested. WiFi is also available. Your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer. We have not risk assessed all activities and only those listed in our trip notes are recommended. It is against company policy for leaders to facilitate the booking of any activities that have not been risk assessed or do not adhere to our company’s Responsible Travel policy and ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities in our vehicles. If you are interested in the optional helicopter flight ( 12 minutes or 25 minutes ) we endorse the following operator only: Zambezi Helicopter co CAA Zimbabwe.
Use your free time to visit the magnificent Victoria Falls. This thundering curtain of water is about a mile wide, falling 108 metres into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise up an incredible 400 metres and the falls become an impressive raging torrent. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and you can see little islets in the river below.
Depart Victoria Falls and travel toward Bulawayo (approximately 7 hours) via the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, one of The Intrepid Foundation projects. Here you can learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife, human-wildlife conflict and the trusts role in anti-poaching. There may also be a chance to meet any rescued or orphaned wildlife currently in their care. Known locally as the 'City of Kings', Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, has an interesting history and some impeccable colonial architecture. You will have the late afternoon free to explore, so take the opportunity to visit local shops and chat with locals. In Bulawayo you will stay in a campground with shared facilities and Wi-Fi. Upgrades are also available (subject to availability).
Perhaps get up early and take the option to go to Matobo National Park. Home to a significant population of black and white rhinoceros that can be tracked on foot, Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia and the De Beers diamond company. The Matopos area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place. This optional activity is highly recommended, however for those on a budget perhaps head into town to check out the local museums or take the opportunity for some down time.
Drive the short stretch to Masvingo (approximately 5–6 hours). This colonial settlement – the oldest in Zimbabwe – makes for the perfect base from which to explore the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. The ruined city, now a World Heritage site, was first constructed in the 11th century. It's thought to be the former royal palace of the Zimbabwean monarch. Spend a few hours exploring this intriguing site before heading off to camp. Your campground in Masvingo has shared facilities, and upgrades and Wi-Fi are available.
Travel to Harare today (approximately 5–6 hours). You will arrive at your destination in time for lunch. You only have an hour or two to explore Zimbabwe's capital city, so if you're feeling active and up for a stroll, get out and make the most of it. Perhaps head to the National Gallery, the museum, the botanical gardens or simply wander the city centre and visit the colourful markets. Accomodation upgrades are offered at your camp (subject to availability).
Today you will cross into Zambia and drive to your campsite just outside Lusaka, Zambia's capital (approximately 8 hours). Your journey begins with a nice scenic drive to the border. At some point during the day there will be an opportunity to stop at an ATM and stock up on any supplies you might need at a shop or market. Your camp has shared facilities, and upgrades are available.
Spend some time checking out one of the fastest-developing cities in southern Africa. You'll see that it's a modern city but still retains a traditional African feel, with its busy markets and friendly people. Afterwards, travel on to Petauke (approximately 8 hours). The camp tonight has facilities, Wi-Fi and upgrades (availability dependent).
After breakfast, make a visit to a workshop where local craftswomen make all the jewellery by hand using natural materials from the South Luangwa valley. The project is set primarily to empower women and raise awareness against poaching. Then make your way through the heartland to South Luangwa National Park (approximately 6 hours). The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River and its lagoons is among the highest in Africa. Many elephants, buffaloes, leopards, Thornicroft’s giraffes and lions are known to roam here. There are also some 400 species of birds inhabiting the area. A great way to experience South Luangwa and its beautiful scenery is to take an optional river trip – ask your leader for more details. Your camp tonight has basic facilities.
Rise early for an exhilarating morning game drive in a 4WD vehicle. Enjoy classic savannah scenery while keeping your eyes peeled the parks abundance of wildlife. There’s every chance you may spot a herd of zebra grazing on parched grass or a pride of lions passing by. Midday is the hottest part of the day here, so seek refuge from the sun and return to the camp for lunch. Afterwards, perhaps head out on a village walk for a snapshot of daily life in the local community. An optional game drive at night is also a good option.
Cross the border into Malawi, and continue straight to your camp on the shore of Lake Malawi (approximately 9–10 hours). Malawi is dominated by its lake, which covers almost a fifth of the country and provides a livelihood for many Malawian people. Fishermen, fish traders and canoe and net makers all ply their trade on Lake Malawi. A common sight is that of a fisherman in a bwato (a dugout canoe made from a hollowed tree trunk) fishing on the still lake at the break of day. Your campsite at Kande Beach is right on the shore of the lake. Upgrades are offered here, but there is no Wi-Fi available.
Enjoy free time to soak up your idyllic surrounds. If you're feeling active, your leader can recommend some thrilling water-based activities. Otherwise, enjoy the opportunity to chill out on the beach or perhaps get to know some local Malawians.
Drive to your camp in Chitimba (approximately 8 hours). Chitimba lies along the coast of Lake Malawi and has lovely beaches, friendly locals and a laid-back atmosphere. When you arrive, perhaps take a stroll and acquaint yourself with this different part of the lake. Enjoy the scenery of banana palms, papaya trees and the Livingstonia and Nyika mountains looming nearby. Camp facilities, Wi-Fi and upgrades are available here.
Today is a long travel day into Tanzania and its southern highlands (approximately 11 hours). Sit back, relax and watch as the countryside passes by. On arrival you will set up camp on the grounds of a farmhouse situated on the outskirts of this pleasant settlement. Camp facilities, Wi-Fi and upgrades are available.
Set out on a short drive to the edge of Mikumi National Park. Situated at the foot of the thickly wooded Uluguru Mountains, Mikumi is Tanzania's fourth largest national park and an important educational and research centre. It’s grassy plains host elephants, zebras, wildebeests, impalas, giraffes and lions among other wildlife. You’re almost guaranteed to see a number of these incredible creatures on an optional afternoon 4WD game drive. Also notice the baobabs, unusual trees with exceptionally thick trunks commonly referred to as the 'Tree of Life' for its many useful properties.
Settle in for a seven-hour drive to Kipepeo Beach, just south of Dar es Salaam. Your camp today is on the grounds of a hotel situated next to the beach. Upgrades are usually possible (subject to availability).
Catch a ferry to the 'Spice Island' of Zanzibar. Filled with idyllic beaches, winding cobblestone alleyways and fragrant bazaars, Zanzibar has a history encompassing everything from slave traders to Arabian sultans and fruit exporters. The sight of traditional dhows sailing along the coast evokes what the island must have been like in Livingstone's day. The old part of Zanzibar's main city is known as Stone Town. The best way to see this exotic port town is on foot, exploring the markets, shops, mosques, palaces and courtyards. When the sun is setting, perhaps enjoy a sundowner from a bar overlooking the seafront, and a seafood curry at a local restaurant. Spend a night in Stone Town at a basic inn with double/twin-share rooms and access to WiFi.
Check out of your Stone Town hotel and either drive to the spice plantations for your optional guided tour, or head directly to the perfect northern beaches. On the spice plantations guided tour you can learn all about the history of this town's renowned spice trade. You will also have the opportunity to touch, smell and taste various spices, such as cinnamon, vanilla and ginger. Sample some teas made with these spices too. After lunch here you will head to the northern beaches, where white sands and sparkling blue seas await, and reunite with your group. This is the Indian Ocean at its best.
Enjoy free time in this beautiful archipelago today. There are many ways you can spend your day – perhaps talk to your leader for any recommendations they might have. Snorkelling in search of exotic fish is an excellent option. You might also like to feast on a sumptuous lunch of grilled local seafood, or simply relax in a hammock underneath a coconut tree with a good book.
Catch the midday ferry to Dar es Salaam with your leader and group. Then you will join the overland vehicle, meet your driver and cook, and take the short drive to Bagamoyo. Your camp at Bagamoyo is right by the beach. Accommodation upgrades are available at this location (subject to availability). However, there is no access to Wi-Fi, and showers are cold only.
Perhaps wake up early and visit the old slave trade markets. It's then time to get off the well-beaten track and head into the remote Tanzanian mountains (approximately 7 hours). The Usambara Mountains are a lovely unspoilt area of Tanzania. Unlike the coast and the north, this area attracts very few tourists, so it has a freshness that can be hard to find elsewhere. The forests stretch across the mountains and are ideal for easy hikes and guided walks. You base is the old German colony of Lushoto. You'll stay in the grounds of one of the earliest hotels in Africa. The campsite has flush toilets and showers, and upgrades are possible. WiFi is rare here though.
Explore the beautiful Usambara Mountains and experience this area's gentle hospitality on a visit to some of its small communities. As beautiful as this place is, its real jewels are the local people and villages. From your base, you will take a walk out to the gorgeous Irente viewpoint. It's best to pack some water and snacks in a day pack for this trip. On your way back, visit a local cultural project based at Irente farm and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Today is a full day of travel as you board your truck once again and venture towards Tanzania’s national parks. Your destination is the sprawling, gateway town of Arusha. It should take about 10 hours to arrive at your campsite on the outskirts of the town. The campsite has flush toilets and showers. It also has a bar – the perfect place to unwind with a drink after a long day in the truck.
Take a short drive to the small town of Kisongo where you’ll enjoy a fun day with some local mamas. Here the women will teach you how to prepare a local Swahili dish for lunch. Before enjoying your creations you will have the chance to do some traditional crafts and accompany the women around their village in smaller groups. After this illuminating day, drive to the small town of Karatu, the gateway to the Ngorongoro Crater.
Get up early, put your camping and personal gear into a six-person jeep and head out for an excursion into the Serengeti via the Ngorongoro Crater. Enjoy a safari in the crater, spending between three and four hours exploring this incredible, perfectly intact volcanic crater. Watch for black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round (some 30,000 animals live here) and the photo opportunities here are unrivalled. Next it's on to the wide open plains of the Serengeti. Green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season, this is perhaps the quintessential image of Africa – the home of thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators. Your campsite is within the Serengeti itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep. The camp is basic with limited running water and no upgrades or Wi-Fi available.
Awake at dawn and embark on a game drive. You will head out while the animals are at their most active, then head back to camp for brunch at around 11 am. After spending the middle of the day relaxing, just like the animals do, head out again as the day begins to cool. You'll return from this second game drive in time for dinner. There's also the option of a balloon ride over the park today (in place of some of the morning game drive). If you have pre-booked this activity (please see the 'Important Notes' section) you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site. After a safety briefing, you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a five-star bush breakfast, then be returned to your camp.
Rise with the sun and enjoy another game drive as you exit the Serengeti. Jump back into your overland vehicle and head for Mto wa Mbu. Take a stroll and acquaint yourself with this delightful small village – it's a fascinating snapshot of small-town African life, situated well off the tourist trail. Tonight you'll stay at a campsite with flush toilets, showers and optional upgrades (subject to availability).
Set off early heading to the border with Kenya and on to Nairobi (approximately 9–10 hours). There are plenty of good bars and restaurants if you fancy a night out. You may be joined by new travellers today for the next leg of the journey.
Take in spectacular views of the Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita on the drive north-west to Lake Nakuru National Park, situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley. The drive will take approximately 3-4 hours and you’ll arrive in time for a short evening game drive along the shore of the lake. Lake Nakuru National Park is a small and compact area based around a lake that makes a great location for spotting wildlife. Along with the other members of the Big Five, Lake Nakuru harbours many rhinos and will be the best chance to get a great picture of these magnificent beasts.
Rise early this morning for tea or coffee before going back into the park for a morning game drive. Return to camp for brunch before driving north-west to Eldoret, one of Kenya's fastest growing towns (approximately 5-6 hours.). Due to its high altitude, the town is an ideal training ground for middle- and long-distance athletes and is home to some of Kenya's most famous runners. Your Tonight enjoy a traditional dinner at your campsite located just outside of Eldoret town.
Today you will leave Kenya behind and cross the border into landlocked Uganda, travelling on to its capital city, Kampala (approximately 10 hours, though it could take longer depending on border crossings). With a population of over 30 million, Uganda is a country of great cultural diversity and is one of the five countries that make up the East African Community. As today is a long travel day, take a break from setting up camp with a stay at a hotel. Shake off the long journey with the option to eat in Kampala town and experience this dynamic city.
Travel to Kalinzu Forest National Park (approximately 9 hours). Some of its inhabitants include chimpanzees, black and white colobus, baboon, red-tailed monkey, both blue and red duiker, bushbuck, waterbuck, giant forest hog, buffalo and elephants. On arrival, settle into your camp and perhaps stretch your legs and explore your surrounds with the rest of the group.
Take the optional excursion of visiting the Chimpanzees of Kalinzu Forest this morning or enjoy the sounds of the forest from the comfort of your tent. More closely related to humans than any other living creature, the chimpanzees are a delight to watch as they squabble and play in fruiting trees. Later, take the short drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Once camp is set there's an option to take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, well-known for pelicans, eagles and other wonderful birdlife, as well as its healthy population of hippos.
Today, drive out of the Queen Elizabeth National Park on your way to the southwest tip of Uganda (approximately 7-hour drive). On this short game drive, cross your fingers and look out for elephants, buffaloes, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks. When you arrive at the corner of Uganda, where the border touches Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, you’ll be based in Kisoro, which provides access to seven different Gorilla groups located in Mgahinga, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Nshongi.
Joined by a local guide and trackers, climb through the rugged mountain terrain of Bwindi National Park to encounter these rare animals. No more than eight per day can visit any one habituated family and visits are strictly controlled to minimise the possibility of disturbance or transmission of disease to the animals. Tracking gorillas in the dense forest can sometimes be wet, muddy and uncomfortable. The terrain is by no means easy either, so it can be quite strenuous and often humid, but the sheer thrill in coming across a habituated group of gorillas, dominated by a great male silverback, more than outweighs any difficulty. You need to be prepared and fit enough to walk up to 4 hours – up and down hill. You can usually get very close to the mountain gorillas, who are placid and gentle, and watching their movements is like seeing a mirror image of yourself. Be mesmerised as you watch them eat, sleep, groom and play – the giant silverback surveying the scene as the smaller one’s laze in the trees or play like children. Your visit with the gorillas will last one unforgettable hour.
When you are waiting for, or have completed your gorilla visit, your leader will provide you with options and ideas on how you can spend your free day in the area around Kisoro. You can head out on more rainforest hikes to see monkeys, take some nature walks, join a hike up Mt Sabinyo – one of five volcanoes located in the Parc National des Volcans – or perhaps make a visit to the Batwa community, indigenous to the Great Lakes Region and found throughout Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the eastern region of the Congo.
Farewell the lands of the Gorilla and turn back towards the capital, Kampala. You’ll break up the journey at the pit-stop town of Mbarara for the night (approximately 5-6 hours driving). We’ll be honest – there’s not a great deal to do here, however it’s a great opportunity to spend the afternoon and evening relaxing at the camp, or even to have a leisurely look around the town.
Today you'll continue your journey inland, travelling towards Jinja (approximately 7 hrs). The Jinja region is one of the highlights of any visit to Uganda, a riverside retreat at the source of the Nile but also the adventure capital of Uganda. Tonight, camp at a scenic riverside site and enjoy a good night’s rest ready for tomorrows adventures.
Located at the source of the Nile as it leaves Lake Victoria, Jinja is a place for the adventurer, the adrenaline junkie and the eco-traveller. Maybe get active with some white-water rafting or kayaking. Alternatively take a boat cruise to the source of the Nile or to enjoy the river and quench a thirst.
Farewell Uganda and begin the journey back to Kenya and Nairobi, stopping overnight at the town of Kericho (approximately 9 hours, including border crossings). Kericho sits at the edge of South- Western Mau National Reserve and is known for its vast tea estates. On arrival, visit a tea plantation and sample a delicious brew or two.
This morning drive to the famous Masai Mara National Park (approximately 7-hours). The Masai Mara is the quintessential African experience, with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and the world's most iconic animals living within its boundaries. Explore this diverse environment and view a multitude of wildlife on an evening 4WD game drive.
Venture into the Masai Mara National Reserve for a full day's 4WD game drive. You'll explore this diverse environment and most likely see a multitude of wildlife. An optional balloon ride over the Mara at sunrise is an unforgettable experience. If you have pre-booked this activity (see the 'Important Notes' section) you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site for a safety briefing from your pilot. Then you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and of the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a bush breakfast before returning to your campsite.
Say goodbye to the open expanses of the African bush and return to the bustling metropolis of Nairobi (approximately 5-6 hours). Pass by the remote region of Loita Hills, home of the traditional Maasai people known for their vibrant red dress and elaborate jewellery. This is one of the key places where the Maasai people still practice their traditional way of life, with little influence from the western world. Make a stop at Tepesua Village, which is known for championing Maasai women’s health and education. You’ll be welcomed by Maasai Warriors by way of traditional song and dance. Meet your Maasai hosts and enjoy a fascinating talk, full of insights into this remarkable and ancient culture. Take a walk to the community village which was founded for widows who had lost their cows due to drought, and can never remarry. The village offers support, safety and economic growth through the ‘Tepesua Widows Income Project’. Here the women are engaged in making handicrafts and sewing eco-friendly handbags and backpacks to sell to visiting travellers and locals. Learn about village life and be shown around a traditional Maasai home, and their cattle enclosures. On arrival in Nairobi you'll be dropped at your finishing point hotel. No accommodation is provided for tonight, but we are able to book you additional accommodation in Nairobi – please ask at the time of booking.
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*Per person twin sharing and excluding flights
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