East Africa overflows with adventure, wildlife and relaxation

Journey through the heart of East Africa and be amazed by the astounding diversity of landscapes and wildlife – verdant highlands, steamy rainforests, tropical beaches and waving grasslands that are home to some of the planet’s most amazing animals. Get closer to nature than you ever imagined in the game parks of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zanzibar. Enjoy the unforgettable experience of being so near to lions, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, giraffes and flamingos, not to mention sitting in the presence of rare mountain gorillas in the Rwandan rainforest. Along the way, meet local people whose friendly smiles and sense of community are inspiring. The wonders of East Africa will remain vivid in your memory long after this tour ends.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:
From 1st January 2017 this trip will visit Lake Nakuru for 1 night rather than Masai Mara for 2 nights. This shortens what was a long distance from Nairobi, and to Eldoret. There is also a night added at Kalinzu Forest to do an optional chimp trek and therefore not interrupt the game drive at Queen Elizabeth NP. Further the Kampala accommodation will change from camping to a basix hotel allowing passengers to relax on what are long driving days both before and afterwards. The amended section of the new itinerary is outlined below:

Day 13 - Nairobi
Day 14 - Lake Nakuru NP
Day 15 - Eldoret
Day 16 - Kampala
Day 17 - Kalinzu Forest
Day 18 - Queen Elizabeth NP
Day 19 - Queen Elizabeth NP

Start
Zanzibar, Tanzania
Finish
Nairobi, Kenya
Countries
Kenya,
Rwanda,
Tanzania,
Uganda
Themes
Overland, Wildlife
Code
YXOGC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 22
Carbon offset
1 455kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Wander around Stone Town’s bustling bazaars and fragrant spice markets and receive a guided tour of the spice plantation
  • Explore the stunning Serengeti and discover animals unlike any you have ever seen
  • Embark on a safari across the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater in an open roof safari 4x4 for a chance to see a Black Rhino.
  • The Masai Mara National Reserve is filled with iconic vistas and animals – safari through it with an early morning and late afternoon game drive in our overland vehicle
  • Seek out the rare mountain gorilla on a trek through Rwanda's steamy forests and spend an unforgettable hour in their presence
  • Experience the two sides of Jinja, a riverside retreat at the source of the Nile but also the adventure capital of Uganda

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Welcome to Zanzibar. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. 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, 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.
Filled with idyllic beaches, winding cobblestone alleyways and fragrant bazaars, Zanzibar has a colourful history – 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.
Special Information
Please note the Zanzibar portion of your itinerary may have more passengers than the maximum group size of 22 as we have a crossover of trips starting and finishing in Zanzibar.
Check out of your Stone Town hotel and drive to the spice plantations. Here you will receive a guided tour, during which 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 you will head to the northern beaches, where white sands and sparkling blue seas await. 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.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip the composition of your group may change at this location.
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.
Take a walking tour of Mshiri Village, the base for the Village Education Project. Here you will witness the day-to-day life of the Chagga people, who are long established as crop-growers on the fertile slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. Walk around their shamba (farm) and perhaps sample the local Chagga food. Visit nearby waterfalls and stop to admire the view of the plains below. If the weather is clear, get a view of Kilimanjaro – the magnificent snow-capped mountain and Africa's highest peak (5,895 m). Then head off to Karatu (approximately 6 hours). You will stop in Arusha en route to stock up on supplies.
Say goodbye to the smiling children and red-dirt streets of Karatu and board your truck once again. You will make your way to the village of Marangu (approximately 7 hours). Your campsite tonight is basic, with flush toilets and showers. It's located on the lush green slopes of Kilimanjaro.
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. No upgrades or WiFi are available here.

Notes: You will notice some Maasai villages in the region of the Ngorongoro crater offering a cultural experience. Intrepid recommends avoiding these villages, as they can impact negatively on the Masai culture and travellers' perceptions of it by selling an artificial experience.
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.

Notes: The balloon ride is offered as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a place. If you would rather wait and get a better price by booking this locally on the ground, you are welcome to, but keep in mind that this is a popular activity and places are limited.
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).
Join the local community with a guided stroll around the farming areas of Mto Wa Mbu. You will visit a kindergarten, milling machine, local homes and farmlands. This is a great way to interact with the locals and learn more about their everyday life. You'll also have the chance to look around the town and visit the market. You may wish to indulge in a spot of shopping – wood carvings and local artworks are the specialities of this area. In the afternoon, a short drive (approximately 1.5 hours) takes you to Arusha. Your campsite is in Meserani, on the outskirts of Arusha, and has flush toilets and showers. Depending on availability, an upgrade to a room may be an option. There is no WiFi available at this location.
Set off early (around 7.30 am), heading to the border with Kenya and on to Nairobi (approximately 9–10 hours). Enjoy a night in a hotel with ensuite, bar, pool and WiFi
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and meet your new fellow travellers.
Today you will leave the city behind and head out into a quintessential image of Africa - the Masai Mara National Reserve (approximately 6 hours). The view of sparse open plains, dramatic skies and iconic animals grazing within the reserve's boundaries is unforgettable. The road is smooth for the first half of the drive, the rest dusty when dry and possibly slippery and soft when wet. This huge area of woodlands and open plains, backed by the striking Esoit Oloololo Escarpment, is home to all of the Big Five and in the rainy season is flooded by over a million wildebeest on their annual migration. Tonight's campground is located outside of the national reserve and has flush toilets and showers. There is an option to upgrade tonight (depending on availability) however there is no WiFi available.
Today we wake before dawn to start a morning game drive when the sun comes up. You’ll discover the reserve’s rich concentration of animal life, and hopefully catch them at their most active. Keep an eye out for prides of lions, herds of elephants and, if you are lucky, a stealthy cheetah or leopard. Beat the heat back at camp to relax and have lunch, then look out for animals like buffaloes, zebras, hyenas and giraffe as the sun sets over the grasslands. Depending on wildlife movements, you may on occasion do a full day's game drive and stop en-route for a picnic lunch. There’s also the chance to get an unforgettably different perspective with a sunrise balloon ride high over the park. If you have pre-booked this activity (please see 'Important Notes') you will be picked up and driven to the launch site and receive a safety briefing from your pilot. You then glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, providing amazing wildlife photography opportunities; sometimes ascending to get an overview of the enormity of the Masai Mara plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. Upon landing you'll be treated to a bush breakfast before being returned to your vehicle.

Notes: If you are taking a balloon ride over the Mara you will be taken to the launch place from our campsite before dawn and returned to the group when you have finished your ride. We offer this activity as a pre-booked service, which will guarantee you a spot in a balloon. If you choose to wait and book this activity locally on the ground you may get a better price. However this is a popular activity and places are limited.
This morning you will head north towards Eldoret. It's a scenic drive through tea plantations to one of Kenya's fastest growing towns (approximately 8 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 campsite tonight has basic facilities with upgrades available.
Today you will leave Kenya behind and cross the border into landlocked Uganda, travelling on to its capital city, Kampala (approximately 8 hours, though it could take longer depending on border crossings). With a population of over 30 million, Uganda is one of the five countries that make up the East African Community. It's a country of great cultural diversity and in recent years has been one of the most progressive in the region in terms of health education relating to HIV. Your camp tonight is on the outskirts of the city and has flush toilets, showers and upgrades possible (subject to availability).
Travel to the Queen Elizabeth National Park (380 km, approx 8-9 hrs). Queen Elizabeth National Park is beautifully set between the Great Rift Valley lakes of Edward and George. You'll stay at a campsite with basic toilets and showers. However, upgrades are sometimes possible.
Perhaps wake up early to take an optional hike to see the chimps. 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. If you take this option, you'll then meet back up with the rest of your group and join a game drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park. During your time in the park it's hoped you'll see elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks. This afternoon 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 travel south to Lake Bunyonyi on the border with Rwanda (approximately 7 hours), with a stop along the way to stock up on supplies at a shop/market and ATM. Located in the south-west of Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi - meaning 'place of many little birds' - is home to some of the most picturesque scenery in the country. If time allows, explore the hilly, terraced shores of the lake. One of the best ways to admire the landscape is from the lake itself; hire a traditional dugout canoe (mokoro) and glide across the water, hopping between the little islands dotted around. They can be hard to master at first but great fun. Your campground has flush toilets, basic showers, WiFi access and upgrades possible.
Cross the boarder into Rwanda and set up camp at Ruhengeri, the gateway to the land of the gorillas (approximately 7 hours). You'll make a stop en route at Kigali and visit the very moving genocide memorial. There is also the option to hire an audio guide at the memorial to learn more about this dark part of recent history. Continue on to Ruhengeri, the entrance to Volcanoes National Park, the oldest national park in Africa, which was created to protect the habitat of the gorillas. There are two days allowed for gorilla visits as you are assigned a trekking group/time on your permit. The group may be split up into different trekking groups during the day, or even over two days, depending on the time of permit issue and group size. There is a maximum group size of eight on each gorilla visit. Depending on availability, you will stay in dormitories at a local church mission. If the dormitories are not available you will camp for these 3 nights.
Joined by a local guide and trackers, climb through rugged mountain terrain to meet the eyes of these rare animals. This region is one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the mountain gorilla. 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 pretty 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 ones 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 Ruhengeri. You can head out on more rainforest hikes to see monkeys, on nature walks, a hike up Mt Bisoke or a walk to the memorial for naturalist Dian Fossey. Please keep in mind that the prices of these optionals are not inclusive of transport costs to and from the activity. Your guide will organise transport for you to be paid locally.

Notes: You can also arrange to partake in an additional gorilla trek on your free day. If you wish to trek on both days, we highly recommend pre-purchasing the additional permit well in advance to avoid disappointment. Please speak to your booking agent about arranging this.The additional gorilla permit is offered as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a place. If you would rather wait and try to get a better price by booking this locally on the ground, you are welcome to, but keep in mind that gorilla permits often sell out.
Much of today will be spent travelling as you return to Uganda and complete border formalities. It's possible for most nationalities to purchase a re-entry visa at this land crossing but please check before travelling. Then it's on to the pit-stop town of Mbarara near the shores of Lake Victoria for the night (approximately 8 hours including border crossings).
Today you'll continue your journey inland, travelling to Jinja via Kampala. Stop at the equator and then at Kampala - a great place to wander around on foot, exploring its markets and shops (approx 7 hrs). Jinja 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. Camp at a scenic riverside site with showers, flush toilets, WiFi and ATM access, and upgrades possible.
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 who wants to do something really worthwhile in a beautiful area. Maybe get active with some excellent white water rafting.
Today you'll begin the journey back to Nairobi, dropping by the town of Eldoret once again for an overnight stop along the way (approximately 8 hours). Tonight's camp has basic facilities with upgrades available.
On arrival in Nairobi you'll be dropped at your finishing point hotel (approximately 7 hours). No accommodation is provided for tonight, but we are able to book you additional accommodation in Nairobi. Please ask at time of booking. If you are staying on a bit longer then perhaps book the Nairobi by Night Urban Adventure to have a final night with your new friends.
Special Information
Please don't book any international flights until after 6.30pm this evening
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
28 breakfasts, 24 lunches, 23 dinners
Transport
Overland vehicle, 4x4 Safari Vehicle, Ferry
Accommodation
Bungalow (2 nights), Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nights), Camping (with facilities) (18 nights), Dormitory (3 nights), Hotel (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Zanzibar Spice tour
  • Irente - walk & local lunch
  • Serengeti - Game drive
  • Village Education Project (Marangu) visit, village walk & lunch
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game drive
  • Masai Mara - Game drive
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park Game Drive
  • Kigali - Genocide Memorial
  • Volcanoes National Park - Mountain gorilla trek & permit

Dates

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Important notes

1. This trip requires an additional non-refundable deposit ( AUD1000, USD1000, EUR800, NZD1250, GBP650, CAD1000, ZAR8000, CHF900 ) in order to secure a gorilla permit. We also require full passport details at time of booking. Please see trip notes (Important notes) for more details.
2. A single supplement is available on this trip.
3. An optional sunrise balloon ride in the Serengeti National Park is possible on this itinerary. Please inquire when booking your trip to book this optional activity.
4. This is a combination trip made up of 3 shorter trips. This means the composition of your group may change in Stone Town and Nairobi as some group members leave and new ones join you.
5. The Zanzibar portion of your itinerary may have a few more passengers than the maximum group size of 22 as we have a crossover of trips starting and finishing in Zanzibar.
6. This trip finishes upon arrival in Nairobi on Day 28. Please do not book any flights until after 7pm this evening.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Beaches, Game Parks & Gorillas trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews in the last year.

Beaches, Game Parks & Gorillas , February 2016