Join an epic journey that travels north across Africa from Cape Town to Nairobi

Venture out and witness vast landscapes, natural wonders, towns rich in cultural traditions and modern cities humming with life on this epic journey through Africa. Get ready for action, adventure and authentic experiences that will create lasting memories and endless photo opportunities. Starting amid the cosmopolitan cafes and vineyards of Cape Town and finishing in the bustling streets and markets of Nairobi, travel through remote parts of the continent seeing immense canyons, verdant mountains, exotic beaches and simple villages along the way. Stop to witness the power of Victoria Falls and the sweeping beauty of the Serengeti, meet the San Bushmen, have close encounters with mountain gorillas and be warmed by the welcoming smiles of locals in Malawi. Camp on balmy beaches in Tanzania, trek through steamy rainforest in Rwanda and see cheeky chimps at play in Uganda. These are experiences to remember forever – this is Africa Encompassed.

Start
Cape Town, South Africa
Finish
Nairobi, Kenya
Countries
Themes
Overland, Wildlife
Code
UXODC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 22
Carbon offset
3 011kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Explore cosmopolitan Cape Town
  • Cruise the Okavango Delta in a dugout canoe
  • Meet Namibia’s San Bushmen
  • Safari through the Serengeti plains
  • Kick back on Lake Malawi’s peaceful beaches
  • Seek out gorillas on a once-in-a-lifetime jungle trek

Itinerary

Boasting vineyards, adventure activities, restaurants and attractions both in and around the city, Cape Town is a delight. It is also the perfect place to kick off the ultimate overland tour of Africa.
Spend a night on a farm in the Western Cape.
Pass through Namaqualand, famous for its wildflowers that spring up from the end of July to mid-September. Arrive at the beautiful Orange River, the natural border between South Africa and Namibia.
Travel to Fish River Canyon in time for a spectacular sunset over the surrounding region.
This is a long driving day towards the fabled dunes of Namibia.
Wake before dawn and scramble to the top of these dunes for a dramatic sunrise view across a vast sea of sand. The colour changes are just incredible and provide a spectacular setting for our brunch.
Enjoy adventure activities in Swakopmund, an oasis between the desert and the beach.
Surrounded by the massive dune fields of the Namib Desert on three sides, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Swakopmund is an example of the extraordinary German culture that's found in all major settlements in Namibia. It's worth wandering around the town to admire the beauty of the Germanic architecture and take advantage of some excellent souvenir shopping.
Today is another free day to enjoy this interesting beach side town.
View thousands of seals basking on the shores of Cape Cross before gazing at the wonder of the rocky Spitzkoppe.
From big carnivores to over 340 bird species, there's plenty to spot on this adventure into vast Etosha park, one of the largest national parks in Africa.
Enjoy a full day game drive in Etosha National Park.
Head out tracking and gathering with the San Bushmen, perhaps picking up a few words of their local 'clicking' language.
Today we do a round trip to visit the Bushmen. We will go out tracking and gathering with the San Bushmen. Spend some time with them and listen to the stories and songs of these fascinating people, presented in their unique "clicking language". The Bushmen are the oldest ethnic group in Namibia having inhabited Southern Africa for an estimated 20,000 years. Around 30,000 San live in Namibia, but only 2,000 of them still follow a traditional way of life. The San have a deep understanding of nature and ecology, living in harmony with their environment.
Head to Bagani where we set up camp for the night.
Make tracks for the expansive Okavango Delta in Botswana. Explore the maze of reed beds and waterways onboard a mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe.
Continue our trip around the delta and take an optional nature walk with your guide.
Relax in laidback Bagani and perhaps enjoy some of the optional activities, including boat tours, fishing and hiking.
Try to spy swimming elephants, wallowing hippos or sun-loving crocs on a optional cruise along the Chobe River.
Enjoy an early morning game drive and get up close to the wildlife, hopefully spotting lions, buffaloes, birds and of course elephants.
Travel on to Victoria Falls, crossing the border into Zimbabwe in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi (115 km, approx 3 hrs).
Our camp has flush toilets, showers, WiFi and upgrades avilable
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. If you are unsure please check with your leader.
Please note that 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. Your leader can help you arrange this activity.
Responsible Travel Note:
During your visit to the Victoria Falls area you may notice businesses offering an optional 'Walk with the Lions' experience. We recommend that Intrepid travellers bypass this activity as it is contrary to Intrepid's Responsible Travel guideline stating that we 'actively discourage the participation of Intrepid groups in activities which exploit animals - wild or domestic.' Professional wildlife conservation organisations, including Born Free and the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), advise that habituating lions to humans can shorten their life and may result in lion-human conflict issues. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards lion research, we feel that the negative impacts on the lions' rehabilitation far outweigh this.
Safety Note:
While at Victoria Falls you may hear about Devils Pool. Intrepid does not recommend this activity due to the high risk involved. Our leaders cannot assist in organising this activity.
Visit the magnificent Victoria Falls.
The Victoria Falls are an enormous curtain of water, about a mile wide, falling 108 m into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise up an incredible 400 m and the falls are an impressive raging torrent. The spray from the falls can sometimes be seen from kilometres away. It's no wonder that the local name Mosi oa Tunya means the 'smoke that thunders'. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and it's possible to see little islets in the river below.
Today is a free day to enjoy the many activities on offer.
Set off from Victoria Falls and make tracks to the second largest city in Zimbabwe: Bulawayo. Take a free afternoon to explore the city, perhaps heading to the Natural History Museum or the Bulawayo Railway Museum.
Get up early and take the option to venture out to explore the Matobo National Park.
Motor on to the oldest colonial settlement in Zimbabwe this morning and spend an afternoon exploring the World-Heritage listed Great Zimbabwe Ruins. This site was a royal palace and served as the seat of political power in the area. Spend an evening in Masvingo.
Take a train to the capital city of Zimbabwe today. You have a bit of time to explore, so perhaps head to the National Gallery or the botanical garden, or just explore the shops and markets.
A full day of driving today sees the group move on to Lusaka, a place that is becoming one of the fastest developing cities in Zambia. Experience a mish-mash of culture in Zambia’s capital.
This small town is home to a community school, a women’s project and a beautiful safari area, so spend some time here exploring the local places of interest.
Settle in with a good book or make sure your e-reader is all charged up – today is mainly spent on the road headed to the South Luangwa National Park.
Take the chance to go on a dawn game drive and, uniquely, at night with spotlights when many of the big animals are at their most active.
Head on to Malawi and go straight to camp on the southern shores of Lake Malawi. Here you can relax or get involved with some of the optional activities on the lake’s waters.
Look out for the fisherman in his bwato (a dugout canoe made from a hollowed tree trunk) fishing on the still lake at dawn and make sure you take the opportunity to meet some local Malawians, easily some of the friendliest people in Africa.
Travel north to Chitimba today, a simple but comfortable camp on the northern shores of Lake Malawi. Spend an evening enjoying the lush green surrounds and natural beaches.
Overlooking the Ruaha River, Iringa is a picturesque town with a relaxed vibe, some good places to eat and a wonderful crafts centre.
Turn to the coast today and on the way pass through Mikumi National Park. It’s a full day of driving so take the time to flick through your pictures or catch up on your reading. Spend the evening camped near the ocean, perhaps enjoy a refreshing dip after a long day on the road.
Drive to Dar es Salaam and then catch a ferry to the 'Spice Island' of Zanzibar.
Filled with idyllic beaches, winding cobblestone alleyways and fragrant bazaars, Zanzibar's rich history involves everything from slave traders to Arabian sultans and fruit exporters. The sight of traditional dhows sailing along the coast invokes images of what the island was like back in the days of Livingstone.
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 bazaars, shops, mosques, palaces, courtyards and myriad intricate alleyways. When the sun is setting, why not enjoy a sundowner from a bar overlooking the seafront before trying one of the island's local seafood curries at one of the town's many restaurants.
Spend a night in Stone Town at a basic inn with double/twin-share rooms and access to WiFi.
Drive to the spice plantations where you'll receive a guided tour and the opportunity to touch, smell and taste various spices such as cinnamon, vanilla and ginger, as well as teas made with these spices. We then head to the northern beaches and enjoy white sand and sparkling blue sea - the Indian Ocean at its best.
Try snorkeling, eat sumptuous 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 join the overland vehicle, driver and cook and take the short drive to Bagamoyo.
Our camp at Bagamoyo is by the beach. Upgrades are available, however there is no Wi-Fi and only cold showers.
Perhaps wake 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.
Explore the beautiful Usambara Mountains and experience this area's gentle hospitality on a visit to some of its small communities. From our base, we'll organise a walking trip out to the beautiful Irente viewpoint.
Spend time in the small village of Moshi and be inspired by the efforts of the Amani Children’s Home, an Intrepid Foundation-supported project that houses and educates street kids. Spend the night on the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro in Marangu.
Take a walking tour of Mshiri Village, the base for the Village Education Project, and witness the day-to-day life of the Chagga people. Visit a nearby waterfall before continuing on to Karatu.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a perfect natural enclosure that houses thousands of different types of African wildlife and will overwhelm with photo opportunities. From panoramic views at the rim, descent down to get up-close to huge herds of wildlife – the rare black rhino might even make an appearance if you’re lucky. Continue on to the Serengeti and search the savanna for the Big Five. The Serengeti is home to the annual great migration of millions of animals, and there’s great wildlife spotting year-round. Spend the night camping deep in the bush and try to identify the different animals calls that punctuate the night. For truly unforgettable views perhaps take a sunrise balloon ride over the plains.
Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives with a chance to relax at camp during the warmer part of the day. For a real treat, take an optional sunrise balloon ride over the plains.
Soak up the feeling of African village life with a walk through the community of Mto wa Mbu. Pass a marketplace full of locally grown and handmade produce and learn how tribes from all over the region are represented in this farmer and artisan co-op as you take a guided tour around the village.
Enjoy the small-town vibe of Arusha, where the streets are lined with Jacaranda trees and busy street vendors. Take time to explore the city – maybe visit the vibrant craft market or check out the Natural History Museum.
Set off early, heading for the border with Kenya and on to Nairobi (390 km, approx 7-8 hrs).
If you have the energy, soak up the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Nairobi - There are plenty of good bars and restaurants.
Notes: Unfortunately petty crime has become fairly common in Nairobi and recently arrived visitors to the capital can often make for tempting targets. Your trip leader will verse you in a few worthwhile precautions at the welcome meeting. Some top tips are to get local advice on where to walk, keep valuables in a neck wallet or money belt or leave them secure in your hotel, and to not leave belongings unattended on chairs or the floor. Stay aware even when inside, as thieves and pickpockets have been know to operate indoors as well. There's no need to be paranoid, but appearing vigilant is a great deterrent to would-be thieves.
Enjoy the comfort of a hotel with pool, WiFi and 24 hour restaurant tonight.
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.
This morning you will head east to the Ugandan border. It's a scenic drive through tea plantations to one of Kenya's fastest growing towns, Eldoret (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. The Naiberi River campsite is located on hilly tribal land, once home to members of the ancient Sirikwa tribe. Preserved on the site are excavations with stone sides, commonly called Sirikwa holes, which are believed to have been roofed and occupied by the inhabitants of the time. The campsite is Indian owned so tonight you will feast on an included Indian banquet.
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. Once the heart of the Buganda Kingdom, Kampala is a bustling city spread over several hills and valleys. The city has been reborn since the 1980s and is a great place to discover the history of the Buganda people. 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.
Queen Elizabeth National Park is beautifully set between the Great Rift Valley lakes of Edward and George. During our time in the park we hope to see elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks.
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. (You may visit the memorial on the way to Ruhengeri or on the return). 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 time 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.
Much of today will be spend 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 Masaka near the shores of Lake Victoria for the night (approximately 11 hours including border crossings).
Stop at the equator en route to the place thrillseekers flock to in Uganda.
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.
Notes: Please don't book any international flights until after 6.30pm this evening.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
60 breakfasts, 46 lunches, 45 dinners
Transport
4x4 Safari Vehicle, Mokoro, Overland vehicle
Accommodation
Bungalow (2 nights), Camping (with basic facilities) (5 nights), Camping (with facilities) (47 nights), Chalet (3 nights), Dormitory (3 nights), Hotel (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Cape Cross seal colony
  • Chobe - Dawn game drive
  • Evening Game Drive
  • Fish River Canyon
  • Great Zimbabwe Ruins
  • Irente - walk & local lunch
  • Kigali - Genocide Memorial
  • Masai Mara - Game drive
  • Mountain gorilla trek & permit
  • Nature Walk
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park Game Drive
  • San Bushman cultural experience
  • Serengeti - Game drive
  • Sesriem - Sand dunes visit
  • Sossusvlei 4x4 Tour
  • Swakopmund Museum
  • Village Education Project (Marangu) visit, village walk & lunch
  • Village Visit - Swakopmund ( Township tour)
  • Visit Victoria Falls
  • Zanzibar Spice tour

Dates

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Important notes

1. This trip requires an additional non-refundable deposit ( AUD1000, USD1000, EUR650, NZD1000, GBP500, CAD1000, ZAR6500, 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. This is a combination trip. Please see trip notes (Important notes) for more details.
3. A single supplement is available on this trip.
4. This trip finishes upon arrival in Nairobi on Day 64. Please do not book any flights until after 9pm 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 Africa Encompassed Northbound trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews in the last year.

Africa Encompassed Northbound , June 2015