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.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:
From 1st January 2017 the Chobe Boat Cruise on day 20 of the itinerary will change to an optional activity rather than included. However the dawn game drive at South Luangwa NP will change to be an included activity. After Nairobi the 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.

Start
Cape Town, South Africa
Finish
Nairobi, Kenya
Countries
Botswana,
Kenya,
Malawi,
Namibia,
Rwanda,
South Africa,
Tanzania,
Uganda,
Zambia,
Zimbabwe
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

  • Scramble to the top of one of the world's highest sand dunes in Sesriem
  • Glide down Botswana's Okavango Delta on a mokoro
  • Hear the roar of the mighty Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe viewpoint
  • Chill out on the northern beaches of Zanzibar enjoying white sand and sparkling blue sea of the Indian Ocean
  • 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.
  • Seek out the rare mountain gorilla on a trek through Rwanda's steamy forests and spend an unforgettable hour in their presence

Itinerary

Sawubona! Welcome to South Africa. With its stunning coastline, modern cityscape and nearby mountains, Cape Town is one of Africa's most exciting cities. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. 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, so please ensure you have these to provide to your leader.
Leaving Cape Town behind, travel up the Western Cape (approximately 6 hours). Sit back, relax and enjoy the sprawling scenery. Tonight you will stay on a working farm. This is a great chance to gain an insight into everyday life in this remote part of South Africa. Your camp tonight has shared facilities and upgrades are possible (subject to availability).
Journey to the Orange River, the beautiful natural border between South Africa and Namibia (approximately 9 hours). En route you will pass through Namaqualand, which is famous for its wildflowers that spring up from late July to mid September. It takes about an hour to exit South Africa and enter Namibia, and you will then head for your camp on the banks of the river. Traditionally known as the Gariep River, the Orange River is the longest in South Africa (2,200 km). Its source is high up in the Drakensberg mountain range in Lesotho, and it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Alexander Bay in South Africa. Your camp tonight has shared facilities and optional upgrades.
This morning there is the chance for an optional canoe adventure on the Orange River. Floating leisurely down the stream is a great way to discover the beauty of this region. Head further west into the desert lands of Namibia towards Fish River Canyon (approximately 4–5 hours). At 500 metres deep and over 160 km long, Fish River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world. There will be some remarkable photographic opportunities here. In the evening, retire to your camp which is equipped with showers and flush toilets.
Today's drive, toward the fabled dunes of Namibia, is quite long (approximately 10 hours). You will have the opportunity to stop at a market or shop to stock up on supplies before tomorrow's bush camp. Upon arrival, stretch your legs and take in the exciting desertscape. You will be situated in the most famous part of the Namib Desert, among the vast dune fields, the most spectacular of which are found near the Sesriem Canyon. Get an early night in preparation for your dawn hike tomorrow. Your camp has shared facilities, and no upgrades or WiFi are available.
Wake up before dawn and scramble to the top of the dunes for a dramatic sunrise view across a vast sea of sand. The colour changes are simply incredible and provide a spectacular setting for your brunch. The dunes are stunning, with magnificent red/orange tones from the brightly coloured sands. They are the highest in the world and home to a plethora of animal life. Afterwards you will jump in the back of a pickup truck for a trip to Sossusvlei, the incredible salt and clay pan just nearby (approximately 30 minutes each way). You'll have plenty of time to explore this mysterious desert oddity. In the afternoon, drive to your bush camp in the heart of the Namib Desert (approximately 4 hours).
Continue to Swakopmund (approximately 4 hours). Surrounded by the massive dune fields of the Namib Desert on three sides and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Swakopmund is an ideal place for outdoor activities. The township has an interesting German-Namibian atmosphere, which makes it a pleasant town to simply walk around and explore. Your accommodation here is a cosy desert bungalow. Each of these bungalows sleeps six people, and bathroom facilities will be shared. WiFi is available.
With free time today, it's worth checking out the Germanic architecture and taking advantage of some excellent souvenir shopping. If you're after a dose of history and culture, you can stop in at the lighthouse and visit the Swakopmund Museum. Active types and thrill-seekers might like to take advantage of the many outdoor activities on offer – this town is the adventure-sports mecca of Namibia. (It's important to check with your leader if you are unsure about the safety of any of these options, as some may not be recommended by Intrepid.)
With another free day in this beautiful seaside town, you might like to do some reading, relaxing and swimming. Alternatively you can venture further afield – perhaps to the Okakambe Trails or the Camel Farm (both located in the same area, around 12 kilometres east of town). A horse ride or camel ride is a great way to see the desert from a different perspective.
Travel to Spitzkoppe (approximately 6 hours). Experience the sight, sound and smell of thousands of olive-coloured seals on the shores of Cape Cross while travelling up the Atlantic Coast. Visit one of the most stunning areas of Namibia, the wild lands around the mountain of Spitzkoppe – 'the Matterhorn of Namibia'. Although you shouldn't try to climb to the top, there are some excellent hikes and guided walks throughout the area, which is rich in plant life and even has some bush paintings to be found. Be sure to look out for the sunset from your bush camp this evening – the landscape is known to take on dazzling oranges and reds.
Travel to Etosha National Park (approximately 9 hours), stopping at a market or shop and ATM if required. Etosha is among the world's premier places to view wildlife. A wide range of Southern Africa's wildlife roams here, including all the big carnivores and the five rare or endangered species: black rhino, Hartmann's mountain zebra, black-faced impala, roan antelope and the tiny Damara dik-dik. Tonight there is an option to take an evening game drive in the park before spending the night at the particularly spectacular Okaukuejo Camp. The camp overlooks a floodlit waterhole visited by many different species throughout the day and night. Note that upgrades are not available at tonight's accommodation.
Enjoy a full-day game drive in Etosha National Park. Game viewing in the park is relatively easy due to the man-made waterholes and the large, sparsely vegetated pans. The bushland surrounding the pans is difficult to see through, but there are enough clearings, pans and waterholes to usually allow for some sightings. Namibia has protected its game reserves against poaching, which means significant numbers of elephants, antelope and other herbivores reside here. This evening you will spend the night at Namutoni Camp (upgrades are available, subject to availability).
Continue to your next camp which is located just outside Grootfontein (approximately 5 hours). This will be your base for visiting the San Bushmen tomorrow. Arrive at your camp, stretch your legs, perhaps enjoy a cool drink and kick back with your fellow travellers. There is the possibility of an upgrade, but WiFi is not available.
Embark on a 180-kilometre round-trip to visit the San Bushmen. You will go out walking with some of the tribe, listening to their stories and songs. You'll soon discover that they communicate in a unique and fascinating 'clicking language'. The Bushmen are the oldest ethnic group in Namibia, having inhabited Southern Africa for an estimated 20,000 years. Around 30,000 of them 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 you will set up camp for the night. Bagani is a small, friendly town with some good hiking trails along the river and plenty of nice spots in which to relax and soak up the ambience. This area is the homestead of the local Mbukushu kings. Your camp tonight has flush toilets, showers, WiFi and optional upgrades.
Drive across the border into Botswana and head south along the Okavango Panhandle (the narrowest part of the delta) to Seronga. Here you'll leave your vehicle and join your transport for the journey into the delta (approximately 4 hours). Boarding boats out into the swamps, travel to Gao Island to meet your mokoro team and start exploring the Okavango Delta with them. Each mokoro (small dugout canoe) takes two people and is poled along through the meandering waterways by a local tribesman. Punting along past birds and lily pads, you'll hear hippos occasionally piercing the peaceful atmosphere with their charming grunts. On the first night here you'll camp on an island away from civilisation (with no WiFi or upgrades available).
Continue your trip around the delta and then return to Gao Island before heading to the relative civilisation of Umvuvu Camp with its (usually) hot showers and small bar. Today there is an option to take a nature walk with your guide. This is a great chance to discover the beautiful natural surrounds, gain some insight into the history of the local area and take some photos.
Return to Bagani for the night. There will be time to relax, or to take part in one of the many activities on offer. Bagani offers a range of boat trips and fishing excursions. There are also many excellent hiking trails to explore. Ask your leader about how to take up one of these options. Your camp has flush toilets, showers and WiFi. Upgrades are available (subject to availability).
From Bagani you will embark on quite a long drive (approximately 8 hours). But your destination, the incredible Chobe National Park, will be well worth it! Enter Botswana at Goma border, which is also the gateway to the park. Take an optional cruise down the Chobe River – one of the best ways to witness some of the park's many animals. Your camp is located outside of Chobe National Park and has flush toilets, showers, WiFi and an ATM. Upgrades are available (subject to availability).
Enjoy an early-morning game drive. Adventuring through the park, you will have the opportunity to get up close to the wildlife. With some luck you will spot a variety of creatures – lions, buffaloes and any number of exotic birds. Botswana's first national park is famous for its high concentration of elephants, so keep an eye out for them. They can often be seen swimming in the Chobe River. The river also attracts chettahs, hippos and crocodiles; the latter like to sun themselves by the water's edge. In the afternoon we will embark on a boat cruise to gain a different view of these amazing animals.
Travel on to Victoria Falls (approximately 3 hours), crossing the border into Zimbabwe in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi. Vic Falls' staggering 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 m 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. Today your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer. Tonight you'll enjoy a final dinner with your fellow travellers. Your camp has WiFi, flush toilets, showers and optional upgrades.

Intrepid has not risk-assessed all activities. If you are unsure about any, please check with your leader. 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 Intrepid's Responsible Travel ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities in Intrepid vehicles. You may also hear about the Devil's Pool. Intrepid does not recommend this activity, due to the high risk involved.
Special Information
You may notice businesses offering an optional 'Walk with the Lions' experience. We ask all Intrepid travellers to avoid this activity as it is contrary to our Responsible Travel policy. While wildlife viewing is a big part of many of our itineraries, we strive to only view animals in their natural habitats and to do so with the greatest level of respect. The lion walking industry directly contributes to the captive breeding and canned hunting of lions. While activities like lion walking may appear fun and educational, or even claim to be working in the name of conservation, they are unnatural and stressful for the animals involved. Professional wildlife conservation organisations, including Born Free and the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), advise that habituating lions to humans often shortens their life and may result in lion-human conflict issues.

Read more about animal welfare and our ‘Born to Live Wild’ pledge here:
http://www.intrepidtravel.com/animal-welfare
Today is a free day to enjoy the many activities on offer.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the composition of your group may change at this location.
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. Today your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer.
Depart Victoria Falls and travel toward Bulawayo (approximately 6–7 hours). 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 afternoon free to explore, so take the opportunity to visit local markets, chat with locals or perhaps find a game of football or rugby to watch. In Bulawayo you will stay in a campground with shared facilities and WiFi. 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.
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 UNESCO 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 WiFi 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, WiFi and upgrades (availability dependent).
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.
Perhaps enjoy some optional activities in your free time. You can choose to rise early for an exhilirating morning game drive in a 4X4, then head back to the camp for lunch (as this is the hottest part of the day) and return to the park for a game drive at night. A village walk is another good option, if you'd like a snapshot of daily life in the local community.

Notes: A one-off payment covering entrance to the park (USD25) is payable in addition to the prices of optional activities.
After crossing the border into Malawi, head 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 WiFi available.
Enjoy free time to soak up your idyllic surrounds. You might like to participate in one of the many water-based activities on offer – ask your leader for a recommendation. As well as chilling out on the beach, make sure you take the opportunity to meet some local Malawians – easily some of the friendliest people in Africa.
Drive to your camp in Chitimba (approximately 5–6 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, WiFi and upgrades are available here.
Today is a long travel day into Tanzania and its southern highlands (approximately 9–10 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. Perhaps go for a walk around the old farmhouse to welcome the evening. Camp facilities, WiFi and upgrades are available.
Travel to Kipepeo Beach just south of Dar es Salaam (approximately 13 hours). Throughout this long drive you will travel through the lovely Mikumi National Park. Situated at the foot of the thickly wooded Uluguru Mountains, Mikumi is Tanzania's fourth largest national park. Although you won't take a safari into the depths of the park, a good selection of the wildlife that resides in Mikumi can usually be seen on the way. The camp is on the grounds of a hotel with upgrades usually possible and situated next to the beach.
Drive into 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 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
As this is a combination trip 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. 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.
Boarding 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.
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.
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.
Special Information
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
60 breakfasts, 55 lunches, 53 dinners
Transport
4x4 Safari Vehicle, Mokoro, Overland vehicle, Ferry
Accommodation
Bungalow (2 nights), Camping (with basic facilities) (5 nights), Camping (with facilities) (47 nights), Cabin (3 nights), Dormitory (3 nights), Hotel (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Fish River Canyon
  • Sossusvlei 4x4 Tour
  • Sesriem - Sand dunes visit
  • Village Visit - Swakopmund ( Township tour)
  • Cape Cross seal colony
  • Full Day Game Drive
  • San Bushman cultural experience
  • Okavango Delta - Mokoro trip
  • Nature Walk
  • Chobe - Dawn game drive
  • Chobe - Boat Cruise
  • Visit Victoria Falls
  • Great Zimbabwe Ruins
  • Zanzibar Spice tour
  • Irente - walk & local lunch
  • Village Education Project (Marangu) visit, village walk & lunch
  • Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game drive
  • Serengeti - 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, 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. A single supplement is available on this trip. The Single Supplement doesn't apply to nights 57-59 spent in a dormitory.
3. An optional sunrise balloon ride in the Serengeti National Park is possible on this itinerary. Please see the itinerary above for full details of this activity. As the balloon only holds 16 people, places are limited and we recommend you book in advance. Please inquire when booking your trip to book this optional activity.
4. This is a combination trip made up of 4 shorter trips. This means the composition of your group may change in Victoria Falls, 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 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