Discover the best of Africa, from Kenya to South Africa

Want Africa with the lot? That's exactly what you'll get on this epic adventure across ten countries. Get breathtakingly close to animals more often seen in zoos and nature documentaries, from endangered mountain gorillas and lumbering elephants to ferocious lions and tiny dik-dik antelope. Along the way, meet people from a range of cultures and communities: Zanzibar spice growers, friendly Lake Malawi fishermen and fascinating San Bushmen. This trip will leave you humbled and amazed by the breadth of life and culture, and the beauty of nature, on this ancient and spectacular continent.

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


Highlights

  • Be part of Nairobi’s lively atmosphere
  • Watch playful chimps in the Kibale National Park
  • Glide across Lake Bunyonyi in a dugout canoe
  • Meet Rwanda’s noble mountain gorillas
  • Camp on the slopes of Kilimanjaro
  • Feel the thunder of Victoria Falls
  • Soak up Cape Town’s cafe culture

Itinerary

Jambo! Welcome to Kenya. Your Africa adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Have your insurance details and next of kin information available for collection at this meeting. If you have the time, soak up the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Nairobi. There are plenty of good bars and restaurants, while markets and shops have most things you could want or need, as well as various arts and crafts from the region. There's also the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum (author of Out of Africa), or Bomas of Kenya (displays of traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes) open for exploration.

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.
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.
Continue on to Nairobi for a night in a hotel with ensuite, bar, pool and WiFi (310kms, approx. 6-7hrs).
Depart early for Mto Wa Mbu on our overland truck, a drive of about 8-9 hours. The trip includes a border crossing from Kenya into Tanzania so be sure to have your passport handy.
Explore the savanna of the Serengeti Plain and go on safari in search of Serengeti's creatures, before camping deep in the bush within earshot of animal calls. For a real treat, take an optional 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.
Start with the sun today as you head for the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. This lush landscape is home to over 30,000 animals including black rhinos, lions, elephants and hippos. View game and snap some unforgettable pictures from the crater floor, then head back to the camp at Karatu and relax as you swap stories of the day.
On our way to Marangu join the local community of Mto Wa Mbu with a guided stroll around the local homes, farmlands and markets.
Take a walking tour of Mshiri village and get firsthand insight into the daily lives of the Chagga people. Sample a typical Chagga meal before heading well off the beaten track to the Usambara Mountains. Relax on these lush, green slopes overlooking the vast Masai Steppe.
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. On our way back, visit a local cultural and ecological project based at Irente farm and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Leave behind the mountains and travel south to the coastal town of Bagamoyo. Wander the narrow streets past crumbling monuments, watch the dhow boats at the port or enjoy a cool drink at a local bar.
Jump on a ferry to discover Africa's famed 'Spice Island', Zanzibar. Marvel at the eclectic architecture along the twisting, cobbled streets of Stone Town, the old sector of the island's capital city. Tour aromatic plantations, smelling cinnamon, vanilla and cloves, then soak up some sun on white sand beaches. There are plenty of opportunities to swim, snorkel and dive or just take it easy in the shade of a coconut palm.
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.
Return to Stone Town then hop on the ferry to the mainland and makes tracks for the Mikumi Town.
Spend the evening in the highland town of Iringa, perhaps going in search of some traditional African cuisine… or pizza!
Enter Malawi, the 'warm heart of Africa', on the way to our campsite at Chitimba.
Travel to the secluded Kande Beach at Lake Malawi; 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.
Cross the border into Zambia, travelling to the hidden gem of South Luangwa National Park. The Luangwa River attracts an intense concentration of animals and is renowned for its large elephant, crocodile and hippo populations.
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.
Stop at the Changa Change Bridge Camp on the banks of the Luangwa River. Cool off with a dip in the pool, relax with a drink on the deck overlooking the river, or sit around the campfire listening to the sounds of Africa.
One of the fastest-growing cities in southern Africa, Lusaka is a quirky combination of contemporary charm and traditional heritage.
Explore galleries and museums, chill out in public gardens, or relax in a cafe with a cool drink in this laid-back city.
Explore some of the most significant ancient ruins in Africa at the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.
Wander along the jacaranda-lined streets of Bulawayo and visit the teeming markets.
Get up early and take the option to venture out to explore the Matobo National Park.
Depart Bulawayo and travel toward Victoria Falls. As your African adventure draws to a close, perhaps enjoy a final dinner with your travelling companions.
Visit Victoria Falls - a thundering, mist-shrouded sheet of white water.
Your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer.
Continue to enjoy all that Victoria Falls has to offer then perhaps take an optional cruise along the Chobe River on the lookout for wallowing hippos and soaring fish eagles.
Enjoy an early morning game drive and get up close to the wildlife, hopefully spotting lions, buffaloes, birds and of course elephants.
Travel into Namibia and choose to relax with a boat trip.
Discover the watery wildlife haven of Okavango Delta by mokoro, a dugout canoe poled along by a local guide. Set up camp on a lush, remote island and fall asleep to the nocturnal music of the delta.
Enjoy a nature walk with your guide.
The African adventure continues to Bagani where we set up camp for the night.
Drive to our camp outside Grootfontein for the night.
Today we do a round trip to visit the Bushmen (180kms). 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.
Roam Etosha Park's dry plains, perhaps encountering elephants, antelope and big cats.
Enjoy a full day game drive in Etosha National Park.
Watch the rock formations of Spitzkoppe change colour with the light.
See the seal colonies of Cape Cross.
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.
Make our way towards the Namib Desert.
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. Jump in the back of a pickup truck for a trip to Sossusvlei.
Relax by the Fish River Canyon - one of the largest canyons in the world - which offers impressive photo opportunities.
Cross into South Africa and travel along the Orange River by canoe or simply laze by the scenic riverbanks.
Depart first thing the following morning to Klawer. If there's time we will have the opportunity to take mountain walks around the surrounding countryside and farms.
This Vic Falls to Cape Town trip ends among the cafes and vineyards of this stunning bayside city. If time permits, stay an extra day or two to experience all the wonderful things Cape Town has to offer.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
60 breakfasts, 54 lunches, 53 dinners
Transport
4x4 Safari Vehicle, Ferry, Mokoro, Overland vehicle
Accommodation
Bungalow (2 nights), Camping (with basic facilities) (5 nights), Camping (with facilities) (46 nights), Chalet (3 nights), Dormitory (3 nights), Hotel (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Cape Cross seal colony
  • Chobe - Dawn game drive
  • Fish River Canyon
  • Great Zimbabwe Ruins
  • Irente - walk & local lunch
  • Kigali - Genocide Memorial
  • Masai Mara - Game drive
  • Mountain gorilla trek & permit
  • Mto Wa Mbu - Village Walk & market Visit
  • Nature Walk
  • Ngorongoro Crater - Game drive
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park Game Drive
  • San Bushman cultural experience
  • Serengeti - Game drive
  • Sesriem - Sand dunes visit
  • Sossusvlei 4x4 Tour
  • 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. This trip finishes upon arrival at our finish point hotel in Cape Town on Day 63. 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 Africa Encompassed Southbound trips score an average of 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 reviews in the last year.

Africa Encompassed Southbound , September 2015

Africa Encompassed Southbound , June 2015