Cape Town to Cairo Trip Notes

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Last Modified: 30 Jul 2012
Cape Town to Cairo
Trip code: UXOJC
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2011
If you've ever wanted to 'do Africa', this is the definitive trip. In 121 action-packed days, cross the continent's entire length from the cafes and vineyards of Cape Town to the exotic charms of Cairo, taking in a dizzying array of natural wonders and cultural encounters. Be humbled by the welcoming smiles of local villagers, wander vibrant modern cities and encounter iconic African animals in the wild. A once-in-a-lifetime adventure to remember, this Overland trip provides the unique opportunity to experience the true essence of Africa from ground level. It's a challenging expedition that demands a truly adventurous spirit, but the rewards are priceless.
Table of Contents
StyleCulture shock rating Meals
ThemesPhysical ratingTransport
MapGroup sizeJoining point
ItineraryAccommodationHealth
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Overland, Wildlife
Map
Cape Town to Cairo
Itinerary
Day 1 Cape Town
Sawubona! Welcome to South Africa.
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 your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
With its stunning coastline, dominating mountain and modern cityscape, Cape Town is one of Africa's most appealing cities. With vineyards on its doorstep, adventure activities around every other corner and plenty of restaurants and cafes to while away the time, Cape Town is a very easy city to spend some extra time in.
Optional Activities
  • Abseiling/kloofing - ZAR880
  • Bo-Kaap Museum - ZAR30
  • District Six Museum - ZAR25
  • Scuba diving (excluding gear) - ZAR330
  • Scuba diving (including gear) - ZAR730
  • Harbour cruise - ZAR200
  • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens - ZAR45
  • South Africa National Gallery - ZAR35
  • South African Museum - ZAR27
  • Table Mountain - Cycling - ZAR550
  • Table Mountain - Hiking - ZAR720
  • Horse riding - USD50
  • Table Mountain - Aerial cable - ZAR200
  • Robben Island tour - ZAR260
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Western Cape/Orange River
Leaving Cape Town behind, travel up the Western Cape and spend the night on a working farm (290 km, approx 8 hrs).
Pass through Namaqualand, famous for its wildflowers that spring up from the end of July to mid-September. Flowers like daisies, gazanias and cinerarias are the most popular. Arrive at the beautiful Orange River, the natural border between South Africa and Namibia. It takes about an hour to exit South Africa and enter Namibia, and we then head for our camp on the banks of the river (540 km, approx 9 hrs).
Traditionally known as the Gariep River, the Orange River is the longest in South Africa (2200 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. The Orange River is responsible for transporting diamonds and creating the deposits that can be found along the Namibian coast.
Optional Activities
  • Canoe trip - USD37
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 4 Fish River Canyon
This morning there's a chance for an optional canoe adventure on the stunning Orange River - a great way to discover the beauty of this region.
Head further west into the desert lands of Namibia towards Fish River Canyon (270 km, approx 4-5 hrs).
At 500 metres deep and over 160 km long, Fish River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world. There are remarkable photographic opportunities here.
Tonight's camp has showers and flush toilets.
Included Activities
  • Fish River Canyon
Optional Activities
  • Canoe trip - USD37
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Sesriem/Bush Camp
This is a long driving day towards the fabled dunes of Namibia (520 km, approx 10 hrs).
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.
The most famous part of the Namib Desert is its vast dune fields, the most spectacular of which are found near the Sesriem Canyon. This canyon was formed when the Tsauchab River carved a gorge 30 metres into the gravel deposits about 15 million years ago. It's thought that this river once flowed to the Atlantic Ocean but its course was blocked by the encroaching sand dunes. Now the river flows out to the dune fields that stretch for hundreds of miles up the coast, and dries up in a clay pan at Sossusvlei. 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.
Jump in the back of a pickup truck for a trip to Sossusvlei (approx 30 minutes each way). Here you'll experience the hidden and amazing mysteries this area contains.
Included Activities
  • Sesriem - Sand dunes visit
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 7-9 Swakopmund
Continue on to the town of Swakopmund (360 km, approx 9 hrs drive).
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.
We have plenty of time here to go dune-bashing by quad bike, sand boarding or even skydiving over the town and surrounding desert. Here you can spend lively evenings in the town's many good restaurants and fun bars.
Our accommodation here is in bungalows. These accommodate 6 people each and share bathroom facilities.
Optional Activities
  • Camel riding - USD15
  • Swakopmund Museum - USD2
  • Parasailing - USD70
  • Quad biking (2 hrs) - USD80
  • Sandboarding - USD80
  • Scenic flight - USD385
  • Sea kayaking - USD85
  • Seal and dolphin cruise - USD60
  • Skydive - USD270
  • Tandem skydive - USD270
  • Balloon flight (on request only) - USD415
  • Fishing trip - USD115
  • Flying Fox - USD70
  • Hansa Breweries visit - Free
  • Horse riding - USD65
Accommodation
Chalet (3 nts)
Day 10 Spitzkoppe
Travel to Spitzkoppe (290 km, approx 6 hrs).
Experience the sight, sound and smell of thousands of olive-coloured seals on the shores of Cape Cross while travelling up the eerie Atlantic Coast.
Visit one of the most stunning areas of Namibia, the wild lands around the mountain of Spitzkoppe - 'the Matterhorn of Namibia'. The mountain, which is 700 million years old, is 1987 metres (5857 ft) high. Although you shouldn't attempt climbing to the top, there are some excellent hikes and guided walks throughout the area, rich in plant life and with some amazing bush paintings. This is a place to get away from it all and to appreciate the stunning harsh beauty of this sparsely populated country.
Bush camp for the night in the midst of this remote region and have the chance to witness the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises as the landscape takes on remarkable oranges and reds.
Included Activities
  • Cape Cross seal colony
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Days 11-12 Etosha National Park
Travel to Etosha National Park (480 km, approx 9 hrs).
Etosha National Park is home to a wide range of Southern Africa's wildlife, including all the big carnivores and five rare or endangered species: black rhino, Hartmann's mountain zebra, black-faced impala, roan antelope and the tiny Damara dik-dik. The wildlife is prolific and Etosha has every right to proclaim itself as one of the world's pre-eminent wildlife areas. 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 so there are large herds of elephants, antelope and other herbivores.
We stay at two different campsites in the park - Namutoni and Okaukuejo.
Okaukuejo Camp is particularly spectacular as it overlooks a floodlit waterhole visited by many different species throughout the day and night.
Included Activities
  • Etosha - Game drive
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 13 Grootfontein/San Bushmen
Travel to Grootfontein and spend the night near a Bushmen homestead (315 km, approx 6 hrs).
Take the opportunity to 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.
Included Activities
  • San Bushman cultural experience
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Rundu/Bagani Community Camp
Head north on a straight drive to the town of Rundu (285 km, approx 5 hrs).
Leaving Rundu behind, drive to Bagani where we spend the night (340 km, approx. 6-7 hrs).
Optional Activities
  • Boat trip - USD25
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 16-17 Okavango Delta
Drive across the border into Botswana and head south along the Okavango Panhandle (the narrowest part of the delta) to Seronga, where we leave our vehicle and join our transport for the journey into the delta (140 km, approx 4 hrs).
Formed by the Okavango River as it flows from the highlands of Angola down to a basin on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta is unlike anything else in the world. The river has no outlet from the desert and spreads out into thousands of small streams to form a wilderness that is totally unspoilt. The 16,000 sq km maze of wetlands is a wonderland of clear meandering waterways, green islands, lush plains and prolific wildlife. The delta is filled with a diversity of flora and fauna that includes hippos, crocodiles, elephants and the big cats. However, it's not for the game that we come as it can't always be found. The delta is about exploring one of the world's most fascinating ecosystems.
Boarding boats out into the swamps, travel to Gao Island to meet our mokoro team and to begin exploring the Okavango Delta. Each mokoro (small dugout canoe) takes two people and is poled along through the meandering waterways by a local tribesman. Reeds and lily pads line the streams, and birds startled by the mokoros rise out of the long grasses. Punting along, the peace of the delta may be shattered by the deep grunting of hippos.
Out in the middle of a wilderness area, on the first night you'll camp on an island away from civilisation.
Continue our 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.
Included Activities
  • Okavango Delta - Mokoro trips & bushwalks
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nts), Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 18 Bagani Community Camp
Return to Bagani for the night where we have time to relax and take part in the various activities that are available in this charming place. Various boat trips, fishing or hikes are possible from Bagani.
Our camp has flush toilets and cold showers.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 19-20 Chobe National Park
Bagani to Chobe National Park is quite a long drive, but it's well worth it (430 km, approx 8 hrs). Enter Botswana at Goma border which is also the gateway to the park.
Botswana's first national park, Chobe, is perhaps best known for its high concentration of elephants, which can often be seen swimming in the Chobe River. The river also attracts wallowing hippos, a variety of birdlife, crocodiles sunning themselves by the water's edge, and cheetahs and lions which come down to drink.
Take a cruise down the Chobe River - one of the best ways to enjoy the park's animals.
Enjoy an early morning game drive and get up close to the wildlife, hopefully spotting lions, buffaloes, birds and of course elephants.
Our camp is outside of Chobe National Park and has flush toilets and hot/cold showers.
Included Activities
  • Chobe - Dawn game drive
  • Chobe - Boat Cruise
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 21-23 Victoria Falls
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).
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.
Visit the magnificent Victoria Falls.
Our campground is centrally located in the town of Victoria Falls, the perfect place to use as a base for the vast array of activities on offer in the area. Upgraded accommodation is available, please ask at reception.
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, meet your new fellow travellers, and collect the next part of your kitty.
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.
Included Activities
  • Visit Victoria Falls
Optional Activities
  • Abseiling - USD55
  • Bungee jumping - USD130
  • Canoe trail - USD140
  • Canoe trail (half day) - USD100
  • Flying fox - USD40
  • Helicopter flight (12 mins) - USD140
  • Helicopter flight (25 mins) - USD275
  • Horseback safari - USD80
  • Jet boat - USD95
  • Microlight (15 mins) - USD150
  • Microlight (25 mins) - USD300
  • Rafting & river boarding combo (half day) - USD180
  • Village & township tour - USD50
  • Wine Route Canoe trail - USD55
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Day 24 Hwange National Park
Head towards Hwange National Park (190 km, approx 3-4 hrs).
Stopping en route to visit the Painted Dog Conservation Group for an insight into the plight of the African Wild Dog.
Hwange National Park became the royal hunting grounds of the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th century and was set aside as a national park in 1929. Today, Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species. The elephants of Hwange are world famous and the park's elephant population is one of the largest in Africa.
Explore the park in open 4x4 vehicles.
Stay within the park at one of its campgrounds with shared facilities.
Included Activities
  • Hwange National Park
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 25-26 Bulawayo
Travel to Bulawayo (360 km, approx 5-6 hrs).
Known locally as the 'City of Kings', Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second largest city and has a very interesting historical past.
We will have the afternoon free to explore the city, giving you plenty of opportunity to explore local markets, chat with a local or perhaps find a game of football or rugby to watch.
Get up early and venture out to explore the Matobo National Park.
Home to a large 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.
In Bulawayo, stay in a campground with shared facilities - upgrades are available.
Included Activities
  • Matobo National Park - Guided walking safari
Optional Activities
  • Natural History Museum - USD10
  • Railway Museum - USD2
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 27 Masvingo
A short drive takes us to Masvingo (360 km, approx 5-6 hrs)
Masvingo is the oldest colonial settlement in Zimbabwe and the perfect base to explore the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.
Spend the afternoon exploring the ruins.
Great Zimbabwe is the national monument the country is named after. A Unesco World Heritage site, the ruined city was first constructed in the 11th century and is thought to be a royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch.
Our campground in Masvingo has shared facilities.
Included Activities
  • Great Zimbabwe Ruins
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 28 Harare
Travel to Harare (320 km, approx 5-6 hrs).
Harare is Zimbabwe's capital city and also its largest.
Arriving in time for lunch we have the afternoon to explore the city on our own or relax at our campground.
There is plenty to see and do, you might want to head to the National Gallery, the museum, the botanical gardens or simply wander the city centre and explore the shops and markets.
Optional Activities
  • National Archives - USD3
  • National Botanical Gardens - USD5
  • National Gallery - USD1
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 29-30 Blantyre/Lilongwe
Our next two days will vary depending on the local conditions and border crossings. With approximately 800 km to cover - along with two border crossings to negotiate - travel from Zimbabwe, down the Tete Corridor into Mozambique, before finally arriving in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe.
Lilongwe is the political capital of Malawi with a population of just under a million people. Situated on the Lilongwe River, it's a great place to soak up some Malawian culture with lots of coffee shops, bars and restaurants.
Depending on where we spend the night before, we should have the afternoon to explore the town and its many markets and shops. We have a chance to go to the bank and connect to the internet - a short taste of city life, before we head out bush again.
Our campground in Lilongwe has shared facilities.
Optional Activities
  • Tobacco auction floor (April-September) - Free
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 31-32 Lake Malawi
Travel for approximately 7 hours (350 km) from Lilongwe to Lake Malawi.
Malawi is dominated by its lake, which covers almost a fifth of the country and provides a livelihood for many Malawian people. Fishermen, canoe and net makers, and fish traders all ply their trade on Lake Malawi. A common sight is of a fisherman in his bwato (a dugout canoe made from a hollowed tree trunk) fishing on the still lake at the break of day.
We head away from the commercialism and crowds and enjoy a few days on the lake's more peaceful beaches. As well as chilling on the beach and participating in the many optional water activities on offer, make sure you take the opportunity to meet some local Malawians, easily some of the friendliest people in Africa.
Our campsite at Kande Beach is right on the shore of Lake Malawi.
Optional Activities
  • Horse riding - USD50
  • Scuba diving - USD75
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 33-34 Chitimba/Iringa
Drive 235 km (approx 5-6 hours) to our camp in Chitimba.
Set up camp on the northern shores of Lake Malawi.
The following day is a long travel day into Tanzania and its southern highlands. Sit back, relax and watch as the countryside passes by (530 km, approx 9-10 hrs).
Set up camp on the grounds of a farmhouse on the outskirts of this pleasant settlement.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 35 Dar es Salaam
Heading for Dar es Salaam on the coast, travel through Mikumi National Park. The journey today is 560 km which will take approximately 13 hours of drive time.
Situated at the foot of the thickly wooded Uluguru Mountains, Mikumi National Park is home to large herds of elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, lions and leopards. It's Tanzania's third largest national park.
Although we don't take an off-road safari into the depths of the park, a good selection of the wildlife that resides in Mikumi can usually be seen on our way through to the southern Tanzanian highland town of Iringa.
The camp is on the grounds of a hotel and has flush toilets and showers. Feel free to jump in the ocean and have a swim.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 36-38 Zanzibar
Catch a ferry to the 'Spice Island' of Zanzibar (approx 90 mins).
Our first night is spent in the exotic port town of Stone Town in a basic inn with double/twin-share rooms.
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.
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. At the end of the day there will also be an opportunity to buy some of the locally grown spices.
On our second and third days here we head to the northern beaches and enjoy white sand and sparkling blue sea - the Indian Ocean at its best. Try snorkelling and diving, eat sumptuous seafood, or simply relax in a hammock underneath a coconut tree with a good book.
Included Activities
  • Zanzibar Spice tour
Optional Activities
  • Scuba diving - USD90
  • Snorkelling - USD40
  • Prison island tour - USD25
  • Dhow trip - USD50
Accommodation
Bungalow (2 nts), Hotel (1 nt)
Day 39 Dar es Salaam
Reboard the ferry and return to the beach outside Dar es Salaam.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 40 Marangu
Leaving the beach behind, it's a long travel day, climbing high on to the slopes of Kilimanjaro to the village of Mshiri (560 km, approx 10-13 hrs).
Camp in the grounds of the Marangu Hotel, a beautiful turn-of-the-century farmhouse set in 12 acres of delightful tropical gardens. Upgrades are available on request and the hotel also has a great bar and pool.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 41 Mto Wa Mbu
Rise and shine early and on a clear day you'll be greeted with unforgettable views of Kilimanjaro.
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, long established as crop-growers on the fertile slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. Walk around their shamba (farm) and have the chance to sample the local Chagga food, which is very filling. For more information on the Village Education Project visit www.kiliproject.org.
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 at 5,895 m (19,340 ft).
After an early lunch, head towards Mto Wa Mbu where we camp for the night (450 km, approx 8-9 hrs).
Included Activities
  • Usambara Village Education Project visit, village walk & lunch
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 42-43 Ngorongoro Crater/Serengeti National Park
Wake up very early and leave our truck behind, putting our camping and personal gear into (6-person) jeeps and heading out for our two-day excursion.
From Mto Wa Mbu, we descend to the floor of the famous Ngorongoro Crater and make the most of our safari here - we spend between four and five hours exploring this area.
A huge, perfectly intact volcanic crater, Ngorongoro is home to some 30,000 animals including endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round and the photographic opportunities here are unrivalled.
Departing the crater in the afternoon, head for the gates of the Serengeti and arrive at our camp in the early evening. The following day, enjoy a full day game drive in the Serengeti.
The wide, open plains of the Serengeti - green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season, and home to thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators - are perhaps the quintessential image of Africa. Flat and rolling with long grasses and dotted with acacia trees, the plains get their name from the Maasai word Siringitu - 'the place where the land moves on forever'.
Game viewing in the Serengeti is amazing and as you camp out at night, don't be surprised to hear lions in the distance as you recount your wildlife sightings from the day. In normal circumstances, we would expect to see the Big Five during our stay in the Serengeti.
You'll notice many Maasai villages in the region of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. While it's of course fascinating to visit different cultures, past experience has shown that these villages exist primarily as tourism businesses offering somewhat contrived performances of their traditional ways. You'll be charged an entry fee of approx US$20-35 and the Maasai will try very hard to sell souvenirs to you. While many clients still enjoy the experience, others have found it artificial and uncomfortable. We recommend our travellers bypass this activity as our Kenyan colleagues observe that it negatively impacts the Maasai culture and travellers' perception of this culture.
Included Activities
  • Serengeti - Game drive
Optional Activities
  • Balloon ride - USD500
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nts)
Day 44 Arusha
Leave the Serengeti behind and head towards Arusha (150 km, approx 2-3 hrs), stopping en route at Mto Wa Mbu to jump back on board our truck.
A small village community, Mto Wa Mbu offers an excellent way to get a close-up look at life in an African town away from the main tourist trail.
Tonight we will camp a camp ground on the outskirts of Arusha where we will enjoy our final dinner together.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 45 Nairobi
Set off early, heading for the border with Kenya and on to Nairobi (390 km, approx 7-8 hrs).
On arrival in Nairobi we'll be dropped at our finishing point hotel. This marks the end of this part of the trip, and there is a break before the next section. As a result no accommodation is included for tonight.
Nairobi - which takes its name from a Maasai phrase meaning 'place of cool waters' - has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. 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.
Optional Activities
  • Karen Blixen museum - USD14
  • Langata Giraffe Sanctuary - KES1000
  • National Museum - USD10
  • Bomas of Kenya - USD10
  • Carnivore Restaurant - KES2000
  • Nairobi National Park safari walk - USD20
Days 46-48 Nairobi
The next three days are a break in the itinerary and accommodation for these nights is not covered by the kitty. These days are free to explore Nairobi or just rest and relax.
Day 49 Nairobi
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 tonight to discuss the next stage of your itinerary, meet your new fellow travellers, and collect the next part of your kitty.
Tonight's accommodation is covered by the kitty.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 50 Lake Naivasha
This morning we depart for our camp on the shores of Lake Naivasha (140 km, approx 4 hours), one of the most beautiful of the Great Rift Valley bodies of water.
Our campground has showers and flush toilets.
One of the few freshwater lakes in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha has floating islands of papyrus reeds and a border of flat-topped acacias. It's also home to a healthy population of hippos and a tremendous variety of birds.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 51-52 Lake Nakuru
We have the morning free to explore a little more before departing for our campsite near Nakuru town (120 km, approx 2-3 hours).
Lake Nakuru National Park's small and compact area, based around a flamingo-filled lake, makes it a great location for spotting wildlife. Along with the other members of the Big Five, Lake Nakuru harbours many rhinos and will be the best chance to get a great picture of these magnificent beasts.
The following day we head into Nakuru National Park for a game drive in jeeps.
Included Activities
  • Game Drive, Lake Nakuru National Park
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 53 Mt Kenya
Leaving the park early this morning we travel through fantastic scenery as we travel to the slopes of Mt Kenya, spending the night in the grounds of one of the many lodges that are dotted around the area.
We might choose to utilise one of our spare days here to explore nearby Sweet Water Game Sanctuary, or take the opportunity to explore the lower slopes of Mt Kenya.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 54-55 Samburu National Reserve
We travel on to Samburu National Reserve (140 km, approx 4-5 hours).
The Samburu region has hardly been touched by tourism and its pristine wilderness is home to a fascinating mix of Kenya's nomadic tribes who still retain their traditional ways of life. These tribes include the Samburu, Rendille, Turkana, and Kalenjin. The Samburu National Reserve is famous for its reticulated giraffes, Grevy's zebras, graceful gerenuks and Beisa oryx, while crocodiles are often seen in the river. You may also see lions or leopards here, if you're lucky.
Here we take a game drive into the park and also visit the Samburu Cultural Centre outside Samburu National Reserve.
Similar in appearance to the Masai but lesser known, the Samburu are a proud warrior tribe. Here we watch traditional Samburu dancing, and learn about Samburu tribal life and customs. The project is run by Samburu tribesmen for the benefit of the community.
Our camp is in the heart of the park. Facilities are drop toilets and cold showers.
Included Activities
  • Samburu community activities
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 56-57 Marsabit/Moyale
Today we travel on to Marsabit (240 km, approx 6-7 hours). We'll travel through the black lunar landscape and pass mountain greenery, spectacular craters, water courses, bush country, and termite mounds.
Marsabit lies on the extinct volcano of Mount Marsabit. Surrounded by forests on the hills, it is a contrasting image to the deserts in the background. At the heart of the forest is Lake Paradise. This gorgeous site attracts animals such as elephants and buffaloes to the spot and this and the Bongole Crater create a fascinating location for people all over to come and gaze at the beauty of the town.
For the following couple of days we must travel in a security convoy because of the dangers of travelling alone in the desert.
The next day we cross the border into Ethiopia and the border town of Moyale (265 km, approx 7-8 hours), where we set up camp.
The market town of Moyale splits the countries of Kenya and Ethiopia. There is a nice atmosphere that runs throughout the town and more of this can be discovered through exploring.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 58-59 Konso
We have a full day of travel on towards Konso (330 km, approx 7-8 hours) home to the local Konso people. We will have time to explore the local market and perhaps take a tour of some traditional houses.
In the far south of Ethiopia on the banks of the Sagan river is Konso, gateway to the Omo Valley. The whole way of life in the villages here has changed little over the centuries and old traditions are strongly upheld.
The follow day is a spare day, either being spent in the Konso or travelling on towards the Omo Valley. You will decide this as a group.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 60-62 Omo Valley
In the far south of the country lies the Omo Valley area. We drive down through this remote region (145 km, approx 5-6 hours) to the settlement of Turmi, which is our launch point for the Omo Valley. From here we will spend 3 nights and 4 days visiting a combination of markets and small tribal settlements in the surrounding region.
The Omo Valley region is unusual in that it is home to so many different tribes all living very close to one another in such a small area. Anthropologists believe that this is because thousands of years ago this area of Africa acted as a kind of ethnic crossroads, as different groups of people migrated between north, south, east and west.
Exploring the many small communities and settlements here will give you a fascinating insight into the different tribes, their cultures, traditions and way of life. We travel with a local guide, who will be able to introduce us to the Hamer, Arbore and Dascensch tribes, among others. There are also other tribal groupings throughout the area and our guide will point out the different tribes and their customs. Life is distinctly tribal throughout the region, with few modern amenities.
You should be aware we will be travelling through very remote areas where road and sanitary conditions will be rough. We will staying in basic camp sites.
Included Activities
  • Guided excursions to tribal markets and villages
Days 63-64 Arba Minch
The following day we drive to Arba Minch (110 km, approx 2-3 hours).
Meaning 'forty springs', Arba Minch takes its name from the streams found between the two Rift Valley lakes of Abaya and Chamo. The town has stunning views over the lakes and surrounding forested areas, and also has an excellent and vibrant market.
We spend here to allow exploration of the area. Options include a five-hour boat trip into Lake Chamo National Park to the crocodile market.
Lake Chamo National Park is home to what the locals refer to as the 'crocodile market'. This is a place on the shores of the lake where vast numbers of crocs congregate, some of which reach over seven metres in length. The lake is home to the Guji and Ganjule people who traditionally hunt hippos and are famed for their 'ambatch boats', which resemble the boats carved in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians.
For those who prefer a less strenuous day, you can hire bikes and ride around the local area, or perhaps visit the local government-run crocodile farm.
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 65-66 Wendo Genet/Awasa
We head back down from the mountains and spend the night at Wendo Genet en route to Arba Minch (280 km, approx 10-12 hours) where we spend time relaxing in the hot springs. Tonight we camp in the grounds of the Hot Spring Hotel.
Wondo Genet (also known as Wendo Genet) is a resort town in Ethiopia. Located southeast of Shashemene in the Sidama Zone of the Southern Nations. Wondo Genet is known for its hot springs and is surrounded by primary Ethiopian forests. The Wondo Genet hotel was established in 1964, on land used as recreation site for the royal family until 1975. Emperor Haile Selassie bequeathed its name, meaning "Wondo Paradise", in reference to the beautiful panorama with a rich endowment of forests, wildlife and abundant water.
Wendo Genet is located approximately 35 km from the town of Awasa, on the shores of Lake Awasa.
Awassa (also spelled Hawassa) is a city in Ethiopia, on the shores of Lake Awasa in the Great Rift Valley where fishing is it major local industry. Awassa was capital of the former Sidamo Province from about 1978 until the province was abolished with the adoption of the 1995 Constitution. This city is home to Hawassa University, Awasa Adventist College, and a major market. Important local attractions include the St. Gabriel Church and the Awassa Kenema Stadium.
During our time in Awassa we will visit the Awassa Childrens Project. The Awassa Children's Project (ACP) promotes sensible, culturally responsible relief work aimed at assisting children primarily orphaned by AIDS, educating people in Africa's Sub-Saharan region about AIDS prevention, and offering a proactive and immediate approach towards the resolution of serious health and social issues facing the region. Formed in 2001, ACP supports several organisations in Awassa, Ethiopia: a children’s centre that provides housing, food and education for over 60 children orphaned by AIDS; One Love Theater (OLT), an AIDS education theatre company; and, the Awassa Youth Campus, a community centre in downtown Awassa which features (free to all Awassa children), aikido, sports, tutoring, art, music and a library, among other activities. These organizations continue to grow and dramatically improve the lives of Awassa children and the community in which they live.
For further information on the project please go to
http://www.awassachildrensproject.org/
After visiting the project we will stop in Awasa town for shopping before heading back to our camp in Wendo Genet and more time for relaxing in the hot springs.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 67-69 Bale Mountains National Park
Leaving Wendo Genet we drive on towards the Bale Mountains National Park (280 km, approx 10-11 hours). We'll drive high onto the plateau in search of the Simien fox and, time allowing, you may be able to hire horses and follow the riding trails.
Bale Mountains National Park is situated on a high plateau surrounded by mountain peaks which soar to over 4000 metres in height. As you climb into the hills the terrain changes from forest on the lower slopes through junipers and heather to the exotic moorlands of the plateau, criss-crossed by fast-flowing streams. This beautiful park is home to three species unique to Ethiopia; the Simien red fox, Menelik's bushbuck and the mountain nyala. There are some 200 species of bird within the park including 13 of Ethiopia's 23 endemic species.
Included Activities
  • Driving and game excursions
Day 70 Lake Abiata-Shala National Park
Just north of the town of Shashemene are two of the most beautiful of the Rift Valley Lakes, Lake Abiyata and Lake Shala. These two lakes make up the Rift Valley National Park (287 km, approx 8-9 hours). We spend tonight in a bush camp right in the midst of this stunning setting, and visit Lake Abiyata with a guide.
This lake is one of the shallowest in the Rift Valley and is a soda lake. Grass and acacia woodlands surround its crystallised white shoreline. The lake is home to vast flocks of flamingos, which from a distance create a pink carpet effect across the lake. This is an excellent place to look for birdlife, as many species come to feed on the prolific algae found in the lake's waters. Usual species include greater and lesser flamingos, white pelicans, white necked cormorants, herons, stocks, ibises, spoonbills and terns. It also has a resident population of fish eagles as well as a few antelope and smaller mammals around the shore.
Included Activities
  • Guided visit of Lake Abiyata
Days 71-73 Addis Ababa
We travel from Lake Abiyata to Addis Ababa (215 km, approx 5-6 hours).
Referred to more commonly as "Addis", Addis Ababa lies amongst wooded hills at an altitude of about 2300 metres, giving it a pleasant climate. Addis has many sights to offer visitors. Get a fascinating glimpse into Ethiopia's many tribal groups at the Ethnological Museum, see the stunning fossil collection at the National Museum, and don't miss the chaotic bustle of the Merkato (local market). All manner of arts and crafts can be found in the souvenir shops on Churchill Avenue.
Why not take the chance to head to one of the city's many restaurants and try some local food and perhaps hear some traditional music.
Day 74 Dejen
We spend a night in Dejen (260 km, approx 7-8 hours), visiting the Blue Nile Gorge en route.
We cross the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge, which is 1 km deep, take a couple of hours to drive down to the bottom, cross the river, and drive back up the other side.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 75-77 Bahir Dar
Today we travel on to Bahir Dar (270 km, approx. 6-7 hours), located on the shores of Lake Tana and only a few hundred metres from the source of the mighty Blue Nile.
A few kilometres down the river from Bahir Dar are the spectacular Blue Nile Falls - locally known as Tissisat Falls (literally translating as 'water that smokes'). After walking around the falls, we use local reed boats to cross the river upstream. On the lake itself are a number of monasteries on islands and peninsulas and we take the opportunity to visit two on our boat trip. These churches feature the traditional murals and decoration of the Orthodox Church. We cross the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge which is 1 km deep, taking a couple of hours to drive down to the bottom, cross the river and drive back up the other side.
Included Activities
  • 1/2 Day Lake Tana reed boat trip
  • Entrance Blue Nile Falls
  • Ura Kidane Mereth Monastery and Kebran Gabriel M KChurch
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 78-80 Lalibela
A full day journey of 310 km takes us to the medieval town of Lalibela where we stay for three nights in a friendly local hotel.
Hidden in the hills of northern Ethiopia is the small town of Lalibela. This medieval village has grown up around 13 monolithic churches hewn from rock in the 12th century. It’s an awe-inspiring feat of engineering which must have taken many years and thousands of men to complete. Fortunately the village is underdeveloped as a tourist site and still has its original Ethiopian charm. Each of the churches is unique in design and beautifully carved. Legend has it that King Lalibela completed all the work in 12 days with the help of a band of angels who carved the rocks for him day and night. The church of Asheten Mariam is hidden in the rugged hills behind the village. You may like to trek there on foot or take a mule to this fascinating monastery and enjoy the incredible views on the way.
We walk with a local guide who is able to unlock the fascinating history of both the churches and Lalibela itself.
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 81 Bush Camp
Leaving the town behind, we travel around 170 km (approx 7-8 hours) before bushcamping for the night.
Day 82 Mekele
From our bush camp it is a full day's journey to Mekele (266 km, approx 8-9 hours).
Mekele is a cultural town famous for its churches and desert landscape. Historians date Mekele to be founded in the 13th century and it is a place with a colourful history. Derg The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front Monument is one of the most famous points and can be seen from nearly any place in the town. The palace of King Yohannes IV is a chance to see so much of Mekele's history during the reign of this king. The churches are worth a visit, as they are just beautiful.
Mekele is the base for exploring the intriguing rock-hewn churches of Tigray.
Sculpted into cliff faces or into pre-existing caves, there are at least 120 churches with many of the churches located in groups, referred to as "clusters" the most famous being Gheralta, Takatisfi, Tembien and Atsbi.
Included Activities
  • Tigray Rock-hewn Churches
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 83-84 Aksum
It is a full day's journey from Mekele to Aksum (300 km, approx 8-9 hours).
Aksum is the site of Ethiopia's oldest city. It has some impressive obelisks carved from single blocks of granite - the tallest still standing is 23 metres high and was probably transported by elephants from a nearby quarry. The scale of the monuments in this stelae field are testament to the enormous importance that the ancient kingdom of Aksum once enjoyed. Close to the town are the ruins of a palace that is said to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba. There is also a complex of several churches, which have been built over the ages around the same site. The most interesting, is a small unimposing building with a green picket fence that holds the crowns of various former Ethiopian emperors and is said to house the original Ark of the Covenant.
We'll take a guided city tour, which will take in the main sights of this fascinating town.
Included Activities
  • Guided tour of Aksum
  • Palace and church ruins
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 85 Enda Selassie
Leaving Aksum behind we travel toward Debark (255 km, approx 13 hours). It is a very long travel day to Debark as while the distance is not too far, the roads in this part of Ethiopia are rough. We may choose to break the journey and stop over in Selassie for the night if the roads are particularly bad.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 86-89 Simien Mountains National Park
Once in Debark we set to arranging our trek into the mountains. The process can take quite some time as we arrange permits, campsites, scouts and guides.
Standing at the gateway to the Simien Mountains is the town of Debark. Many people pass through here to experience the wonders that these mountains have to offer. With this beauty in its landscape, Debark has some of the most amazing scenery in Ethiopia.
We will trek for the next two days, and the route we take, and time we trek, will be decided by the group. It is also possible to split into two groups if need be. The adventurous may choose to hire mules to trek even further in search of klipspringer, Walia ibex, the gelada baboon, or if you are lucky, the endangered Simien fox.
The Simien Mountains are known for their dramatic and spectacular scenery. Jagged mountain peaks flank deep valleys and high altitude plains where only grasses, junipers and giant lobelias grow. This is one of the major mountain regions of Africa, home to mountain Ras Dejen (4543m), the fourth highest peak in the continent. The National Park was created primarily to protect the a type of wild goat - the Walia ibex - and the Gelada baboon and rare Ethiopian wolf are also found here. Standing on top of a sharp precipice and gazing out over the magnificent landscape here will take your breath away, so it's definitely worth taking a bit of time to explore.
In the Simien Mountains we stay for two nights at a campsite. The following day we return to Debark for the night.
Included Activities
  • Entrance Simien Mountains National Park
  • Simien Mountains trek (2 days)
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (4 nts)
Days 90-92 Gonder
Leaving the mountains behind, we travel on to Gonder (100 km, approx 4-5 hours). We spend two nights in Gonder at a small pension.
The historic city of Gonder is known as the city of castles and palaces. This was once the capital of Ethiopia in the reign of King Fasilidas who built the first castle. Successive kings added their own castles to the complex. On the outskirts of the town there is also Fasilidas' Bath, which is an interesting building standing in an artificial pool which is still filled for occasional religious ceremonies. At the Debre Berhan Sellassie Church we can see the famous ceiling which is painted with hundreds of faces of angels and hear about the church's fascinating yet violent history.
On our second day here we'll take a tour where we gain a fascinating insight into ancient times.
Included Activities
  • Church of Debre Berhan Sellassie
  • Castle Complex and Fasilidas' Bath
Day 93 Gedaref
Today is a drive day of approx 400 km where we will cross the border into Sudan and head to the Gedaref area where tonight we aim to bush camp.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 94-95 Khartoum
Travel on to Khartoum (420 km, approx 5-6 hours) where we stay in a comfortable hotel.
The friendliness of the Sudanese people is legendary in traveller circles. For a country that has experienced such a long and drawn out civil war it is amazing that the local people are so welcoming, genuinely warm and always willing to help. This is the country where you want to brush up on your smattering of Arabic. Just a few words can open doors into chai houses, into living rooms and into the world of Sudanese hospitality. People are genuinely curious and pleased to see outsiders.
Khartoum is really two cities: the colonial city of the British and General Gordon on one side of the river, and the sprawling settlements of Omdurman on the other. Here you find one of Africa's most interesting market where souvenir hunters can get some excellent Beja Ben Amer tribal swords. These tribal people are easy to spot. Very tall and distinguished-looking, with the telltale hair and traditional swords slung over the shoulder. Their ancestors played a major role in the Dervish uprisings in the 19th century at the battle of Omdurman. The best place to find out more about this period of Sudanese history is in the Khalifa Museum in Omdurman, near the Mahdi's tomb.
You have free time to explore Khartoum including the bustling Omdurman market.
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, meet your new fellow travellers, and collect the next part of your kitty.
Optional Activities
  • Mardis tomb & Khalifa Museum Entrance - USD1
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 96-97 Meroe
For the next couple of days we head out to visit some of the fantastic Meroe sites. We drive about 13 hours in total over the two days (300 km) visiting Kushite temples and pyramids at Meroe, Naga and Musawwarat es-Sufra.
We spend these nights bushcamping.
Perhaps the most splendid of all the Kushite temples and pyramids are those at Meroe, Naqa and Musawwarat. The pyramids at Meroe are the most impressive in Nubia and the site is very well preserved and restored. The site of Meroe was home to a large population supported by advanced irrigation and a centralised political system. This was high culture, and the area was in its zenith. Roman baths, royal palaces, pyramids and temples all tell the tale of an advanced Egyptian-style civilisation. Today the site is virtually unvisited. Scattered across the sands of the desert are numerous steep pyramids with entrance pylons. The guardian of this Nubian site has been there since 1977 and has probably seen every visitor who has passed through since then. While the mainstream tourists flock to the Egyptian ruins to our north, you will have this remarkable site to yourself. Only a few travellers and one or two tour groups a year come here.
Included Activities
  • Guided trip to Meroe Pyramids, Naqa Temple and Musawwarat Temples
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 98-101 Nubian Desert
The next three days we journey across the Nubian Desert. We drive between 5 and 8.5 hours each day, covering a total distance of 1000 km.
To travel in northern Sudan is to journey across deserts, not on tarmac routes, but off piste, finding your way through the dunes or along the plains. We may be lucky enough to pass some camels, making their way along the infamous '40 Day Camel Route'. These magnificent animals travel in herds of up to 1000 with just two or three herders. They come from either the western province of Darfur or nowadays increasingly from Omdurman and Khartoum, bound for the great camel market in Cairo, as Sudanese camels are highly valued in Egypt.
From Karima in the South to Aswan in the north, there are a succession of ruined temples along the River Nile. As you would imagine with such a long history of civilisation, these date back to many different periods of Kushite and Egyptian history. Many are in a poor state of repair, but some are classics. They are often quite inaccessible and we will not guarantee visiting any particular temple. However, we will try to visit one or more of the following: the Temple of Sulb, the Temple of Kawa near Dongola and the pyramids and temple complex on top of Jebel Barkal near the town of Merowe (as opposed to Meroe which is near Atbara).
On the road between Dongola and Merowe we explore ruins at of the Temple of Amun at Jebel (Mount) Barkal. On the hill top of Jebel Barkul the Temple of Jebel Bakul was one of the earliest capitals and spiritual centres of Kush. The all-powerful Pharaoh Ramses II constructed a temple to the Theban god Amun here in the 13th century BC. 600 years later the great Nubian Pharaoh King Taharqa had the mountain's peak covered in gold during his reign in the 7th century BC. A monument remains to him with his name inscribed on it.
Across the river opposite the small village of Wawa lies the remains of the Temple of Sulb. The temple is spectacular and very much in the Egyptian style. We take a half hour boat trip by small boat along the Nile through stunning scenery. It is the positioning and the remoteness of these sites along the Nile that makes them interesting. We usually stay with a local family in the village of Wawa for the night.
This portion of the trip is rugged. We will be travelling through the desert sands, following the Nile as it cuts through vast fields of sand dunes. Along the Nile small villages and towns cling to a narrow belt of cultivation. Trade routes through the area date back to ancient times, but the roads are mere sandy tracks, often difficult to find and always a struggle to get through. You will be expected to help sand mat the vehicles and to be part of this expedition. There are no passengers here, only people who are prepared to get stuck in to achieve their goal - the exploration of the relics of the Kushite kingdom and the Nile Valley of northern Sudan.
We camp out in the desert vastness and it is a strange sight to see and hear these caravans passing as we sit around our camp fire in the middle of this wilderness. Occasionally a nomad will stop and join us for a meal, and the code of desert hospitality means we have a duty to feed and water anyone that asks. Our desert crossing will take approximately four days.
Included Activities
  • Visit to Temple of Sulb
  • Entrance Golden Mummies Museum
  • Kushite temples and pyramids at Jebel Barkal
Optional Activities
  • Temple of Darfufa - USD10
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (4 nts)
Days 102-103 Wadi Halfa
Driving a further 10 hours (100 km) today we reach Wadi Halfa. The road between Wadi Halfa and Abri heads inland from the Nile along a rough piste through rocky terrain. We are well away from civilisation here and you will see few other travellers on this section of the journey.
The port of Wadi Halfa, our entry point to Egypt, is situated on the southernmost tip of Lake Nasser in the Sudanese Sahara and is the most northerly place in Sudan. The following day is free to explore Wadi Halfa.
In Wadi Halfa we stay at a rustic guesthouse.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Day 104 Overnight Ferry
From Wadi Halfa we board a ferry to cross Lake Nasser. How many days we spend here and when we board the ferry is dependent on ferry schedules.
The crossing of Lake Nasser is certainly an experience. Don't expect a Nile cruise boat or you may be disappointed! An old passenger ferry plies the waters between Aswan and Wadi Halfa and it has limited comforts. However, to make up for this you will be travelling through the spectacular scenery of a harsh and craggy desert landscape. The journey usually lasts 17 hours, but it is notoriously unpredictable. Depending on sailing routes and conditions we should pass the beautiful temple of Abu Simbel en route.
Accommodation aboard the ferry is very basic.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt), Overnight ferry (1 nt)
Days 105-108 Aswan
Upon disembarking the ferry we have a short drive of 20 km (approx. 30 minutes) to Aswan in Egypt where we have three nights to enjoy wealth of history and culture that Aswan has to offer.
The Nile, Elephantine Island and white-sailed feluccas: welcome to Aswan. This Nubian city is Egypt's southern gateway to Africa and an important market town - take time here to check out one of the country's best bazaars.
At Aswan you can visit the Philae temples, and the high dam, built to control the flow of the Nile thus creating Lake Nasser, the largest artificial lake in the world. There is also an opportunity to trek into the desert by camel to a deserted 6th century monastery. You may take an option to fly or drive down to Abu Simbel to visit the two magnificent temples. They were moved uphill from the rising floodwaters of Lake Nasser by a Unesco project in the 1960s. Perhaps finish off your days with a visit to the stunning new Aswan Museum, before dinner on one of the many floating river front restaurants.
Optional Activities
  • Entrance Abu Simbel - EGP80
  • Abu Simbel Flight - EGP700
  • Tombs of the Nobles - EGP25
  • High Dam Trip - EGP8
  • Felucca day trip incl lunch - EGP65
  • Philae Temple Sound & Light - EGP33
  • Transport to and from Abu Simbel, Philae and Dam - EGP80
  • Elephantine/Kitchener Island Boat Trip - EGP50
Accommodation
Hotel (4 nts)
Days 109-112 Luxor
This morning we head to Luxor, a drive of around 220 km, taking around 3.5 hours.
On the way we make a visit to The Temple of Horus in Edfu (also known as the Temple of Edfu); considered the best-preserved cult temple in Egypt.
From the spectacular temple complex of Karnak to the Valley of the Kings, Luxor is full of wonderfully preserved reminders of the Pharaohs.
In Luxor we take a donkey ride on the west bank before visiting the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. This is one of the highlights of any trip to Egypt. The amazingly well preserved paintings in the tombs of the Pharaohs are brought to life on this guided adventure. We will also go and see the biggest of all Egyptian temples, the mighty Karnak with a local Egyptologist.
There is also plenty of free time for you to explore. Perhaps hire a bicycle to ride through sugarcane fields and nearby villages to see a different side of Luxor. It is worth visiting the smaller Luxor temple located smack in the middle of town and the small but beautiful Luxor Museum filled with priceless treasures from this amazing area.
In Luxor we stay in a hotel.
Included Activities
  • Guided visit to Valley of the Kings and other West Bank ruins
  • Guided tour of Karnak Temple
Optional Activities
  • Karnak Sound and Light Show - EGP75
  • Luxor Temple - EGP35
  • Museums, Luxor - EGP40
Accommodation
Hotel (4 nts)
Day 113 El Kharga Oasis
Driving about 8.5 hours today (280 km) we reach the El Kharga Oasis.
Desert travel is uniquely romantic. No matter what desert you are crossing, being in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by solitude and wilderness, is a fantastic experience. It is even better when you can camp out in the desert and visit true oases. The Egyptian Western Desert has five thriving oases and on our route through the desert we will be able to visit four of these: Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla and Kharga. The added bonus of
travelling through this desert is that most of these oases have a long and interesting history stretching back to
Pharaonic times.
We will visit El Kharga Oasis and its surrounding area. Here there are numerous other sites of antiquities. You
will have the opportunity to visit a number of these including the Bagawaat Necropolis, Hibis Temple and Kharga Museum.
El Kharga Oasis is definitely a place to go for exploration. There are many monumental sites here, including the Temple of Hebes. You can go for a camel ride around the oasis, and this could be an adventure in itself. The palm tree lined city is the spot to find beautiful handicrafts and unspoilt springs. It is a beauty of Egypt and will certainly create life long memories.
Tonight we'll be camping.
Optional Activities
  • Kharga Museum - EGP20
  • Hibis temple, El Kharga Oasis - EGP20
  • Bogawaat Necropolis - EGP20
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 114 Dakhla Oasis
Today we drive about 280 km to reach the Dakhla Oasis.
You can also take the opportunity to trek out into the desert here for the day or even overnight on camels. The overnight trip is usually the favourite as you can head off into the desert and camp out by hot springs for the night.
Verdant cultivated areas and a great wall of rose-hued rock across the northern horizon make a feast for the eyes in Dakhla Oasis. Dakhla has Pharaonic, Roman and Coptic antiquities, dunes, palm groves and hot springs to explore.
Optional Activities
  • Western Desert Overnight Camel Safari - EGP200
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 115 White Desert Bush Camp
The following morning we have a free morning in Dakhla or some may be returning from the overnight camel safari. This afternoon we drive about 5 hours (250 km) to reach our bush camp in the White Desert.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 116 Bahariya Oasis
Today we drive about 6 hours (250 km) through the White Desert to reach Bahariya Oasis.
Situated in Egypt's Great Western Desert, Bahariya is the smallest of the four oases in this area. It used to serve as an artery between Libya and Egypt, but these days people come here to enjoy the hot springs and palm groves, and to get a feel for the Western Desert. There are numerous sites of antiquities including the Temple of Alexander and various Ptolemaic tombs, as well as a museum that houses the golden mummies found here. Just south of the oasis lie the White and Black Deserts, easily visited from the town.
We will visit the museum that houses the golden mummies. Just south of the oasis lie the White and the Black Deserts. We will spend a day exploring these as well as visiting Crystal Mountain.
Included Activities
  • Visits to Crystal Mountain and Black Desert
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 117-120 Cairo
We set off this morning to cover the 335 km (approx. 7hrs) which will take us from Bahariya to Cairo.
Wonderfully chaotic and always colourful, Cairo is a fascinating mixture of modern city and ancient wonders.
There are plenty of things to see and do with free time in Cairo. Travel along the river by felucca, head out to explore the markets or If the crowds and the noise of the city are too much, catch the metro into the oldest part of the city, the Coptic Christian sector - with its narrow cobbled streets and ancient churches, it's a haven of peace and quiet.
In Cairo we will have a guided tour to visit the Pyramids at Giza and Saqqara, and the Egyptian Museum.
In Cairo we stay in a basic hostel.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Included Activities
  • Guided visit to the Giza Pyramids
  • Guided tour of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo
Optional Activities
  • Sound and Light Show at Pyramids & Sphinx - EGP60
  • Cairo Tower Entrance - EGP35
  • Entrance Pyramid of Cheops - EGP100
  • Entrance Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid - EGP20
Accommodation
Hostel (3 nts)
      Culture shock rating

      The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
      Physical rating

      Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
      A trip kitty of USD3340.00 CASH will be required.
      Group size
      Maximum of 22 travellers per group.
      Accommodation
      Camping (with facilities) (53 nts), Hotel (23 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (9 nts), Camping (with basic facilities) (5 nts), Chalet (3 nts), Hostel (3 nts), Bungalow (2 nts), Guesthouse (2 nts), Overnight ferry (1 nt)
      Meals
      No meals included
      Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
      USD 1050.00
      Transport
      Ferry, Overland vehicle
      Joining point
      Saasveld Lodge
      73 Kloof Street
      Gardens
      Cape Town
      8001
      SOUTH AFRICA
      Health
      All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
      YELLOW FEVER:
      A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
      It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.