Day 1 - Nairobi
Jambo! Welcome to Kenya. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, consider arriving a day early so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting. If you arrive early, perhaps head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum or the highly recommended Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed in an outdoor village.
Notes: Petty theft is common in Nairobi. As a general rule, the safest place for your valuables is on your person in a neck wallet or money belt, though your hotel room or reception may have a safe in which to store things. If you do decide to go exploring, make sure you get local advice on where it is and isn't safe to walk – particularly for later in the day. Be careful not to leave bags unattended on chairs or on the floor when in bars or restaurants. Without being paranoid, appearing vigilant is a great deterrence to would-be thieves. Also, make scans of important travel documents and email them to yourself – this will save you hours of time in paperwork if anything does happen.
Day 2 - Mto Wa Mbu
Depart early for Mto Wa Mbu in your overland truck (approximately 8–9 hours). The trip includes a border crossing from Kenya into Tanzania, so be sure to have your passport handy. While you're on the road, there will be a stop at an ATM and a market or shop to stock up on any supplies you might need for the coming days. Arrive in Mto Wa Mbu 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).
Day 3 - Serengeti National Park
Rise early and leave the truck behind, putting your camping and personal gear into a six-person jeep. Head out for an excursion into the marvellous Serengeti. These wide open plains – green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season – are home to thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators. Flat and rolling, with long grass and acacia trees, the plains get their name from the Maasai word Siringet – 'The place where the land moves on forever'. Your campsite is right in the action, within the park itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep. There are no upgrades or WiFi available here.
Day 4 - Serengeti National Park
Enjoy morning and afternoon game drives, with a chance to relax at camp during the warmer part of the day. Your chances of seeing four of the Big Five game (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo and African leopard) are excellent. The endangered black rhino is much harder to come across. There's also the option of a balloon ride over the park today. 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 try to 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.
Day 5 - Ngorongoro Crater / Mto Wa Mbu
Rise with the sun and make an early start, exiting the Serengeti and heading for the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater (approximately 3 hours). After a picnic lunch, descend onto the floor of the crater. 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 top-notch game viewing all year round and the photo opportunities here are unrivalled. You'll have around four to five hours to explore the area. Departing the crater late in the afternoon, return to your camp at Mto Wa Mbu for a relaxing evening.
Day 6 - Marangu
This morning you will join the local community for a guided stroll around the farming areas, milling machine, and local homes and farmlands. You'll also have the chance to look around the town and visit the local market. You may wish to indulge in a spot of shopping –wood carvings and local artworks are the specialities of the area. Continue your drive to the village of Marangu (approximately 4–5 hours) and set up camp for the night. The camp is basic, with flush toilets and showers, situated on the lush green slopes of Kilimanjaro.
Day 7 - Usambara Mountains
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, 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, you can get a glimpse of the magnificent, snow-capped Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak (5,895 m). Then it's time to venture well off the beaten path and into the remote Tanzanian mountains (approximately 7 hours). Your base is the old German colony of Lushoto, and you'll stay in the grounds of one of the oldest hotels in Africa. The camp has flush toilets, showers, WiFi optional upgrades.
Day 8 - Usambara Mountains
Explore the beautiful Usambara Mountains, a lovely unspoilt area of Tanzania. Unlike the coast and the north, very few tourists visit this part of the country, so it has a freshness that can be hard to find elsewhere. As beautiful as the surrounding mountains and rainforests are, however, the real jewels here are the local people and villages. You'll experience some gentle hospitality on a visit to some of the small local communities. 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.
Day 9 - Dar es Salaam
Leaving the mountains behind, travel still further south to the coastal town of Kipepeo Beach in Dar es Salaam (380km, approximately 9-10 hours). Your camp at Kipepeo is by the beach, so make the most of it – perhaps take a stroll along the shore after you arrive and settle in. The camp is on the grounds of a hotel with upgrades usually possible
Day 10 - Stone Town
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.
Day 11 - Zanzibar Northern Beaches
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.
Day 12 - Zanzibar Northern Beaches
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.
Day 13 - Morogoro
Welcome to Zanzibar. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 10 am. Take the ferry to the mainland and make tracks for Morogoro (approximately 5 hours).
Day 14 - Iringa
Drive to Iringa (approximately 7-8 hours). Pass by Mikumi National Park - home to large herds of elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, lions and leopards. Though you won't explore the park in depth, many of the animals this area is known for can be seen on the way through to the southern Tanzanian highland town of Iringa. You will set up camp on the grounds of a farmhouse on the outskirts of this pleasant settlement. After you arrive and settle in, perhaps go for a walk around the old farmhouse to welcome the evening. The area is filled with natural bush land and dams which can make it a bird watchers paradise. Make the most of this rural setting by perhaps doing some stargazing before you retire for the night. Camp facilities, WiFi and accommodation upgrades are available.
Day 15 - Chitimba
Enter Malawi and travel to your campsite at Chitimba (approximately 10–12 hours). Malawi, the 'warm heart of Africa,' 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. Camp facilities, WiFi and upgrades are available tonight.
Day 16 - Lake Malawi
Travel from Chitimba to Kande Beach on the shore of Lake Malawi (approximately 6 hours). There will be a chance to stop at a shop or market for any supplies you might need along the way. Enjoy a relaxing getaway from the commercialism and crowds with a few days on the lake's more peaceful beaches. Your campsite at Kande Beach is right on the shore of Lake Malawi. Accommodation upgrades are again possible (subject to availability). There is no WiFi, however.
Day 17 - Lake Malawi
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.
Day 18 - South Luangwa National Park
Journey through southern Malawi and enter Zambia, continuing to South Luangwa National Park (approximately 9–10 hours). There will be border crossing formalities on the way, and a chance to stock up on goods at a shop or market and visit an ATM. The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River and its lagoons is some of the highest in Africa. Take in the beautiful scenery and the abundance of game, watching out for colourful birds and herds of elephants. Your camp tonight has flush toilets, showers and WiFi. Upgrades are also offered (subject to availability).
Day 19 - South Luangwa National Park
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 then perhaps return to the park for an optional game drive at night. A village walk is another good option, if you'd like a snapshot of daily life in the local community.
Day 20 - Petauke
Head further south to Petauke (approximately 6 hours). The camp tonight has facilities, WiFi and upgrades (availability dependent).
Day 21 - Lusaka
Another long drive today as you head for your camp just south of Lusaka city (approximately 9 hours). Arrive, stretch your legs and take a stroll to discover this cosmopolitan yet traditional town. Though it's fast developing, Lusaka retains a strong African feel, and the locals are warm and friendly. Your camp tonight has facilities and upgrades available. WiFi is not available at this location.
Day 22 - Harare
Travel to Harare today (approximately 8–9 hours). The first part of your journey takes you to the border with Zimbabwe. After formalities, enjoy a nice scenic drive of 60 kilometres or so, then continue to Harare. There will be a chance to stock up on whatever you need at a market or shop and visit an ATM. On arrival in Zimbabwe's capital you will have the afternoon to explore the town as you please. Perhaps head to the botanical gardens or local Sunday markets. Upgrades are available at camp; there is no WiFi, however.
Day 23 - Masvingo
Drive the short stretch to Masvingo (approximately 5–6 hours). This colonial settlement – the oldest in Zimbabwe – makes for the perfect base 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, with upgrades and WiFi available.
Day 24 - Bulawayo
Travel to Bulawayo (approximately 5–6 hours). Known locally as the 'City of Kings', Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second largest city. There is some impeccable colonial architecture to take in here. Enjoy free time this afternoon to explore town - a 10 minute walk from the campsite. You might like to browse some local markets, chat with the locals or perhaps find a game of football or rugby to watch. The Natural History Museum and National Art Gallery are also worth checking out. Tonight you will stay in a campground with shared facilities. Upgrades and WiFi are available.
Day 25 - Bulawayo
Perhaps get up early and take the option to visit Matobo National Park. Home to a significant population of black and white rhinos, this optional activity gives you the unique experience to track these magnificent animals on foot. Here there will also be the chance to spot other game (the park is home to klipspringers, leopards, warthogs and springhares among many others). while learning about the various local plant and trees, wild pear and paperbark among them. This impressive wildlife 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.
Day 26 - Victoria Falls
Depart Bulawayo and travel towards the stunning Victoria Falls (approximately 6 hours). Visit the magnificent Victoria Falls. The Victoria Falls are an enormous curtain of water, about a mile wide, falling 108 m into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise up an incredible 400 m and the falls are an impressive raging torrent. The spray from the falls can sometimes be seen from kilometres away. It's no wonder that the local name Mosi oa Tunya means the 'smoke that thunders'. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and it's possible to see little islets in the river below. Tonight's campground is an ideal base, centrally located in the town of Victoria Falls. Upgrades and WiFi are available.
Your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer. We have not risk assessed all activities and only those listed in our trip notes are recommended. It is against company policy for leaders to facilitate the booking of any activities that have not been risk assessed or do not adhere to our company’s Responsible Travel policy and ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities in our vehicles.
Day 27 - Victoria Falls
Today is a free day to enjoy the many activities on offer. If you are interested in the optional helicopter flight ( 12 minutes or 25 minutes ) we endorse the following operator only: Zambezi Helicopter co CAA Zimbabwe. Your leader can help you arrange this.
Day 28 - Victoria Falls
Today is another free day to enjoy the many activities on offer. Or perhaps you may like to visit the falls again with your new group members.
Day 29 - Chobe National Park
This morning is free for you to continue enjoying all that Victoria Falls has to offer. Afterwards, travel to Chobe National Park in Botswana (approximately 2–3 hours). 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. Your camp, located outside of the park, has flush toilets, showers, WiFi, ATM and optional upgrades.
Day 30 - Chobe National Park
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 beasts and any number of exotic birds. As well as the Chobe icon, the elephant, the river also attracts hippos and crocodiles; the latter like to sun themselves by the water's edge. Cheetahs also come down for a drink. The birdwatching is excellent here too – look out for eagles, kingfishers and marabou storks, among hundreds of other species. In the afternoon perhaps take an optional cruise down the Chobe River – one of the best ways to enjoy the park's animals.
Day 31 - Bagani
Today you will enter Namibia, driving from Kasane to Ngoma Bridge, and on to your camp at Bagani (approximately 7 hours). Bagani is a small, friendly town with some good hiking trails along the river. There are also plenty of nice spots in which you can simply relax and soak up the ambience. This area is the homestead of the local Mbukushu kings. You will have the opportunity to stop at an ATM and a market or shop today. Your camp has flush toilets, showers and WiFi. Upgrades are also available (subject to availability).
Day 32 - Okavango Delta
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). Take a boat across the swamps 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 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, you'll hear hippos occasionally piercing the peaceful atmosphere with their grunts. On the first night here you'll camp on an island well away from civilisation.
Day 33 - Okavango Delta
Continue your trip around the delta and then return to Gao Island before heading to the relative civilisation of Umvuvu Camp. This camp usually has hot showers, and there's a small bar at which you can relax and perhaps enjoy a refreshing sundowner. 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.
Day 34 - Bagani
Return to Bagani to camp for the night. Various boat trips, fishing trips and guided hikes are possible from Bagani, so if you're feeling active, get out and make the most of it. Those who are feeling bold might even be able to challenge the local kids to a soccer match – don't expect to win though! Retire to your camp in the evening and enjoy this welcome break from the road.
Day 35 - Grootfontein
Drive to your camp outside Grootfontein for the night (approximately 7 hours). The town of Grootfontein, part of the Otavi Triangle, tends to get very green in the warmer months but dries out markedly in the winter. If it's springtime, you'll likely see jacarandas in bloom. There is the possibility of an accommodation upgrade here, but WiFi will not be available.
Day 36 - Grootfontein/San Bushmen
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.
Day 37 - Etosha National Park
Travel to Etosha National Park (approximately 5 hours). Enjoy a game drive here in the evening. The 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. Game viewing in Etosha 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. You will spend the night at Namutoni. Accommodation upgrades are on offer here.
Day 38 - Etosha National Park
Enjoy a full-day game drive in Etosha National Park. Namibia has protected its game reserves against poaching, which means significant numbers of elephants, antelope and other herbivores reside here. The park is also home to some 340 species of birds – keep an eye to the sky where you might spot a soaring eagle. Tonight you will stay at the particularly spectacular Okaukuejo Camp. The camp overlooks a floodlit waterhole visited by many different species throughout the day and night. Upgrades are not available at this location tonight.
Day 39 - Spitzkoppe
Travel to the mountain of Spitzkoppe, the 'Matterhorn of Namibia' (approximately 9 hours). The wild lands around this superb granite peak are some of Namibia's most stunning. The mountain itself is 700 million years old and 1,987 metres high. Although you shouldn't try to climb to the top, there are some excellent hikes to do in the area, which is rich in plant life and 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.
Day 40 - Swakopmund
Continue to the town of Swakopmund (approximately 5–6 hours). Be dazzled by the sight, sound and smell of thousands of olive-coloured seals on the shores of Cape Cross while you're travelling up the eerie Atlantic Coast. At some stage today there will be access to an ATM and market or shop if you need some supplies. Your accommodation for these nights is a simple, cosy lodge. WiFi is not available at this location.
Day 41 - Swakopmund
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 town to admire the beauty of the Germanic architecture and take advantage of some excellent souvenir shopping.
Day 42 - Swakopmund
Today is another free day to enjoy this fun beachside town. 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.
Notes: It's important to check with your leader if you are unsure about the safety of any of these optional activities, as some may not be recommended by Intrepid.
Day 43 - Sesriem/Sossusvlei
Drive to Sesriem, your base for exploring the incredible Namib Desert region (approximately 6–7 hours). 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. 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 burning tones created by the brightly coloured sands. These are the highest dunes in the world.
Day 44 - Sesriem/Bethanie
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. 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). Enjoy some time to explore this incredible and mysterious desert oddity. Later, continue to the small town of Bethanie (approximately 6 hours), arriving in the afternoon. Your camp has basic facilities, with showers, flush toilets, WiFi and optional upgrades.
Day 45 - Fish River Canyon
Heading further south, deeper into the vast desert lands of Namibia, drive towards Fish River Canyon (approximately 3–4 hours). At 500 metres deep and over 160 kilometres long, Fish River Canyon is one of the very largest canyons in the world. During the dry season, the river bed tends to dry out completely, leaving only a few puddles. In the wet season, after the summer rains, the river can turn into a spectacular raging torrent. At any time of year there are remarkable photographic opportunities here as we watch the color of the granite rocks change as the sun goes down. Note that upgrades and WiFi are not available at your camp tonight.
Day 46 - Orange River
Departing Fish River Canyon, travel to Noordoewer (approximately 5 hours). Pitch your tent on the scenic banks of the Gariep (Orange) River. Traditionally known as the Gariep River, the Orange River is the longest in South Africa, at 2,200 kilometres. 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. Upgrades are possible tonight (subject to availability), though there is no WiFi available.
Day 47 - Western Cape
Depart first thing in the morning, heading to Klawer – a town named after the Afrikaans word for a wild clover blooming after rainfall. The surrounding countryside is beautiful. If there's time, you will have the opportunity to explore some of it – take a delightful walk around the nearby mountains and farms before retiring for the evening.
Day 48 - Cape Town
Head to Cape Town (approximately 5 hours), where you trip ends. With its stunning coastline, modern cityscape, nearby mountains and a plethora of nearby vineyards, this is one of Africa's most exciting cities. There's no accommodation provided for tonight, but this can be arranged – please enquire at the time of booking this trip.
Notes: It's important not to book any outgoing international flights for earlier than 7 pm, to allow for possible delays.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
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