A Trans Africa overland is a challenge! From its start in Europe we travel to the ancient markets of Fez and Marrakech in Morocco before pushing South through the Atlas Mountains into the Western Sahara, following ancient trading routes and camel trains into Mali. Through the jungles of Ghana, we travel to Togo and Benin , where colourful markets, local cafes, and beaches provide endless variety and entertainment. We cross Nigeria in to Cameroon and on through Chad and the Sudan to the ancient cities of Ethiopia and the Blue Nile Gorge. Heading South through the magnificent game parks of Kenya and Tanzania and in to Uganda the home of the Mountain Gorilla, before winding down on the beaches of Zanzibar and Malawi, we take a houseboat trip on Lake Kariba , then its time for the adrenaline to start rushing at Victoria Falls. The Okavango Delta, Etosha and sand dunes of Namibia are all part of the numerous sights and sounds that encompass Southern Africa. We sand mat, and sunbathe, build bridges, raft rivers, track game, push trucks, eat dust and have the most awesome adventure money can buy.
Trans Africa Extended Itinerary: Europe to Nairobi:
Week 1 - 4: Europe, Morocco, Mauritania
Our trip begins in Malaga. We board the ferry at Algeciras and crossing to the Spanish duty free port of Ceuta, the perfect opportunity to stock up on supplies in preparation of our 2000 km desert crossing.
Our first stop on the African continent is Morocco. A fascinating country with diverse scenery ranging from the sand dunes of the northern Sahara to the snow-capped Atlas Mountains and we visit Rabat, it's capital and Fez, famous for its Fez and Berber carpets. The old walled Medina in Fez is of most interest to us here. This is the oldest and most intact medieval city of the Arab world. Its bewildering maze of narrow alleyways makes it necessary to use a guide to see the medina properly. Some 200,000 people live within this city and previously it was the centre of trade, culture and religion in Morocco. The medina is complete with Mosque and many workshops where we can watch silversmiths, tinsmiths, weavers, and wool dyers and there's even a tannery to inspect. We shouldn't leave Fez without visiting a hamman, or Turkish bath, and for an extra $1 - a massage (Moroccan style of course!). Crossing the Atlas Mountains we can relax at Meski Oasis before continuing on to Gorges du Ziz and Todra Gorge. If you are feeling energetic here you can spend the day climbing to the top of the 300 metre high cliffs. In the evening you can try a traditional Moroccan meal of roast goat and cous cous. After a few days we continue south to Marrakech. Marrakech means 'fortified' in the Berber language and the foundations of this city are dated back to 1062, with the original walls of the city being erected in 1126. It was, in past times, a meeting point for the Southern tribesman and Berber villages to trade. We will have a couple of days to explore this wonderful city. The centre of Marrakech is Place Djemaa el-Fna, a lively square, in the old city. This has two disputed meanings - assembly of dead, which refers to it being a place of execution last century or the mosque of nothing as grand plans were made to build a mosque here, which never eventuated. Step back to a time of fantasy for a moment as the square is full of jugglers, snake charmers, boxers, acrobats and storytellers with tales of magic from bygone days when sultans ruled. Many an enterprising businessman can be found in the square from herbalists, to dentists and barbers - if you are game to try them. In the evening, many food stalls are set up selling everything from freshly squeezed orange juice and peeled cactus flowers to goat kebabs, chicken, fish and even snails. If this all sounds a bit busy for you, relax in the overlooking veranda bar and view the carnival of entertainers below. Onwards to the Atlantic and the coastal fishing village of Essaouira, another town surrounded by fortifications. This town was made famous in the 60's with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens spending time here, making it a magnet for all would be hippies. It's a good place to sample some of the local seafood; fresh from the nets, cooked for you on the spot, at small fisherman stands down around the port area. This is the beginning of our 1500 km trek south to Dakhla through a barren and wind swept coast, blemished only with numerous shipwrecks. Dakhla is a welcome sight as it is a place to rest, wash off the dry dust in a hamman and to stock up on supplies for our voyage south across the trackless desert of the southern Sahara. From here we travel in convoy to the Mauritania border and, after formalities, are escorted to the border town of Nouadhibou. Mauritania, until recently, has been closed to the outside world and it boasts one of the best coastal reserves and virtually untouched fishing grounds in the world. Inquisitive but welcoming nomadic people put you in touch with a barren land that time forgot. Leaving Nouadhibou we travel around countless sediment pans of the coastal area then move inland to negotiate the forever changing landscape of shifting sand. Heading back to the coast the journey continues, tide permitting - along the ocean edge with towering sand dunes scraping our tires on the left. A climb to the top of the dunes gives you a magnificent view of them stretching as far as the eye can see and the sunsets and stars are breathtaking. We stop briefly in Nouakchott, Mauritania's capital, to wash the salt off the truck and restock with fresh supplies. This city is increasing rapidly and has seen the population rise over 10 times in less than ten years, as more and more people come in from the desert, often to end up living in the shanty towns made entirely from cardboard boxes and sacks.
Week 5 - 8: Mali, Burkina Faso
Mali awaits and it is here where we generally encounter the first black Africans with numerous herds of cattle feeding off the sparse vegetation. The land changes before our eyes as we move south to Mali's capital, Bamako. Heading towards the Bandiagara escarpment we pass through two of the most colourful market towns in West Africa, Segou and Djenne. Djenne was one of the ancient Trans-Sahara trading towns and is the oldest of the river ports with the classic mud-built buildings and the largest mud-mosque in the world, dating from the early 1900's! The Bandiagara escarpment, with its breathtaking views, is 150 km long and in places 600 metres high. Here, with the help of local guides, we find the Dogon. These people are one of the most ancient tribes in Africa, who have changed little over the centuries, still dwelling in curious shaped dome huts perched on cliff edges. These are the homes of the animists who have monkey skulls and bones embedded into the mud walls, a fascinating culture, which practices its own religion and customs even down to a five day week - four days to work in the fields below and one day of rest to party. If we are lucky we may chance on one of their festivals where the beating of drums, dancing and drinking of millet beer carries on long into the night. Burkina Faso, originally known as the Upper Volta, is one of the smaller countries that we travel through briefly. We stop in the capital city of Ouagadougou for a few days. The huge colourful markets and local cafes and music provide endless variety and entertainment. We then head south into Ghana and towards the beautiful West African coastline. The hospitality of the English speaking Ghanaians makes it a memorable journey. We travel through lush rain forest and stop at local craft markets to practice our trading skills. The Gold Coast was infamous for its slave trade in the 18th century and today there are a number of Portuguese forts still standing along some of the most stunning beaches, anywhere in the world. Kakum National Park, only 30 km from the Coast, is a tropical rainforest with a most unusual way of viewing it. Forty metre high rope walkways are strung through the forest canopy. Ghana is proud of its culture and boasts some excellent museums, as well as schools concentrating in the study of local arts, crafts and music. We may have the opportunity to hear some of the music the students create.
Week 9 - 13: Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon
The Togo coastline is only 60 km long, but there is a pleasant beach, complete with shipwreck, where we camp, outside Lome, the capital. The market in Lome is one of the busiest and most colourful you'll ever see in Africa. Spectacular stalls selling everything imaginable line the streets and the view from the 3rd floor of the indoor market merely highlights the chaos below. There is even a voodoo market for the more stout at heart. Our first stop in Benin is at Grand Popo where we can relax for a few days on the beach and sample the local fresh seafood. We stock up our supplies at Cotonou before crossing into Nigeria, a country rich in oil and the most populated of Africa's countries with over 100 million inhabitants. We escape the crowds for Yankari Game Reserve & Wikki Warm Springs. The crystal, clear, warm water comes out of a hole at the bottom of a cliff, opening out into a 200 metre by 10-metre pool. The perfect way to enjoy this is by spending the evening hours, refreshments in hand, relaxing in the natural mineral water.
Week 14 - 17: Gabon, Congo, Republic of Congo.
Our itinerary from Yankari Game Reserve will depend largely on the political situation in the surrounding countries. With the Democratic Republic of the Congo closed, we will travel through to Waza Game Reserve in northern Cameroon, before crossing the border into Congo. Driving through bamboo forest tunnels we make our way back to the coast reaching Point Noire. Here you can visit the Jane Goodall Chimp sanctuary, or relax on the beach. We enter Cabinda the oil rich exclave of Angola with the Congo to the East and the Atlantic to the west; where you can watch the flames burning off from the offshore oil rigs. We then enter DR Congo crossing the mighty Congo River by a massive bridge overlooking Matadi town; a sea port over 100 km upriver from the ocean.
Week 18 - 19: Angola.
Angola only opened up to tourism in 2004, with the closure of the routes through Sudan, Af Trails started going this way through one of the largest and least visited countries in Africa. The people are friendly and the views astounding. Driving along the red mud roads we reach the coast and the capital Luanda, its very Portuguese in its buildings and Brazilian in its beach attire with a line of beach bars and restaurants in the bay. We follow the coast passing lots of waterfalls on the way to Lubango town 2000 meters high on a plateau. It is home to the third of the great statues of Jesus; the others being in Rio and Lisbon.
Week 20 - 22: Namibia, South Africa
We cross in Namibia and stop in Etosha National Park which covers 23,000 sq km of Mopane and Acacia woodland, centred by a huge saltpan stretching for 130 km. The cheetah sanctuary where you can get awesome photos of these magnificent cats. Further west again we reach the cool Atlantic Ocean and visit a wellpopulated seal colony at Cape Cross. We then skirt the coastline down to Swakopmund, a seaside resort set amongst sand dunes. Fish River Canyon and Orange River are next as we make our way into Stellenbosch where we sample some of the wines on offer. A short drive brings us into Cape Town and the first 22 weeks in this Trans Africa adventure.
Week 23 - 24: South Africa, Botswana.
Departing Cape Town we continue north on the last 9 week section of this 31 week Trans Africa to Nairobi. Passing through Johannesburg we cross into Botswana where the Okavango Delta awaits. The delta is essentially a depression in the Earth's surface covered in desert sand, where a huge river pours in, fans out and eventually ceases to flow. A giant marshland has been created at this inland delta, which is scattered with palm trees, islands, papyrus-lined channels and a wealth of flora and fauna. Chobe National Park is next, where we enjoy a game drive and boat cruise.
Week 25 - 26: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania
Crossing into Zimbabwe, and the mighty Victoria Falls fills the horizon with a cloud of mist. Here you have the chance to go rafting and bunji jumping to name a few, before we cross over to Zambia. We venture on a rhino walk before making our way north to South Luangwa National Park. The warm heart of Africa, Malawi beckons. We'll travel up the shoreline of Lake Malawi, beach hopping along the way. Malawians are a very proud people and the intricate ebony carvings they produce are of an excellent standard. Don't miss out on the Malawi chairs. Seeing them carve out the wood, creating the story told by each chair makes them that much more special. After leaving Malawi, our drive north-west passes through largely untouched and rich countryside, featuring the stunning baobab - the upside down tree of African legend. We travel through a combination of interesting market towns, Mikumi National Park and varying scenery - barren plains, marshy swampland, forestry reserves and, of course, many rural villages dotted amongst the tea, coffee and banana plantations, before reaching Dar es Salaam and the beckoning shores of the Indian Ocean. The East Coast of this vast continent is our set off point for a few days on Zanzibar Island.
Week 28 - 29: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda.
We move on to what the Masai call 'Siringet', meaning endless plains or more commonly known to us as the Serengeti National Park. This park is home to over 2 million migratory animals. We drive across the vast plains in search of lion, cheetah, giraffe, elephant, etc. Next stop Ngorongoro Crater, considered by many to be the 'eighth wonder of the world'; unique in the fact that it supports its own ecological systems in such a small area. The crater is no more than 20 km in diameter, but it boasts more than 30,000 head of game. We use Land Rovers to travel from the rim down, 700 metres, to the floor of the crater and view the wildlife. Crossing in Kenya, we stop in Nairobi before heading towards Uganda, where an encounter with the amazing Gorillas waits you. With the help of local guides, armed with pangas to cut through the vines we walk through the dense equatorial rain forest in search of Mountain Gorillas. The trek to find them generally takes between two and four hours (but sometimes more). Once found we are able to sit quietly and watch them from only an arm's distance away. It is an exhilarating sight - from the huge silverback weighing up to 200 kg, to the tiniest baby.
Week 30 - 31: Uganda, Kenya.
We visit Queen Elizabeth National Park for two nights. While staying in the park you will have the option to visit a Chimpanzee wildlife reserve. For the next few days we stay at Jinja, the Source of the Nile as it leaves Lake Victoria, discovered by one of the early explorers, John Speke in 1862. Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa, the second biggest expanse of freshwater in the world and the starting point for the Nile's 6,500- kilometre journey to the Mediterranean. Crossing back into Kenya we stop at Nakuru National park. Lake Nakuru is known for 'the greatest ornithological spectacle on earth', with up to 1 million flamingos on the lake, and 450 different species of bird including the Great White Pelican, Goliath Heron and the African Fish Eagle. Our last two nights are spent in Kenya's Premier Game Reserve the Masai Mara. During our morning and afternoon game drives in the park we search for the Big Five, Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, and Rhino. The Masai Mara has one of the highest concentrations of game in Africa and you won't be disappointed. We Camp in an area run by the Masai People, who extend an opportunity to visit to their Village and share with us their way of life. Traditional dancing demonstrations, craft markets, and walking safaris are available or you can relax with a beer and try a game of pool with a Masai warrior but be warned they are warriors and take no prisoners! The Masai Mara will be a major highlight on your tour. We head back into Nairobi where this amazing 31 week Trans Africa Overland ends.
-Transport: Overland Safari tour vehicle - Boat - on foot
-Staff: Tour Leader, Driver & local guides
+ Local Tour Payment:GBP 975.00
Also see tour packages in:
Africa Morocco South Africa Kenya Nature & Wildlife Wildlife Viewing National Parks