Leaving Nairobi we stop at the Rift Valley scenic lookout at 8,000 feet high, overlooking Mount Longonot and Lake Naivasha. We pass from the dramatic landscape of the Rift Valley to the highlands and spend our first night near Nakuru, where you can end your day sipping beer at Kembu Campsite.
We have an early start, crossing over the Ugandan border at Malaba or Busia. The scenery changes to tropical rain forests and tea and sugar plantations. We catch our first glimpse of Lake Victoria on route to Uganda’s capital city, our overnight stop.
Stopping for photos as we cross the equator, we continue southwest to Kabale town, gateway to the Mountain Gorilla Reserves. We spend this evening camped on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi the deepest Crater Lake in Uganda.
Climbing through lush terraced hills to Kisoro, there are panoramic views of this unique Ugandan landscape on every turn. From the road we have outlooks over three countries - Uganda, Republic of Congo, Rwanda; and the Virunga Mountains - Mountains of the Moon, the home of the rare mountain gorillas.
Kisoro is situated under the peaks of the Mufumbiro Mountains making a stunning base for the next two to three days, which are set aside for trekking the famed mountain gorillas.
In groups of six to eight people with two guides we trek deep into the forest to find one of the gorilla families. The trek is an experience in itself, following your guides as they cut a path through the thick vegetation. The guides track the gorillas almost every day but even so, sometimes it can take eight hours to find them. You will be rewarded though by the sight of these human-like giants playing with their young, feeding, grooming and staring curiously back at you. We spend an hour observing these amazing animals - bring plenty of film.
As the groups going to the gorillas are small, it takes a couple of days for everyone to do the trek. Whilst others are searching for the great apes, you can take in the local markets; walk to the nearby mountain lakes, or enter the Magahinga National park for a day hike up a volcano or a guided nature trail.
Still on a high from our time spent with the gorillas, we head back to Lake Bunyonyi meaning “place of little birds”. It is known, not only for its water birds, but also for its fresh water crayfish population. Lake Bunyonyi is a great place to relax, or for the more energetic you can canoe to one of the many islands dotting the lake, swim, or take in the scenery on mountain bikes.
We return to Uganda’s capital. Kampala is a modern bustling city leaving you no shortage of things to see and do. You may wish to visit the National Museum, the Kasubi Tombs of the Buganda people.
Crossing the Owen Falls dam we arrive at Jinja on the shores of Lake Victoria. Our campsite for the next few days above Bujagali Falls is a welcome break from traveling, and we have a lazy afternoon to put up our tents on the grassy terraces overlooking the Nile River.
You can spend an action-filled day white water rafting down the Nile. As well as grade 5 rapids, this river has a lot of bird and wildlife to view while drifting between the rapids. The rafting is rounded off with a sunset BBQ and drinks, then back to camp to re-live it on video.
There is no shortage of other activities in Jinja; head off on a quad bike, bungee jump, fish on Lake Victoria, take a guided village walk or give up a day of your holiday to volunteer for the local community education project.
Leaving Uganda, we head back into Kenya and onto Nakuru Town, the capital of the Rift Valley Province. We spend the next few nights at Kembu Camp, a working farm. You can visit the local weavers and school or take a tour of the farm.
We spend visit Lake Nakuru, viewing game in a park famous for its soda lake surrounded by thousands, sometimes millions of pink flamingoes. The park is home to over 400 species of bird, and we may spot leopard or black and white rhino amongst the zebra, waterbuck, impala, giraffe and many more.
Not far from Nakuru in the Rift Valley is Lake Naivasha. We camp on the shores of the lake where hippos often come to graze in the evenings and black and white Colobus monkeys turn up in the early morning.
Close by is Hell's Gate National Park where you can hire bikes to take you around the park and see the herds of zebra, buffalo and antelope. You can also wander in the predator free reserve amongst African game. There is spectacular scenery here; red cliffs, grassy plains and rock towers made of hardened lava and the remains of ancient volcanoes.
Also on the lake is Elsamere, once the home of Joy Adamson and Elsa the lion of 'Born Free' fame. Elsamere is now the centre of the Born Free Foundation and you can find out more about their work, watch a video on Joy’s life and take afternoon tea in the gardens.
We head south to Masai Mara National Reserve, camping on the edge of the park. The sweeping plains evoke a picture of East Africa that most people hold in their minds and are rarely disappointed when confronted with the real thing. Great game viewing is assured all year round. The Mara offers us everything, amazing scenery and abundant wildlife including the big five.
From here we return to Nairobi with the chance to feast at the renowned Carnivore Game Restaurant.
Into Tanzania we arrive in Arusha where you can take a side trip to the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. The trip is camping for two nights in the parks amidst the animals. If you choose not to visit the park you can wander the markets in Arusha town.
A day’s drive from Arusha brings us to Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean coast. Over the centuries trade between Africa and Arabia has resulted in the blending of Arabs and Africans into a beautiful Swahili (coastal) culture with wooden sailing dhows crossing the ocean, coconut plantations and fishing villages with mosques on the beaches.
From Dar es Salaam you can take the ferry to Zanzibar Island. Here is the old stone capital of the Omani Sultanate, sandy beaches, spice tours, snorkeling, diving and trips to other nearby islands. Zanzibar is a fascinating place to visit and you can stay for 3 or 4 days to take it all in. South through Tanzania, our route takes us through Mikumi National Park where we may well see giraffe or elephant grazing beside the road.
Crossing the border into Malawi, we reach the shores of its huge lake. The campsites and small resorts along Lake Malawi offer sandy beaches, swimming and snorkeling, water-skiing, horse riding or walking in the surrounding countryside. You will also find markets selling beautifully carved Malawi chairs, tables and other souvenirs.
In Blantyre the old capital of Malawi we get visas for the next leg. We enter Mozambique and spend a the day driving through the bush, passing villages, mud huts and small children who wave at us as they tend their herds of cows and goats.
In Zimbabwe we visit the modern capital Harare, then on to Gweru and the Antelope Park. Here is the only place in the world you can walk with lion cubs, also you can swim with elephants and play polocrosse.
In Bulawayo town there is Rhodes Matopos National Park, here you can walk near wild white rhino, see bushman rock paintings and see the fantastic view from Rhodes grave, the founder of modern Zimbabwe.
Finally we reach the Victoria Falls where the Zambezi River plunges 100 metres down a mile wide chasm, creating one of the most incredible natural wonders of the world. The local name for the falls is 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' which means 'the smoke that thunders' and you'll soon find out why. When the river is in full flow, the falling water causes a huge roar and sends a cloud of spray up to 500 metres into the air.
We stay in Victoria Falls Town in Zimbabwe above the falls where there is so much to see and do. Adventure activities abound - you can bungee jump, white water raft, and go game-viewing on horse back. More sedate excursions include canoeing, light aircraft or helicopter flights over the Falls, and the sunset cruise on the Zambezi. Of course, the Victoria Falls themselves are the main attraction and you can walk through the rain forest along the cliff opposite for an excellent view.
We cross into Botswana. We travel along the edge of the Kalahari Desert to Maun. A small town on the edge of the Okavango Delta, Maun is also the starting point for the Mokoro trip. A Mokoro is a traditional dugout canoe and your transport into the Delta. As you glide through the waterways, you will see a fantastic array of wetland wildlife, birds in particular, and you are also likely to come across hippos or elephants taking a drink from the shore. You can go on a walking safari to look for giraffe, buffalo and rare antelope. This overnight stay is a great wilderness experience.
Leaving the lush Delta behind we enter Namibia and spend the night on the Kavango River in the northwestern end on the Caprivi Strip.
Next stop is Etosha Pan National Park. Thousands of years ago this vast saltpan was a lake, until the Kunene River changed course and deprived the lake of its water source. Now the pan and surrounding bush support large numbers and a wide range of wildlife. We spend a couple of day’s game viewing from the truck and spend the evenings around the floodlit water holes at the park's campsites. These water holes provide an excellent opportunity to observe animals that are hard to find during the day, particularly rhino and also smaller animals such as the genet. Elephant, lion, giraffe, zebra, oryx, ostrich, springbok, jackals, hyenas and meercats are also likely to be seen at Etosha.
From wild animals to tame ones, we spend a night at the Kamanjab Cheetah Farm where you can scratch the big cats behind the ears before watching them tuck in to their evening meal.
Namibia is a land of wide, open spaces and we pass few inhabited areas as we drive towards the Atlantic
We stop at Cape Cross where the first European explorers landed in the 15th century. It is now more famous for the Seal Reserve, a breeding ground for tens of thousands of cape fur seals. They occupy the beaches almost as far as the eye can see and you can watch them suckling their young, resting in the sun and fighting with their neighbors.
Swakopmund is an old German colonial seaside resort with plenty of things to do for the energetic and plenty of beer halls for those after a more relaxing time. Horse-riding or sand boarding on the dunes, deep sea fishing in the Atlantic or scenic flights over the coastline - these are just a few of the activities on offer.
Heading inland, we journey to the Namib Desert, famous for its 300 metre high sand dunes; the highest in the world. It can be hard work climbing to the top but the view is worth all the effort as the dunes stretch before you into the distance and change colour in the setting sun.
After an overnight stay in the desert we drive south to Fish River Canyon, at 85 km long and 400 m deep it's second in size only to the Grand Canyon. You can trek along the rim of the canyon and, from the viewpoints at the top watch the setting sun. There is also the hot springs in the south at Ai Ais. Our last stop in Namibia is the Orange River, which forms the border with South Africa. You can spend an afternoon canoeing here.
Crossing the river we arrive in South Africa and follow the farmland south through the sparsely populated areas of the Western Cape. We drive through mountain valleys and stony semi-desert before arriving in Stellenbosch, the centre of one of the Cape's many wine routes. A wine tour with plenty of tasting makes for a great day out.
Finally we arrive at our journey's end. Cape Town is a beautiful city, nestled at the foot of Table Mountain and you'll find plenty of cafes, pubs, clubs, markets and sights to see. You can climb the mountain or take the cable car to the top for some wonderful views of the city and the Cape Peninsula. Nearby are several beaches where you may find yourself whale-watching from the shore or sharing your towel with a jackass penguin.
When we arrive in Cape Town on the last day of the tour, we take you to a hostel where you can book a dorm or a room, or you can arrange your own accommodation at one of the many other hostels or hotels. There are several operators who run excursions to the surrounding area and further afield to the Garden Route and beyond. There is an international airport as well as flight, train and bus connections to other South African cities.
-Transport: Overland Safari tour vehicle - Boat - on foot
-Staff: Tour Leader, Driver & local guides
-Age Rage for tour is "18 - 55 years"
Note: (LTP) Local tour payment of £690 GBP is required on day one of tour.
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