Itinerary | Gorillas to Cape Town
Gorillas to Cape Town
We leave Nairobi at 7am on the first day of the trip. We recommend you arrive in Nairobi the day before the trip departs. If you’re there with time to spare there’s lots to see and do around the city. In Nairobi town is the National Museum and markets. Also Karen Blixen’s house, Langata Giraffe Centre, Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage and Nairobi National Park for the first glimpse of African wildlife.
DAY 1: Nairobi to Masai Mara (L/D)
Leaving Nairobi we stop at the Rift Valley scenic lookout its 8,000 feet high and overlooks Mount Longonot and Lake Naivasha. We head south to Narok and on 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.
Included Activity: Masai Mara Nature Reserve and game drives
DAY 2: Masai Mara (B/L/D)
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.
DAY 3: Masai Mara to Eldoret (B/L/D)
We pass from the dramatic landscape of the Rift Valley to the highlands and spend our first night on the highland route to Eldoret.
DAY 4: Eldoret to Kampala, Uganda (B/L/D)
We enter Uganda; a well run green fertile country, and head on via Jinja on Lake Victoria to Kampala. Its landscapes vary from the fertile green areas around the northern shores of Lake Victoria to the snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountains. Kampala, the capital city is bustling and friendly.
DAYS 5-8: Kampala to Lake Bunyoni (B/L/D)
Stopping for photos as we cross the equator, we continue southwest to Kabale town; gateway to the Mountain Gorilla Reserves. Climbing through lush terraced hills to Kisoro, there are panoramic views of the Ugandan hills on every turn. From the road, we have outlooks over three countries – Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda; Virunga Mountains; Mountains of the Moon, – home of the rare Mountain Gorillas.
Trekking to the mountain gorillas
The park rangers monitor the gorillas on a daily basis and know pretty much where they are each day. As the gorillas share much of our DNA, anyone with cold or flu cannot trek. Trekking is also only open to people over 16 years old. Due to the restrictions on the daily numbers of visitors, we depart from our base in Bunyoni in small groups over a few days. Whilst others are searching for the great apes you can; see the local markets, walk to the nearby mountain lakes, go to Magahinga National Park to hike up a volcano, or go an a guided nature trail.
Dependant on where permits are available
We may spend a night in either Kisoro or in Rwanda. The following morning, after packing our picnic lunch, we are transferred to a ranger’s station where the trek commences. Your rangers will lead you through the cultivated lands and villagers of subsistence farmers, into the dense rainforest and on to find a gorilla family.
It can take from one to eight 8 hours walking past the terraced farms into the forests and the hills with the guides sometimes cutting a path through the forest undergrowth. On finding a gorilla family visiting time is just one hour Watch them, while the ranger guides give you the background of the family you are visiting.
The prices of trekking permits
This fluctuates. There is a local transport & handling fee which covers the return public transfer and the Wildlife Authority’s booking fee. We normally visit the gorillas in Uganda, but depending on conditions, we may see them in Rwanda.
Optional excursion Gorilla Trekking
Day 9: Lake Bunyoni to Kampala (B/L/D)
We return from the Mountain Gorillas to cross the Equator for the second time and stop for the classic – one foot in each hemisphere photo opportunity. We spend the night in Kampala and have the opportunity to try its nightlife.
Day 10: Kampala to Jinja (B/L/D)
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 travelling; we can 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 are no shortages of other activities in Jinja; quad biking, 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.
Day 11: Jinja to Nakuru, Kenya (B/L/D)
Leaving Uganda, we head back into Kenya, stopping for lunch and stocking up with supplies on the way. We camp near Nakuru at a campsite on a local farm. Nakuru is Kenya’s fourth largest town and sits in the Rift Valley, beside Lake Nakuru National Park.
Day 12: Lake Nakuru National Park (B/L/D)
At Lake Nakuru, viewing game in a park; famous for its soda lake surrounded by thousands, sometimes millions of pink flamingos. The park is home to over 400 species of bird, and we should spot leopard or black and white rhino among the zebra, waterbuck, impala, giraffe and tree climbing lions. Leaving the park we return to our camp.
Included Activity: Lake Nakuru National Park
Day 13: Lake Nakuru to Lake Naivasha (B/L/D)
To Naivasha, we camp beside the lake. 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.
By the lake is Elsamere; 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 and take afternoon tea in the gardens. Lake Naivasha, camping under the fever trees on the shore of Lake Naivasha, with hippos grazing on the shore in the evening
Day 14: Lake Naivasha to Nairobi (B)
We climb out of the Rift Valley, hopefully with a mist free view of the valley below from the escarpment. We return to Nairobi, arriving around noon.
DAY 15: Nairobi to Arusha, Tanzania (L/D)
We head south from Nairobi, through the Masai plains and cross the border at Namanga into Tanzania; arriving in Arusha late in the day. The country we pass through is sparsely inhabited grassland savannah, inhabited by the Masai. Tonight, we stay in a lovely campsite in Meserani, 20 km to the west of Arusha. Visit the Reptile Rescue Park and Masai Cultural Museum by the campsite, and an art gallery selling the strongly coloured Tinga Tinga paintings.
DAY 16: Arusha to Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater (B/L/D)
100 km to the west, we visit the Serengeti National Park & Ngorongoro Crater. We meet our Tanzanian guides with their locally operated 4WD vehicles adapted for safari use They allow excellent viewing through the opening roof hatches. The trip is camping, away for three days and two nights. One of these nights will be inside the park in the parks amidst the animals. If you choose not to visit the park you can wander the markets in Arusha town.
In our 4×4’s we cross the Rift Valley to Mtu wa Mbu (Mosquito River) and then up the Rift Valley Escarpment to spend the evening at a campsite.
Included Activity: Serengeti & Ngorongoro Excursion
Day 17: Ngorongoro Crater & Serengeti (B/L/D)
An early start to Ngorongoro Crater the largest unbroken caldera (collapsed volcano) in the world. Inside is open grassland and a lot of animals. After our game drive in the Crater, we head down the Crater rim and past the Cradle of Mankind, on our way to the Serengeti National Park. We cross the vast plains as we game drive through the southern and central areas in the park. Tonight, we camp in the wild. with no fences between us and the animals – who live as they have for millennia.
DAY 18: Serengeti National Park to Arusha (B/L/D)
In the morning, we head off for another game drive and explore the park. After our morning drive, we return via the Crater rim to our safari truck near Arusha. Then drinks at the bar, to talk about the big 5.
DAY 19: Arusha towards Dar es Salaam (B/L/D)
We head towards the coast past Moshi town the capital city of the Chugga people. Skirting the base of snowy Mount Kilimanjaro we camp on the way to Dar es Salaam.
DAY 20: To the Indian Ocean Coast and Dar es Salaam (B/L/D)
We arrive in Dar to our campsite on the beach of the Indian Ocean. If you decide not to go to Zanzibar, the campsite at the beach is an ideal place to have a few lazy days.
DAY 21: Dar es Salaam and ferry to Zanzibar (B)
From Dar es Salaam we take the ferry to Zanzibar and the old stone capital of the Omani Sultanate. Sandy beaches, spice tours, snorkelling, diving and trips to other nearby islands. Zanzibar is a fascinating place to visit and to take it all in. Over a thousand years 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. Nungwe beach resort on the north of the island has the most beautiful beaches.
Included Activity: Zanzibar Excursion, Spice Tour & Dhow Excursion
DAYS 22-23: Zanzibar (No Meals)
You get your own meals while in Zanzibar, as people like to experience here on their own or in small groups and in accordance with their own budget. Our tour leader joins you and will arrange your activities, while meals can be taken from a wide selection of restaurants to suit any budget. There are also a wide variety of optional excursions.
Stone Town in Zanzibar Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old slave market, the spice growing areas, Jozani Forest with Red Colobus Monkeys and in the evening the seafood cafes on the wharf side.
DAY 24: Zanzibar by ferry to Dar es Salaam (No Meals)
Return by ferry to Dar es Salaam on the mainland for another on our beach campsite; late afternoon, or early evening.
Included Activity: Zanzibar ferry to Dar
DAY 25: Dar es Salaam to Iringa (B/L/D)
We head south through Tanzania; our route takes us through Mikumi National Park where we may well see giraffe or elephant grazing beside the road. The road from Mikumi National Park to Malawi takes us through the southern highlands, passing Baobab Valley to Iringa.
DAYS 26-28: Iringa to Lake Malawi, Malawi (B/L/D)
Crossing the border into Malawi, we reach the shores of its huge lake. We spend the night at Chitimba Beach Camp. The campsites and small resorts along Lake Malawi offer sandy beaches, swimming and snorkelling, water-skiing, horse riding or walking in the surrounding countryside. Markets sell carved Malawi chairs, tables and wood carvings
Kande Beach. We head south through the hills and drop down to the lake and Kande Beach resort. Very relaxed and just the sort of beach place you need in Africa.
DAY 29: Lake Malawi to Chipata, Zambia (B/L/D)
Leaving the beach we go inland to spend the night in the capital Lilongwe or camp on route to Zambia after crossing the border. In Zambia, we head along the Great North Road – a sparsely settled countryside with few people or villages for hundreds of miles.
DAY 30: Chipata to South Luangwa National Park (B/L/D)
South Luangwa National Park is well worth the visit. Recent trips have seen: – wild dogs, leopards, lions, and buffalo. We camp by the park and you can game drive into the park. Though the park is open all year, during the rains; which are normally from Jan and Feb to March, the road in can be flooded and the road slow to get to the park.
Included Activity: Game drives in South Luangwa National Park
DAY 31: Luangwa National Park to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital (B/L/D)
We leave the park and continue to head west. Passing through the beautiful Luangwa Valley we arrive at the fastest expanding capital city on the continent, Lusaka. At camping Eureka, you may have zebra or antelope grazing by your tents while you sleep.
DAY 32: Lusaka to Livingstone (B/L/D)
Victoria Falls – 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’ – ‘The smoke that thunders’ and you’ll soon find out why.
Optional Activity: Zambezi Sunset riverboat cruise
DAY 33: Livingstone, Zimbabwe to Chobe Park, Botswana (B/L/D)
After an early start and a stunning drive, we cross the Zambezi River on the Kazangula Ferry into Botswana. The country becomes lush and forested as we approach Chobe River. In Chobe National Park you can take an overnight game drive; a wild experience – excellent game viewing is a must.
Included Activity: Chobe National Park overnight game trip
DAY 34: Chobe National Park, Botswana to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (B)
After returning to camp we head to Zimbabwe and over the border to Victoria Falls. 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.
Included: Entrance to Victoria Falls
DAYS 35-36: Victoria Falls (B)
We stay beside Victoria Falls in Victoria Falls town, there is lots to see and do. Adventure activities abound – you can bungee jump, white water raft, and go game-viewing on horseback or walking with lions. More sedate excursions include canoeing, light aircraft or helicopter flights over the Falls and the sunset cruise on the Zambezi. Though the Falls themselves are the main attraction, you can walk in the rainforest along the cliff opposite for an excellent view.
Optional Activities – Bungee jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge, abseil down the Gorge. Fly over the Falls. Whitewater raft down the Zambezi. You can float serenely down the river deep below the cliff topped gorge.
DAY 37: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to Chobe, Botswana (B/L/D)
In the midmorning we leave Zimbabwe for Botswana and Kasane, where we have a chance to explore the town of Kasane. Wander around town for the day or have a break on the banks of the Chobe River.
DAY 38: Chobe National Park to Kasane (B/L/D)
Back in camp, you can have a break, after all the adventure. You can take an optional boat cruise on the Chobe River, or spend your time by the pool.
DAY 39: Kasane to Maun (B/L/D)
We travel along the edge of the Kalahari Desert to Maun a small town on the edge of the Okavango Delta, the starting point for the Delta trip.
DAY 40: Maun to Okavango Delta (B/L/D)
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 will come across hippos in the water and elephants drinking on the shore. You can go on a walking safari to look for giraffe, buffalo and rare antelope – the overnight stay is a great wilderness experience.
Included Activity: Overnight Delta excursion
DAY 41: Okavango Delta to Maun (B/L/D)
Up early and it’s off walking with the guide, a unique chance to see game on foot; elephants, herds of grazing zebra and pods of hippos. Try learning how to pole your mokoro, or try to catch a catfish; the guides make it look so easy. A last swim in the clear delta water before heading back to the truck and campsite for a shower and cold drinks. Time permitting you can take a scenic flight over the Delta from Maun
DAY 42: Maun to Ghanzi (B/L/D)
From the lush Delta, we pass through the arid Namibian landscape to our evening’s bush camp. Fingers crossed for a classic sunset in Botswana at Ghanzi. Here you can go with the San Bushmen to learn about their life and how they live in this harsh land
Optional Activity: Bushman Experience
Day 43: Ghanzi to Windhoek, Namibia (B/L)
Today’s drive will take us through small rural towns and scenic landscapes. Nestled between the hills, Windhoek is a rather small capital city but has many places of historical interest. This afternoon is spent at your leisure with time to visit the local museum or haggling at the street side markets. There are also many shops for those in need of a bit of retail therapy. And if you like take a meal out at a beer house, German style.
Optional: Dinner at a beer house
DAY 44-46: Windhoek to Etosha National Park (B/L/D)
Heading north to Etosha Pan National Park. Thousands of years ago this vast saltpan was a lake, till Kunene River changed course and deprived the lake of water. The pan and surrounding bush support large numbers and a wide range of wildlife. We view the game from the truck and spend the evenings by the floodlit water holes at the park’s campsites. These waterholes 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 here.
Optional Activity: Night game drives Etosha National Park
Included Activity: Game drives through Etosha National Park
Day 47: Etosha to Brandberg Mountain (B/L/D)
We leave Etosha and head to Brandberg Mountain [fire mountain]a massive mountain outcrop rising above the gravel plains, uninhabited and isolated with the tallest mountain in Namibia.
DAY 48-49: Brandberg Mountain to Spitzkoppe and Swakopmund on the sea (B)
Namibia is a land of wide open spaces and we pass few inhabited areas as we drive towards Spitzkoppe; a group of granite peaks Swakopmund is an old German colonial seaside resort with plenty to do for the energetic and German beer halls for those after a more relaxing time. Horse-riding, quad biking or sand boarding on the dunes, deep sea fishing in the Atlantic, jump out of a plane or take a scenic flight over the coastline are just a few of the things you can do here.
Included Activity: Spitzkoppe
Optional Activities: Skydiving, quad biking, sand boarding, scenic desert flights, dolphin cruises, fishing trips, golf, horse riding etc.
Day 50-51 Swakopmund to Sesriem (B/L/D)
Leaving Swakopmund, we head south to the industrial port Walvis Bay, before turning inland and toward the desert. Continuing our journey, we enter the Namib-Naukluft Park in one of the oldest deserts in the world. We base ourselves at Sesriem, a great place to experience the Namib and its many moods.
Namib-Naukluft National Park, Dune 45 & Sossusvlei. An early start into Namib-Naukluft National Park, we take a morning roaming around the sands. We take some time to summit the famous Dune 45. We then take a desert shuttle a further 5kms into the desert where you can take a walk to Sossusvlei; a river which ends is a salt and clay pan, surrounded by high red dunes.
Included Activity: Visit to Sossusvlei & Dune 45
DAY 52: Sesriem to Fish River Canyon (B/L/D)
After overnighting in the desert we drive south to Fish River Canyon; 160km long and half a kilometre deep; second in length only to the Grand Canyon. You can trek along the rim and look into the canyon from the various viewpoints.
Included Activity: Visit to Fish River Canyon
DAY 53: Fish River Canyon to Orange River, South Africa (B/L/D)
We Cross into South Africa over the Orange River. Take a canoe trip down the river or relax by the pool enjoying the spectacular view.
Optional Activity: Canoe the Orange River
DAY 54: Orange River to Cederberg (B/L/D)
We drive through mountain valleys and stony semi-desert following the farmland south through the sparsely populated areas of the Western Cape. Cederberg growing area of the centre of one of the Cape’s many wine routes.
Optional Activity: Wine tasting
DAY 55: Cederberg to Cape Town (B)
Continuing south through to the fruit growing area of Citrusdal; we cross the mountains to Cape Town – a beautiful city, plenty of cafes, pubs, clubs and markets. Tonight’s accommodation is in dormitories in one of Cape Town’s hostels.
DAY 56: Cape Town (No Meals)
This morning is the end of our tour. While in Cape Town; go and climb Table Mountain or take the cable car to the top for views of the city and visit Robben Island