Itinerary | Nile Expedition – South Africa to Egypt
NAMIBIA – Fish River Canyon, Sossusvlei Dunes, Spitzkoppe, Cape Cross Seal Colony, Namib Naukluft Park, Etosha National Park, Cheetah Park
BOTSWANA – Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta
ZIMBABWE – Overnight sleeper train from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo, Matobo National Park, Gweru Game Ranch, Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, Mutarazi Falls
MOZAMBIQUE – Gorongosa National Park, Tropical Coast
TANZANIA – Katavi National Park, Lake Tanganyika Sunset Dhow, Gombe Stream National Park and Jane Goodall’s chimpanzee research station
RWANDA – genocide memorial in Kigali
UGANDA – Mountain Gorillas, Lake Bunyoni boat trip, Ziwa Rhino Sanctury, boat trip and entry Murchison Falls
KENYA – Samburu National Park and game drive, Lake Turkana
ETHIOPIA – Omo Valley, Omo National Park. Addis Ababa, Harar ancient walled city
DJIBOUTI – Red Sea, salt lakes, volcanoes
ETHIOPIA – Lalibela rock-hewn churches, Danakil Depression, Adwa mountains and Axum, Simien Mountains and the Gelada baboons
SUDAN – Khartoum and meeting of the Blue and White Niles, camel markets, Pyramids at Meroe, Nubian Desert, River Nile
EGYPT – Aswan, Luxor, Red Sea Coast, Pyramids & Sphinx day tour & guide
Cape Town to Cairo
Nestled at the foot of Table Mountain; plenty of cafes, pubs, clubs, markets and sights. You can climb the mountain or take the cable car to the top for some wonderful views of the city and the Cape Peninsula and visit Robben Island.
Week 1: South Africa
In a Mediterranean climate, following the road north through mountain valleys and stony semi-desert, past Citrusdal a centre of the Cape’s many wine routes. A wine tasting makes for a great afternoon. Then on to Cederberg; the growing area and centre of one of the Cape’s many wine routes.
Week 2: Namibia
Cederberg to the Orange or Gariep River
We drive through mountain valleys and stony semi-desert, following the farmland north through the sparsely populated areas of the Western Cape. We camp on the South African bank of the Gariep River; taking a canoe trip down the river or relax by the pool enjoying the spectacular view.
We drive north to Fish River Canyon; 160km long and 550m deep. It is second in length only to the Grand Canyon. You can trek along the rim, to look over the canyon from the viewpoints.
We base ourselves at Sesriem, a good place to experience the starkness of the desert. Nearby is Sossusvlei and the highest sand dunes in the world. Great views of the desert can be seen from the top of these 300 metre high dunes. The stars at night are like diamonds on black silk.
We roam around the sands, taking time to summit the famous Dune 45. Then deeper in the desert walk to Sossusvlei River. It ends is a salt and clay pan, surrounded by high red dunes.
We cross the Tropic of Capricorn towards the Atlantic Ocean, via Walvis Bay, to Swakopmund; an old German colonial seaside resort, with lots of things to do for the energetic and German beer halls for those after a more relaxing time. Horse-riding or sandboarding on the dunes, deep sea fishing in the Atlantic or scenic flights over the coastline. Optional Activities: Skydiving, quad biking, sand boarding, scenic desert flights, dolphin cruises, fishing trips, golf, horse riding.
Namibia is a land of wide open spaces and we pass few inhabited areas as we drive towards Spitzkoppe; a group of massive granite peaks. Here you can take a guided walk with the San to their ancient rock art sites. To Brandberg Mountain [fire mountain] a massive mountain outcrop rising above the gravel plains, uninhabited and isolated, it’s the tallest mountain in Namibia.
Thousands of years ago this vast saltpan was a lake, till Kunene River changed course and deprived the lake of water. Now the pan and surrounding bush support large numbers and a wide range of wildlife. We view 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.
Week 3: Botswana
We travel along the edge of the Kalahari Desert to Maun. A small town on the edge of the Okavango Delta, and 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 such as the tsessebe. This overnight stay is a great wilderness experience.
We camp by the Chobe River
Kasane. Here hippo, buffalo and crocodiles share the river bank and occasionally pay us a visit through the night. Here you can take a sunset cruise on the river or take an afternoon game drive through the park, and see some of Africa’s largest elephants and big cats.
A feature of the Chobe National Park is its huge concentration of Elephants. This Park supports the largest surviving Elephant populations in the world, estimates at over 120,000.
Week 4-5: Zimbabwe
Here 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.
For a few days, as there is so much to see and do. Adventure activities abound – you can bungee jump, white water raft, take a Microlite flight above the falls, sky-dive 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 falls themselves are the main attraction and you can walk through the rain forest along the cliff opposite for an excellent view.
From the Falls we take the overnight train from to Bulawayo. A beautiful old, but basic train travelling 400 kilometres across the savannah. You have the option for a day to visit Matobo National Park with a local safari company, to see Black Rhino and visit Cecil Rhodes’ grave at Worlds End see ancient rock paintings.
From Bulawayo we cross Mashonaland to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. This which was once the greatest medieval city in Sub Saharan Africa and is where the name Zimbabwe comes from; meaning house of stone. On to Gweru, a horse and game ranch where you can go game viewing on horseback or even take a walk with lion cubs.
On to the capital – Harare, a relaxed city with many markets throughout the gardens, and great nightlife.
From Harare on we go to areas little visited. Now the itinerary and dates are flexible
From Harare to the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, and Mutarazi Falls National Park, with a 762 meters high water fall, the second highest in Africa
Week 6-7: Mozambique
In Mozambique we visit Gorongosa National Park, a preserved area in the Great Rift Valley of central Mozambique. It’s forests and savannahs are home to lions, hippos and elephants. You can go walking safaris, canoe or take 4×4’s to see the animals and the beautiful landscape.
Mozambique’s coast is a recently discovered gem; off the beaten tourist track and perfect for the adventurous traveller. Long white beaches, good dive sites, historical sites, fresh seafood, We will spend the next week and a half exploring this region while heading to Tanzania.
We soon reach the shores of its huge lake. The campsites and small resorts along Lake Malawi offer sandy beaches, swimming and snorkeling, water skiing and walking in the surrounding countryside. You will also find markets selling beautifully carved Malawi chairs, tables and other souvenirs.
Week 8-9: Tanzania
Crossing the Ruvuma River bridge we enter Tanzania, heading west to Lake Nyasa, the same lake is known as Lake Malawi in Malawi. we head north west north to the Shores of Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest lake. We follow the lake road leading us by many small villages alongside the lake
We pass Katavi National Park with hippo pools along the way. Kigoma freshwater port town, is on the lakeshore, surrounded by rugged hills and forest valleys, with views of the Congo mountains across the lake. Gombe Stream National Park can only be reached by boat from Kigoma. It was set up by Jane Goodall as a chimpanzee research station and is now a national park. Chimpanzees are habituated in the national park and it is possible to arrange a visit to see them.
Week 10: Rwanda
Passing over the mountain ranges we cross the border into Rwanda and visit the capital Kigali. There will also be an opportunity to visit the genocide memorial in Kigali. Rwanda is now considered to be one of the most progressive countries in the region, with rapid economic growth and lots of construction going on.
Week 11-12: Uganda
We climb through lush terraced hills to Kisoro, from here we trek the famed mountain gorillas or you could visit Mgahinga National Park for a day hike up a volcano or a guided nature trail. We meander back to Lake Bunyonyi to relax, canoe, mountain bike and swim. Wwe camp on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi, the deepest crater lake in Uganda.
Murchison Falls National Park is the largest national park in Uganda, with; elephants and hippos, along with chimpanzees in the Kaniyo Pabidi mahogany forest, and the spectacular Murchison Falls where the Nile River roars through a narrow rocky chasm. Making our way towards the capital city Kampala we will pass by Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to see the Rhinos in their natural environment.
We pass through tea and sugar plantations to Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Crossing the equator.See the National Museum, the Kasubi Tombs of the Buganda people.
Jinja on the Nile
Crossing the Owen Falls Dam we arrive at Jinja on the shores of Lake Victoria. Spend an action-filled day white water rafting down the Nile, 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.
Week 13: Kenya
We skirt Mt Kenya which sits almost in the geographical centre of Kenya. It’s the highest mountain in Kenya, at just about 5,200 meters (so some two thirds the height of Mount Everest, but 400 meters higher than Mont Blanc) and the second highest in Africa; Kilimanjaro being slightly taller.
Northern Kenya – the ‘NFD’ Northern Frontier District
We head north out of the East African highlands and cross the wide open dry hot rocky plains of the NFD – the frontier district between Kenya and Ethiopia. This savage and beautiful land, some 600 north to south, kept the peoples of the Kenyan and Ethiopian Highlands separated for millennia.
Before roads were pushed through this area, the only way travel here was by camel, and with the tribes of the region; the Turkana, Rendille, the Gabbra, the Samburu, the Borana and others. All these peoples are semi nomadic pastoralists who have survived in a harsh land herding their sheep, cattle, goats and camels. Their style of living, colour, form and traditions are strikingly beautiful.
Lake Turkana is the next part of our overland adventure. By taking the long difficult road, that a real sense of remoteness is gained, as we continue the journey all the way north of the lake and into Ethiopia.
Week 14-15: Ethiopia
In Ethiopia we climb the mountains into the highlands
We follow the Rift Valley Lakes to the capital; Addis Ababa. In Ethiopia the roads we travel on are often in mountainous areas, travel is slow. Ethiopia has a lot more visual & indigenous history than any other sub Saharan country.
Into the Omo Valley
This region is home to some of the most colourful ethnic groups in Ethiopia. The friendly Hamar people are noted for their ornate, interesting hairstyles and the Mursi people are famous for the clay lip plates and earlobe decorations. An optional day tour will take you into the Omo National Park.
We spend a few days in the capital Addis Ababa
Here we have the chance to indulge in some authentic Ethiopian coffee or explore ‘El Mercato’ – one of East Africa’s largest open air markets. We also spend the next few days organizing our Sudanese and Egyptian visas.
Harar Ancient City
Harar is an ancient town surrounded by a centuries-old defensive wall is a city known for its mazelike alleys, colourful markets and Hyena Men who feed the hyenas every night just outside the city walls.
Week 16: Djibouti
The least known countries in Africa is Djibouti. This tiny country has many highlights. Few places have such a variety of landscapes – like salt lakes, volcanoes, sunken plains, limestone chimneys with steam coming from the top to mention a few. We will spend a week in the country exploring the countries highlights before returning to Ethiopia.
Week 17-18: Ethiopia
Lalibela town has an historic collection of massive rock cut monolithic rock-hewn churches. Then on to Mekele, capital city of the Tigray region.
The Danakil Depression is a vast plain, some 200 by 50 km and 400 feet below sea level. It’s about the hottest place on Earth and one of the lowest places and extremely dry, without rain for most of the year. The Awash River dries up in a chain of salt lakes, never reaching the sea.
Through the mountains to Adwa mountains and the holy city of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia. Known for its tall, carved obelisks dating from the 12th Century. These have been kept alive by generations of dedicated priests guarding their precious religious and artistic artefacts.
The UNESCO World Heritage listed Simien Mountains National Park has dramatic escarpments and freestanding pinnacles. Home to many indigenous animals; Gelada Monkeys, Walia ibex, Lammargeyer vultures, klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves. Hiking is a great way to enjoy the park.
Gondar was the capital of Ethiopia from 1632 until 1868. There are seven Emperor’s castles In Gondar. We spend a few days where we can organise overnight trips to the Simien Mountains National Park, home to the Gelada Baboon. Hikes are available in the area. You may also wish to arrange a trip to the holy city of Axum dating from the 12th Century have been kept alive by generations of dedicated priests who guard their precious religious icons. The border with Sudan is not far from Gondar and the first towns after the border are Gedaref & Wadi Medani.
Week 19: Sudan
Khartoum is our next stop and it has a fantastic setting on the confluence of the Blue and White Niles. Our stay here is on the banks of the Nile at the quirky but interesting Blue Nile Sailing Club. It houses one of General Kitcheners old Gunboats, a relic from the British military campaign against the Mahdi over a century ago. For such a large city, Khartoum feels quite laid back. Here you can visit the Hamed al Nil Tomb or take a trip to the daily camel market or viewing the confluence of the two Niles are also an interesting ways to pass the time.
The hospitality in Sudan can be surprising and very genuine. For such a country with so many recent problems the Sudanese are often too willing to invite you for a meal or a cup of ‘Sudanese whisky’ – better known as tea.
The pyramids are to the north of the capital Khartoum. Our drive across the Nubian Desert will see us either hugging the banks of Nile as it snakes its way north or possibly experiencing the vast open desert plains which is dissected by the main train line from Khartoum – making this our only real point of reference. Whether passing through sleepy Nubian villages, resting in tea rooms, pottering around the local souqs or experiencing total isolation in the middle of the desert – a unique experience awaits you along this not so travelled route to Wadi Halfa.
Week 20-21: Egypt – Abu Simbel
We enter Egypt and board the ferry to Abu Simbel – one of the ultimate destinations on our expedition. We arrive into the small village of Abu Simbel. The massive stone monuments built by the greatest of all pharaohs, Ramses ll, after spending the night we will travel in convoy to the city of Aswan.
You will notice one of the many cultural changes on this trip. The Nubian people lead a more relaxed and less hectic pace of life than their Egyptian countrymen, while more urban than their Sudanese counterparts.
Take an evening boat cruise to a Nubian village and a walk through the colourful souk, is a great way to spend your days here. Above Aswan between the Aswan Dam and the High Dam is a lake with an island and the The Ancient Egyptians built a beautiful and magnificent Temple on this island for the Goddess Isis. It was submerged after the first Aswan Dam was built in 1906. To save the temple they had to wait until 1971, and the completion of the High Dam, which stabilised the level of the water.
You can also take a 2 day felucca boat cruise to Edfu and Kom Ombo to Luxor.
Temple, Colossi of Memnon, Valley of the Kings, Tutankhamen’s Tomb
Luxor, we visit Karnack Temple the Colossi of Memnon and the Valley of the Kings with Tutankhamen’s Tomb. We do a big day trip to the monuments on friendly happy donkeys. They tend to walk off home alone after we arrive at the Valley of the Kings leaving us free to do the rest of the day in a bus.
Visit the Valley of Kings and Queens. Here, the remarkably well preserved tombs of the ancient rulers -namely Ramses ll and Tutankhamun, with coloured paintings and hieroglyphics – fresh even after 3000 years. Karnak and Luxor Temples are both in easy walking distance from our camp – as is the local souq where you can pick up the last of your souvenirs.
The Red Sea Coast
The following day we drive out towards the Red Sea Coast. You will have time relax on the beach for a couple of days or try your hand at various watersports such as snorkelling, windsurfing or scuba diving in the cool clear blue waters.
Cairo, Pyramids & Sphinx, Mohamed Ali Mosque, Old Cairo
Cairo is only a day drive away. Visiting the great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx with an Egyptologist guide, Egyptian Museum, the best mosque in the Middle East, a fortress citadel and Old Cairo
Alexandria on the Nile Delta & the Mediterranean Sea
We cross the desert to Alexandria on the Delta of the Nile and the Mediterranean Sea, originally a Greek city founded by Alexander of Macedon. Not over visited by tourists, it has some great sites to visit; including its city beaches. Other must sees are; the rebuilt library of Alexandria, Fort Qaitbey, a Mamluk fortress on the harbour, Montaza Palace gardens and many museums.
Just one hundred kilometers west of the Alex is the railway halt of El Alamein. In the WW2 this was the site of two decisive battles between Commonwealth and Axis forces. It is considered to be the turning point of WW2.
We return to Cairo, the end of our trip.
For an updated dossier and information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, optional excursions and other useful information please contact us.
Of all the trips we run this is the most likely to have a change of route due to local conditions and visa requirements.
Africa is an unpredictable continent. We do not have a fixed itinerary so please treat the information given as a guideline only. Although our information is written in good faith at the time of printing, our route may vary at any time due to weather, politics or road conditions.