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This comprehensive Southern & East African Camping Safari starts in Cape Town, South Africa and ends in Nairobi, Kenya.
From Cape Town we head north through South Africa and into Namibia where we explore the Namib Desert and Etosha National Park. We cross into Botswana and explore the pristine Okavango Delta and game-rich Chobe National Park. Then we drive to the the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, before game viewing in the untamed South Luangwa Park in Zambia and making our way to the shores of Lake Malawi.
From Malawi we travel up to Zanzibar Island with its rich cultures and white sand beaches. Back in mainland Tanzania, we experience world-class game viewing in the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, before heading over the Kenyan Border to the Masai Mara Game Reserve, via Nairobi.
Then drive westwards into beautiful Uganda where we trek endangered Mountain Gorillas, before heading back into Kenya to visit Great Rift Valley game parks and return to Nairobi.
During this trip you are likely to come across activities that encourage tourists to participate in lion, elephant or other wildlife interaction. This includes walking with lions, riding elephants and any other tourist operation putting travellers in close contact with animals that would normally live wild and separate from human contact.
We absolutely do not encourage or endorse this type of wildlife interaction operation. For more information on why this is not good for Africa's wild animals, please see our detailed blog post on the subject.
This budget safari starts with a township tour in one of the informal settlements on the outskirts of Cape Town. The township tour visits a low income area, providing a glimpse into the lives of many South Africans. A visit to one of the vibrant townships offers insight into the economic divides that still exist in the country today.
Then our Cape Town to Nairobi Overland Camping Safari departs from Cape Town, driving around Table Bay, which offers panoramic views of Table Mountain and the lovely city in the distance. Making our way north from Cape Town we travel through the wheat growing region, known as the ‘bread basket’ of South Africa. We drive over the Piketberg Pass, dipping into the fruit growing valley of the Olifants River, named after the huge elephant herds that used to inhabit this fertile area.
The lovely campsite for tonight offers views over the vineyards in this hilly area and the Cederberg Mountains beyond. This afternoon you can stroll through the peaceful vineyards, before we sample some fine wines, produced in the famous wine regions of the Western Cape. Tonight we camp under star-studded African skies – the perfect way to end our first relaxing day on safari in Southern Africa.
Departing from the Cederberg Area we continue driving north into the Namaqualand region, best known for its colourful fields of Namaqua wildflowers that bloom in spring.
Having passed through the open Namaqualand area we stop in the small town of Springbok, to stock up on supplies. Then we travel through the Richtersveld desert area and on to the Gariep River, forming a natural border between South Africa and Namibia. We camp at a scenic campsite on the banks of the Gariep River, in South Africa. This is South Africa's longest river, formerly known as the Orange River, with its source in the Drakensberg Mountains of Lesotho.
On the morning of day three we embark on a half-day canoe trip on the Gariep River. This is a relaxing canoe trip with some easy paddling and plenty of opportunities to enjoy bird watching from the water. Our fun canoe trip is followed by lunch, before we hit the road again. In the afternoon we cross into neighbouring Namibia on safari, heading to the nearby Fish River Canyon.
This impressive Namibian Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, at 161 km long, 27 km wide and about 550m deep. The Fish River Canyon was formed by a combination of tectonic activity and river erosion over millions of years.
We follow the road along the eastern edge of the canyon, admiring the breathtaking views over this dramatic gorge.
Today we rise and shine early, driving further north into the ancient Namib-Naukluft desert of Namibia, one of the world's oldest deserts.
Our next overnight camp is at Sesriem, a convenient base for exploring the surrounding Namib Desert. Sossusvlei is a short drive away, and here we experience the changing scenery of Namibia's desert. At Sossusvlei we will witness the striking sea of towering red sand dunes iconic of Namibia. The Sossusvlei Dunes are said to be the highest dunes in the world, with some reaching over 300m high.
From the dune tops we will get to marvel at the endless views over the vast desert landscapes and at night the Namib desert skies reveal a blanket of bright stars like nothing else on earth!
Entering the Namib-Naukluft National Park we explore the dramatic desert terrain this morning.
Starting with a striking sunrise from the top of Dune 45, we continue to the Sossusvlei Desert Region by shuttle bus. This drive takes us 5km's deeper into the Namib Desert, from where we walk into the Sossusvlei Dunes to explore. We visit the striking Sossusvlei - a clay pan dotted with bare tree trunks that stand in contrast with the dry, white earth and surrounding orange-red dunes.
We have breakfast this morning, before setting off north-west to Walvis Bay, on the cool Atlantic Coastline of Namibia.
En route to Walvis Bay we cross the Tropic of Capricorn, before following the west coast to Swakopmund. Namibia’s prime holiday resort, Swakopmund, is where we spend the next two nights. Arriving at coastal Swakopmund you will be briefed on the adventure activities on offer here.
Our Swakopmund accommodation is in dormitories, but you have the option of upgrading to private rooms through your safari guide (depending on availability).
Namibia’s adventure capital, Swakopmund is a great place to relax and have some fun - exploring the coastal town and participating in optional adventure activities.
Founded in 1892, Swakopmund still has a colonial German flavour today, especially visible in its architecture. Swakopmund has a variety of excellent coffee shops, restaurants and bars, as well as an array of arts and crafts stores where you can see Namibian curios.
Walk along the fine beaches and promenade of Swakopmund, or visit the local museum, aquarium and art galleries. Alternatively you might like to get your adrenaline pumping with some of the exhilarating adventure activities available here. Optional activities include sky diving, quad biking, sand boarding, scenic desert flights, dolphin cruises, fishing trips, golfing, horse riding and more.
Some of our fellow passengers may choose to end their African Safari in Swakopmund, while new passengers often join us for the remainder of our journey. Our Swakopmund accommodation is in dormitories, but you have the option of upgrading to private rooms through your safari guide (depending on availability).
Onwards to Spitzkoppe, the ‘Matterhorn of Namibia’. Travelling further north and inland we head to the dramatic landscapes of Spitzkoppe, a giant granite outcrop in an otherwise flat part of Namibia, scattered with rocky boulders.
The highest geological formation is about 1728 m high and is recognised as one of the most distinct natural landmarks in Namibia. Spitzkoppe is well known as a sacred site of the ancient San people, housing important rock paintings. We stop to explore Spitzkoppe on foot, visiting the San Rock Art in the area and taking in the impressive terrain and striking views.
From Spitzkoppe we continue to Brandberg, the tallest mountain in Namibia, where we camp under star-filled African skies.
Travelling further north through rural Namibia we make our way towards Etosha and our overnight camp near the national park.
We stay at a private game farm with camping facilities in a natural setting. The farm is home to various antelopes, including wildebeest, damara dik-dik, gemsbok, eland, impala, springbok, steenbuck and duiker, as well as zebra, ostriches and a variety of other birds.
On day 10 we head to Etosha National Park, Namibia's premier game park. Etosha Park covers around 20 000 km² of northern Namibia, located around the Etosha Pan teeming with wildlife, insects and birds. The extensive network of gravel roads in Etosha enables visitors to access some of the most remote areas of this top game park.
In the cooler hours of the day, after lunch, we embark on a game drive in the southern area of Etosha Park. Keeping an eye out for the roaming oryx and springbok antelopes, endemic to desert national parks! The arid landscape of Etosha, which is dominated by a vast salt pan of the same name, is ideal for spotting wildlife at the watering holes scattered throughout the park.
Tonight we camp just outside the Etosha Park, only 10kms from Anderson Gate. Take a refreshing dip in the pool or enjoy a sundowner on the camp's deck before dinner, followed by a laid-back evening at the lively bar.
Crossing some 150 km of the Etosha Game Park, we pass through different types of vegetation as we drive, as well as the changing animal and bird life that these varying habitats support. Zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, kudu and various other antelope species can be spotted on the plains, along with numerous elephants, jackals, hyenas, lions and rhinos.
Enjoy a full day of game viewing in Etosha Park, admiring the African bush scenes and the rich variety of nature's creatures.
Our overnight camp, Namutoni, is set inside the northern part of the game park. After dinner you can head down to one of the nearby floodlit waterholes of Etosha for more game viewing. Here you can observe the wild animals as they come to quench their thirst in the evenings.
Leaving the famous Etosha National Park after breakfast today we keep an eye out for game as we exit the wildlife-rich reserve.
Our destination for the day - Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. This afternoon you have time to walk around the charming capital and take in the sights. This is the cultural, economic and political heart of the country, a vibrant hub of activity with interesting attractions, shops and historical features. Tonight you can opt to eat out in Windhoek and sample the nightlife.
Today we depart from Windhoek, located at the geographic centre of Namibia, travelling east into the Kalahari Desert. Crossing into neighbouring Botswana we head for the remote, small town of Ghanzi.
Here you have the opportunity to spend some time with the Kalahari San, known as Bushmen. Meet the local San to learn how the original inhabitants of Southern Africa have survived in harsh conditions for tens of thousands of years.
This morning we travel to the town of Maun, located on the southern edge of the watery Okavango Delta - the crowning natural treasure of Botswana.
Maun is the gateway for trips into the Okavango Delta and serves as our base for exploring the untamed wetland system. Tonight we prepare for our overnight adventure in the wild Delta. We suggest that you bring a smaller daypack on your trip to use on this short excursion.
Your safari leader will brief you on what is needed, and what to expect on your trip into the Delta. The following morning we proceed from Maun into this incredible wilderness area.
On day 15 of this Cape Town to Kenya Safari we set off on our exciting Okavango Delta Camping Trip.
The Okavango Delta is famous for its rich variety of bird species, plants and wild animals. This huge expanse of water is unique to Southern Africa, being the largest inland delta in the world. The Delta runs down from the Angolan Highlands spreading out over the plains where it empties into the Kalahari Desert.
This delta excursion entails a drive from Maun up north for a few of hours, to reach a mokoro polers' station. The dug-out mekoros are traditional canoes that locals pole through the reeds and winding waterways. It takes us a couple of hours to reach our tented camp by mokoro. The friendly local staff welcomes you and shows you the lay of the camp. Tonight we camp in twin-bedded, dome tents with en-suite bush bathrooms featuring long drop toilets and bucket showers.
After settling in and having a refreshing drink you can head back out onto the winding waterways in a mokoro or take a guided walk in the untamed bush. Tonight we fall asleep in the heart of the Okavango Delta, falling asleep to the sounds of nature.
Last chance to take a game walk in the Okavango Delta, before we head back to Maun. Walking in the delta is an exhilarating way to experience truly wild Africa. We leave the Okavango by mokoro and then transfer to a safari vehicle for the rest of the journey back to Maun.
Arriving in the early afternoon we have time for an optional (extra cost) scenic flight over the Delta at sunset - a fantastic way to see more of this natural gem and it's roaming wildlife!
Today we drive further east through sparsely populated rural Botswana to Nata.
Arriving at our campsite near Nata you have the option of embarking on a game drive or bush walk in the lodge's private conservancy. The 16000 hectare wilderness area is home to elephants, buffalos, giraffes, various antelopes, wild dogs, lions and more. Alternatively, splash in the pool and enjoy a sundowner as you watch for wildlife visiting the waterhole at the camp.
This morning we drive north to the Botswana town of Kasane, where we set up camp on the banks of the Chobe River.
The Chobe River is home to hippos, other wildlife and birds, and forms a natural border between Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. Elephant, hippo, antelopes and many bird species can be sighted from the camp, while we watch another spectacular African sunset over the bush.
Enjoy a sleep-in this morning or explore Kasane town, located on the banks of the Chobe River, the main source of water in Chobe National Park.
Then we make our way into this top Botswana game reserve for our overnight experience in the African wilderness of Chobe National Park. Chobe Park is one of the premier game parks in Botswana, renowned for its large herds of migratory elephants.
In the afternoon we explore Chobe on a game drive en route to our safari camp inside the game park. On the game viewing drive rare sable and roan antelope are often sighted, along with impalas, kudu, elephants, giraffes and more. We also see a variety of birds, from raptor and plover to lilac breasted roller, as we drive!
We spend the evening musing over our wildlife encounters in Chobe Park and listening to the night sounds of nearby wildlife.
Getting up early after our night in the Botswana bush, we set off on a morning game drive in search of Chobe's wildlife. After our rewarding game drive we pack up camp and return to our camp in Kasane. Then we drive into Zimbabwe and the nearby town of Victoria Falls. Named after the famous World Heritage Site and Waterfall, the town of Victoria Falls is located along the Zambezi River, surrounded by the Victoria Falls National Park.
Today we visit the spectacular Vic Falls, falling between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders), is considered the world's largest sheet of falling water at 1700 m wide and about 100 m high. The natural wonder of Vic Falls is an awesome and memorable sight on any African Safari!
A short briefing on the adventure activities available is followed by an afternoon of leisure for you to unwind at the campsite’s swimming pool, do optional activities, or explore Victoria Falls town. Our safari campsite is conveniently situated in the centre of Victoria Falls town, within walking distance of the local restaurants, shops and booking agents for adventure activities.
For the next two days you are free to relax and explore the area as well as taking advantage of some of the fantastic optional adventure activities at Victoria Falls. Optional excursions include trips to Livingstone Island, horseback safaris, sunset boat cruises and swimming in Devil's Pool. Adrenalin junkies can bungee jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia, or abseil down the Batoka Gorge - neither for the faint hearted!
All year round, flights in fixed wing, micro light and ultra light aircraft or helicopters provide an aerial perspective over this magnificent World Heritage Site. White water rafting on the Zambezi River is world class. In addition to the excitement of the Grade 5 rapids, there are more placid sections for admiring the towering cliffs and occasional wildlife on the riverbanks.
Some of our fellow travellers may end their tour in Vic Falls and new passengers often join us for the next stretch of our affordable African Safari.
After breakfast we depart from Victoria Falls crossing back into Botswana and making our way to Kasane. After lunch and a rest we set off on another Chobe National Park Camping Trip. Arriving in Chobe National Park we spend the afternoon in search of African wildlife on a game drive to our bush camp inside one of Africa's finest game parks. We spend the evening under the stars, soaking up the quiet and listening out for animals in the bush around us.
After our night in the Botswana bush, we head out early on a game viewing drive in Chobe Park, before packing up the safari camp and heading back north to Kasane.
On our return to the camp in Kasane, we get back on our safari truck and continue to the Zambian town of Livingstone.
This afternoon we have the opportunity to view Victoria Falls from the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia, or embark on a sunset boat cruise on the Zambezi River. The sunset cruises offer a relaxing and scenic journey along the mighty Zambezi River, visited by wildlife and birds.
Today we get an early start, driving northwards through villages and towns in southern Zambia en route to our next campsite. The night is spent camping on the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia's capital city.
Zambia prospered during the copper boom in the 60’s and was able to establish extensive infrastructure in its main mining and farming communities. Today Zambia is again starting to prosper, due to foreign investment and a resurgence in the mining industry. The growing prosperity can be seen in the cities of Zambia where foreign shops, banks and imported cars are on the rise, but the villages and smaller towns are still less westernised.
Some of the local wildlife such as the eland, Africa's largest antelope, share the safari campsite with us tonight!
On day 26 we visit the South Luangwa National Park of Zambia.
South Luangwa is Zambia's leading game park, known for its wildness and incredible beauty. Located along the Luangwa River this remote national park hosts about 60 animal species and 420 bird species. The game park is home to large elephant herds, as well as an abundance of buffalo, hippo, crocodile and various antelope species. The park is also home to good numbers of zebra, giraffe and leopard, among others.
The most southern of three national parks in the Luangwa Valley, Luangwa Park covers some 9050 km² of the most fertile part of Luangwa Valley. Here we are immersed in the untamed bush, enjoying excellent game viewing.
Travelling on the old East Road we drive in a northeasterly direction from South Luangwa Park, finding our way to a stunning campsite a mere 10 km from the border between Zambia and Malawi.
We follow what was once the route from Cape Town to Cairo that passes through Lusaka on its way to Malawi. While most of today is taken up by driving, we do cross the impressive Luangwa River Bridge which is closely guarded due to its close proximity to the Zimbabwean & Malawian borders. We’ll also stop to stock up on some fresh produce and supplies from the local sellers along the way. We overnight at our lovely campsite, before driving into neighbouring Malawi tomorrow.
Malawi is known as the 'Warm Heart of Africa' and next our budget safari takes us to find out why. We stop in the administrative centre and capital of Malawi, Lilongwe. Malawi is a landlocked country with 20% of its total area consisting of the beautiful, fresh-water Lake Malawi.
Over the next few days we travel the full length of the western side of Lake Malawi, stopping off at various bays and inlets. Days are spent relaxing on the unspoilt beaches, diving in the lake, learning to play the game of bao from locals or bargain hunting at the markets.
The temperate climate of Malawi is suited to swimming all year round, so you can always take a dip in the clear blue waters. Explore the picturesque shores of Lake Malawi meeting local fishermen as they sort the fresh catch of the day. The fishermen still bring in their catch using traditional fishing techniques. The ‘fairy’ lights of the fishermen's boats twinkle out on the lake at night, which is why Lake Malawi is known as the Lake of Stars.
You can gain insight into the skill involved in handling one of the fishing boats by trying your hand at paddling a dug out canoe yourself. Excursions offered at the beachside campsites along Lake Malawi's shores include options such as water sports, horse riding and visits to the local schools and villages.
We leave Lake Malawi utterly relaxed after three days at the lake and enter Tanzania via the border post at Songwe.
We take in the beauty of the Tukuyu banana and tea plantations of the area as we drive to our next night's stop, Iringa. The rustic 'Farmhouse' campsite in Iringa is famous for its Amarula hot chocolate and piping hot showers - both worth savouring.
After a good night's rest in Iringa we continue to the seaside city of Dar es Salaam.
We pass through the Mikumi National Park of Tanzania seeing a wide range of wildlife along the road. These wild animals have largely become accustomed to passing traffic, providing close up sightings.
Upon our arrival in Dar es Salaam area, we drive to our lovely campsite, set at the seaside. We busy ourselves with preparations for the next stretch of our African journey - the optional beach trip to Zanzibar Island.
On day 33 we take a ferry to Zanzibar Island for our optional, three-night beach trip to the Spice Islands. Zanzibar is one of Africa's top beach getaways, boasting unspoilt tropical beaches and warm Indian Ocean waters.
Zanzibar has a colourful history, having once served as a major travel hub for explorations into new territories of East Africa. The islands were also an important stop on the old trade route between Europe, Africa and the East.
New passengers may join us on our Zanzibar Trip, while some travel companions might opt to end their African tour back in Dar es Salaam.
Accommodation and meal costs are for your own account in Zanzibar, allowing for flexibility and self-guided exploration on the island. Zanzibar Island hosts a wide selection of restaurants offering a variety of tasty meals. Your trip leader joins you and can help with arranging accommodation in Zanzibar.
For travellers choosing not to visit the island of Zanzibar, the next 3 days are spent at the beach campsite in Dar es Salaam. There are various optional activities available from the camp including diving, snorkelling and fishing trips. The driver and cook stay behind in Dar es Salaam during the Zanzibar Trip.
Zanzibar Island has a great range of activities to offer visitors, from quiet sightseeing and historical exploration to exciting water activities.
Explore a spice plantation, an interesting experience on Zanzibar, which is famous for its spices. The quaint streets of the old Stone Town of Zanzibar reveal traces of their Arabic history, from Medina-style shops to the impressive palaces that once belonged to powerful Sultans.
Other interesting activities include a day trip to the pristine beaches of Prison Island, to see its giant tortoises. A full day of scuba diving in Nungwe is well worth it, as is the experience of fishing in a traditional sailing dhow. There are a variety of restaurants offering a fantastic array of fresh seafood straight from the ocean, with crayfish being a popular specialty. You can mingle with the locals at the seafront market of Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town, where inexpensive yet delicious seafood is available.
Departing from Zanzibar Island in the afternoon our relaxing cultural and beach trip comes to a close. We return to the shores of Tanzania by the early evening and spend the night at our seaside safari camp near Dar es Salaam city.
Today we leave the city behind and travel north to Pangani, our overnight stop en route to the Northern Safari Circuit. We drive through the Tanzanian countryside and sisal, coconut and betel-nut plantations on our way to the coastal town, located at the mouth of Pangani River.
Explore the Arabic-influenced town, which was once a slave smuggling centre and then the base for the Tanzanian resistance movement fighting German colonialism.
Continuing north we pass the Pare and Usambara Mountain ranges before driving through Moshi town. Moshi is a great place from which to catch a glimpse of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear day - a fantastic photo opportunity! The town of Moshi forms the base for climbing expeditions up Mount Kilimanjaro's slopes to its snowy summit. The night is spent camping in scenic Meserani on the outskirts of Arusha.
Arusha town is located at the foot of Mount Meru and serves as the gateway for excursions to the Northern Safari Circuit parks - Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire, Lake Manyara Park and the Serengeti Park. These game viewing excursions are run in locally operated 4x4 safari vehicles that have been adapted for our African safari drives.
Next we have the option of taking an excursion to the legendary Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. Those opting not to embark on the Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater stay at the camp in Arusha.
Explore the thriving town of Arusha in the morning: browse the vibrant craft markets, go shopping or stop in at the art gallery near our camp to see the brightly coloured Tinga Tinga paintings typical of Tanzania. Visit the interesting Masai Cultural Museum to learn about these tribal people and tour the Meserani Snake Park to see the snakes and other reptiles up close.
Heading back to our base camp at Meserani we have lunch and prepare for our departure, for those participating in the optional Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park Trip. If you choose not to visit the Serengeti National Park & Ngorongoro Crater there are various alternative activities available, such as village tours and day trips to Lake Manyara and Tarangire Park.
This afternoon our optional Ngorongoro & Serengeti Trip takes us to Karatu via the Masai town of Mtu Wa Mbu (Mosquito River) located next to Lake Manyara National Park. We journey up the Great Rift Valley Escarpment to Karatu, located in the Crater Highlands, with spectacular views over the surrounding hills. Karatu has many well-established farms adding to its picturesque scenery. We stay at pleasant, but basic, campsite in Karatu, departing early the following morning for the famous Ngorongoro Crater.
Driving to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area we head down into the untamed bush of the Ngorongoro Crater teeming with wildlife. This crater is a World Heritage Site boasting some of the best game viewing in Africa. Ngorongoro Crater game viewing opportunities include high concentrations of wildlife, from black rhinos to lions and wildebeest.
We explore the Crater floor on a game drive before ascending out of the crater and down the crater rim, passing the 'Cradle of Mankind' en route to the Serengeti National Park. We cross the open African plains on the game drive through the southern and central areas of the Serengeti Park. Then we camp wild in the heart of the untamed bushveld, surrounded by the sounds of Africa's wildlife at night.
In the morning we take an exhilarating game drive in Serengeti Park, admiring the quintessential African landscapes as we search for game on the open plains. The Big Five of Africa (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion & leopard) are often spotted on our Serengeti game drives. Serengeti is famous for the annual Great Migration when streams of wildebeest, gazelles and zebras stampede across the open plains.
After the morning game drive, we retrace our steps crossing the vast Tanzanian plains and lush Ngorongoro Crater rim. Back in Arusha we spend the evening recounting our thrilling tales of the wildlife encounters in world-renowned Serengeti Park & Ngorongoro Crater.
Driving north early this morning we head to the Tanzania-Kenyan border via the small border town of Namanga. Crossing into Kenya we journey to our next overnight campsite located on the outskirts of the capital city of Nairobi.
The Safari Camp in Nairobi is ideally situated next to the Nairobi National Park, and is close to the giraffe sanctuary and elephant orphanage. The remainder of the day is free for you to enjoy some of the many things to do in Nairobi. You can visit The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, to see the orphaned baby elephants at feeding time, head to the Giraffe Centre in Langata for more game viewing, take a day trip to Nairobi National Park or take a “Matatu” to the local curio markets.
In the evening you might like to eat out in Nairobi, trying one of the many excellent local restaurants, and then sample the vibrant night life.
Leaving the lively streets of Nairobi behind we climb the gentle slopes of the escarpment. Along the way we stop at a viewpoint overlooking the splendid Great Rift Valley.
We then descend into the Rift Valley, entering Masai territory where these habitual pastoralists are often seen tending their cattle along the roadside. We drive through the town of Narok, possibly sighting some wildlife as we head for our campsite outside of town. The Safari Camp overlooks the Meguarra Hills and a meandering stream that forms a natural border with the Masai Mara National Reserve.
Departing shortly after sunrise we embark on a game drive into the Masai Mara Reserve. Kenya's Masai Mara is well known as one of Africa’s best game parks, home to an amazing variety of wildlife species.
Mara is most famous for the Annual Wildebeest Migration, also called the Great Migration. This wildlife spectacle occurs when impressive herds of over 1 million wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle stampede across the open plains from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Masai Mara in Kenya.
Masai Mara is particularly popular between July and October when these huge herds of herbivores search for fresh grazing. These grazers in turn attract Africa’s predators, often seen at a kill during the migration. Our game drive takes us through a section of the Mara Park in search of Africa's ‘Big Five’- elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion & leopard; along with the many other species of animals, reptiles and birds inhabiting this wilderness area.
Following our rewarding game drive, we have the chance to visit a local Maasai Manyatta (hamlet), to see how the traditional Maasai live. In the evening we relax around the camp fire, watching the sun set over the classical African bush.
In the early morning we leave the Masai Mara Game Reserve, passing through the scenic tea plantations of Kericho before dipping off the Rift Valley Plateau.
We travel to Eldoret, located south of the Cherangani Hills in western Kenya.
Crossing the border from Kenya we travel into the beautiful African country of Uganda.
We stay in the capital city, Kampala, for our first night in Uganda. Uganda is a small country, covering diverse terrains. Habitats vary from fertile areas of greenery in the northern area around the shores of Lake Victoria to the snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountain peaks in the west and the captivating semi-desert region in the north of Uganda.
The political instability in Uganda over the past has inadvertently sheltered the country from the negative impacts of rampant commercialisation. The current administration has devoted considerable efforts and funds to restoring Uganda to its former position as one of Africa's most prosperous and alluring travel destinations. Uganda's appeal for tourists lies in its being less affected by western influences than other African countries, making it an interesting and unique country to visit.
On day 47 we depart from Kampala early in the morning heading west into the heart of beautiful Uganda. Our next overnight base on this Southern & East African Camping Safari is located at the scenic Lake Bunyonyi, “place of many little birds”. Around 200 bird species have been recorded at this tranquil lake dotted with islands.
From Lake Bunyonyi we have the option of participating in exciting Gorilla Trekking excursions. The gorilla treks take place in the Magahinga or Bwindi National Parks (Uganda), Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo), or Ruhengeri National Park (Rwanda); depending on the availability of gorilla trekking permits.
The prices of the trekking permits change, sometimes without prior notice. The price is currently at about US$600 depending on which National Park we are gorilla trekking in. The gorilla permit fee is used to help conserve these endangered animals. A local transport and handling fee is charged, at about US$120 per person (this includes the return transfer and booking fee with the Wildlife Authority).
When gorilla trekking takes place in the DRC or Rwanda, we will also need to pay for the additional visa for either country, as well as renewing our Ugandan visa when we re-enter the country. The trip leader will advise at the pre-departure meeting as to where the permits have been secured, and will assist with the online visa application for Rwanda en-route if needed. Please take these costs into account when budgeting for the gorilla trekking excursions. We also advise budgeting a little extra for tipping the local guides and game rangers. Please budget accordingly as payment for the trekking permit must be made in US$ cash at the pre-departure meeting.
With only about 800 mountain gorillas remaining, gorilla trekking is an extraordinary opportunity to encounter these gentle primates in the wild. On these unforgettable treks we get to watch the mountain gorilla (Gorilla Gorilla Berengei), one of our closest living relatives, in its natural habitat – a rare and unique wildlife experience! The gorillas are monitored on a daily basis giving the rangers a good idea of where to find these endangered primates at any given time. This said, sightings of the mountain gorillas cannot be guaranteed, as they are still free roaming wild animals.
These mountain gorillas share much of our DNA, therefore anyone with even the mildest cold or any transferable disease will not be permitted on the gorilla treks. There is an age restriction of a minimum of 16 years of age for trekking. The number of daily visitors allowed on the gorilla treks is limited, thus we depart from our Lake Bunyoni base in small groups over the next 3 to 4 days, depending on the size of our group.
From Bunyonyi we wind our way through some of the most spectacular scenery in Africa, travelling to Kisoro town, our next overnight base. (If we are gorilla trekking in Rwanda our overnight stay will be in Ruhengeri). The next morning, we pack a picnic lunch and transfer to a ranger’s station, the starting point for our trek.
The rangers lead you through cultivated lands and onwards into the dense rain forest in search of a family of gorillas. Gorilla trekking can take anything from 45 minutes to 8 hours depending on how easy the gorillas are to locate. Trekking can be fairly strenuous; therefore it is necessary for participants to be reasonably fit. We get to spend a maximum of one hour with the mountain gorillas, to ensure that the animals do not get too accustomed to humans and to protect them from any of our diseases. The visit allows for ample time to observe the gorillas from close range and take photographs of them. Your ranger will be able to give you the background on the particular gorilla family that you encounter. When your visit comes to an end you trek back through the rain forest to the meeting point, from where you are transferred back to our Lake Bunyoni base.
The increase in daily gorilla trekking plays a vital role in the conservation of these endangered mountain gorillas. After years of being ruthlessly hunted for their hands and heads, to be sold as ashtrays and lampshades, tourism is helping to ensure the survival of this threatened species. Large numbers have also been killed while attempting to stop poachers from stealing baby gorillas to sell to zoos, where their life span is never long.
The entire cost of the gorilla trekking permits is used by the National Park authorities to protect the gorillas. The gorilla permit fee is used to fund patrolling, key to protecting the gorillas from poachers and deadly snares, as well as to promote awareness of these unique animals.
Lake Bunyonyi, a nature lover’s delight, is the deepest Crater Lake in Africa. There are a number of activities for you to enjoy at Lake Bunyonyi, while you wait for your turn to go gorilla trekking. These activities include: hiking in the hills of this beautiful area, canoeing on the lake or going on a bird watching walk in this birding paradise. Or you can experience the local culture by visiting a nearby village or church or exploring the local markets of Kabale. You could also choose to take it easy, simply relaxing on the tranquil shores of Lake Bunyonyi or taking a dip in its clean waters.
After the unforgettable gorilla trekking experience and soaking up the serenity of Lake Bunyonyi, we start driving back to Kampala.
We then cross the Equator for the second time on our Cape Town to Nairobi Overland Camping Safari and stop to capture the must-have "one foot in each hemisphere" classic photo. We overnight in Kampala and have the option of sampling the nightlife of the city.
Today we have the option of visiting the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary or transferring to Jinja for activities.
In Jinja the selection of adventure activities includes that of white water rafting at the source of the White Nile, quad biking or volunteering at a community project. In the afternoon you can relax on the riverbanks spotting many of the wide variety of water birds found in this area of Uganda.
With the 'Pearl of Africa' behind us our Southern & East African Overland Camping Safari returns to neighbouring Kenya, pausing along the way for supplies and lunch. Back in Kenya we sleep at a lovely campsite on a farm just outside of Nakuru, one of the country's largest towns and the capital of the Rift Valley Province. In Nakuru you have the chance to visit a local orphanage run by a missionary organisation.
The town of Nakuru is located next to the compact and wildlife-rich Lake Nakuru National Park.
This morning we venture into the Lake Nakuru National Park on a game drive. This Kenyan game park is famous for the thousands of lesser and greater flamingos that flock to the edge of its soda lake. The size of the flamingo flocks at Nakuru vary depending on the level of the water.
We spend the day looking for the frequently sighted black and white rhino. The Nakuru Park was established as a sanctuary for the resident rhino species. We also search for the more elusive leopard, seeing giraffe, buffalo, antelope species and sometimes hippos too.
After our game drive in Lake Nakuru National Park, we head back to our campsite in the late afternoon.
On day 55 we travel to the highest of the Rift Valley lakes, Lake Naivasha, at 1880 m. Lake Naivasha is home to a diversity of bird species, among them the African Fish Eagle with his regal cry.
Today we participate in optional excursions near Lake Naivasha, such as visiting Elsamere (former home to Joy & George Adamson of Born Free fame), taking a boat ride to the Crescent Island Game Sanctuary or a bike ride around Hell’s Gate National Park.
On the last day of this diverse Cape Town to Nairobi Overland Camping Safari we have breakfast together and head back to the camp in Nairobi arriving by the early afternoon.
We exchange contact details and say goodbye to the friends and travel companions who shared this African Safari Adventure of a lifetime with us!
If you prefer fixed accommodation to camping there is an accommodation upgrade available for this tour. Please see the Full Pricing information above for details.
This Budget African Safari starts in Cape Town, South Africa and travels north through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda before ending in Nairobi, Kenya. The Cape Town to Nairobi Overland Camping Safari departs from Cape Town early on Sunday mornings. Should you wish to explore Cape Town, an earlier arrival is recommended. Accommodation can be booked through African Budget Safaris.
This itinerary should be used as a guide only and may vary from day to day depending on road & weather conditions, political situations and group decisions. All prices & Local Payments are subject to change. Due to Tourism Laws in some of the countries we visit, there may be a truck and crew change during the safari trip.
For booking purposes please notify African Budget Safaris as soon as possible should you choose not to go Mountain Gorilla Trekking.
Please note this tour or a portion of this tour may coincide with a family departure, in which case, children from 6 years old may be included in the tour. Please contact African Budget Safaris to confirm.
For up-to-date and confirmed pricing info for optional items, please drop us an enquiry.
An all inclusive Tour of South Africa's Garden Route offering a variety of adventure activities along the scenic way. Visit the Cango Caves, Storms River, Kysna, Hermanus, embark on a "Big 5" Game drive in Addo Elephant Park and explore the Tsitsikamma Forest.
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