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This once-in-a-lifetime African Budget Safari starts in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and ends in Nairobi, Kenya.
Departing from the mighty Victoria Falls you travel to game-rich Chobe Park in Botswana, before driving to Livingstone at Vic Falls. Travel north into Zambia to explore the untamed South Luangwa Park, and on to scenic Lake Malawi. After a few relaxing days at the vast lake, you cross into Tanzania and head to Zanzibar Island with its rich Arabic-African cultural fusion and white sand beaches.
Return to the mainland and drive up to Arusha, for our memorable trip into the Serengeti and Ngorongoro National Parks, home to high concentrations of wildlife, including Africa's Big Five. From Tanzania's premier game parks we head to Nairobi in Kenya, and onwards to the famous Masai Mara National Park, hosting the Wildebeest Migration.
Then we are off to Uganda for our Mountain Gorilla trekking expedition, where you come face-to-face with these amazing primates in the rainforests.
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 Vic Falls to Kenya & Gorillas Overland Camping Safari starts in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Today we visit the mighty Victoria Falls, the world's largest sheet of falling water at 1700 m wide and about 100 m high. Falling between Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is called Mosi-oa-Tunya by the local Kololo people, which means 'the Smoke that Thunders'. This World Heritage Site and natural wonder is a truly awe-inspiring and memorable sight!
The rest of the day is free for you to explore the sights of Victoria Falls town and take 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! The 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.
After breakfast we depart from Vic Falls crossing into Botswana and making our way to Kasane, where we set up camp on the banks of the Chobe River. Listen out for fish eagles and resident hippos enjoying the waters of Chobe River, the major water source in Chobe National Park. The Chobe River forms a natural border between Botswana and Namibia and Zambia. Chobe National Park is Botswana’s premier game park, renowned for its large herds of elephants.
After lunch we relax and prepare for our Chobe National Park Overnight Trip into the wilderness of Botswana. Arriving in Chobe Park we spend the afternoon in search of African wildlife on a game drive to our bush camp inside this top Botswana Game Park.
We spend the evening musing over our wildlife encounters in Chobe Park and listening to the night sounds of nearby wildlife. Look out for kudu, impalas, the rare sable and roan antelope, giraffes and more on your game drive. We also see a variety of birds, from raptor and plover to lilac-breasted roller, as we drive!
This morning 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, Zambia or partake in 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 make an early start and head northwards, passing 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 rising prosperity can be seen in the cities of Zambia where foreign stores, banks and imported cars are increasing, but the villages and smaller towns are less westernized.
Some of the local wildlife such as the eland, Africa's largest antelope, share the safari campsite with us!
On days five and six 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.
Malawi is known as the 'Warm Heart of Africa' and next our safari takes us to find out why. 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, 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 fishermens' 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 four days 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 head for 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 from the roadside. The wild animals appear impervious to passing traffic, which makes for fantastic game viewing.
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 - a laid-back beach trip to Zanzibar Island.
On day 12 we take a ferry to Zanzibar Island for our 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 past once serving as one of the major departure points for most of the 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 tour back in Dar es Salaam after visiting Zanzibar.
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 optional activities in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar Island has a great range of activities to offer visitors, from historical sightseeing to exciting water activities.
This safari includes a spice tour and a dhow cruise during your stay on Zanzibar. Exploring the spice plantations is a colourful and aromatic experience on the Spice Island and sailing in a traditional dhow is the ideal way to watch the sun go down.
Stroll through the cobbled streets of the old Stone Town of Zanzibar to see traces of the Arabic history, from Medina-style shops to the impressive palaces that once belonged to wealthy Sultans. Other interesting activities on Zanzibar Island 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. Island hopping and snorkelling in the clear warm waters are also excellent ways to explore this beach paradise.
There are a variety of restaurants in Stone Town offering a fantastic array of fresh seafood straight from the ocean, with crayfish being a popular treat. You can mingle with the locals at the seafront market of Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town, where inexpensive yet tasty seafood is available.
Departing from Zanzibar Island's Stone Town in the afternoon our relaxing beach trip comes to a close. We return to the shores of Tanzania by the early evening and overnight at our safari camp in Dar es Salaam town.
Goodbye bustling Dar city - today we travel into rural Tanzania through sisal and coconut plantations to the coastal town of Pangani. We break our journey to the famous northern game parks of Tanzania with an overnight rest in Pangani, a town with a dark and interesting past.
Heading to Arusha, 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. Next, we take an excursion to the legendary Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. These game viewing excursions are run in locally operated 4x4 safari vehicles that have been adapted for our African safari drives.
Explore the thriving town of Arusha in the morning if you like, 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 reptiles up close.
This afternoon our 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 a pleasant campsite in Karatu overnight, departing early the following morning for the 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 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 surrounding landscape as we search for game in the area. 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 plains and lush Ngorongoro Crater rim. Back in Tanzania's Arusha we spend the evening recounting our thrilling tales of the wildlife encounters on the plains of Serengeti & Ngorongoro.
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 watch orphaned baby elephants and rhinos at feeding time, go 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 East Africa’s best Game Parks and is home to a wide 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 one 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 and leopard; along with the many other species of animals, reptiles and birds inhabiting this wilderness area.
After our game drive in Masai Mara, we have the option of visiting one of the nearby Masai Manyatta’s – traditional hamlets where the Masai Tribe still live in their traditional way. In the evening we relax around the camp fire, watching the sun set over this quintessential African wilderness.
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 striking 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 26 we depart from Kampala early in the morning heading west into the heart of beautiful Uganda.
Our next overnight base on this Vic Falls to Kenya & Gorillas Overland Camping Safari is located at the scenic Lake Bunyoni, “place of many little birds”. Around 200 bird species have been recorded at this tranquil lake dotted with islands.
From Lake Bunyoni 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 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 700 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 Bunyoni 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 rainforest 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 rainforest 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 lifespan 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, which is key to protecting the gorillas from poachers and deadly snares, as well as to promote awareness of these unique animals.
Lake Bunyoni, a nature lover’s delight, is the deepest Crater Lake in Africa. There are a number of activities for you to enjoy at Lake Bunyoni, 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 Bunyoni or taking a dip in its clean waters.
After the unforgettable gorilla trekking experience and soaking up the serenity of Lake Bunyoni, we start driving back to Kampala.
We then cross the Equator for the second time on our Vic Falls to Kenya & Gorillas 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.
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 Uganda, the 'Pearl of Africa', behind us we return 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 organization. The town of Nakuru is located next to the compact and wildlife-rich Lake Nakuru National Park.
The town of Nakuru is located next to the compact and wildlife-rich Lake Nakuru National Park.
Today we explore the Lake Nakuru National Park in search of its wildlife and birds. 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. This is a spectacular sight with the lake almost turning pink when the water is low. 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 34 we travel to the highest of the Rift Valley lakes, Lake Naivasha, at 1880 m. Lake Naivasha is home to a multitude of birds, including the African Fish Eagle with his regal cry.
We spend the day participating in optional excursions near Lake Naivasha, such as visiting Elsamere (former home to Joy & George Adamson of Born Free fame), 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 Vic Falls to Kenya & Gorillas Overland Camping Safari, we share breakfast 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!
This Budget African Safari starts in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and travels across to Botswana and then north through Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda before ending in Nairobi, Kenya. The Vic Falls to Kenya & Gorillas Overland Camping Safari departs from Victoria Falls on Sunday mornings. Should you wish to explore Vic Falls, 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.
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.
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