Jambo! Welcome to Kenya. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for this, consider arriving a day early so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have these to give to your leader. If you arrive early, perhaps head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum or the highly recommended Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed at an outdoor village. Notes: Petty theft is common in Nairobi. As a general rule, the safest place for your valuables is on your person in a neck wallet or money belt. Your hotel room or reception may also have a safe in which to store things. If you do decide to go exploring, make sure you get local advice on where it is and isn't safe to walk – particularly for later in the day. Be careful not to leave bags unattended on chairs or the floor when you're in a bar or restaurant. Without being paranoid, appearing vigilant is a great deterrence to would-be thieves. Also, make scans of important travel documents and email them to yourself – this will save you hours of time in paperwork if anything does happen.
Drive north-west past splendid views of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita to Lake Nakuru National Park (approximately 3–4 hours). Situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru National Park's small and compact area makes a great location for spotting wildlife. Along with the other members of the Big Five game, Lake Nakuru is home to rhinos, and there will be a good chance of spotting and photographing one of these magnificent beasts. Your exclusive camp, outside the park, is well situated and has flush toilets and showers. Accommodation upgrades and WiFi are not available.
Head to a nearby village with your guide. This is a fantastic opportunity to interact with the local folk and get a feel for everyday life here. Then you'll drive from Lake Nakuru to your camp near Lake Naivasha (approximately 3 hours). One of the few freshwater lakes in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha has floating islands of papyrus reeds and a border of flat-topped acacias. It's also home to a healthy population of hippos and a tremendous variety of birds. There will be an opportunity to access an ATM and visit a market today to stock up for the remainder of the trip. Your campsite tonight is basic, with showers and flush toilets. Depending on availability, there may be the option to upgrade to a room. WiFi is available at the bar.
Enjoy some free time today. There are various optional activities to choose from. Perhaps venture to Hell's Gate National Park, which boasts beautiful cliffs, gorges, rock towers, volcanoes and a range of geothermal phenomena. Another great choice is to take a boat trip across Lake Naivasha – perhaps the best way to take in the atmosphere of this lush area. If you're looking for something active, perhaps hire a bike for the day and make some of your own discoveries, venturing beyond the cacti and olive trees.
Depart Lake Naivasha, making a short stop in Narok to do a spot of food shopping. Continue to Loita Hills (approximately 5–6 hours), stopping for lunch en route. Today's drive crosses the Great Rift Valley, Africa's immense and spectacular great divide, and takes you into the remote region of Loita Hills. This is the home of the traditional Maasai people. You will visit the Maasai, who are known for their vibrant red dress and elaborate jewellery, and gain an insight into the culture and ancient ways of this proud East African community. After setting up your tent, meet your Maasai hosts. A local elder will deliver a fascinating talk about the Maasai and their history and culture. You'll be shown around a traditional Maasai home and see where the resident cattle are kept. Showers, upgrades and WiFi are not available at tonight's bush camp.
Travel from Loita to Masai Mara (approximately 1–2 hours). The road is dusty when dry, and could be slippery and soft when wet, so the going may be slow. The Masai Mara is the quintessential African experience, with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and some of the world's most tremendous animals. After setting up camp, sit down to some lunch. Then it's time to jump in 4x4s and go for a game drive through the wilderness of the Mara. You campground tonight is located outside of the national reserve and has flush toilets and showers. There is an option to upgrade, depending on availability. WiFi is not available here however.
Venture into the Masai Mara National Reserve for a full day's game drive in 4x4s. You'll explore this diverse environment and most likely see a multitude of wildlife. An optional balloon ride over the Mara at sunrise is an unforgettable experience. If you have pre-booked this activity (see the 'Important Notes' section) you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site for a safety briefing from your pilot. Then you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and of the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a bush breakfast, then be returned to your campsite.
Leave the open expanses of the African bush behind and return to the urban environment of a Nairobi hotel with ensuite, bar, pool and WiFi (240 km, approx 5-6 hrs).
Today is a free day until your group meeting at 6 pm. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you are going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. During the day perhaps head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum or the highly recommended Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed in an outdoor village.
Depart early for Mto Wa Mbu in your overland truck (approximately 8–9 hours). The trip includes a border crossing from Kenya into Tanzania, so be sure to have your passport handy. While you're on the road, there will be a stop at an ATM and a market or shop to stock up on any supplies you might need for the coming days. Arrive in Mto Wa Mbu and acquaint yourself with this delightful small village – it's a fascinating snapshot of small-town African life, situated well off the tourist trail. Tonight you'll stay at a campsite with flush toilets, showers and optional upgrades (subject to availability).
Get up early, put your camping and personal gear into a six-person jeep and head out for an excursion into the Serengeti via the Ngorongoro Crater. Enjoy a safari in the crater, spending between three and four hours exploring this incredible, perfectly intact volcanic crater. Watch for black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round (some 30,000 animals live here) and the photo opportunities here are unrivalled. Next it's on to the wide open plains of the Serengeti. Green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season, this is perhaps the quintessential image of Africa – the home of thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators. Your campsite is within the Serengeti itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep. The camp is basic with limited running water and no upgrades or WiFi available.
Awake at dawn and embark on a game drive. You will head out while the animals are at their most active, then head back to camp for brunch at around 11 am. After spending the middle of the day relaxing, just like the animals do, head out again as the day begins to cool. You'll return from this second game drive in time for dinner. There's also the option of a balloon ride over the park today (in place of some of the morning game drive). If you have pre-booked this activity (please see the 'Important Notes' section) you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site. After a safety briefing, you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a five-star bush breakfast, then be returned to your camp.
Rise with the sun and enjoy another game drive as you exit the Serengeti. Jump back into your overland vehicle and head for Mto wa Mbu. Take a stroll and acquaint yourself with this delightful small village – it's a fascinating snapshot of small-town African life, situated well off the tourist trail. Tonight you'll stay at a campsite with flush toilets, showers and optional upgrades (subject to availability).
This morning you will join the local community for a guided stroll around the farming areas, milling machine, and local homes and farmlands. You'll also have the chance to look around the town and visit the local market. You may wish to indulge in a spot of shopping –wood carvings and local artworks are the specialities of the area. Continue your drive to the village of Marangu (approximately 4–5 hours) and set up camp for the night. The camp is basic, with flush toilets and showers, situated on the lush green slopes of Kilimanjaro.
Take a walking tour of Mshiri Village, the base for the Village Education Project, and witness the day-to-day life of the Chagga people, who are long established as crop-growers on the fertile slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. Walk around their shamba (farm) and perhaps sample the local Chagga food. Visit nearby waterfalls and stop to admire the view of the plains below. If the weather is clear, you can get a glimpse of the magnificent, snow-capped Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak (5,895 m). Then it's time to venture well off the beaten path and into the remote Tanzanian mountains (approximately 7 hours). Your base is the old German colony of Lushoto, and you'll stay in the grounds of one of the oldest hotels in Africa. The camp has flush toilets, showers, WiFi optional upgrades.
Explore the beautiful Usambara Mountains, a lovely unspoilt area of Tanzania. Unlike the coast and the north, very few tourists visit this part of the country, so it has a freshness that can be hard to find elsewhere. As beautiful as the surrounding mountains and rainforests are, however, the real jewels here are the local people and villages. You'll experience some gentle hospitality on a visit to some of the small local communities. From your base, you will take a walk out to the gorgeous Irente viewpoint. It's best to pack some water and snacks in a day pack for this trip. On your way back, visit a local cultural project based at Irente farm and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Leaving the mountains behind, travel still further south to the coastal town of Kipepeo Beach in Dar es Salaam (380km, approximately 9-10 hours). Your camp at Kipepeo is by the beach, so make the most of it – perhaps take a stroll along the shore after you arrive and settle in. The camp is on the grounds of a hotel with upgrades usually possible
Catch a ferry to the 'Spice Island' of Zanzibar. Filled with idyllic beaches, winding cobblestone alleyways and fragrant bazaars, Zanzibar has a colourful history – everything from slave traders to Arabian sultans and fruit exporters. The sight of traditional dhows sailing along the coast evokes what the island must have been like in Livingstone's day. The old part of Zanzibar's main city is known as Stone Town. The best way to see this exotic port town is on foot, exploring the markets, shops, mosques, palaces and courtyards. When the sun is setting, perhaps enjoy a sundowner from a bar overlooking the seafront, and a seafood curry at a local restaurant. Spend a night in Stone Town at a basic inn with double/twin-share rooms and access to WiFi.
Check out of your Stone Town hotel and drive to the spice plantations. Here you will receive a guided tour, during which you can learn all about the history of this town's renowned spice trade. You will also have the opportunity to touch, smell and taste various spices, such as cinnamon, vanilla and ginger. Sample some teas made with these spices too. After lunch you will head to the northern beaches, where white sands and sparkling blue seas await. This is the Indian Ocean at its best.
Enjoy free time in this beautiful archipelago today. There are many ways you can spend your day – perhaps talk to your leader for any recommendations they might have. Snorkelling in search of exotic fish is an excellent option. You might also like to feast on a sumptuous lunch of grilled local seafood, or simply relax in a hammock underneath a coconut tree with a good book.
After checking out this morning, you will make your way back to Stone Town, arriving at Stone Town around 12pm. Your trip comes to an end here. Ferries depart Zanzibar for Dar es Salaam daily at 7.30 am, 9.30 am, 12.30 pm and 3.30 pm. It's important to allow enough time to get back to the mainland if you need to catch your departing flight from Dar es Salaam. Speak to your leader about the best way to do this.