Sawubona! Welcome to South Africa. 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, 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. If you arrive early, get out and explore Johannesburg, a city of remarkable contrasts. Perhaps visit the culturally rich areas of Newtown, Braamfontein or Maboneng. The eye-opening Apartheid Museum is well worth your time. Notes: Please make sure that if you explore Johannesburg on your own that you get local advice as to where it is safe to walk, especially in the evening. The level of crime here may be higher than what you are used to.
Leaving South Africa behind, cross the border into Botswana and travel toward the Khama Rhino Sanctuary (approximately 8–10 hours). Situated on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, the Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a conversion of a former hunting area into a conservation project. Built to protect Botswana's only remaining populations of both black and white rhinos, the sanctuary is also home to other wildlife including zebras, giraffes, leopards, ostriches and wildebeest, all of which can be seen around the many natural waterholes. Visiting this project benefits local communities and contributes to the protection of the highly endangered white rhinoceros. Later, head out on a dusk game drive to see the rhinos when they are at their most active. At your camp there will be the option to upgrade to a room for an additional cost (subject to availability).
Jump aboard the truck and head to Maun (approximately 8–9 hours). Here there will be an opportunity to stock up on any supplies you might need for the journey ahead. Maun is the gateway to one of the world's most renowned and complex ecosystems, the Okavango Delta. This place is unlike anything in the world – a 16,000 square kilometre maze of wetlands made up of meandering waterways, green islands, lush plains and prolific wildlife. You might see hippos, crocodiles, elephants and big cats. But it's not the animals that are the main attraction – it's the incrediblly diverse ecosystem and atmospheric waterscapes. Tonight you'll stay on the outskirts of Maun at a simple campsite with shared facilities, WiFi and optional upgrades.
Traverse the waterways by mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe navigated by friendly local 'polers'. With some luck, you might spot some of the delta's unusual wildlife and exotic birdlife. Spend time exploring the maze of lagoons, lakes and streams on foot, led by experienced and knowledgeable guides. Tonight you will camp on a remote island in the heart of the wilderness. In this far-out spot, facilities are non-existent, so you will dig a bush toilet and go without a shower. It's all part of the Okavango experience. At night, fall asleep to the humming and buzzing of the African wilderness.
Wake up early and venture out for a sunrise walk. Along the way, keep watch for some elephants. You might also come across some Cape buffalo, if the timing is right. These rather noble-looking creatures are more dangerous than they look, and their horns make for a kind of bone shield that's fittingly known as a 'boss'. Returning to camp for breakfast, take the rest of the day to relax. A refreshing swim, or perhaps a nap, is a good idea in the warmer part of the day. Alternatively, take another mokoro trip to soak up more of that delightful river atmosphere.
After taking down your camp, take the mokoro back to the poling station and then travel once again to Maun (approximately 2–3 hours). Today you'll visit a rural village and interact with some of the locals. This will give you an insight into daily life on the Okavango Delta and perhaps some background history on these awesome sprawling waterways that are the lifeblood of many. Tonight you will camp on the outskirts of Maun at a simple campsite which has shared facilities. WiFi and optional upgrades are available.
Get up early and hit the road for Nata (approximately 6–7 hours). This small town is situated just near the stunning Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, which are some of the largest salt flats on earth, covering some 12,000 square kilometres. This afternoon you will have the opportunity to explore the pans in an open vehicle. The pans are naturally dry and salty for a large part of the year. During this time the arid landscape has an eerie feel to it as heat mirages disorientate the senses. At other times they take on a layer of grass, and as soon as the rains hit they become a refuge for migratory birds and animals. Your campsite tonight is situated on the edge of the pans. It has a restaurant, swimming pool, gift shop, ATM and bar/lounge area. Upgrades are also offered.
Hit the road for Chobe National Park (approximately 6–7 hours). Botswana's first national park is perhaps best known for its high concentration of elephants, which can often be seen swimming in the Chobe River. The river also attracts wallowing hippos, a variety of birdlife, crocodiles sunning themselves by the water's edge, and cheetahs and lions which come down to drink. Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Chobe River, a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Your camp tonight has WiFi access and optional upgrades. It's also close to a supermarket, so you can stock up on supplies while you're here.
Perhaps wake up early and see the Chobe National park from a different perspective, on an optional morning game drive. Travel on to Victoria Falls today (approximately 2–3 hours). You will cross the border into Zimbabwe in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi. Then it's time to experience the sight and sound of the mighty falls. This thundering curtain of water is about a mile wide, falling 108 metres into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise up an incredible 400 metres and the falls become an impressive raging torrent. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and you can see little islets in the river below. Your campsite tonight has WiFi, an ATM and optional upgrades. Your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer. We have not risk assessed all activities and only those listed in our trip notes are recommended. It is against company policy for leaders to facilitate the booking of any activities that have not been risk assessed or do not adhere to our company’s Responsible Travel policy and ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities in our vehicles.
Today is a free day to enjoy the many activities on offer. If you are interested in the optional helicopter flight ( 12 minutes or 25 minutes ) we endorse the following operator only: Zambezi Helicopter co CAA Zimbabwe. Your leader can help you arrange this.
Today is another free day to enjoy the many activities on offer. Or perhaps you may like to visit the falls again with your new group members.
Depart Victoria Falls and travel toward Bulawayo (approximately 6–7 hours). Known locally as the 'City of Kings', Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, has an interesting history and some impeccable colonial architecture. You will have the afternoon free to explore, so take the opportunity to visit local markets, chat with locals or perhaps find a game of football or rugby to watch. In Bulawayo you will stay in a campground with shared facilities and WiFi. Upgrades are also available (subject to availability).
Perhaps get up early and take the option to go to Matobo National Park. Home to a significant population of black and white rhinoceros that can be tracked on foot, Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia and the De Beers diamond company. The Matopos area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place.
Drive the short stretch to Masvingo (approximately 5–6 hours). This colonial settlement – the oldest in Zimbabwe – makes for the perfect base from which to explore the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. The ruined city, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, was first constructed in the 11th century. It's thought to be the former royal palace of the Zimbabwean monarch. Spend a few hours exploring this intriguing site before heading off to camp. Your campground in Masvingo has shared facilities, and upgrades and WiFi are available.
Travel to Harare today (approximately 5–6 hours). You will arrive at your destination in time for lunch. You only have an hour or two to explore Zimbabwe's capital city, so if you're feeling active and up for a stroll, get out and make the most of it. Perhaps head to the National Gallery, the museum, the botanical gardens or simply wander the city centre and visit the colourful markets. Accomodation upgrades are offered at your camp (subject to availability).
Today you will cross into Zambia and drive to your campsite just outside Lusaka, Zambia's capital (approximately 8 hours). Your journey begins with a nice scenic drive to the border. At some point during the day there will be an opportunity to stop at an ATM and stock up on any supplies you might need at a shop or market. Your camp has shared facilities, and upgrades are available.
Spend some time checking out one of the fastest-developing cities in southern Africa. You'll see that it's a modern city but still retains a traditional African feel, with its busy markets and friendly people. Afterwards, travel on to Petauke (approximately 8 hours). The camp tonight has facilities, WiFi and upgrades (availability dependent).
Make your way through the heartland to South Luangwa National Park (approximately 6 hours). The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River and its lagoons is among the highest in Africa. Many elephants, buffaloes, leopards, Thornicroft’s giraffes and lions are known to roam here. There are also some 400 species of birds inhabiting the area. A great way to experience South Luangwa and its beautiful scenery is to take an optional river trip – ask your leader for more details. Your camp tonight has basic facilities.
Rise early for an exhilirating morning game drive in a 4X4, then head back to the camp for lunch (as this is the hottest part of the day) and then perhaps return to the park for an optional game drive at night. A village walk is another good option, if you'd like a snapshot of daily life in the local community.
After crossing the border into Malawi, head straight to your camp on the shore of Lake Malawi (approximately 9–10 hours). Malawi is dominated by its lake, which covers almost a fifth of the country and provides a livelihood for many Malawian people. Fishermen, fish traders and canoe and net makers all ply their trade on Lake Malawi. A common sight is that of a fisherman in a bwato (a dugout canoe made from a hollowed tree trunk) fishing on the still lake at the break of day. Your campsite at Kande Beach is right on the shore of the lake. Upgrades are offered here, but there is no WiFi available.
Enjoy free time to soak up your idyllic surrounds. You might like to participate in one of the many water-based activities on offer – ask your leader for a recommendation. As well as chilling out on the beach, make sure you take the opportunity to meet some local Malawians – easily some of the friendliest people in Africa.
Drive to your camp in Chitimba (approximately 5–6 hours). Chitimba lies along the coast of Lake Malawi and has lovely beaches, friendly locals and a laid-back atmosphere. When you arrive, perhaps take a stroll and acquaint yourself with this different part of the lake. Enjoy the scenery of banana palms, papaya trees and the Livingstonia and Nyika mountains looming nearby. Camp facilities, WiFi and upgrades are available here.
Today is a long travel day into Tanzania and its southern highlands (approximately 9–10 hours). Sit back, relax and watch as the countryside passes by. On arrival you will set up camp on the grounds of a farmhouse situated on the outskirts of this pleasant settlement. Perhaps go for a walk around the old farmhouse to welcome the evening. Camp facilities, WiFi and upgrades are available.
Travel to Kipepeo Beach just south of Dar es Salaam (approximately 13 hours). Throughout this long drive you will travel through the lovely Mikumi National Park. Situated at the foot of the thickly wooded Uluguru Mountains, Mikumi is Tanzania's fourth largest national park. Although you won't take a safari into the depths of the park, a good selection of the wildlife that resides in Mikumi can usually be seen on the way. The camp is on the grounds of a hotel with upgrades usually possible and situated next to the beach.
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.
Catch the midday ferry to Dar es Salaam with your leader and group. Then you will join the overland vehicle, meet your driver and cook, and take the short drive to Bagamoyo. Your camp at Bagamoyo is right by the beach. Accommodation upgrades are available at this location (subject to availability). However, there is no access to Wi-Fi, and showers are cold only.
Perhaps wake up early and visit the old slave trade markets. It's then time to get off the well-beaten track and head into the remote Tanzanian mountains (approximately 7 hours). The Usambara Mountains are a lovely unspoilt area of Tanzania. Unlike the coast and the north, this area attracts very few tourists, so it has a freshness that can be hard to find elsewhere. The forests stretch across the mountains and are ideal for easy hikes and guided walks. You base is the old German colony of Lushoto. You'll stay in the grounds of one of the earliest hotels in Africa. The campsite has flush toilets and showers, and upgrades are possible. WiFi is rare here though.
Explore the beautiful Usambara Mountains and experience this area's gentle hospitality on a visit to some of its small communities. As beautiful as this place is, its real jewels are the local people and villages. 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.
Boarding your truck once again you will make your way to the village of Marangu (approximately 7 hours). Your campsite tonight is basic, with flush toilets and showers. It's located on the lush green slopes of Kilimanjaro.
Take a walking tour of Mshiri Village. Here you will 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, get a view of Kilimanjaro – the magnificent snow-capped mountain and Africa's highest peak (5,895 m). Then head off to Mto Wa Mbu (approximately 7 hours). You will stop in Arusha en route to stock up on supplies.
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).
Join the local community with a guided stroll around the farming areas of Mto Wa Mbu. You will visit a milling machine, local homes and farmlands. This is a great way to interact with the locals and learn more about their everyday life. You'll also have the chance to look around the town and visit the market. You may wish to indulge in a spot of shopping – wood carvings and local artworks are the specialities of this area. In the afternoon, a short drive (approximately 1.5 hours) takes you to Arusha. Your campsite is in Meserani, on the outskirts of Arusha, and has flush toilets and showers. Depending on availability, an upgrade to a room may be an option. There is no WiFi available at this location.
Set off early (around 7.30 am), heading to the border with Kenya and on to Nairobi (approximately 9–10 hours). You'll be dropped at the finishing point hotel in Nairobi. No accommodation is provided for tonight, but this can be arranged when you book this trip. You can also choose to finish your trip in Arusha this morning if you wish.