This Cape Town to Nairobi overland camping tour offers you a comprehensive insight into Southern and East Africa's best adventure and wildlife attractions.
Our unique itinerary has been carefully designed to maximize your experiences in the time you have exploring this incredible continent with us. From Cape Town to Mount Kilimanjaro, from giant sand dunes in Namibia to the sun-kissed beaches on the tropical island of Zanzibar, from the thundering Victoria Falls to the serenity of the Chobe River in Botswana, from the majesty of the Ngorongoro Crater to the vast Serengeti plains.
We continue through the Great Rift Valley to the flamingo enriched Lake Nukuru National Park, crossing the Equator for game viewing at the Queen Elizabeth National Park including chimpanzee trekking at Kyambura Gorge, the serenity of Lake Bunyonyi to adrenalin pumping activities at Jinja - the source of the Nile.
The highlight of this overland camping tour being a very special wildlife encounter with the magnificent mountain gorillas in Uganda; a truly unforgettable experience!
Embrace the magic of Africa with this epic Cape Town to Nairobi overland camping tour - it will certainly leave you with an everlasting desire to discover more of this dynamic and diverse continent.
Please Note: An age range of 18 to 39 is applicable on this tour.
Day 1: Cape Town to Cederberg Region (L / D)
Our overland camping trip begins in cosmopolitan Cape Town, overlooked by Table Mountain and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, one of the world's most picturesque cities. Before we leave the city we take a tour of the Cape Flats, one of Cape Town's intriguing townships, visiting some of the local people and community projects in the area.
From here we head north through South Africa's Western Cape and through the fruit growing regions of Citrusdal. Our campsite is located near the Olifants River overlooking the stunning Cederberg Mountains. After setting up camp there is an option to sample some of the local wines of the region, properly meet the rest of the group and enjoy our first night under the African sky.
Day 2: Cederberg Region to Gariep River (B / L / D)
Continuing north the landscape gradually turns drier and rockier as we head towards the Namibian border. We set up camp tonight on the South African side of the Gariep (Orange) River. Our camp provides you with the necessary comforts like hot showers, flush toilets, grassy campsites and bar facilities. You will be briefed on an optional Orange River canoe safari for later this afternoon or the following morning. There is also the option to hike to the lookout above the campsite and the Orange River is safe for swimming!
The camp by night is showered with stars of the Richtersveld - a truly peaceful and tranquil experience.
Day 3: Gariep River to Fish River Canyon (B / L / D)
We leave South Africa and enter Namibia via Vooilsdrift Border post, arriving at the awesome Fish River Canyon in the mid afternoon. One of the natural wonders of Africa the canyon is some 500m deep and over 160km long and often referred to as the second largest canyon in the world. There are plenty of opportunities for keen photographers this afternoon especially at the canyons infamous sharp river bend known as 'Hells Corner'.
Day 4: Fish River Canyon to Sesriem (B / L / D)
After a night near the canyon we continue north until we reach Sesriem, the gateway to the Namib-Naukluft National Park, containing the world's oldest desert and highest sand dunes. The Namib-Naukluft National Park contains part of the Namib Desert and the Naukluft mountain range. Here we set up camp for the evening under the starry Namibian sky.
Day 5: Sesriem to Solitaire (B / L / D)
This morning we enter the National Park to trek to the top of famous 300m high Dune 45 in time to watch the sun rise over the open desert. We continue deeper into the park for an optional nature walk in Sossusvlei, amidst the giant sand dunes. Departing from the dunes, we make our way to Solitaire and our accommodation for the night.
Days 6 & 7: Solitaire to Swakopmund (Bx2)
Leaving Solitaire, we head for the Atlantic coast for two nights, crossing over the Tropic of Capricorn, and stopping for a photo opportunity en route. Swakopmund makes for a refreshing change with cooler Atlantic sea air, a taste of civilization and a swathe of exciting adventure options. Try some adventure desert based activities if you wish - quad biking, sand boarding, skydiving (weather permitting) and more! For those not adventure minded enjoy what the town has to offer, shopping, restaurants, museum, aquarium, art galleries.
Please Note: For the sake of practicality, meals in Swakopmund are restricted to breakfasts. This allows you to take on half day or full day activities (some of which include lunch) without having to be back for meal times. Swakopmund town offers a variety of bakery's and cafes with a selection of reasonably priced meals (allow ZAR50 to ZAR100 per meal).
Day 8: Swakopmund to Spitzkoppe (B / L / D)
Leaving the coast we turn inland to the beautiful Damaraland region and stop at Spitzkoppe to admire ancient bushman paintings still visible on peculiar rock formations. The Spitzkoppe Restcamp lies at the base of the mountain. It is owned and maintained by the local community and all proceeds from our visit go directly to the local community.
Day 9: Spitzkoppe to Otjitotongwe Cheetah Park (B / L / D)
From Spitzkoppe we turn north again making our way to Otjitotongwe Cheetah Park, home to Save the Cheetah Project. Since 1994, the family which owns and runs the private reserve have been introducing visitors and locals alike to the plight of the Cheetah, hoping that close up encounters with them will help make a difference to attitudes and understanding of this threatens cat. We get up close to cheetahs that have been hand raised since birth, providing us with great encounters and photo opportunities. Back at camp enjoy a swim and a sundowner before dinner and bed.
Days 10 & 11: Etosha National Park (B / L / D)
We make our way north to Etosha National Park, a vast reserve of over 20,000 sq km surrounding a central salt depression or 'pan'. The pan is seasonally full of water but specially managed waterholes sustain some 114 mammal and 340 bird species. We spend two nights here, usually making camp near a floodlit waterhole. Observers frequently see a range of night visitors including elephant, giraffe, zebra, even lion and hyena, making it one of the most memorable wildlife encounters in Namibia. We have a short afternoon game drive upon arrival and a full day game drive the following day.
Day 12: Etosha to Windhoek (B / L)
Heading south, we arrive in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Here we have the opportunity to enjoy a night out at one of the local restaurants such as the famous Joe's Beer House.
Day13: Windhoek to Ghanzi (B / L / D)
Leaving Windhoek we travel west into the Kalahari region and cross into Botswana. Our first stop is at the town of Ghanzi. Here, in this midst of (seemingly) barren terrain we meet the San/Bushman and have a guided bush walk for a genuine cultural experience learning about this ancient people's way of life. Around the campfire at night, you can experience the ancient dance rituals of the San/Bushman. On special occasions this could be a healing or trance dance, which can continue all night, and is an intense spiritual experience for both participants and visitors alike.
Day 14: Ghanzi to Maun (B / L / D)
Maun is the fifth largest town in Botswana and is an eclectic mix of modern buildings and native dwellings. Although officially still a village, Maun has developed rapidly from a rural frontier town to a community that has distributed along the wide banks of the Thamalakane River where red lechwe can still be seen grazing next to local donkeys, goats and cattle.
Please Note: If time allows, we have the opportunity to take an optional scenic flight over the Delta, either this afternoon or on day 16 on our return from the Okavango Delta.
Day 15: Okavango Delta (B / L / D)
Leaving the campsite in Maun we begin our excursion into the Okavango Delta by an open 4 x4 truck to the mokoro station. Here we will be introduced to the local Tswana Polers that will be guiding us on this expedition. We travel by mokoro (dugout canoe) amongst the giant lily pads, tall grasses and labyrinthine channels in search of hippo, crocodile and a variety of bird to our island tented camp and explore the area on a walking safari. The Okavango is a very unspoilt area and spending time out amidst the wilderness and the rivers listening to sounds of the African night is an unforgettable experience!
Day 16: Delta to Maun to Nata (B / L / D)
Leaving the Okavango Delta, we begin an easy paced mokoro ride out of the delta back to the station, back to Maun and then onwards to Nata. We arrive at the Elephant Sands Lodge during the late afternoon. Since there are no fences all wildlife can roam freely from one waterhole to another and one can expect to see anything during your stay at Elephant Sands. It is one of the most unique and amazing experiences to watch wild elephants and their behavior at such close proximity.
Day 17: Nata to Kasane (B / L / D)
We make our way to the northern corner of Botswana to Kasane, the gateway to Chobe National Park. We take a cruise on the Chobe River - a great opportunity to see hippo and perhaps elephant or buffalo coming to the river to bathe and drink.
Days 18 to 20: Kasane to Livingstone (Bx3)
Moving on from Kasane we take the ferry across the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers into Zambia. Home to one of the world's largest waterfalls, we visit Victoria Falls and try to take in the immensity of one of nature's Wonders of the World. We set up camp at the Waterfront campsite on the banks of the Zambezi, just a few kilometres from the Victoria Falls and the small town of Livingstone. We will give a full briefing on the various optional activities available in the area (typically these include rafting, canoeing, bungee, abseiling, gorge swinging, elephant and horse riding, scenic flights, river cruises), allowing you to plan your time accordingly.
Please Note: For the sake of practicality, meals in the Livingstone/Victoria Falls area are restricted to breakfasts. This allows you to take on half day or full day activities (some of which include lunch) without having to be back with the group at mealtimes. The Waterfront camp restaurant overlooks the Zambezi River and offers a good selection of reasonably priced meals and snacks throughout the day (allow USD15 to USD30 per meal).
Day 21: Livingstone to Lusaka (B / L / D)
Relaxed and revitalized from the wonderful stay in Livingstone, we head through lush country and small villages to Lusaka, Zambia's capital. Our campsite for the evening is set in a tranquil and relaxing setting on a farm, a short distance from the city.
Day 22: Lusaka to Chipata (B / L / D)
We leave early and take the Great Eastern Road through lush countryside and small villages, crossing the Luangwa River to Chipata. If time allows, we will stop in Chipata before arriving at our campsite to overnight.
Days 23 & 24: Chipata to South Luangwa National Park (B / L / D)
Today we head to the South Luangwa National park, which is known to be one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, for 2 nights. The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River, and its oxbow lagoons, is among the most intense in Africa. On arrival we set up camp and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to enjoy the many optional activities from walking safaris and village walks. The next morning is at leisure where you can enjoy the swimming pool, which is the best place to be in the hot hours of the day. Later that afternoon we embark on a game drive along the river's edge to see the abundance of animal and birdlife inhabiting the area.
Day 25: South Luangwa to Kande Beach (B / L / D)
Leaving Zambia behind, we cross the border to Malawi stopping at the capital, Lilongwe, before taking the eastern road to Lake Malawi. We arrive at camp on the lake's shore in the afternoon and have the rest of the day to swim and explore the beach and surrounding area.
Please Note: Although it is our intention to adhere to the campsites described, a certain amount of flexibility is built into our time in Malawi and the crew may make alterations to the published itinerary.
Day 26: Kande Beach (B / L / D)
Try some of the water sports typically available including diving and snorkeling, take a horse ride along the beach and surf or else simply relax and enjoy the warm fresh waters of Lake Malawi. There is the opportunity to meet the local people, generally known as amongst the friendliest in Africa to gain insight into their way of life.
Days 27 & 28: Kande Beach to Chitimba Beach (B / L / D)
Taking a nice scenic drive through rubber plantations to Mzuzu - the capital of the northern region and the third largest town in Malawi, where we stop for a short while to grab supplies and check out the markets before arriving to Chitimba Beach for the next two nights. Enjoy time on the beach, take a leisurely village walk or do the full day trip to Manchewe Falls where after 11km of hiking you can cool off in a natural bath.
Day 29: Chitimba to Iringa (B / L / D)
Leaving Chitimba Beach, we travel the short distance north to cross the border into Tanzania. We steadily climb in altitude through Tanzania's Southern Highlands all the way to Kisolanza Farm House. Home to the Ghaui family for over 70 years, Kisolanza remains a working farm providing organic meat (beef, lamb and chicken) and vegetables to the surrounding markets as well as further afield in Dar es Salaam. This farm house is famous for their hot showers, chocolate brownies and hot chocolate that can be bought at their quaint candlelit bar.
Day 30: Iringa to Dar es Salaam (B / L / D)
We continue towards the Indian Ocean coast and the port city of Dar es Salaam. This route runs through the Mikumi National Park and we may, with luck, spot forest elephant or giraffe feeding near the side of the road. To a majority of travellers, Dar es Salaam is the port of call to the more exotic Zanzibar and the remaining of the Archipelago islands. We set up camp at our campsite on the beach just outside of the city centre, usually having time to browse curio markets and prepare for our trip to Zanzibar the following day.
Days 31 to 34: Zanzibar (B)
Our time on the island is not structured and your time is at leisure. Perhaps the best way to see Stone Town is on foot: explore the bazaars for old maritime trinkets, cloths, wooden carvings, visit mosques, palaces, courtyards and alleyways of the old town. Spices are grown in plantations nearby and you can take day tours to visit some and have your senses dazzled by the tastes and scents experienced; If it's white sand, sparkling ocean and hot sun you prefer - head to the northern beaches and enjoy the Indian Ocean at its best. Try snorkeling and diving, indulge in some sumptuous seafood, or simply relax beneath a coconut palm with a cocktail and a good book.
Please Note: As we leave the truck on the mainland, basic tourist class accommodation and breakfasts on Zanzibar is included in the Local Payment but for the sake of flexibility other meals are left for your own account. Typically we spend one night in Stone Town and the next three nights in the north of the island at one of the beaches. Your tour leader will be available to assist if you if you have any questions or need activities arranged.
Day 35: Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam (B / D)
We have the morning to do any last minute shopping or enjoy one last swim before catching the ferry back to the African mainland and Dar es Salaam and onwards to our campsite on coast for the evening.
Day 36: Dar es Salaam to Pangani River (B / L / D)
Departing early from Dar es Salaam, we head north to the Usambara and Pare Mountains in the Eastern Arc Mountain Range and camp near the Pangani River. The Pangani River basin is one of the most important rivers in the country sustaining the source of hydropower generation and smaller irrigation projects of vital importance to the economy.
Day 37: Pangani to Arusha (B / L / D)
Today on our drive, if weather is clear we will gain a view of the magnificent snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain (5895m). We drive past the town of Moshi and eventually reach Arusha; a city situated exactly mid way between Cape Town and Cairo. With time to explore town we head out to our camp just outside the city at the edge of the Masai plains.
This afternoon we enjoy a walk to one of the local Masai villages, a local school and clinic, a small but highly interesting Masai museum, and the snake enclosure at the Mererani Snake Park. It is from here that we prepare for our two night / three day excursion to the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater. This is an Optional Activity and Excursion which can be opted into a few days before the excursion is underway. Your tour leader will offer this to all on the tour and take payment for it also. For those not wanting to take up this option there are other shorter activities available.
Days 38 to 40: Serengeti National Park & Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha (B / L / D)
On day 38 we switch to smaller more 'game park friendly' vehicles and drive west across the Great Rift Valley, passing through Mto Wa Mbo (meaning 'mosquito creek') and enter the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. We pass into the park and drive around the Crater's rim and down onto the Serengeti plains. We game drive to our designated (but unfenced) campsite for the evening where lion and hyena roam nearby for an unforgettable experience.
On day 39 we drive out of the plains, game driving en route, and after lunch ascend the outer wall of the Ngorogoro Crater. We spend the night camping on the Crater rim.
On day 40 we descend the steep dirt road of the Ngorongoro Crater for a morning of game driving. All of the major mammals are present except giraffe (which cannot manage the steep slopes leading down onto the Crater floor). After our game drive we ascend to our campsite on the rim for a final view over the Ngorongoro Crater, pack up our camp and have lunch before retracing our steps to Arusha and our campsite at the Meserani Snake Park where we will overnight.
There are a host of other Optional Activities and Excursions you can pursue if not taking the 3 day / 2 night Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater option. Some of these options include day trips to Lake Manyara National Park and Arusha National Park or simply catch a taxi into Arusha and mix with locals in the Central Market, check out Tanzanite at the Cultural Heritage Centre, shop for souvenirs, check your emails at an internet cafe and more! One of our crew members will be on hand to help over the next three days with activities.
Day 41: Arusha to Nairobi (B / L)
After a last night in Tanzania, we make our way across the Masai Steppe to the Kenyan frontier. Completing formalities at Namanga border post, we drive the last stretch of road to Nairobi, Kenya's capital and to our camp for the evening.
Day 42: Nairobi (B)
Today is free to explore the city and surrounding area and our Tour Leader can help you arrange these optional excursions locally. Popular excursions include catching a taxi into town to check out the shopping, markets, bars and restaurants; visit the National Museum of Kenya; go on safari at Nairobi National Park; or check out the Karen Blixen Museum in the nearby town of Karen. Or simply relax and enjoy some 'downtime'.
Day 43: Nairobi to Lake Nakuru National Park (B / L / D)
We depart Nairobi early and descend into the Great Rift Valley, an enormous cleft in the Earth's surface stretching from the Red Sea to Madagascar but with particularly marked escarpments here in Kenya. We stop at a lookout point to take in the magnificent views. Our overnight stop is Lake Nakuru National Park, a relatively small park (by African standards) however prolific in wildlife, sited on the Great Rift Valley floor. A delightful introduction to East Africa's wildlife diversity awaits as we search for game on our afternoon game drive. We make use of local guides and smaller safari vehicles for a more intimate experience.
Day 44: Lake Nakuru to Eldoret (B / L / D)
From Nakuru we continue northwest and climb in altitude towards the town of Eldoret en route to the Ugandan frontier. We cross from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere today over the Equator, enjoy some time here learning a little about its significance and taking photos before moving onwards to Eldoret.
Day 45: Eldoret to Kampala (B / L / D)
We cross into Uganda, a country with beautiful natural scenery and a rich mosaic of tribes and cultures. Travelling through Uganda you will be captivated by its sheer overwhelming beauty and friendly people. Our first night we camp at the capital, Kampala which is an attractive hilly city, bustling with roadside traders, markets and busy matatu (minibus taxi) stands.
Day 46: Kampala to Queen Elizabeth National Park (B / L / D)
From Kampala, we travel west towards Queen Elizabeth National Park, through the Equator again, through fertile green terraced hillsides, lush banana plantations, steep mountains and tangled forests with herds of Ankole cattle with their incredible long curving horns roaming the roads and paddocks. We camp a short distance from the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here you will have the opportunity to relax and unwind, take a walk in the surrounding areas and mingle with the local community.
Day 47: Queen Elizabeth National Park & Lake Bunyonyi (B / L / D)
This morning we enter the Queen Elizabeth National Park and take in the magnificent views of the mountains that separate Uganda from central Africa as well as Lake Edwards and Lake George. We leave the national park and make our way to the lush and stunning Lake Bunyonyi (meaning 'Place of many little birds'). With twenty nine islands that can be visited by local boats, the lake is a great place to unwind, relax and explore on the days that we don't trek to see the mountain gorillas.
Days 48 to 50: Lake Bunyonyi & Gorilla Trekking (B / L / D)
Over the next three days the group will be split with one group trekking to the mountain gorillas while the others relax at Lake Bunyonyi to enjoy the many activities on offer.
On the day of our trek we gather in the early morning to meet our local guide and tracker. Walking in small groups we trek into the thick rainforest. The trek can be demanding at times with uneven terrain and hilly rainforest but the privilege of spending time with a family of these gentle primates makes the effort well worthwhile. To many people the day's trek and time with the gorillas remains their most exciting wildlife encounter in Africa.
Your permit allows you one trek and gorilla viewing (time limited to one hour). However because the authorities maintain strict limits on the number of visitors allowed to view the gorillas each day we may spend several days in the area while all passengers in our group complete the trek and viewing.
Please note: Depending on the availability of the chimpanzee and gorilla permits the tour itinerary may vary in day to day running order which is based on the brochure itinerary. From time to time we may have to trek on different days. If at any chance our Gorilla trek should be in another neighbouring country, eg Rwanda (instead of Uganda) this may entail extra visa fees although we shall endeavour to advise you before departure of any significant changes to the tour itinerary. Please take the above itinerary as a guide line only. This applies to days 47 to 50 of this tour.
Day 51: Lake Bunyonyi to Kampala (B / L / D)
Leaving Lake Bunyonyi we make our way back across the Equator (stopping for a photo opportunity if we did not stop on route to Queen Elizabeth National Park) through lush pasture lands and the northern reaches of Lake Victoria (largest lake in Africa) to Kampala where we will overnight. Kampala is a hotspot for great food and entertainment. If time allows, take the night out and try the local cuisines and enjoy the hospitality and friendliness of the local Ugandan's.
Days 52 to 54: (B / L / D)
Leaving the capital we drive a short distance to Jinja. Our camp is situated on the grassy banks overlooking the Nile River. It is here that we usually have the option to try rafting - an exciting day out for those enjoying the thrill of 'white water'. There is also the opportunity to make some difference to local children at a local school project. 'Softpower' is a locally run voluntary programme aimed at building and improving schools in the Jinja area to which your contribution of a few hours of painting or plastering is always most welcome. Other activities at Jinja include mountain biking, quad biking, village walks and even bungy jumping!
Day 55: Jinja to Eldoret (B / L / D)
After our refreshing stop at Jinja, we retrace our steps across the border to the Kenya's frontier and onwards to Eldoret, where we will camp for the evening. Tonight you can celebrate the last evening of your Gorilla Encounter with your fellow travellers and exchange stories, emails and laughter around the camp fire one last time.
Day 56: Eldoret to Nairobi (B / L)
This morning we make our way south to the capital city where our Cape Town to Nairobi overland tour ends.
|START: Cape Town||END: Nairobi|
Items listed below are covered in the Basic Tour Price which is made up of the tour price paid in your local currency (ZAR) plus the Gorilla and Chimp trek permits (paid at the time of booking) plus Local Payment (paid at the pre-departure meeting in USD cash unless otherwise specified).