Absolute Africa - 50 days
FROM USD $3,575
From Johannesburg to Nairobi, travel through nine of Africa's most diverse countries. Trek in search of gorillas, spot the Big Five in premier game parks, visit deep crater lakes and the spectacular Victoria Falls, discover Mozambique's colourful coral reefs and kick back on idyllic beaches.
Saturday. Welcome to South Africa! Upon arrival at Johannesburg Airport you will transferred to your accommodation. Tonight there will be a pre departure meeting at 17.00pm where you will meet your guide and the rest of your group.
Overnight - Johannesburg
Johannesburg - Kruger. Leaving Johannesburg we head towards the Lowveld and the famous Kruger National Park. On our way we pass through the southern section of the picturesque Panorama Route – famous for its breathtaking vistas. We enter the National Park in the late afternoon and game drive en-route to our campsite within the park. Tonight we spend a relaxing evening around the camp fire before our early morning game drive tomorrow. Overnight - Kruger N.P.
(B:1, L:2, D:2)
Absolute Africa - 50 days Go Guide
: :Check out the go guide for details of the tour, info on visas, climate, money, what to bring and more!
Kruger - Inhambane Region (Mozambique). We head off early and after crossing the border, we leave South Africa and head to the warm waters of the Mozambique coastline. We travel along the scenic back route bypassing the capital to Praia de Zavora Bay, one of the finest stretches of coastline in the Inhambane region where we set up our camp and enjoy the fantastic views and scenery.
The next day is spent at leisure enjoying the fantastic sea side activities on offer. These included swimming, snorkelling, fishing and scuba diving the nearby reefs. Alternatively spend the day lazing on the long sandy beach enjoying the lulling sounds of the waves as they lap the shoreline.
Our campsite at Zavora Lodge is home to a well kitted dive centre offering various dive opportunities that can be booked with them on arrival at the camp. For those wishing to see the spectacular marine life that are not able to dive, snorkelling is also excellent. Overnight - Praia de Zavora Bay (B:2, L:2, D:2)
Day 6: Morrungulu resort
Inhambane Region - Morrungula. Today we take a leisurely drive up the coast to the picturesque Morrungulu resort. Situated in among a coconut palm plantation, this camp offers a truly tropical island feel – just watch out for the falling coconuts! Try your hand at deep-sea fishing, or simply enjoy a relaxing walk along this stretch of beach. Overnight - Morrungulu (B, L, D)
Morrungulu - Vilanculous. Vilanculous is the stepping stone to the 3 main islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago. We spend 2 nights here to give those who wish, the opportunity to take a boat charter out to the smaller island of Magaruque on day 8. Other activities include Dhow trips, sunset cruises, horse riding, big game fishing, whale watching (seasonal) and more. Overnight - Vilanculos
(B:2, L:2, D:2)
Day 9: Bandula
Vilanculous to Bandula. Continuing northward we say farewell to the tropical coastline and head inland to Bandula. Today’s drive takes us through the more rural parts of Mozambique and affords the opportunity to see local Mozambican villages and farmsteads. Arriving in the late afternoon, we set up camp on the banks of the Chicamba Dam. Overnight - Bandula (B, L, D)
Days 10 - 11: The Antelope Park
Bandula to Gweru (Zimbabwe). On day 10 we enter Zimbabwe - we make our way to the town of Gweru, in Zimbabwe’s Midlands. Here we stop over at The Antelope Park. A wide variety of game viewing opportunities are available in this area inhabited by lion, elephant, giraffe and obviously numerous antelope! We have the unique option to walk with lions, ride or swim with elephants, view game from horse back or from the back of a vehicle.
The following day is spent at leisure enjoying personal encounters with Africa’s wildlife. Enjoy a walk with lions, riding on elephant back, or a night game drive! Overnight - Gweru (B:2, L:2, D:2)
Day 12: Bulawayo
Gweru - Bulawayo. Leaving Gweru, we head to Bulawayo - Zimbabwe’s second largest city. Bulawayo is noted for its exceptionally wide streets, which were originally designed to accommodate a full span ox wagon. The city also still retains much of its British Colonial character, evident by the many buildings maintained as heritage sites by the Bulawayo City Council. Interesting places to visit are the Natural History Museum, the National Arts Gallery and the Mzilikazi Arts and Crafts Centre, which employs over 70 people. Overnight - Bulawayo (B, L, D)
Bulawayo - Hwange NP. We continue north-west to Zimbabwe’s oldest and largest reserve – the Hwange National Park. Hwange is well known for its abundance and variety of wildlife species including thousands of elephant, and rare antelope species such as the Sable and Roan Antelope. We enjoy a game drive (either late afternoon or early morning) to explore the wilderness in search of these, and the other resident wildlife species. Overnight - Hwange N.P.
(B, L, D)
Hwange NP - Victoria Falls. Leaving Hwange, we head to Victoria Falls. Our campsite is conveniently situated in the centre of town, and within walking distance of the adventure booking agents, restaurants and shops. A 20 minute walk down the main road takes you to the entry point to view the falls, which are situated between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders), was named by David Livingstone on his explorations, and is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. After our adventure activities briefing (see price guide at the end of this Go Guide for options), the afternoon is spent relaxing at the campsite’s swimming pool, viewing the Victoria Falls, or exploring the many sights and delights of this town!
The next 2 days are spent relaxing or participating in a myriad of optional excursions. Some of our fellow passengers will leave us in Victoria Falls, to be replaced by new passengers joining us for the next leg of our trek. Overnight - Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls - Chobe NP (Botswana). We head out from Victoria Falls to the border crossing to Botswana. Once we’ve completed the border formalities, we continue to the town of Kasane, situated on the banks of the Chobe River. After lunch, we take a boat cruise along the Chobe River. (Please note from Jan 2014 onwards, the Chobe River Cruise will be an optional excursion, payable locally).
After the cruise we set off into Chobe National Park - Botswana’s premier game park, renowned for its large elephant herds. Spend the afternoon in search of wildlife while we game drive to our camp within the park. Overnight - Chobe N. P.
(B, L, D)
Chobe NP - Livingstone (Zambia). After our night in the bush, we head out early to continue our search for wildlife, before packing up the camp and heading back to Kasane where we continue to the town of Livingstone. This afternoon we have the opportunity to view The Falls from the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, Zambia or partake in a sunset boat cruise on the Zambezi River. Another fantastic photo opportunity! Overnight - Livingstone
Day 19: Lusaka
Livingstone - Lusaka. An early morning start sees us head north through southern Zambia to our campsite on the outskirts of Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka. As we drive, we pass through a few of the villages and towns of Zambia along the way. Our campsite is home to some local wildlife including the largest antelope – Eland. Overnight - Lusaka (B, L, D)
Day 20: Chipata
Lusaka - Chipata. From Lusaka we head north east on the old ‘East Road’ to a beautiful little campsite located just 10 km before the Zambia/Malawi border. We’ll stop off to purchase some fresh produce and coal from the local sellers along the way. Mamarula’s campsite is where we spend the night before heading into Malawi. (B, L, D)
Days 21 - 24: Lake Malawi Beaches
Chipata - Lake Malawi Beaches (Malawi). Leaving Zambia we cross into Malawi. We stop off in the capital, Lilongwe, a small city distinctively divided into the old town and the new administrative centre.
Spend the days learning the game of bao from the locals, scour the markets for a bargain or simply relax on the pristine beaches. The various beachside campsites along Lake Malawi’s shores offer many optional Excursions including a variety of water sports, horseback rides and a visit to the local village and school (see pricing guide at the end of this Go Guide). (B:4, L:4, D:4)
Day 25: Iringa
Lake Malawi Beaches - Iringa (Tanzania). After a relaxing 4 days, we leave Malawi, entering Tanzania through the border post at Songwe. Winding our way through the beauty of the Tukuyu tea and banana plantations, we head towards Iringa where we spend the night in the beautiful rustic ‘Farmhouse’ campsite famous for its Amarula Hot Chocolates and its steamy showers! Overnight - Iringa (B, L, D)
Iringa - Dar es Salaam. This morning we head off early and make our way to Dar es Salaam. We pass through the Mikumi National Park where it is possible to view a range of wildlife from the roadside, totally impervious to the passing traffic. Today’s drive time is extended due to the heavier amount of traffic heading in to the city, but the sights and sounds of Dar’s vibrant outer suburbs are sure to keep you entertained. Look out for the colourful shop-fronts with their sometimes humorous ‘catch phrases’. On arrival in Dar es Salaam, we make our way to our lovely seaside campsite and prepare for our departure to Zanzibar the next morning. Overnight - Dar es Salaam
(B, L, D)
Dar es Salaam - Zanzibar (optional). A ferry from Dar es Salaam takes us to the "Spice Island,” where we have the option to spend the next 3 nights. Zanzibar is steeped in history and was one of the major starting points for most East African explorers in their quest for new lands. New passengers may join us to replace those that will leave us at the end of our excursion to Zanzibar.
PLEASE NOTE: Accommodation and meals are for your own account whilst on Zanzibar, as it is our experience that passengers prefer to explore the island on their own, and in accordance with their own budget. Overnight - Dar es Salaam OR Zanzibar (optional) (B:1)
Zanzibar - Dar es Salaam. Leaving Zanzibar in the afternoon, we return to the mainland and another night in Dar es Salaam. Arrival back to camp is usually in the late afternoon, or early evening. Overnight - Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam - Arusha. From Dar es Salaam we have a long day’s drive through vast sisal plantations and African bushveld to Arusha. On the way, we pass The Pare and Usambara Mountain ranges before driving through the town of Moshi. Moshi is the base for Mount Kilimanjaro climbing expeditions and weather permitting; we may even catch a glimpse of this magical mountain’s snowy summit - a photo opportunity not to be missed! Tonight we stay at a campsite in Meserani on the outskirts of Arusha, before heading out on our Optional Excursion to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater tomorrow. Overnight - Arusha
(B, L, D)
Days 32 - 34: Optional Serengeti & Ngorongoro
This morning we have the opportunity to explore the thriving town of Arusha while we stock up on provisions needed for our excursion to the parks. You may chose to wander the vibrant craft markets, stock up on supplies or perhaps catch up on the news back home at one of the small internet cafe available. Heading back to our base camp, Meserani Snake Park, those that are participating in the optional excursions to Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park can start to prepare for their departure this afternoon. The excursion is offered by a local Tanzanian operator who conducts the trip into the Parks in 4WD vehicles (In peak season, there may be a minivan or bus transfer to Karatu), which are adapted for safari use.
For those not opting to visit the Ngorongoro Crater or Serengeti National Park, the next days are spent at leisure enjoying the Meserani reptile park, Masai Cultural Museum and the surrounding villages and craft markets. Alternatively the town of Arusha is close by to explore. The driver and cook remain behind in Dar es Salaam during the excursion.
After our game drive in the Crater, we continue down the Crater rim and past the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ on our way to the Serengeti National Park. We cross the vast plains as we game drive through the southern and central areas in the park. Tonight we bush camp (no ablutions) in the wild surrounded by the sounds of the African wilderness. In the morning, we head off for another game drive and explore the landscape in search of the resident wildlife. With some luck, we may see some of Africa’s ‘Big 5’!
After our morning drive, we head back across the plains and the lush Crater rim to our truck at Arusha, where we spend the evening musing over our thrilling wildlife experience. Overnight - Arusha (3), OR optional Karatu & Serengeti (B:3, L:3, D:3)
Arusha - Nairobi (Kenya). We set off early this morning and make our way to the Tanzania/ Kenyan border and the small border town of Namanga. After completing the border formalities, we continue on our journey to the Capital City Nairobi and our campsite on the outskirts of the city.
The following day is yours at leisure to enjoy some of the many options available in this bustling city; visit The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where you can view the orphaned baby Elephants at feeding time, heading to to the Giraffe Centre in Langata, if you haven’t had your fill of game viewing, then Nairobi National Park offers some great day trips or if you haven’t quite got all those souvenirs you wanted, take a “Matatu” to the local curio markets close by the campsite. This evening why not try the fair on offer at the famous Carnivores restaurant. Overnight - Nairobi
(B:1, L:1, D:1)
Nairobi - Masai Mara. Leaving the hustle and bustle of Nairobi we climb the escarpment to our first stop, a viewpoint overlooking a section of the spectacular Great Rift Valley. Descending into the Rift Valley, we enter Masai land where these habitual pastoralists are often seen tending their cattle from the side of the road. We arrive at our campsite, Acacia Camp in the late afternoon. Acacia Camp looks on to the Meguarra hills and the stream that meanders by on the bottom end forms a natural border to the Masai Mara National Reserve.
The next morning we depart shortly after sunrise on our game drive into the Masai Mara Reserve. The Masai Mara is well known as one of East Africa’s best National Reserves and is home to a wide variety of wildlife species.
After our game drive, we have the option to visit one of the nearby Masai Manyatta’s – this is a traditional hamlet where the Masai still live in their traditional way. This evening we sit around the camp fire, and watch the sun set over this “Garden of Eden”. (B:1, L:2, D:2)
Day 39: Kisumu
Masai Mara - Kisumu. Leaving the Masai Mara early, we head out of Masai Land pass through the scenic tea plantations of Kericho before descending the Rift Valley Plateau, on our way to Kisumu - Kenya’s harbour town on the banks of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. We replenish our supplies and overnight here. Overnight - Kisumu (B, L, D)
Day 40: Kampala
Kisumu - Kampala (Uganda). This morning, we cross the border into Uganda where we overnight it the capital city, Kampala. (B, L, D)
Days 41 - 44: Lake Bunyoni & Gorilla Trekking
Kampala - Lake Bunyoni. After an early morning departure from Kampala we drive west into the depths of Uganda to our base at the tranquil Lake Bunyoni.
For trekking in the DRC or Rwanda (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).
Due to the restrictions on the daily numbers of visitors to these incredible animals, we depart from our base in Bunyoni in small groups over 3-4 days, depending on the group size. We wind our way through arguably some of the most picturesque scenery in Africa en-route to the National Park. Dependent on where permits are available, we may spend a night in either Kisoro or in Rwanda. The following morning, after packing our picnic lunch, we are transferred to a ranger’s station where the trek commences. Your rangers will lead you through the cultivated lands and then into the dense rain forest and on to a gorilla family. Trekking can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 8 hours (not including transfer time) and it can be quite strenuous, so a reasonable level of fitness is required. To ensure the gorillas do not get too used to the presence of humans and because they share many of our genes (and therefore able to catch our diseases), the maximum time permitted to spend with them is 1 hour. You will have plenty of time to watch their activity and to take photographs. The rangers will be able to provide you with a background to the family you are visiting. Once your hour is up, you trek back out of the rain forest to your meeting point where you will be transferred back to the Lake Bunyoni campsite. Overnight - Lake Bunyoni (B:4, L:4, D:4)
Day 45: Kampala
Lake Bunyoni - Kampala. After marvelling at the experience of our gorilla encounters and enjoying the peaceful Lake Bunyoni, we begin our drive back to Kampala. We cross the Equator for the second time and stop for the classic “one foot in each hemisphere” photo opportunity. We overnight in Kampala and have the opportunity to sample its night life! Overnight - Kampala (B, L, D)
Day 46: Jinja
Kampala - Jinja. Today we have the option of visiting the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary or heading to Jinja for a selection of adventure activities including white water rafting at the source of the White Nile, quad biking or visiting a volunteer and community project. Spend the afternoon relaxing on the banks of the river, or ticking off the wide variety of water birds in this area. Overnight - Jinja (B, L, D)
Jinja - Lake Nakuru (Kenya). Departing early, we head back to Kenya, stopping for lunch and supplies en route. We overnight outside Nakuru at a lovely campsite on a local farm. Nakuru is Kenya’s 4th largest town and capital of the Rift Valley Province and lies adjacent to the small but wildlife rich Lake Nakuru National Park. Overnight - Lake Nakuru
(B, L, D)
Lake Nakuru - Lake Naivasha. In the morning we begin our exploration of the Lake Nakuru National Park - famous for the thousands of lesser and greater flamingos that flock to this soda lake’s edge. After our game drive, we head to Lake Naivasha arriving in the late afternoon.
Lake Naivasha, is home to a multitude of bird life, the most magnificent being the African Fish Eagle with his regal cry. At 1880 m, this is the highest of the Rift Valley lakes. We spend the next day enjoying optional excursions like 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. Overnight - Lake Naivasha
(B:2, L:2, D:2)
Saturday. Lake Naivasha - Nairobi. After breakfast, we head back to Nairobi usually arriving by late morning, or early afternoon. On arrival to Acacia Camp, we exchange addresses and part ways, having just experienced a trip of a lifetime! (B)