The Big Overlander - 47 days
Experience the contrasts and raw appeal of this majestic continent up close and personal. Visiting eight countries, spot wildlife in Africa's best game parks, trek for gorilla in Uganda, relax and unwind on Zanzibar and soak up the incredible sights!
Nairobi - Masai Mara. Heading west from Nairobi on day 2, we reach possibly Kenya’s most famous natural attraction - the Masai Mara National Reserve. The Kenyan section of the wildly beautiful Serengeti Plains teems with wildlife. The highlight of the Mara is no doubt the annual wildebeest migration, when literally millions of these beasts plus zebra and Thomson’s gazelle stray north from the Serengeti in neighbouring Tanzania in search of lush grass on the savannah plains. Elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe and a multitude of hooved herbivores also inhabit the reserve. A game drive through the Mara on day 3 gives us the chance to spot the Big Five. During our stay we can also opt to visit a local Masai tribe.
Overnight: Masai Mara | Breakfast x 1, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Eldoret & Kampala
Masai Mara - Eldoret - Kampala (Uganda). Leaving the Masai Mara early on day 4, we head out of Masai Land and pass through the scenic tea plantations of Kericho before descending the Rift Valley Plateau, on our way to Eldoret - where we spend the night. The following morning, we cross the border into Uganda where we overnight it the capital city, Kampala.
Overnight: Eldoret (1), Kampala (1) | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Lake Bunyoni & Gorilla Trekking
Kampala - Lake Bunyoni. From Kampala we drive to Lake Bunyoni, the deepest Crater Lake in Africa and home to a large and varied number of beautiful birds, which is the base from which the optional Gorilla trek takes place. Dependant on where trekking permits are available, we trek in the Magahinga or Bwindi National Parks in Uganda, the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or the Ruhengeri National Park in Rwanda.
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. Dependant on where permits are available, we may spend a night in either Kisoro or in Rwanda. The following morning we trek with trained rangers in search of the mountain gorillas.
Overnight: Lake Bunyoni | Breakfast x 4, Lunch x 4, Dinner x 4
Kampala & Jinja
Lake Bunyoni - Kampala - Jinja. 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!
On day 11 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.
Overnight: Kampala (1), Jinja (1) | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Jinja - Nakuru - Naivasha (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. *EAMO Orphanage.
On the morning of day 13 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. The numbers vary depending on the water level, and when it’s low, the lake almost turns pink. A truly spectacular sight! The park was established as a sanctuary for black and white rhino, which are often seen. We spend the day searching for these pre-historic looking beasts as well as the elusive leopard, encountering buffalo, giraffe, various antelope and the occasional hippo along the way. After our game drive, we head to our campsite, arriving in the late afternoon.
Overnight: Nakuru | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Nakuru - Naivasha - Nairobi. Leaving Lake Nakuru we head to Lake Naivasha, 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 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. The next morning we head back to Nairobi.
Overnight: Naivasha (1), Nairobi (1) | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 1, Dinner x 1
Nairobi - Arusha (Tanzania). Leaving Nairobi, we cross the border into Tanzania. Arusha is the starting point for the optional 3 day excursion to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. For those not opting to visit the Ngorongoro Crater or Serengeti National Park, the next 3 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 Optional Ngorongoro/Serengeti excursion takes us via the Masai town of Mtu Wa Mbu (Mosquito River) that lies adjacent to the Lake Manyara National Park and up the Rift Valley Escarpment to the higher lying village of Karatu. Karatu offers magnificent views over the surrounding hills and has many well established wheat farms that add to the picturesque panoramas. We spend the evening at a pleasant campsite in Karatu. The following morning we depart early for the Ngorongoro Conservation area and head into the wildlife rich Ngorongoro Crater. This World Heritage Site boasts some of the best game viewing in Africa – including the elusive Black Rhino.
Overnight: Karatu & Serengeti (optional) or Arusha | Breakfast x 3, Lunch x 4, Dinner x 4
Arusha - Pangani - Dar es Salaam. We return to Arusha before continuing on towards Dar es Salaam. On the way we drive through the town of Moshi situated at the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest mountain. We may even catch a glimpse of this magical mountain’s snowy summit - a photo opportunity not to be missed! We spend the night in Pangani midway between Arusha and Dar es Salaam before reaching our lovely seaside campsite in Dar es Salaam the following day.
Overnight: Pangani (1), Dar es Salaam (1) | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Dar es Salaam - Zanzibar (optional). A ferry from Dar Es Salaam takes us to ‘Spice Island’, where we have the option to spend the next three nights.* Zanzibar is steeped in history and offers a wealth of experiences. Wander the streets of Stone Town, take an excursion around a spice plantation or simply laze on one of the pristine white sandy beaches, the choice is yours! Accommodation is not provided on Zanzibar, allowing you the freedom to choose where you spend your time on the island. Your trip leader can arrange accommodation for you locally should you wish.
* For those opting not to visit Zanzibar, the 3 days can be spent at leisure at the beach campsite or exploring Dar Es Salaam.
Overnight: Zanzibar (optional) or Dar Es Salaam | Breakfast x 1
Iringa & Mikumi
Zanzibar - Dar es Salaam - Iringa. Leaving Zanzibar in the afternoon, we return to the mainland and another night in Dar es Salaam.
The next morning we head south and 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. We travel towards Iringa where we spend the night in a beautiful rustic campsite famous for its Amarula Hot Chocolates and its steamy showers!
Overnight: Dar es Salaam (1), Iringa (1) | Breakfast x 1, Lunch x 1, Dinner x 2
Iringa - Lake Malawi (Malawi). Winding our way through the beauty of the Tukuyu tea and banana plantations, we travel into Malawi, a landlocked country with 20% of its total area made up of beautiful Lake Malawi. We travel the length of the western side of the lake, stopping off at various bays and inlets over the next 3 days. Spend the days learning the game of bao from the locals, scour the markets for a bargain or simply relax on the pristine beaches.
Overnight: Lake Malawi | Breakfast x 3, Lunch x 3, Dinner x 3
Chipata & Luangwa
Lake Malawi - Chipata - Luangwa (Zambia). We head away from Lake Malawi, and stop off in the capital, Lilongwe, a small city distinctively divided into the old town and the new administrative centre, to stock up on supplies before crossing into Zambia where we spend the night in a beautiful little campsite.
Leaving Chitimba we head to South Luangwa National Park. This breath taking park is situated on the Luangwa River in the Eastern part of Zambia, and it is the southernmost of three national parks in this region. South Luangwa was founded in 1938 as a game reserve, 1972 was the year it was declared as a national park, and today it covers over 9000 kilometres squared. Animals such as Giraffe, buffalo and Elephants can be found in abundance. The Luangwa river is home to many a hippo and croc.
Overnight: Chipata (1), Luangwa (1) | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Luangwa - Livingstone. Today we depart this amazing National Park and make our way down south. As we drive, we pass through a few of the villages and towns of Zambia along the way. Prosperous during the copper boom in the 60’s, Zambia was able to build infrastructure at the main mining and farming communities. After the fall of the copper industry, the country was left virtually bankrupt and existing infrastructure was left to fall to ruin. Due to foreign investment and a rise in the mining industry, Zambia is today once again starting to prosper.
Overnight: Luangwa (1) Livingstone (1) | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Livingstone - Kasane (Botswana). Today we cross the border into Botswana and continue to the town of Kasane, on the banks of the Chobe River which forms a border between Zambia, Namibia and Botswana. Tonight we enjoy an exciting overnight experience in the wilds of the Chobe National park. Chobe is one of Botswana’s premier game parks, renowned for its large elephant herds. Spend the afternoon in search of wildlife while we game drive to our camp within the park where we spend the evening surrounded by the night-time noises of the local wildlife.
Overnight: Chobe National Park | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Chobe - Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe). 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. Crossing the border into Zimbabwe, a short drive takes us to the nearby Victoria Falls. Named after the famous World Heritage site and Water Falls, the town of Victoria Falls is situated on the Zambezi River and surrounded by the Victoria Falls National Park. We enjoy our last day in the adrenaline playground of Africa, where there are optional activities aplenty here including Zambezi white water rafting, bungy jumping from 111m and flights over the Falls in a variety of airborne machines!
Overnight: Victoria Falls | Breakfast
The next 2 days are spent relaxing or participating in a myriad of optional excursions. Optional excursions include elephant back safaris, horseback safaris, walking with lions, a visit to the crocodile ranch, boat cruises and golf at The Elephant Hills Resort. Adrenalin junkies can bungee from the Victoria Falls Bridge connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia or abseil down the Batoka Gorge - neither activity is for the faint hearted! All year round, flights in fixed wing, micro light and ultra light aircraft or helicopters provide an incredible aerial view of the falls and white water rafting on the Zambezi is world class!
Overnight: Victoria Falls | Breakfast x 2
Victoria Falls - Kasane (Botswana) - Nata Region. On day 38 we cross the border into Botswana and head to Kasane where we set up camp on the banks of the Chobe River. In the afternoon we take a boat cruise along the beautiful Chobe River. Elephant, hippo and many bird species can be viewed from the boat while we watch another glorious African sunset.
On day 39 we leave this beautiful part of Botswana behind us this morning as we depart to the lush campsite called Elephant Sands. The drive will take you through a very unpopulated landscape where the donkeys roam freely. Once we have arrived at our campsite you will have the option of partaking in a game drive or a bushwalk. Your crew will provide you with more information.
Overnight: Kasane (1), Nata Region(1) | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Nata Region - Maun - Okavango Delta. Maun is the starting point for the optional trip into the Delta and it is from here that we can set off to explore the Okavango Delta. Tonight we prepare our provisions and packs for our overnight excursion. We suggest bringing along a smaller daypack on your trip which can be used to pack the supplies needed for this short excursion. Your trip leader will brief you fully on what is needed, and what to expect prior to your trip into the Delta.
If you choose not to take the Okavango Delta Excursion you can spend a relaxing three days in Maun, relax by the pool at the campsite, explore the town and its local markets.
On day 41 we have the opportunity to take the optional overnight excursion into the Delta. After an early rise, we pack our expedition vehicle and from Maun we drive north for a couple of hours to reach the mokoro poler’s station. The Delta region is studded with many local villages where many families live in a traditional way. Some of the villages are very remote and can only be reached by the traditional mode of transport – the Mokoro. Mokoros are dugout canoes manoeuvred through the waterways by local guides who “pole” them through the reeds. At the Mokoro station, we meet our ‘Polers’ and pack our supplies before heading out into the waterways. After a couple of hours along the waterways, we arrive at our mobile tented camp situated in the heart of the Okavango.
On arrival you will meet the local staff who will be your host during your stay. A brief introduction to the camp will show you your dome tent with twin beds and a bush en-suite bathroom – long drop toilet and a bucket shower. Relax in the tent with a cold drink or take a paddle in the Delta in a canoe. The activities at the camp include Mokoro trails and guided walking.
Overnight: Maun (1) Okavango Delta (optional) or Maun (1) | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Okavango Delta - Maun. For those on the optional Okavango Delta excursion, this morning gives us a final opportunity for a game walk before packing up and setting off back to Maun. After our Mokoro ride and vehicle transfer, we arrive back in the afternoon and have the chance to complete our picture of the Okavango Delta by taking an optional scenic flight over the Delta (dependent on weather conditions & availability).
Overnight: Maun | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Maun - Palapye. Heading out early, we have a fairly long (450kms) drive today to the small town of Palapye, situated about halfway between Francistown and Gaborone (Botswana’s Capital). This popular ‘stopover’ town for those en route to South Africa, is well known for the Morupule Colliery coal mines which supplies Morupule Power Station, Botswana’s principal domestic source of electricity.
Overnight: Palapye | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Blyde River Canyon
Palapye - Blydepoort (South Africa). This morning we cross into South Africa and continue across to our camp overlooking the impressive Blyde River Canyon. Named for the Blyde River that runs through it, the canyon is 26km long, and averages 800m deep and forms the northern edge of the impressive Drakensberg Mountain Range. The main viewpoints along the canyon are the 3 Rondavels, named for the shape of the traditional huts or houses the indigenous people of the area used to live in; and Gods Window that affords a breathtaking view across the canyon and surrounding area.
Overnight: Blydepoort | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Blydepoort - Hazyview. Heading through the breathtaking Panorama Route, we stop off at various viewpoints today including scenic God’s Window. We pass through the small town of Graskop, and head toward the Kruger National Park and our campsite on the border of the park. Situated just 10km from Kruger’s Phabeni Gate, the camp is home to Giraffe, Zebra and Hippo to name but a few.
The next day we visit the amazing Kruger National Park in search of some of the 146 mammals, 500 bird, 114 reptile, 33 amphibian & 49 fish species that make this park their home. We travel in our truck along the main game viewing routes within the park and stop off at some of the camps along the way. For those who wish to upgrade to an open vehicle game drive, this can be arranged with the trip leader at an additional cost.
Overnight: Hazyview | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Wednesday. Hazyview - Johannesburg. After breakfast, we begin our journey to Johannesburg, our final destination. On arrival in Johannesburg we unload the truck for the final time, exchange addresses and part ways, having just experienced a trip of a lifetime!
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Just a quick email to say thanks for organizing my trip to Africa! I was amazed by the beauty of this country. I saw a lot of tv shows about Africa, but being there and experiencing the nature that is completely different from the one we know was mind-blowing!
Great adventure, I would highly recommend Africa with On the Go. ”