Take in the very best of the African wilds on this action-packed journey from Kenya to Zambia. Starting in Nairobi, travel to the vast plains of the Serengeti and watch as elephants, giraffe and lions traverse the savanna; hike the lush Usambara Mountains; and finish up admiring the breathtaking beauty of Zanzibar’s pristine beaches. Explore some of the world’s most iconic wildlife parks, visit ancient ruins and stay in local communities on this magnificent journey across Africa.
Camping (with facilities) (19 nights), Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nights), Bungalow (2 nights), Hotel (3 nights)
Day 1 - Nairobi
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, 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, 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.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, though your hotel room or reception may 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 on the floor when in bars or restaurants. 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.
Day 2 - Mto Wa Mbu
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).
Day 3 - Ngorongoro Crater / Serengeti National Park
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.
Day 4 - Serengeti National Park
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.
Day 5 - Serengeti National Park / Mto Wa Mbu
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. Once camp is set-up join the local community for a guided stroll around the farming areas, milling machine, and local homes and farmlands, before a local meal in town.
Day 6 - Usambara Mountains
Prepare yourself for a long travel day heading for the Usambara Mountains (approximately ten hours). Stretch your legs during a brief supply stop in Arusha, then jump back in the vehicle and watch the ever-changing scenery, read your favourite book or get to really know your fellow travellers. Your base will be Lushoto, an old German colony and home to the Wasambaa people. This highland town sits at approximately 1400 metres and this evening you'll camp in the grounds of one of the oldest hotels in Africa.
Day 7 - Usambara Mountains
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.
Day 8 - Dar es Salaam
Leaving the mountains behind, travel still further south to the coastal town of Kipepeo Beach in Dar es Salaam (380km, approximately 8-9 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
Day 9 - Stone Town
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.
Day 10 - Zanzibar Northern Beaches
Check out of your Stone Town hotel and either drive to the spice plantations for your optional guided tour, or head directly to the perfect northern beaches. On the spice plantations guided tour 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 here you will head to the northern beaches, where white sands and sparkling blue seas await, and reunite with your group. This is the Indian Ocean at its best.
Day 11 - Zanzibar Northern Beaches
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.
Day 12 - Stone Town
Enjoy a luxurious sleep in and maybe one last dip in the warm waters of the northern beaches. After check-out head back to Stone Town for a cruisy afternoon of free time. Maybe grab an octopus curry or biryani for dinner with your crew. There’s long day of driving ahead tomorrow, so get your R&R in while you can!
Day 13 - Mikumi National Park
Embrace an early start to catch a 7.30 am ferry to the mainland, then make tracks for Mikumi. It’s a six-hour drive to your camp spot, but you’ll get your first look at that famous Tanzanian landscape along the way. Gaze out at vast plains dotted with baobab and tamarind trees, and if you're lucky maybe catch a glimpse of some of the elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, lions and leopards that call the park home.
Day 14 - Iringa
This morning there is a chance to wake up early and take a 2 hour 4x4 game drive into the Mikumi National Park. Perhaps get a better look at that lion or zeal of zebra you saw from the main road yesterday. Then drive to Iringa (approximately 5 hours). You will set up camp on the grounds of a farmhouse on the outskirts of this pleasant settlement. The area is filled with natural bush land which can make it a bird watchers paradise. Make the most of this rural setting by perhaps doing some stargazing before you retire for the night. Camp facilities, WiFi and accommodation upgrades are available.
Day 15 - Chitimba
Enter Malawi and travel to your campsite at Chitimba (approximately 10–12 hours). Malawi, the 'warm heart of Africa,' 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. Camp facilities, WiFi and upgrades are available tonight.
Day 16 - Lake Malawi
Travel from Chitimba to Kande Beach on the shore of Lake Malawi (approximately 6 hours). There will be a chance to stop at a shop or market for any supplies you might need along the way. Enjoy a relaxing getaway from the commercialism and crowds with a few days on the lake's more peaceful beaches. Your campsite at Kande Beach is right on the shore of Lake Malawi. Accommodation upgrades are again possible (subject to availability). There is no WiFi, however.
Day 17 - Lake Malawi
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.
Day 18 - South Luangwa National Park
Journey through southern Malawi and enter Zambia, continuing to South Luangwa National Park (approximately 9–10 hours). There will be border crossing formalities on the way, and a chance to stock up on goods at a shop or market and visit an ATM. The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River and its lagoons is some of the highest in Africa. Take in the beautiful scenery and the abundance of game, watching out for colourful birds and herds of elephants. Your camp tonight has flush toilets, showers and WiFi. Upgrades are also offered (subject to availability).
Day 19 - South Luangwa National Park
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.
Day 20 - Petauke
Head further south to Petauke (approximately 6 hours). The camp tonight has facilities, WiFi and upgrades (availability dependent).
Day 21 - Lusaka
Head for your camp just south of Lusaka city (approximately 6 hours). Arrive, stretch your legs and take a stroll to discover this cosmopolitan yet traditional town. Though it's fast developing, Lusaka retains a strong African feel, and the locals are warm and friendly. Your camp tonight has facilities, a pool and upgrades available. WiFi is not available at this location.
Day 22 - Harare
Travel to Harare today (approximately 8–9 hours). The first part of your journey takes you to the border with Zimbabwe. After formalities, enjoy a nice scenic drive of 60 kilometres or so, then continue to Harare. There will be a chance to stock up on whatever you need at a market or shop and visit an ATM. Upgrades are available at camp; there is no WiFi, however.
Day 23 - Great Zimbabwe Ruins / Masvingo
Drive the short stretch to Masvingo (approximately 5–6 hours). This colonial settlement – the oldest in Zimbabwe – makes for the perfect base 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, with upgrades and WiFi available.
Day 24 - Bulawayo
Travel to Bulawayo (approximately 5–6 hours). Known locally as the 'City of Kings', Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second largest city. There is some impeccable colonial architecture to take in here. Enjoy free time this afternoon to explore town - a 10 minute walk from the campsite. You might like to browse some local markets or chat with the locals. The Natural History Museum and National Art Gallery are also worth checking out. Tonight you will stay in a campground with shared facilities. Upgrades and WiFi are available.
Day 25 - Bulawayo
Perhaps get up early and take the option to visit Matobo National Park. Home to a significant population of black and white rhinos, this optional activity gives you the unique experience to track these magnificent animals on foot. Here there will also be the chance to spot other game (the park is home to klipspringers, leopards, warthogs and springhares among many others). while learning about the various local plant and trees, wild pear and paperbark among them. This impressive wildlife 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.
Day 26 - Victoria Falls
Depart Bulawayo and make the six-hour drive towards Victoria Falls. Stretching 1.6 kilometres wide and falling 108 metres into a narrow gorge below, the falls for which the area is named are truly a sight to behold. Although a visit to the falls themselves is optional, it is highly recommended. The entrance fee to the falls is not included in the price of this trip as groups that book ahead are required to tour the site with a local guide, and we feel that seeing these waterfalls for the first time should be an uninterrupted sensory experience. In the wet season, the spray created from this feat of nature can rise 400 metres and can often be seen from kilometres away. It's no wonder that the local name for Victoria Falls is Mosi oa Tunya, or the 'smoke that thunders'. Though dry season travellers should not despair! You’ll get an unobstructed view of the falls and the chance to see the islets in the river below. 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 for safety reasons. 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. 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. Tonight's campground is an ideal base, centrally located in the town of Victoria Falls. Upgrades and WiFi are available.
Day 27 - Victoria Falls
You may also want to try some of the optional activities on offer here so we recommend that you schedule any flights for late in the evening if you wish to participate. If you wish to book post trip accommodation to enjoy the activities on offer here, please speak with your travel agent or an Intrepid representative before departure.