Travel with Lonely Planet and Intrepid – from the mighty Victoria Falls through Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania – to experience all the incredible sights, sounds and cultures Eastern Africa has to offer. Head on overland game drives in search of lions, leopards and, if you’re lucky, rare black rhinos. Explore World Heritage-listed sites like the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Swim and snorkel in the clear, fresh waters of Lake Malawi. Meet locals to gain insight into the enduring cultures of these communities. Wind up on the shores of the Indian Ocean in Zanzibar after an unforgettable 17-day journey full of local knowledge and epic adventures.
Day 1 - Victoria Falls
Mhoro! Welcome to Zimbabwe. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 4 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and travel group. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Your campground is centrally located in the town of Victoria Falls. After this important meeting, your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer, and you can consider booking experiences for tomorrow.
Day 2 - Victoria Falls
Use your free time to visit the magnificent Victoria Falls. This thundering curtain of water is one-and-a-half kilometres 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 a 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. Be sure to check your Lonely Planet app for all of the hottest tips and advice on what to do in Victoria Falls, or ask your local leader for their recommendations.
Day 3 - Bulawayo
Depart Victoria Falls and travel toward Bulawayo (approximately 7 hours) via the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust – one of The Intrepid Foundation’s projects. Here you can learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife, human-wildlife conflict and the trusts role in anti-poaching. There may also be a chance to meet any rescued or orphaned wildlife currently in their care. Onwards to Bulawayo – known locally as the 'City of Kings', Zimbabwe's second-largest city has an interesting history and some impeccable colonial architecture. You will have the late afternoon free to explore, so maybe take the opportunity to visit some shops and chat with locals.
Day 4 - Bulawayo
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. This optional activity is highly recommended, otherwise you could head into town to check out the local museums or take the opportunity for some down time.
Day 5 - Masvingo
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 World Heritage-listed 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 for the evening.
Day 6 - Harare
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.
Day 7 - Lusaka
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.
Day 8 - Petauke
Spend some time checking out Lusaka before a long day of travel. You'll see that it's a modern city but still retains a traditional African feel. Afterwards, travel on to Petauke (approximately 8 hours).
Day 9 - South Luangwa National Park
After breakfast, make a visit to a workshop where local craftswomen make all the jewellery by hand using natural materials from the South Luangwa valley. The project is set primarily to empower women and raise awareness against poaching. Afterwards, 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 group leader for more details.
Day 10 - South Luangwa National Park
Rise early for an exhilarating morning game drive in a 4WD vehicle. Enjoy classic savanna scenery while keeping your eyes peeled the parks abundance of wildlife. There’s every chance you may spot a herd of zebra grazing on parched grass or a pride of lions passing by. Midday is the hottest part of the day here, so seek refuge from the sun and return to the camp for lunch. Afterwards, perhaps head out on a village walk for a snapshot of daily life in the local community. An optional game drive at night is also a good option to see wildlife when they are most active.
Day 11 - Lake Malawi
Cross the border into Malawi and continue straight to your camp on the shores 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 local people. Fishermen, fish traders and canoe and net makers all ply their trade on the lake. 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, so take some time to rest and relax.
Day 12 - Lake Malawi
Enjoy free time to soak up your idyllic surrounds. If you're feeling active, your leader can recommend some thrilling water-based activities. Otherwise, enjoy the opportunity to chill out on the beach or perhaps get to know some local Malawians.
Day 13 - Chitimba
Drive to your camp in Chitimba (approximately 8 hours). Chitimba lies along the coast of Lake Malawi and has lovely beaches, friendly locals and a laidback 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.
Day 14 - Iringa
Today is a long travel day into Tanzania and its southern highlands (approximately 11 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.
Day 15 - Mikumi National Park
Set out on a short drive to the edge of Mikumi National Park. Situated at the foot of the thickly wooded Uluguru Mountains, Mikumi is Tanzania's fourth-largest national park and an important educational and research centre. It’s grassy plains host elephants, zebras, wildebeests, impalas, giraffes and lions among other wildlife. You’re almost guaranteed to see a number of these incredible creatures on an optional afternoon 4WD game drive. Also notice the baobabs, unusual trees with exceptionally thick trunks commonly referred to as the 'Tree of Life' for its many useful properties.
Day 16 - Dar es Salaam
Settle in for a 7-hour drive to Kipepeo Beach, just south of Dar es Salaam. Be sure to make the most of it – perhaps take a stroll along the shore after you arrive and settle in. Your camp today is on the grounds of a hotel situated next to the beach.
Day 17 - Stone Town
Catch a ferry to Africa’s 'Spice Island' – Zanzibar. Filled with pristine white-sand shores, 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 suggests what the island must have been like in Livingstone's day. The best way to see this exotic port town and its old city (Stone Town) is on foot. When the sun is setting, perhaps enjoy a drink at a nearby bar overlooking the seafront, then a seafood curry at a local restaurant. With no further activities planned on arrival, this trip comes to an end in Stone Town.