|Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe|
The party gets started in Nairobi, moves into Tanzania and doesn’t let up ‘til South Africa. Meet the cast of The Lion King in Ngorongoro, the Serengeti, Chobe and the Okavango. Beach your bum in Zanzibar and Lake Malawi. Get your cultural fixes in Harare, Grootfontein and Cape Town.
Game drive tips:
- Repress your inner fashionista and stick to neutral colours. Neon might be in this year but the animals hate it.
- Remember your truck etiquette, and try not to leap into someone's lap every time you want to take a photo from their side of the vehicle.
- Ask questions. Your local leader knows heaps of interesting stuff and they love getting a chance to show off.
TRIP CHANGE FOR 2015:
In 2015 this trip will no longer visit Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and as a result, you will now be visiting South Luangwa National Park in Zambia for 2 nights. South Luangwa National Park is famously known as it was the first park in Africa to offer 'walking safari's'. Also, by adding in South Luangwa we can also break up the long drive days to Lusaka and Chipata.
Perhaps explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum (author of Out of Africa) or Bomas of Kenya
Why not embark on a safari walk in Nairobi National Park or take a visit to the Langata Giraffe Sanctuary
Up early for the border crossing into Tanzania. We're slowly easing you out of civilisation, so get your shopping and bar-hopping fix in Arusha before heading to your campsite in the little village of Mto Wa Mbu. Don't stress, there's still flushing toilets and hot showers... for now.
Camp overnight in Mto wa Mbu
It's a good thing the Ngorongoro Crater is 610 metres deep and covers 260 square kilometres because you'll be sharing it with about 30,000 animals. Then it's onto the Serengeti. If you close your eyes and think of Africa, it's probably this place that comes to mind. The name comes from the Masai word 'Siringitu' meaning 'where the land moves on forever'. We think that about sums it up.
Rise early and leave the truck behind to head out for your excursion into the Serengeti
View plenty of animals and birdlife, from members the Big Five to perhaps some creatures you don't expect
Rise with the sun and leave the Serengeti for Ngorongoro Crater, home to some 30,000 animals (approx 3 hrs drive)
After a picnic lunch, descend onto the floor of the crater for a safari lasting four-five hours
Depart the crater in the afternoon and relive the safari experience at the bar
Head back to Mto Wa Mbu, handy if you accidentally left anything behind the first time. Go for a wander through the village and check out the kindergarten, milling machine, local homes and farmlands.
Participate in a local community village program and gain a close-up look at life in an African town
Join the local community with a guided stroll around the farming areas - including visits to a kindergarten, milling machine, local homes and farmlands
Perhaps visit the markets for some wood carvings or local artwork
Dar es Salaam is Arabic for "The abode of peace". So no yelling, fighting, farting or generally disrupting the serenity. We'll allow a few shrieks of delight when you hit the water though, it's been a long week.
There's something in the air in Zanzibar. Spices, most likely. But there's something else, too. It's all a bit perfect really. Your first night is spent at a little inn and then it's off to the northern beaches for seafood, swimming, snorkelling, snoozing and swearing (to come back and visit again, not yelling randome curse words).
Back to the beaches of Dar es Salaam today. Stock up on kangas (sarongs), carvings and Tinga-Tinga paintings.
Reboard the ferry and return to the beach outside Dar es Salaam
Welcome to the travelling part of the trip. You'll be putting in a few long hours on the truck for this bit, so if you know any good card games, magic tricks, jokes or brainteasers now is the time to dig deep. Africa is a bloody big continent, surely you expected this?
What's that? You want more beaches? Well, we're nothing if not accommodating. How does a few days on the beaches of Lake Malawi sound? We'll even throw in the chance to go scuba diving, horse riding and meet some of Africa's friendliest people.
Break up a couple of long travel days by stopping in Lilongwe for supplies and getting your fix at the bars, cafes and restaurants scattered around Malawi's capital.
We love this city. You will too. Hungry? Head to KwaMereki, a legendary spot among locals. Give your order to one of the smiling ladies cooking up a storm behind their braais (barbecues) and sip on a tasy Bohlinger’s while you wait. You could also go for a swim at a retro bathing complex that hasn't changed since the '50s or check out the gallery, museum, gardens and shops.
Drive for approx 3 hours to the border with Zimbabwe
After formalities, enjoy a 60Km scenic drive before covering the rest of the distance to Harare (approx 8hrs)
Here's what the guide books say: "Construction on the monument began in the 11th century and continued until the 14th century, spanning an area of 1,780 acres which, at its peak, could have housed up to 18,000 people." Here's what we say: "These ruins are probably the coolest things you'll see on this trip that don't have four legs".
Explore the Great Zimbabwe Ruins
Bulawayo is a fun word to say. Bulawayo, Bulawayo, Bulawayo. You've been on the road for 20 days, a bit of madness is bound to creep in. Head out into Matobo National Park and see if the rhinos think it's funny.
After being used as the royal hunting grounds of a 19th century warrior-king, this became a national park in 1929. Now it's got one of the largest elephant populations in Africa. That's relief you see on their faces.
It's not thunder. It's not rain. It's Victoria Falls. With spray rising about 400 metres, the frizzy-haired among you might want to consider wearing a headscarf or hat today. This is a combo trip so some members of your group will bugger off today, and you'll get a few new ones. It's good to mix things up.
Fish eagles are birds, not fish. They're huge and like to hang around the Chobe River looking for lunch. As do the hippos and crocs. You'll take a cruise on the river today but don't worry, they don't like the taste of people meat (well, not for lunch anyway).
Another day, another country. Your passport must look pretty snazzy by now. If you need to stretch the ol' legs why not challenge the locals to a soccer match. You won't win, but we'll have fun watching you try.
Drive from Kasane to Ngoma Bridge and our camp at Bagani in Namibia (470km, approx 7 hrs)
Perhaps make the most of boat trips, fishing or hikes in Bagani, as well as the chance to play soccer with the locals
With no outlet from the desert, the delta is a 16,000 kilometre maze of waterways, islands and streams that feeds a whole bunch of animals. Spend the first night camping in the middle of nowhere and then head back to civilisation at Umvuvu Camp with its (usually) hot showers and small bar.Drive across the border into Botswana and head south to Seronga (140 km, approx 4 hrs)
Set up camp in Bagani tonight. Couple of optional activities planned, including sunset cruise, traditional dancing (watching, not participating) or tuck into some mahangu, ground nuts, stewed meats, and fish from the Okavango River at a local restaurant.
No, you're not hearing things. That clicking sound is the native tongue of the San Bushmen (remember The Gods Mut Be Crazy?) who will take you out tracking and gathering using techniques that have been around for 20,000 years (so, don't expect to see a spotlight).
Travel to Grootfontein and spend the night near a Bushmen homestead (400 km, approx 6 hrs)
Game viewing is made super easy here thanks to man-made waterholes and wide open pans. There's a few endangered species here so if your leader points out black rhino, Hartmann's mountain zebra, black-faced impala, roan antelope and the tiny Damara dik-dik you better pay attention.Travel to Etosha National Park (290km, approx 6 hrs)
Spitzkoppe Mountain is about 700 million years old, with no signs of slowing down. It looks a bit like the Matterhorn but that European wonder has got nothin' on the changing colours of this mighty beast at sunset. Sorry Europe.Travel to Spitzkoppe (490km, approx 9 hours)
You'll probably smell the seals of Cape Cross before you see them. Once you get to Swakopmund, part with some of your hard-earned cash on optional activities like a hot air balloon ride, camel ride, fishing trip, flying fox, horse riding, quad biking or sandboarding. You won't regret it.
Continue on to the town of Swakopmund (320 km, approx 5-6 hrs)
Normally the term "dramatic sunrise" would make us choke on our Corn Flakes, but we'll make an exception here. Any more dramatic and we'd have to rename it Miley Cyrus Desert. Jump in the back of a 4x4 to explore Sossusvlei.
It's an all-day drive from Swakopmund to Sesriem (350 km, approx 6-7 hrs)
Yep, this is indeed the longest interior river in Namibia that you've been waiting for. Ladies and gents we present Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world (no prizes for guessing which whopper took out the top spot).Heading further south in the desert lands of Namibia, drive towards Fish River Canyon (200 km, approx 3-4 hrs)
Considering the Orange River was responsible for washing diamonds down to the Namib coast you'd think "Diamond River" would've been a more fitting name. Oh well, too late now. Pitch tents on the bank and keep your eyes peeled for some new bling floating past.Departing Fish River Canyon, it's a 5 hour transit (275 km) to Noordoewer
Optional canoe trip
You made it. 45 days with a bunch of strangers who will now (hopefully) be your buds for life. Definitely book a few extra nights to hang around and explore Cape Town, and to wash off that "45 days with strangers" smell before you get home.Your safari comes to an end in Cape Town (330 km, approx 7 hrs)
**This tour is run by our sister company Intrepid**
Cape Cross seal colony, Chobe - Boat Cruise, Chobe - Dawn game drive, Fish River Canyon, Game drives, Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Hwange National Park, Matobo National Park - Guided walking safari, Mto Wa Mbu - Village Walk & market Visit, Ngorongoro Crater - Game drive, Okavango Delta - Mokoro trips & bushwalks, San Bushman cultural experience, Serengeti - Game drive, Sesriem - Sand dunes visit, Sossusvlei 4x4 Tour, Visit Victoria Falls, Zanzibar Spice tour
39 breakfasts, 35 lunches, 34 dinners
International flights, airport transfers, departure taxes, visas, insurance (compulsory on all trips), meals not listed, any optional tours or activities during free time, camera fees, excess baggage charges, tips and items of a personal nature.
HOT AIR BALLOONING
An optional sunrise balloon ride over the Serengeti is possible on this itinerary. Please see Days 4-5 for full details of this activity. As the balloon only holds 16 people, places are limited and we recommend you book in advance. Please inquire when booking your trip to book this optional activity.
This trip finishes upon arrival in Cape Town on Day 45. Please do not book any flights until after 9pm this evening.
**This trip is run by our experienced sister company Intrepid Travel. Your group is therefore likely to be a mixture of Gecko’s passengers and other like-minded international travellers.
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements deriving from past travellers' and local operator feedback. The information given in this itinerary may differ slightly to that in the brochure. It's imperative that you print and review a final copy of your itinerary a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
For the latest updated itinerary please visit our website: www.geckosadventures.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some of the changes that may occur in our itineraries could be due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transportation. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for the chance of possible modifications to the trip en-route.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, and all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the activities that are included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded to you.
There are a selection of optional activities listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices listed are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless otherwise indicated. Please also be aware that it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Geckos nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Geckos.
You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form for some of the optional activities you choose to participate in.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
28 August 2014