Print this page | Visit Geckos

Important Please Note

For departures after 30 June 2015 this trip has variations.
Please click here for details.

Great Apes, Great Mates

Trip Length

Trip Code

39 days GAGV

Maximum Passengers

22 people
Minimum Age
18

Countries Visited

Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Start City

End City

Nairobi Victoria Falls
Great Apes, Great Mates

Nairobi packs a punch. Suss out Lake Nakuru’s wild things, chill with the chimps in Kibale Forest then upgrade to gorillas in Rwanda. Gaze up at Mt Kilimanjaro and celebrate your decision not to climb it with some long lazy days by Lake Malawi. Matobo National Park = rhinos. Hwange National Park = elephants.

 

There is literally nothing in the world better than meeting the gorillas. Except maybe meeting the gorillas, then getting invited backstage to a Rolling Stones gig, then winning the lottery and waking up to discover you live inside the Taj Mahal.  

 

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.

Great Apes, Great Mates


Day to Day Itinerary

Day 1: Nairobi

If you're a smart cookie you'll fly into Nairobi early and partake in a little exploring. Did you know coffee is originally from Africa? Find a Nairobi Java House and fuel up, then shop til you flop at City Market on Muindi Mbingu Street.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm
Arriving early? Perhaps head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum (author of Out of Africa) or Bomas of Kenya
Get acquainted with Nairobi's bars, restaurants, shops and markets

Day 2: Lake Nakuru

Drop into Saidia Children's Home, a place where orphaned and abandoned kids are taken care of. They'll tug at your heartstrings while simultaneously tugging on your hand and leading you outside to whip your butt at soccer. Take your first game drive along the shore of Lake Nakuru (by 'game' we don't mean Scrabble).

Drive north-west past views of the Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita to Lake Nakuru National Park
Stop along the way in the town of Gilgil where and learn more about the Saidia Children's Home Project
Perhaps spot many rhinos as well as members of the Big Five during a dame drive
Arrive in time for a short evening game drive along the shore of the lake

Day 3-4: Eldoret/Kampala

Squeeze in another game drive before camping overnight at Eldoret and making your way to the Ugandan border. Border crossings are notoriously slow and boring so whack a smile on your face and make the best of it. Maybe bring a book.

Enjoy a quick tea or coffee before an early morning game drive

Return to camp for brunch before driving to Eldoret (200 km, approx 5-6 hrs) - home to some of Kenya's most famous runners
Camp on the outskirts of Eldoret
Cross the border into Uganda and travel on to its capital city, Kampala (390 km, approx 8-9 hrs)
Camp on the outskirts of the city

Day 5-6: Kibale Forest National Park

Chimps are just like us, well, except for all the poo-flinging. A walking safari through the jungle lets you see the world's highest concentration of primates in their natural habitat. BYO water bottle, waterproof coat and walking stick if you so desire.

Drive to Kampala City after breakfast and perhaps wander around on foot, exploring its markets and shops

Travel on to Kibale Forest National Park (350 km, approx 6-7 hrs)
Enjoy a 2-4 chimpanzee hike and view these creatures in their natural habitat
Perhaps enjoy walks to villages, tea plantations, rivers, lakes or simply relax around the campsite

Day 7: Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth does not live here. You won't find her down at the watering hole or snoozing under a tree in the hottest part of the day. But you might see elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks instead. We think that's a fair trade.

Travel to the Queen Elizabeth National Park and take a game drive en route to the camp

Keep eyes peeled for elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks

Take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel and spot pelicans, eagles and other birdlife - perhaps even a few hippos

Day 8: Lake Bunyonyi

Get on a mokoro and get out into Lake Bunyonyi. You won't regret it.

Travel on to Lake Bunyonyi (250 km, approx 6-7 hrs)

If time allows, perhaps hire a traditional dugout canoe (mokoro)

Day 9-11: Gorilla Trek

Basically everything you'll see and do in Rwanda will leave a ginormous imprint on your heart/soul/memory, from the Kigali Genocide Memorial to the gentle mountain giants. Trekking to find them can be a bit rough and you'll feel pain in spots you never knew existed (back of the knee will take you by surprise). But it's all worth it when you find yourself looking straight into the eyes of a gorilla. This is not a drill. Put down your camera and let it happen.

Cross the border into Rwanda and travel toward Ruhengeri, via Kigali (200 km, approx 6-7 hrs)

Explore Kigali on foot - from its market areas to the infamous Hotel Rwanda
Visit Kigali's genocide memorial
Embark on two-day gorilla trek and enjoy an hour with the gorillas (once you've found them!)

Day 12: Lake Mburo

They don't call it the giant eland cos it's small. Keep your eyes peeled for this mighty beast and about 68 other species of mammals (that's one heck of a game of I-Spy) in Lake Mburo National Park.

Travel to the border with Uganda and complete border formalities, then head to Lake Mburo (420 km, approx 9-10 hrs)

Perhaps spot the eland antelope as well as zebras, impalas, buffalo, leopards, hyenas and jackals

Keep your eyes on the water for hippos, crocodiles and a variety of waterbirds

Day 13-14: Jinja

Get off your bum and onto your feet with a guided walking safari. Hit the road for Jinja, where you get to stay on the river at a peaceful little retreat.

Take a two-hour guided walking safari through the Lake Mburo National Park, viewing the animal and birdlife

Travel from Lake Mburo to Jinja via Kampala, stopping en route at the equator (340 km, approx 7-8 hrs)

Make the most of time in Jinja - a haven for adventurers, adrenaline junkies and eco-travellers

Day 15-16: Eldoret/Nairobi

Stop in Eldoret overnight on the way back to Nairobi. This is a combo trip, so at this point some of your group might bugger off and a few more might join in. It's all part of the fun. Let phase two begin!

Begin the journey back to Nairobi, making an overnight stop outside Eldoret along the way (300 km, approx 7-8 hrs)
Continue on to Nairobi early the next morning (370 km, approx 7-8 hrs)
Meet your group and leader for the next part of your trip
 

Day 17: Mto wa Mbu

By this stage you should be a pro at border crossings. You're off to Arusha today, camping at a little village called Mto Wa Mbu (we'll give you a Freddo if you can pronounce it properly first time). Rub your hands together with glee at the prospect of a flushing toilet and hot shower.

Depart early for Arusha on our overland truck, a drive of about 8-9 hours (300 km)
The trip includes a border crossing from Kenya into Tanzania so be sure to have your passport handy

Camp overnight in Mto wa Mbu

 

 

Day 18-19: Ngorongoro Crater/Serengeti National Park

Jump out of the truck and into six-person jeeps for a two-day jaunt into the wilds of the Serengeti. Start with a game drive inside a perfectly intact volcanic crater, home to 30,000 animals including endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. Set up camp in the Serengeti and fall asleep to the sounds of chatty lions and talkative elephants. In the morning, there's an optional hot air balloon ride (which you cleverly pre-booked with us before the trip, didn't you?)

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

Camp out at night and perhaps hear lions off in the distance
An optional sunrise balloon ride makes for an unforgettable memory
 
You'll notice many Maasai villages in the region of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. While it's of course fascinating to visit different cultures, past experience has shown that these villages exist primarily as tourism businesses offering somewhat contrived performances of their traditional ways. You'll be charged an entry fee of approx US$20-35 and the Maasai will try very hard to sell souvenirs to you. While many clients still enjoy the experience, others have found it artificial and uncomfortable. We recommend our travellers bypass this activity as our Kenyan colleagues observe that it negatively impacts the Maasai culture and travellers' perception of this culture.
 

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

Day 20: Mto wa Mbu

Back to civilisation, so brush those sticks out of your hair and wipe the dirt off your face. Wander through the farming areas of Mto Wa Mbu and pop into a kindergarten, milling machine and some local homes. Then grab a couple of wood carvings at the market.

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

Day 21: Marangu

To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question. After a long drive (about seven hours) onto the slopes of Kilimanjaro, we'll set up camp on the grounds of the Marangu Hotel. This is a big, gorgeous farmhouse on 12 acres of tropical gardens complete with bar and pool. You might be happy to stick with the camping theme, but if you've saved your pennies why not splurge on a room for the night?

Back on board the truck, climb high onto the slopes of Kilimanjaro to the village of Marangu, via Moshi (270 km, approx 5-7 hrs)
Camp in the grounds of the Marangu Hotel

Day 22: Dar es Salaam

The best part about a super long day of driving? Knowing that the final destination involves a beach, swimming and hot showers.

Long travel day heading further south towards the coastal city of Dar es Salaam (560 km, approx 10-13 hrs)
Set up camp on a balmy beach outside of the city
Perhaps take a dip in the ocean

Day 23-25: Zanzibar

Engage four out of your five senses at the spice plantations today (we'll leave it up to you to figure out which one you won't need) and work up an appetite for seafood curry and cold beer. There's not much on the cards for the next few days. After all that safari-ing and truck driving we reckon you deserv a break. Snorkel, swim, shop, eat, sleep, repeat.

Catch a ferry to the 'Spice Island' of Zanzibar (approx 90 mins)
Drive to the spice plantations for a guided tour
Perhaps buy some of the locally grown spices
Explore Stone Town on foot - taking in the bazaars, shops, mosques, palaces, courtyards and myriad intricate alleyways
Head to the northern beaches and enjoy white sand and sparkling blue sea
Try snorkelling and diving, eat sumptuous seafood or relax in a hammock
Why not head out to Prison Island for a tour

Day 26: Dar es Salaam

Get on the ferry and head back to the mainland. Last chance to get sand in all the wrong places.

Reboard the ferry and return to the beach outside Dar es Salaam

Day 27-28: Iringa/Chitimba

Look for elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, lions and leopards as you pass through Mikumi National Park on the way to Iringa. Camp overnight then head to Chitimba, Malawi. Outside of Denmark, Malawi is the only country in the world with a Carlsberg factory. Guess that takes care of the age old question, "What will I drink tonight?"

Travel further south through Mikumi National Park (550 km, approx 10-11 hrs)
Set up camp on the grounds of a farmhouse
Enter Malawi, the 'warm heart of Africa', on the way to your campsite at Chitimba (510 km, approx 10-12 hrs)
 

Day 29-30: Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi covers about a fifth of the country. Guess you could say it's pretty big. Break out the boardies and bikinis for a few days on the beach. We don't want to play favourites, but Malawians are some of the friendliest people you'll meet in all of Africa. This is a great spot to make a couple of new mates.

Travel from Chitimba to Kande Beach on the shore of Lake Malawi (230 km, approx 6 hrs)
Enjoy a few days on the lake's more peaceful beaches
Relax on the beach and participate in the many optional water activities on offer
Make the time to meet some local Malawians, easily some of the friendliest people in Africa
Camp on Kande Beach,right on the shore of Lake Malawi
Perhaps head out scuba diving or horse riding

Day 31-32: Chipata/Lusaka

We're not gonna lie to you. The next few days are going to involve some long, boring drives. Make your own fun. The good news is, only three countries in the whole world start with the letter 'z' and you're about to visit two of them.

Travel across into Zambia ( Day 32 ), stopping in Lilongwe, to replenish supplies (490Kms – approx 8hrs travel time)
Soak up some Malawian culture in the coffee shops, bars and restaurants
Aim for Lusaka the following day (approx 10hrs)

Day 33: Harare

You're on the home stretch. Nice work everyone. Cross the border to Zimbabwe and once you get to Harare there's free time to enjoy not being in the truck. Hit up the National Gallery, the museum, the gardens or simply kick back with a beer and enjoy some fresh air (those trucks can get a little whiffy).

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)

Enjoy free time to explore Harare
Perhaps head to the National Gallery, the museum, the botanical gardens or simply wander through the many shops and markets

Day 34: Masvingo

Masvingo is the oldest colonial settlement in Zimbabwe. Boring. It's also home to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Exciting. It's a swings and roundabouts kind of day.

Take a short drive to Masvingo (320 km, approx 5-6 hrs)
Explore the Great Zimbabwe Ruins

 

Day 35-36: Bulawayo

In Matobo National Park you can track black and white rhino on foot. Then visit the grave of Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia and (more interestingly) De Beers diamond company. Thanks for the bling-bling Cecil. Pick a team and cheer your heart out at a local football or rugby match. Then again, maybe the markets are more your scene.

Travel to Bulawayo (360 km, approx 5-6 hrs)
The afternoon is free to explore the city
Get up early and venture out to explore the Matobo National Park - home to a large population of black and white rhinoceros
Perhaps visit the Natural History Museum or the Railway Museum

Day 37: Hwange National Park

There's about 30,000 elephants in Hwange National Park. If you don't spot one perhaps you should get your eyes tested. Sorry, but... did you notice that big 'rock' over there was actually moving? Pay closer attention next time. Maybe you've been on the road for too long.

Head to Hwange National Park (360 km, approx 5-6 hrs)
Explore the park in open 4x4 vehicles
Stay within the park at one of its campgrounds with shared facilities

Day 38-39: Victoria Falls

As far as 'last thing you'll see before the trip ends' goes, you could do worse than Victoria Falls. Stop stressing about whether the spray will make your hair go frizzy and just embrace the awesomeness. Then embrace your travelling pals. You've spent a fair whack of time together and every time you look at photos from this trip there's a chance they'll be in the background pulling silly faces. Ah, memories.

**This trip is run by our sister company Intrepid**


Your Trip

Nuts and Bolts

Summary of accommodation, transport & meals

Transport

Accommodation

Not Included

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.


Important Information

HOT AIR BALLOONING

An optional sunrise balloon ride over the Serengeti is possible on this itinerary. Please see Days 18-19 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.

FINISH TIME:

This trip finishes in Victoria Falls on Day 39. We recommend that you do not book any flights out on the final day until late evening because it is likely we will visit the falls that day. You may also want to try some of the optional activities on offer here, before our adventure comes to an end.

**This trip is operated by our sister company Intrepid**

 

ITINERARY DISCLAIMER:

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:

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.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:

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.

GORILLA PERMITS: Geckos Adventures pre-purchase gorilla permits. Your gorilla permit MUST be pre-paid for and will be confirmed in your name once your trip deposit and gorilla permit money has been received and the trip is guaranteed to depart. This is the only way permits can be guaranteed. Once purchased the permits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

About this Information

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!

Last Updated

28 August 2014


General Contact Details

Geckos AdventuresPhone: 855-832-4853
E-mail: sales@geckosadventures.com
Web: Visit Geckos