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.
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 6pmArriving early? Perhaps head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum (author of Out of Africa) or Bomas of KenyaGet 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 ParkStop along the way in the town of Gilgil where and learn more about the Saidia Children's Home ProjectPerhaps spot many rhinos as well as members of the Big Five during a dame driveArrive 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 driveReturn to camp for brunch before driving to Eldoret (200 km, approx 5-6 hrs) - home to some of Kenya's most famous runnersCamp on the outskirts of EldoretCross 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 shopsTravel 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 habitatPerhaps 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 waterbucksTake 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 RwandaVisit Kigali's genocide memorialEmbark 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 expectCamp out at night and perhaps hear lions off in the distanceAn optional sunrise balloon ride makes for an unforgettable memoryYou'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 cityPerhaps 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 tourPerhaps buy some of the locally grown spicesExplore Stone Town on foot - taking in the bazaars, shops, mosques, palaces, courtyards and myriad intricate alleywaysHead to the northern beaches and enjoy white sand and sparkling blue seaTry snorkelling and diving, eat sumptuous seafood or relax in a hammockWhy 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 farmhouseEnter 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 beachesRelax on the beach and participate in the many optional water activities on offerMake the time to meet some local Malawians, easily some of the friendliest people in AfricaCamp on Kande Beach,right on the shore of Lake MalawiPerhaps 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 restaurantsAim 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 HararePerhaps 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 cityGet up early and venture out to explore the Matobo National Park - home to a large population of black and white rhinocerosPerhaps 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 vehiclesStay 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.
- Visit Victoria Falls
- Perhaps enjoy a range of optional activities such as abseiling, canoeing, flying fox, gorge swing, helicopter flights, horseback safaris or rafting and river boarding.
**This trip is run by our sister company Intrepid**
What to Know
On this trip you will be accompanied by 3 crew members - Group Leader, Cook and Driver.
Chimpanzee Trekking Kibale National Park, Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Hwange National Park, Kazinga Channel boat cruise, Kigali - Genocide Memorial, Lake Mburo Walking safari, Lake Nakuru - Game drive, Matobo National Park - Guided walking safari, Mountain gorilla trek & permit, Mto Wa Mbu - Village Walk & market Visit, Ngorongoro Crater - Game drive, Queen Elizabeth National Park Game Drive, Serengeti - Game drive, Visit Victoria Falls, Zanzibar Spice tour
37 breakfasts, 33 lunches, 32 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.
It is recommended that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information prior to your departure.
Geckos strongly recommends the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Please leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Most of our hotels will have a safety deposit box, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and Geckos makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING CONDITIONS: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Be aware that traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
SWIMMING POOLS: You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
UNFENCED CAMP SITES: On some trips where you will be staying within a national park, please note that at times you will stay in unfenced camp sites. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules that must be adhered to. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
Trip Dates and Prices
Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price Kitty Payment Total Price 25 Oct 2014 - 02 Dec 2014 1 place left US $2,665 On Sale Sale: US $2,398 US $2,825 US $5,223 Book Now 15 Nov 2014 - 23 Dec 2014 Fully Booked US $2,590 On Sale Sale: US $2,331 US $2,825 US $5,156 Contact us 20 Dec 2014 - 27 Jan 2015 Fully Booked US $2,590 On Sale Sale: US $2,331 US $2,825 US $5,156 Contact us 10 Jan 2015 - 17 Feb 2015 Fully Booked US $2,665 US $2,825 US $5,490 Contact us 04 Apr 2015 - 12 May 2015 Available US $2,515 US $2,825 US $5,340 Book Now 25 Apr 2015 - 02 Jun 2015 Available US $2,515 US $2,825 US $5,340 Book Now 20 Jun 2015 - 28 Jul 2015 Available US $2,590 US $2,825 US $5,415 Book Now
Kitty payment is required in cash. It needs to be paid before the end of your trip, in the local currency stated above. It is generally paid on Day 1, and covers most on-ground expenses. Kitty payments calculated using exchange rates valid on 1 Jan 2013.
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