Great Apes, Great Mates - Reverse
Things start off with a splash in Vic Falls and game drive through Hwange National Park. Lake Malawi has one of Africa’s best beaches – and it’s not even on the coast. More game drives in Mikumi, Serengeti and Kibale National Parks. Gorillas in the mist (mist pending) in Rwanda, sand between your toes in Zanzibar.
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 1-2 - Victoria Falls
As far as 'first awesome thing you'll see on the trip' 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'll be spending a fair whack of time together over the next few weeks.
- 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
Day 3 - 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.Head to Hwange National Park (approx 3-4 hrs)Explore the park in open 4x4 vehiclesStay within the park at one of its campgrounds with shared facilities
Day 4-5 - 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 6 - 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 7 - Harare
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).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 8-9 - Lusaka/Chipata
There's lost of sitting and lots of driving over the next couple of days, but there's lots of Africa. Swings and roundabouts.Cross into Zambia and over 450Kms, approx 8hrsCamp just outside LusakaThe next day. head through the heartland of Zambia towards the border with Malawi, spending a final night in ZambiaTravel distance covered is 600Kms – approx 10hrs
Day 10-11 - 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.
Stop in Lilongwe to replenish supplies
Head to camp on the shore of Lake MalawiEnjoy 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 12-13 - Chitimba/Iringa
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?"Drive 235 km (approx 5-6 hours) to camp in ChitimbaSet up camp on the northern shores of Lake MalawiThe following day is a long travel day into Tanzania and its southern highlands (approx 9-10 hrs).Set up camp on the grounds of a farmhouse
Day 14 - 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.
Travel through Mikumi National Park
The journey today is 560 km - approximately 13 hours of drive time.
Day 15-17 - 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 deserve 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 18 - 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 19 - 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 20 - Mto wa Mbu
Meet the friendly Chagga people and tuck into some traditional food in the Mt Kilimanjaro village of Mshiri. Tonight you're camping at a little village called Mto Wa Mbu (we'll give you a Freddo if you can pronounce it properly first time).Rise early and on a clear day you'll be greeted with views of KilimanjaroTake a walking tour of Mshiri Village, the base for the Village Education ProjectWalk around a Chagga shamba (farm) and have the chance to sample the local Chagga foodAfter an early lunch, head towards Mto Wa Mbu where you camp for the night (450 km, approx 8-9 hrs)
Day 21-22 - 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 23 - Arusha
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.
Stroll through farming areas of Mto Wa Mbu
Perhaps visit a kindergarten, milling machine and some local homes
Day 24 - NairobiThis 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. Phase two kicks off with a joint farewell/welcome dinner.Set off early, heading for the border with Kenya and on to Nairobi (390 km, approx 7-8 hrs)
Share dinner together to bid farewell to those who are leaving and to welcome new group members
Day 25 - 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, situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley (170 km, approx 3-4 hrs)Stop along the way in the town of Gilgil and learn about the Saidia Children's Home ProjectArrive at Lake Nakuru in time for a short evening game drive along the shore of the lake
Day 26-27 - 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.Rise early and head back into the park for a morning game driveReturn to camp for brunch before driving to Eldoret (200 km, approx 5-6 hrs)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 28-29 - 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.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 habitatPerhaps enjoy walks to villages, tea plantations, rivers, lakes or simply relax around the campsite
Day 30 - 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 31 - Lake Bunyonyi
All that mokoro training you did before the trip is about to pay off. Sure, your friends might have laughed when you were standing on a surfboard in the bath using a broom for balance. But when you're propelling your traditional canoe across Lake Bunyonyi it is you who shall have the last laugh.
Travel on to Lake Bunyonyi (250 km, approx 6-7 hrs)If time allows, perhaps hire a traditional dugout canoe (mokoro)
Day 32-34 - 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 35 - 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 36-37 - 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 38-39 - 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)On arrival in Nairobi we'll be dropped at our finishing point hotel. No accommodation is provided for tonight, but we are able to book you additional accommodation in Nairobi. Please ask at time of booking.Important: Please don't book any international flights until after 9pm this evening.
**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, 32 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 23 Oct 2014 - 30 Nov 2014 3 places left US $2,475 On Sale Sale: US $2,227 US $2,795 US $5,022 Book Now 18 Dec 2014 - 25 Jan 2015 Fully Booked US $2,405 On Sale Sale: US $2,164 US $2,795 US $4,959 Contact us 08 Jan 2015 - 15 Feb 2015 Available US $2,475 US $2,795 US $5,270 Book Now 05 Feb 2015 - 15 Mar 2015 Available US $2,475 US $2,795 US $5,270 Book Now 12 Mar 2015 - 19 Apr 2015 Available US $2,475 US $2,795 US $5,270 Book Now 02 Apr 2015 - 10 May 2015 Available US $2,475 US $2,795 US $5,270 Book Now 25 Jun 2015 - 02 Aug 2015 Available US $2,475 US $2,795 US $5,270 Book Now 16 Jul 2015 - 23 Aug 2015 Available US $2,475 US $2,795 US $5,270 Book Now 27 Aug 2015 - 04 Oct 2015 Available US $2,475 US $2,795 US $5,270 Book Now 10 Sep 2015 - 18 Oct 2015 Available US $2,475 US $2,795 US $5,270 Book Now 08 Oct 2015 - 15 Nov 2015 Available US $2,475 US $2,795 US $5,270 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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