Ultimate East Africa
Day 1 Nairobi
Arrive in Nairobi and make your way to the hotel. Attend a pre-departure group meeting with your CEO scheduled for the evening. Please make sure you have all of the necessary visas for this tour by the time of the welcome meeting. It is very important to read the Visa section in our trip details to make sure which visas you will need, if any. Please note that not all nationalities are able to obtain a visa on arrival at the border. *Please note: if you have pre-booked the Serengeti Balloon Safari, your CEO will inform you when you will do the activity throughout your tour, days are subject to change: Serengeti Balloon Safari (Day 17 - Serengeti). You will miss the included morning game drive with the group, but you will have a much better view from above! For more information on the Extra see the Optional Activities section.
Day 2-4 Lake Naivasha/Eldoret/Kampala (3B,3L,3D)
Stop off at the beautiful Lake Naivasha for an included flamingo and hippo spotting boat ride before lunch. At the beautiful Lake Naivasha, spend your time enjoying various optional activities, such as a walking safari to view giraffes and antelope on Crescent Island, a visit to the Green Crater Lake, or simply viewing birds and wildlife around your camp - spotting ibis, lovebirds, fish eagles, hippo, and the black and white colobus monkey on the banks of this scenic lake. Many animals call the area home; giraffes wander among the acacia, buffalo wallow in the swamps and colobus monkeys call from the treetops while the lake's large hippo population sleep the day away out in the shallows. Our campsite at Lake Naivasha tonight has some basic but great facilities including a bar with games and food. The next day view varied landscapes as you cross over the Mau Mau Escarpment to Eldoret. Camp in Eldoret for the night. Cross the border into Uganda, then camp outside of Uganda's vibrant commercial centre. With a population nearing 1,210,000, Kampala is the largest city in Uganda. It is located in the district of Kampala at 3,900 ft (1,189 m) above sea level. Before the arrival of the British, the Buganda King, the Kabaka, had chosen the area that was to become Kampala as one of his favorite hunting grounds. The area was made up of numerous rolling hills and lush wetlands. It was an ideal breeding ground for various antelopes - particularly the Impala. When the British arrived they called the area the Hills of the Impala. Day 2 - Estimated Travel Time Including Stops: 3 hrs Day 3 - Estimated Travel Time Including Stops: 9 hrs Day 4 - Estimated Travel Time Including Stops: 12 hrs
Day 5 Kalinzu Forest Reserve (1B,1L,1D)
Enjoy an included chimpanzee tracking excursion through the scenic Kalinzu Forest Reserve. Trek along the ridges and valleys of the Rift Valley escarpment to visit chimpanzees in their natural habitat. The forest trails offer amazing views over the Rwenzori Mountains, Lake Edward, the Kazinga Channel and the Congo. The Kalinzu Forest Reserve is steeped in mysteries and rich with local legends. Learn about the folklore and uses of the forest from a local guide. Approximate Distance: 345 km; Estimated Travel Time: 7 hrs
Day 6-8 Gorilla Tracking/Lake Bunyoni (3B,3L,3D)
We travel through gorgeous countryside to Lake Bunyoni, our base for several days in the area. Our time in this lush, magical, mountainous region of Uganda is spent between enjoying the area of Lake Bunyoni and many activities that it has to offer, and an unforgettable guided trek deep into the forest-sloped volcanoes for a wild encounter of a family of mountain gorillas (Gorilla Permits Included). Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the home to approximately half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, the world's most endangered ape. One of Africa's major highlights, a close encounter with these amazing animals is simply breathtaking. Ugandan authorities are fiercely protective of this natural treasure and currently permit only a maximum of 8 people per day to visit a given gorilla family. As such, the group will be split into different sub-groups for the trek, and depending on the amount of travellers there are total, different sub-groups may do their trek on different days. In the morning of your trek, you will drive in smaller vehicles to park office and meet with your local mountain guides and porters, who can carry your personal items and assist you during the trek. The guides will brief you on the etiquette of gorilla trekking, after which, you set off into the forest. The trek can take from one to six hours and can exceed altitudes of 2500m. The terrain is rough and at times muddy and slippery. It is very important to bring along plenty of water. It can rain in a few minutes notice; hence waterproof clothing is essential along with protective bags for your camera and film. We also suggest dressing in 'layers' as often it's chilly at firs until you start trekking and long sleeves and long pants to protect you from Stinging Nettle found in the forests. Approximately 98% of the gorilla treks are successful but there is no guarantee that you will see the gorillas as they are constantly on the move. For the rest of your time in the area, you will have the chance of several options of activities to choose from such as : fishing. canoeing on the lake, visiting the local community, renting a mountain bike to explore the area, etc. The area of Lake Bunyonyi is extremely peaceful and is a nature lover's paradise. Often referred to as the Switzerland of Africa for its picturesque setting.
Day 9-11 Kampala/Jinja (3B,3L,3D)
Transfer back to the nation's capital. We're covering a lot of ground to get closer to our next stop in Jinja. Head south to the shores of Lake Victoria and renowned as the “Source of the Nile”, Jinja is fast becoming the thrill-seeker's capital of Africa. Spend a full day rafting or kayaking down the Nile River, mountain biking in the Mabira Forest, volunteering with a local project, or just enjoying the relaxed vibe of Jinja. Jinja, the second largest commercial centre in Uganda, was established in 1901. Lying in the south east of Uganda, 87 km north east of Kampala, it is located on the shores of Lake Victoria near to the source of the White Nile. The city is the chief town of Jinja District, and is considered the capital of the Kingdom of Busoga. The resident population of Jinja is approximately 106,000 with the majority being Bantu in origin. Lusoga and Luganda are the main local languages. Bujagali Falls (also spelled Budhagali) was a waterfall near Jinja where the Nile River flows out of Lake Victoria. Some consider it the source of the Nile, but now the once beautiful falls and world-class kayaking spot have become submerged by the recently built Bujagali Dam. Day 9 - Approximate Distance: 450 km; ?Estimated Travel Time: 9 hrs Day 10 - Approximate Distance: 90 km; Estimated Travel Time: 3 hrs
Day 12-13 Eldoret/Nakuru (2B,2L,2D)
Travel back into Kenya for a night in Eldoret. In the morning, continue to Lake Nakuru, one of the Rift Valley soda lakes. The alkaline lake's abundance of algae attracts the large quantity of flamingos, estimated into the millions, that famously line the shore. The surface of the shallow lake is often hardly recognizable due to the continually shifting mass of pink. There are two types of flamingo species: the Lesser flamingo can be distinguished by its deep red carmine bill and pink plumage unlike the greater flamingo, which has a bill with a black tip. But flamingos are not the only avian attraction, also present are two large fish-eating birds, pelicans and cormorants. The park is rich in other birdlife, including grebes, white winged black, stilts, avocets, ducks, and in the European winter, the migrant waders. The park has recently been enlarged partly to provide the sanctuary for the black rhino. This undertaking has necessitated a fence - to keep out poachers rather than to restrict the movement of wildlife. The park now has more than 25 rhinos, one of the largest concentrations in the country, so the chances of spotting these survivors are better than in other parks. There are also a number of Rothschild's giraffe, again translocated for safety from western Kenya beginning in 1977. Numerous other mammals can be seen, including zebra, impala, gazelle, waterbuck, lion, warthog, bushbuck, many buffalo, and even at times leopard. Day 11 - Approximate Distance: 267 km, Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs Day 12 - Approximate Distance: 169 km, Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs
Day 14-15 Nairobi/Arusha (2B,1L)
Return to Kenya's capital for a night before continuing through the lands of the Masai people into Tanzania. Set up camp outside of the town of Arusha. Spend some time exploring the town and its bustling markets, before settling down at our campsite for the night. Arusha, also known as Tanzania’s “safari capital”, is undoubtedly the most important center in northen Tanzania. With many protected national parks, reserves, and mountains nearby (on a clear day, you can see Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance), Arusha is a modern town, and with its markets, services, and fine location, it is a great base for your safari trip. Arusha officially became a city on the 1st of July 2006. The primary industry of the region is agriculture with large vegetable producers sending high-quality produce to Europe. The city and its environs are also spotted with large coffee plantations, adding to the area’s charm. Though in recent years, due to the coffee crisis, many local farmers have been badly hit, and now subsistence farming is the most common source of livelihood. Arusha, who owes its name from the local Wa-arusha people who resided here for hundreds of years, is historically and politically significant city within East Africa. In 1961 the official documents ceding independence to Tanzania were signed by the United Kingdom in Arusha. Six years later the Arusha Declaration of Self Reliance in Tanzania was signed. On the 4th of August 1993 the Arusha Accords were signed by representatives of competing factions in the civil war in neighbouring Rwanda. After the Rwandan genocide, the UN Security Council decided by its Resolution 955 of 8 November 1994 that Arusha should host the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The establishment of the tribunal with its employees has influenced the local economy of Arusha. Day 14: Approximate Distance: 90 km, Estimated Travel Time: 3 hrs Day 15: Approximate Distance: 286 km, Estimated Travel Time: 10 hrs (depending on border crossing)
Day 16 Mto wa Mbu Village (1B,1L,1D)
Visit a Masai village to learn about the Masai people and the Planeterra-supported Clean Cookstove project. Meet the local women engineers who have installed clean cookstoves throughout these communities. Continue on to Mto wa Mbu village to enjoy a local lunch and cultural experience with the city's villagers. Opt for a cycling tour around the village before continuing on to the night's camp.
Day 17-18 Serengeti National Park (2B,2L,2D)
Enjoy a game drive from the overland truck en route to the central Serengeti. Set up camp at a basic bush camp and enjoy the starry African skies before the next day's full-day game drive. Opt for a morning hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti. As we drive through the Serengeti National Park you will begin to experience the sheer vastness of this territory, and marvel at the multitude of animal and bird life while cruising through this acacia-spotted savannah. The next day, we continue your search for the Big Five - lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino - while taking in the vastness of the Serengeti plains with a game drives through out the day. There is no bad time to visit the Serengeti as every season has its own special highlight – even the rainy season has the daily thunder and lightening to look forward to. Changing seasons and light patterns form the most beautiful backdrop to view Africa’s majestic and incredible wildlife. It has more than 1.6 million herbivores and thousands of predators. Blue wildebeests, gazelles, zebras and buffaloes are the animals most commonly found in the region. Day 17 - Approximate Distance: 320 km; Estimated Travel Time: 8 hrs (including game drive into Serengeti)
Day 19-20 Ngorongoro Crater/Arusha (2B,2L,2D)
Game drive on the way out of the Serengeti, then switch over to 4x4 safari vehicles to enter the conservation area. Camp on the crater's rim. Before leaving the Serengeti, enjoy one last morning game drive to see the animal kingdom come to life in this incredible expanse of grassland savannah. You will return and break camp, and journey to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, famous for Africa's best game viewing. The views from the Ngorongoro Crater rim are stunning, and there is an ever-present abundance of wildlife, due to the permanent water supply on the crater floor. You will arrive at your campsite at the crater rim in the late afternoon. The 8,300 km² Ngorongoro Conservation Area is named after its central feature, the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, and arguably its most spectacular natural arena. Ngorongoro Crater has often been described as one of the wonders of the world, not only because of its inherent geological significance, but also because it serves a quite extraordinary natural sanctuary for some of Africa’s most dense population of large mammals. The Ngorongoro was part of the original Serengeti National Park proclaimed in 1951, but it was made a separate conservation area in 1956 so that the Masai could graze their cattle there. The Ngorongoro Crater became a World Heritage Site in 1978. Land in the conservation area is unique to Tanzania as it provides protection for the wildlife whilst allowing human habitation. The landscape is made up of a blend of volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and mountain forests, where the wildlife is extensive. The southern and eastern boundaries are approximately defined by the rim of the Great Rift Valley, which also prevents animal migration in these directions. The annual ungulate migration passes through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with wildebeest and zebra moving south into the area in December and moving north in June. The area has healthy resident populations of most species of wildlife. Game drive in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, then return to Arusha for a final evening with the group. After breakfast, we embark on a half-day crater tour. The rich pasture and permanent water of the crater floor supports a resident population of more than 20,000 to 25,000 large mammals. They are not confined by the crater walls, and can leave freely; they stay because conditions are favourable. Since most of the crater floor is grassland, grazing animals predominate: zebra, gazelles, buffalo, eland, and warthogs. The swamp and forest provide additional resources for hippos, some of Tanzania's last remaining black rhinos, giant-tusked elephants, waterbucks, reedbucks and bushbucks, baboons and vervet monkeys. All these animals in turn support large predators such as lion and leopard, and scavengers such as hyena and jackals. Day 19 - Approximate Distance: 160 km; Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs (including game drive out of Serengeti) Day 18 - Approximate distance: 250 km; Estimated Travel Time: 8 hrs (including game drive in the crater)
Days 21-23 Zanzibar (3B)
Fly to the beautiful island of Zanzibar. After arriving on Zanzibar, spend the remainder of the day exploring Stone Town, the heart of the island. It has an intriguing maze of narrow, cobbled lanes hemmed in by Arabic buildings. The best way to see the Stone Town is, literally, to get lost. You can spend hours just wandering the alleys and squares, drinking potent coffee from pavement vendors, or buying sweetmeats from scores of tiny cafes. Zanzibar Island, 'the spice island,' has an extremely interesting history and culture as it was the centre of the slave and spice trade in the 1800s. Zanzibar is one of the most fascinating places in East Africa, despite a heavy increase in tourism since the early 1990s. Thanks to an ambitious and far-reaching preservation programme funded by UNESCO and the Aga Khan, many famous old buildings have been restored, or are in the process of being renovated. The following morning we head north to Nungwi for two days/ two nights at one of Zanzibar's major highlights. Here you can either relax on the idyllic white-sandy beaches, take an optional diving/snorkeling excursion, or take a wander through the village of Nungwi. No visit to Zanzibar would be complete without a visit to the spice plantations - an activity that is included on our way north to Nungwi on Day 22. Your senses will be aroused as you will receive a detailed description on the assortment of spices (black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, breadfruit, jackfruit, vanilla, lemon grass) and their various uses. It was the wonderful spice plantations that brought the beginnings of Zanzibar’s infamous slave trade dating back to the 1840’s. Remember that Zanzibar is a Muslim society, and immodestly dressed women, or men in shorts, will get harassed and cause great offence in Stone Town. In Nungwi, customs are a little more relaxed, but passengers are encouraged to be respectful of the islands culture and still cover up when walking around. Never try to take a photograph without asking permission. The polite way to ask is “Tafadhali (pronounced tougher-thaarli) naomba ruhusu kwa kupiga picha yako.” Many guidebooks say the correct phrase is “nataka kupiga picha yako”, but this is incredibly rude, the equivalent of saying “give me your picture”. Day 21 - Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs (transfer, flight) Day 22 - Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs (including 2hr Spice Tour) Day 23 - Estimated Travel Time: 2 hrs
Day 24 Stone Town (1B)
Morning transfer to Stone Town. Depart any time after 11am.