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Unlock the mysteries of Africa's eastern lands on a 20-day Lonely Planet Experience from Zimbabwe to Zanzibar. Passing through Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania, visit fertile national parks, remote highland communities, savannas with endless horizons and the sparkling Indian ocean coastline. Safari past lion and zebra herds in South Luangwa National Park, watch local fisherman haul in their daily catch on Lake Malawi, and wind up on the idyllic shores of Zanzibar's northern beaches in search of a seafood curry and sundowner. Your African adventure sets the pace, with plenty of time to make your adventure special through independent activities, plus a local crew joining you each step of the way to give you all the local low-down. If safaris, sea breezes and a zest for exploration are your thing, jump aboard this overland adventure to the wilds of East Africa.
Day 1: Victoria Falls
Mhoro! Welcome to Zimbabwe. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 4 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and travel group. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Your campground is centrally located in the town of Victoria Falls. After this important meeting, your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer, and you can consider booking experiences for tomorrow.
Day 2: Victoria Falls
Use your free time to visit the magnificent Victoria Falls. This thundering curtain of water is one-and-a-half kilometres wide, falling 108 metres into a narrow gorge below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise up an incredible 400 metres and the falls become a raging torrent. In the dry season, the view of the falls is unobstructed by spray and you can see little islets in the river below. Be sure to check your Lonely Planet app for all of the hottest tips and advice on what to do in Victoria Falls, or ask your local leader for their recommendations.
Day 3: Bulawayo
Depart Victoria Falls and travel toward Bulawayo (approximately 7 hours) via the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust – one of The Intrepid Foundation’s projects. Here you can learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife, human-wildlife conflict and the trusts role in anti-poaching. There may also be a chance to meet any rescued or orphaned wildlife currently in their care. Onwards to Bulawayo – known locally as the 'City of Kings', Zimbabwe's second-largest city has an interesting history and some impeccable colonial architecture. You will have the late afternoon free to explore, so maybe take the opportunity to visit some shops and chat with locals.
Day 4: Bulawayo
Perhaps get up early and take the option to go to Matobo National Park. Home to a significant population of black and white rhinoceros that can be tracked on foot, Matobo National Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia and the De Beers diamond company. The Matopos area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place. This optional activity is highly recommended, otherwise you could head into town to check out the local museums or take the opportunity for some down time.
Day 5: Masvingo
Drive the short stretch to Masvingo (approximately 5–6 hours). This colonial settlement – the oldest in Zimbabwe – makes for the perfect base from which to explore the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. The ruined city, now a World Heritage-listed site, was first constructed in the 11th century. It's thought to be the former royal palace of the Zimbabwean monarch. Spend a few hours exploring this intriguing site before heading off to camp for the evening.
Day 6: Harare
Travel to Harare today (approximately 5–6 hours). You will arrive at your destination in time for lunch. You only have an hour or two to explore Zimbabwe's capital city, so if you're feeling active and up for a stroll, get out and make the most of it. Perhaps head to the National Gallery, the museum, the botanical gardens or simply wander the city centre and visit the colourful markets.
Day 7: Lusaka
Today you will cross into Zambia and drive to your campsite just outside Lusaka, Zambia's capital (approximately 8 hours). Your journey begins with a nice scenic drive to the border. At some point during the day there will be an opportunity to stop at an ATM and stock up on any supplies you might need at a shop or market.
Day 8: Petauke
Spend some time checking out Lusaka before a long day of travel. You'll see that it's a modern city but still retains a traditional African feel. Afterwards, travel on to Petauke (approximately 8 hours).
Day 9: South Luangwa National Park
After breakfast, make a visit to a workshop where local craftswomen make all the jewellery by hand using natural materials from the South Luangwa valley. The project is set primarily to empower women and raise awareness against poaching. Afterwards, make your way through the heartland to South Luangwa National Park (approximately 6 hours). The concentration of animals around the Luangwa River and its lagoons is among the highest in Africa. Many elephants, buffaloes, leopards, Thornicroft’s giraffes and lions are known to roam here. There are also some 400 species of birds inhabiting the area. A great way to experience South Luangwa and its beautiful scenery is to take an optional river trip – ask your group leader for more details.
Day 10: South Luangwa National Park
Rise early for an exhilarating morning game drive in a 4WD vehicle. Enjoy classic savanna scenery while keeping your eyes peeled the parks abundance of wildlife. There’s every chance you may spot a herd of zebra grazing on parched grass or a pride of lions passing by. Midday is the hottest part of the day here, so seek refuge from the sun and return to the camp for lunch. Afterwards, perhaps head out on a village walk for a snapshot of daily life in the local community. An optional game drive at night is also a good option to see wildlife when they are most active.
Day 11: Lake Malawi
Cross the border into Malawi and continue straight to your camp on the shores of Lake Malawi (approximately 9–10 hours). Malawi is dominated by its lake, which covers almost a fifth of the country and provides a livelihood for many local people. Fishermen, fish traders and canoe and net makers all ply their trade on the lake. A common sight is that of a fisherman in a bwato (a dugout canoe made from a hollowed tree trunk) fishing on the still lake at the break of day. Your campsite at Kande Beach is right on the shore, so take some time to rest and relax.
Day 12: Lake Malawi
Enjoy free time to soak up your idyllic surrounds. If you're feeling active, your leader can recommend some thrilling water-based activities. Otherwise, enjoy the opportunity to chill out on the beach or perhaps get to know some local Malawians.
Day 13: Chitimba
Drive to your camp in Chitimba (approximately 8 hours). Chitimba lies along the coast of Lake Malawi and has lovely beaches, friendly locals and a laidback atmosphere. When you arrive, perhaps take a stroll and acquaint yourself with this different part of the lake. Enjoy the scenery of banana palms, papaya trees and the Livingstonia and Nyika mountains looming nearby.
Day 14: Iringa
Today is a long travel day into Tanzania and its southern highlands (approximately 11 hours). Sit back, relax and watch as the countryside passes by. On arrival you will set up camp on the grounds of a farmhouse situated on the outskirts of this pleasant settlement.
Day 15: Mikumi National Park
Set out on a short drive to the edge of Mikumi National Park. Situated at the foot of the thickly wooded Uluguru Mountains, Mikumi is Tanzania's fourth-largest national park and an important educational and research centre. It’s grassy plains host elephants, zebras, wildebeests, impalas, giraffes and lions among other wildlife. You’re almost guaranteed to see a number of these incredible creatures on an optional afternoon 4WD game drive. Also notice the baobabs, unusual trees with exceptionally thick trunks commonly referred to as the 'Tree of Life' for its many useful properties.
Day 16: Dar es Salaam
Settle in for a 7-hour drive to Kipepeo Beach, just south of Dar es Salaam. Be sure to make the most of it – perhaps take a stroll along the shore after you arrive and settle in. Your camp today is on the grounds of a hotel situated next to the beach.
Day 17: Stone Town
Catch a ferry to Africa's 'Spice Island' of Zanzibar. Filled with pristine white-sand beaches, winding cobblestone alleyways and fragrant bazaars, Zanzibar has had a colourful history – everything from slave traders to Arabian sultans and fruit exporters. The sight of traditional dhows sailing along the coast evokes what the island must have been like in centuries ago. The old part of Zanzibar's main city is known as Stone Town, and the best way to see this is on foot, exploring the markets, shops, mosques, palaces and courtyards. When the sun is setting, why not grab a drink from a bar overlooking the seafront. A seafood curry at a local restaurant is also a great choice. You'll spend the night in Stone Town at a basic inn.
Day 18: Zanzibar Northern Beaches
Once checked out of your Stone Town accommodation, consider booking in to an optional guided tour of the island's spice plantations, learning all about the history of this town's spice trade. You will have the opportunity to smell and taste various spices, such as cinnamon, vanilla and ginger, plus sample some teas made with these spices too. After lunch, head to the Northern Beaches, where white sands and sparkling blue seas await. This is the Indian Ocean at its best.
Day 19: Zanzibar Northern Beaches
Enjoy free time in this beautiful archipelago today. There are many ways you can spend your day – perhaps talk to your leader for any recommendations they might have. Snorkelling in search of exotic fish is an excellent option, or you could take a traditional dhow boat on the water. You might also like to feast on a sumptuous lunch of grilled local seafood, or just relax in a hammock underneath a coconut tree with a good book. It's totally up to you!
Day 20: Stone Town
After checking out of your accommodation this morning, you will make your way back to Stone Town, arriving at a centrally-located hotel around 12 pm. With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave at any time. That doesn't mean your adventure has to come to an end! If you wish to stay on in Zanzibar, either at the Northern Beaches beach resort or in Stone Town, we'll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
- Victoria Falls - Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust Visit
- Masvingo - Great Zimbabwe Ruins guided visit
- Petauke - Jewellery workshop project
- South Luangwa National Park - 4x4 Dawn Game Drive
19 Breakfast(s) Included
10 Lunch(es) Included
14 Dinner(s) Included
Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?
Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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