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Discover the astounding diversity of landscapes and wildlife in East Africa on this 27-day Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid. Visit verdant highlands, steamy rainforests, tropical beaches and epic grasslands in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar, enjoying unrivalled opportunity to get close to gorillas, lions, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, giraffes, flamingos and chimpanzees. This tour gives you a wicked itinerary, gorilla trek permits, plenty of included game drives and a few key cultural experiences. How you spend the rest of your time if up to you! It doesn't matter if you're relaxing in the wild or taking part in optional excursions, the wonders of East Africa will remain vivid in your memory long after this tour ends.
Day 1: Nairobi
Jambo! Welcome to Kenya. Your Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid, begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, but if you arrive early, why not head out and soak up the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Nairobi. There are plenty of good bars and restaurants, and markets and shops for essentials as well as arts and crafts from the region. After the welcome meeting, perhaps join your new travel companions for an optional group dinner.
Day 2: Lake Nakuru National Park
Take in spectacular views of the Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita on the drive north-west to Lake Nakuru National Park, situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley. The drive will take approximately 3–4 hours and you’ll arrive in time for a short evening game drive along the shore of the lake. Lake Nakuru National Park is a small and compact area based around a lake that makes a great location for spotting wildlife. Along with the other members of the Big Five, Lake Nakuru harbours many rhinos and will be the best chance to get a great picture of these magnificent beasts.
Day 3: Eldoret
Rise early this morning for tea or coffee before going back into the park for a morning game drive. Return to camp for brunch before driving north-west to Eldoret, one of Kenya's fastest growing towns (approximately 5-6 hours.). Due to its high altitude, the town is an ideal training ground for middle- and long-distance athletes and is home to some of Kenya's most famous runners. Tonight, enjoy a traditional dinner at your campsite located just outside of Eldoret town.
Day 4: Kampala
Today you will leave Kenya behind and cross the border into landlocked Uganda, travelling on to its capital city, Kampala (approximately 10 hours, though it could take longer depending on border crossings). With a population of over 30 million, Uganda is a country of great cultural diversity and is one of the five countries that make up the East African Community. As today is a long travel day, take a break from setting up camp with a stay at a hotel. Shake off the long journey with the option to eat in Kampala town and experience this dynamic city.
Day 5: Kalinzu Forest
Travel to Kalinzu Forest National Park (approximately 9 hours). Some of its inhabitants include chimpanzees, black and white colobuses, baboons, red-tailed monkeys, both blue and red duikers, bushbucks, waterbucks, giant forest hogs, buffalo and elephants. On arrival, settle into your camp and perhaps stretch your legs and explore your surrounds with the rest of the group.
Day 6: Queen Elizabeth National Park
Take the optional excursion of visiting the chimpanzees of Kalinzu Forest this morning or enjoy the sounds of the forest from the comfort of your tent. More closely related to humans than any other living creature, the chimpanzees are a delight to watch as they squabble and play in fruiting trees. Later, take the short drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Once camp is set up there's an option to take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, well-known for pelicans, eagles and other wonderful birdlife, as well as a healthy population of hippos.
Day 7: Kisoro
Today, drive out of the Queen Elizabeth National Park on your way to the southwest tip of Uganda (approximately 7-hour drive). On this short game drive, cross your fingers and look out for elephants, buffalo, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks. When you arrive at the corner of Uganda, where the border touches Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, you’ll be based in Kisoro, which provides access to seven different gorilla groups located in Mgahinga, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Nshongi.
Day 8: Gorilla Trek
Joined by a local guide and trackers, climb through the rugged mountain terrain of Bwindi National Park to encounter rare gorillas. No more than eight people per day can visit any one habituated family and visits are strictly controlled to minimise disturbance or the chances of transmission of disease to the animals. Tracking gorillas in the dense forest can sometimes be wet, muddy and uncomfortable. The terrain is by no means easy either, so it can be quite strenuous and often humid, but the sheer thrill in coming across a habituated group of gorillas, dominated by a great male silverback, more than outweighs any difficulty. You need to be prepared and fit enough to walk up to four hours – up and down hills. You can usually get very close to the mountain gorillas, who are placid and gentle, and watching their movements is like seeing a mirror image of yourself. Be mesmerised as you watch them eat, sleep, groom and play – the giant silverback surveying the scene as the smaller ones laze in the trees or play like children. Your visit with the gorillas will last one unforgettable hour.
Day 9: Gorilla Trek
When you are waiting for, or have completed, your gorilla visit, your leader will provide you with options and ideas on how you can spend your free day in the area around Kisoro. You can head out on more rainforest hikes to see monkeys, take some nature walks, join a hike up Mt Sabinyo – one of five volcanoes located in the Parc National des Volcans – or perhaps make a visit to the Batwa community, indigenous to the Great Lakes Region and found throughout Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the eastern region of the Congo.
Day 10: Mbarara
Farewell the lands of the gorilla and turn back towards the capital, Kampala. You’ll break up the journey at the pit-stop town of Mbarara for the night (approximately 5–6 hours driving). We’ll be honest – there’s not a great deal to do here, however it’s a great opportunity to spend the afternoon and evening relaxing at the camp, or even to have a leisurely look around the town.
Day 11: Jinja
Today you'll continue your journey inland, travelling towards Jinja (approximately 7 hrs). The Jinja region is one of the highlights of any visit to Uganda, a riverside retreat at the source of the Nile but also the adventure capital of Uganda. Tonight, camp at a scenic riverside site and enjoy a good night’s rest ready for tomorrow's adventures.
Day 12: Jinja
Located at the source of the Nile as it leaves Lake Victoria, Jinja is a place for the adventurer, the adrenaline junkie and the eco-traveller. You’ll enjoy two days here at your own pace, with a bunch of optional activities to choose from (at extra cost) if you want. Maybe get active with some whitewater rafting or kayaking. Alternatively take a boat cruise to the source of the Nile or to enjoy the river and quench a thirst.
Day 13: Kericho
Farewell Uganda and begin the journey back to Kenya and Nairobi, stopping overnight at the town of Kericho (approximately 9 hours, including border crossings). Kericho sits at the edge of South-Western Mau National Reserve and is known for its vast tea estates. On arrival, visit a tea plantation and sample a delicious brew or two.
Day 14: Masai Mara National Reserve
This morning, drive to the famous Masai Mara National Park (approximately 7 hours). The Masai Mara is the quintessential African experience, with sparse open plains, dramatic skies and the world's most iconic animals living within its boundaries. Explore this diverse environment and view a multitude of wildlife on an evening 4WD game drive.
Day 15: Masai Mara National Reserve
Venture into the Masai Mara National Reserve for a day-long 4WD game drive. You'll explore this diverse environment and most likely see a multitude of wildlife. An optional balloon ride over the Mara at sunrise is an unforgettable experience. If you have pre-booked this activity you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site for a safety briefing from your pilot. You’ll then glide through the dawn skies, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and of the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, you'll be treated to a bush breakfast before returning to your campsite.
Day 16: Nairobi
Return to bustling Nairobi (approximately 5–6 hours). Pass by the remote region of Loita Hills, home of the Maasai people. Stop at Tepesua Village and enjoy a welcome song and dance from Maasai warriors and a chat with some local elders. Then, visit a community for Maasai widows where women craft to support themselves financially. Continue to Nairobi and arrive in the late afternoon. As this is a combination trip, some of your group may depart today and new travellers may join you for the next leg of your journey.
Day 17: Mto wa Mbu
Depart early for Mto wa Mbu in your overland truck (approximately 10 hours). The trip includes a border crossing from Kenya into Tanzania, so be sure to have your passport handy. While you're on the road, there will be a stop at an ATM and a market or shop to stock up on any supplies you might need for the coming days. Arrive in Mto wa Mbu and acquaint yourself with this delightful small village – it's a fascinating snapshot of small-town African life, situated well off the tourist trail.
Day 18: Ngorongoro Crater / Serengeti National Park
Get up early, put your camping and personal gear into a six-person jeep and head out for an excursion into the Serengeti via the Ngorongoro Crater. Enjoy a safari in the crater, spending 3–4 hours exploring this incredible, perfectly intact volcanic caldera. Watch for black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. The crater floor offers excellent game viewing all year round (some 30,000 animals live here) and the photo opportunities are unrivalled. Next, it's on to the wide-open plains of the Serengeti. Green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season, this is perhaps the quintessential image of Africa – the home of thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators. Your campsite is within the Serengeti itself, so listen out for the sounds of nocturnal animals as you drift off to sleep.
Day 19: Serengeti National Park
Awake at dawn and embark on a game drive. You will head out while the animals are at their most active, then head back to camp for brunch at around 11 am. After spending the middle of the day relaxing, just like the animals do, head out again as the day begins to cool. You'll return from this second game drive in time for dinner. There's also the option of a balloon ride over the park this morning – in place of some of today’s game drives. If you have pre-booked this activity, you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site. After a safety briefing, glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, getting some amazing photo opportunities. Sometimes you will ascend, getting an overview of the enormity of the plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. After landing, indulge in a five-star bush breakfast, then be returned to camp.
Day 20: Serengeti National Park / Mto wa Mbu
Rise with the sun and enjoy another game drive as you leave the Serengeti in your dust. Jump back into your overland vehicle and head for Mto wa Mbu. Once camp is set up, join the local community for a guided stroll around the farming areas, milling machine, and local homes and farmlands, before a local meal in town.
Day 21: Usambara Mountains
Prepare yourself for a long travel day heading for the Usambara Mountains (approximately 10 hours). Stretch your legs during a brief supply stop in Arusha, then jump back in the vehicle and watch the ever-changing scenery, read your favourite book or get to really know your fellow travellers. Your base will be Lushoto – an old German colony and home to the Wasambaa people. This highland town sits at approximately 1400 metres and this evening you'll camp in the grounds of one of the oldest hotels in Africa.
Day 22: Usambara Mountains
Explore the beautiful Usambara Mountains today – a lovely unspoilt area of Tanzania. Unlike the coast and the north, very few tourists visit this part of the country, so it has a freshness that can be hard to find elsewhere. As beautiful as the surrounding mountains and rainforests are, however, the real jewels here are the local people and villages. You'll experience some hospitality on a visit to some of the small local communities. From your base, you will take a walk out to the gorgeous Irente viewpoint. It's best to pack some water and snacks in a day pack for this trip. On your way back, visit a local cultural project based at an Irente farm and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Day 23: Dar es Salaam
Leaving the mountains behind, travel further south to the coastal town of Kipepeo Beach in Dar es Salaam (380 km, approximately 8–9 hours). Your camp at Kipepeo is by the beach, so make the most of it – perhaps take a stroll along the shore after you arrive and settle in.
Day 24: Stone Town
Catch a ferry to Stone Town, the Old Quarter of Zanzibar City, and enjoy free time until a meeting at 6 pm to welcome any new folks joining your group. Filled with idyllic beaches, winding cobblestone alleyways and fragrant bazaars, Zanzibar has a colourful history – everything from slave traders to Arabian sultans and fruit exporters have swept through the islands.
Day 25: 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 26: 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 27: 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).
- Lake Nakuru - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
- Lake Nakuru - Morning Overland Vehicle Game Drive
- Queen Elizabeth National Park - Overland Vehicle Game Drive
- Bwindi National Park - Mountain Gorilla Permit & Trek
- Kericho - Tea plantation visit
- Masai Mara National Reserve - 4x4 Game Drive
- Masai Mara National Reserve - Full Day 4x4 Game Drive
- Loita Hills - Maasai Village Visit
- Ngorongoro Crater - 4x4 Game Drive
- Serengeti National Park - 4x4 Game Drive
- Serengeti National Park - 4x4 Game Drive
- Serengeti National Park - 4x4 Game Drive
- Mto Wa Mbu - Village walk & local dinner
- Irente - Lushoto hike
- Irente - Local lunch
26 Breakfast(s) Included
17 Lunch(es) Included
20 Dinner(s) Included
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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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