Take a trek through Uganda’s steamy forests to seek out acclaimed mountain gorillas, getting the rare chance to spend an unforgettable hour in their presence.. Head out on an early evening game drive in Lake Nakuru National Park, well known for its rhino population, and explore the plains of the Serengeti in search of lions, leopards, elephants and giraffes.. Spend a few days at your own pace in Jinja, which can be either a relaxing riverside retreat or an adrenaline-pumping adventure capital, depending on your style of travel!. Meet with Maasai communities – known for their vibrant red dress and elaborate jewellery – and gain an insight into the culture and ancient ways of this proud East African community.
Journey through the heart of East Africa and be amazed by the astounding diversity of landscapes – verdant highlands, steamy rainforests, beaches and grasslands – home to some of the planet’s most amazing wildlife. Get closer to nature than you ever imagined in the parks of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar, and embark on game drives in search of the Big Five, plus the rare mountain gorilla deep in the rainforest. Along the way, meet with local village communities, spend time relaxing on the idyllic shores of Zanzibar, and learn more about the enduring cultures this region is known for. Experience the wonder of East Africa in 27 unforgettable days with Lonely Planet and Intrepid.
Breakfast Included: 26 Lunches Included: 19 Dinner Included: 21
Welcome to Zanzibar! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm where you'll meet your group leader and fellow travellers. Aside from this important meeting, there are no planned activities for the day and you are free to explore on your own. 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.
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.
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!
Catch the midday ferry to Dar es Salaam with your leader and group. Then you will join the overland vehicle, meet your driver and cook, and take the short drive to Bagamoyo. Your camp at Bagamoyo is right by the beach.
If you wake early, you can make an optional excursion to the historical slave trade markets that once operated in Bagamoyo. After that visiting that sombre but important site (if you choose) it’s time to travel into the remote Usambara Mountains (approximately 7 hours). This unspoilt area of Tanzania attracts very few tourists, making it the perfect place for a Lonely Planet Experience. The forests stretch across the mountains and are ideal for easy hikes and guided walks. You base is the old German colony of Lushoto, where you’ll stay on the grounds of one of the earliest hotels in Africa.
Today, explore the beautiful Usambara Mountains and experience this area’s gentle hospitality on a visit to some of its small communities. From your base, hike 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 Irente farm and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Get ready for is a full day of travel as you board your truck once again and venture towards Tanzania’s national parks. Your destination is the sprawling gateway town of Arusha, approximately 10 hours’ drive. Arrive at your campsite on the outskirts of the town and settle in for the evening.
Take a short drive to the small town of Kisongo, where you will learn how to prepare a Swahili dish and enjoy a crafting session with local women. Enjoy your food creations for lunch. After this illuminating day, drive to the small town of Karatu, the gateway to the Ngorongoro Crater.
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 between 3–4 hours exploring this perfectly intact volcanic crater. Watch for black rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, zebras and hippos. Next, move on to the 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.
Serengeti National Park
Wake at dawn and embark on a game drive. You will head out while the animals are at their most active, then go 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 today of a balloon ride over the park (in place of a portion of the morning game drive). If you have pre-booked this activity you will be picked up before dawn and driven to the launch site. After a safety briefing, you will glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, which provides amazing photo opportunities. After landing, you'll be treated to a five-star bush breakfast, then be returned to your camp.
Mto wa Mbu
Rise with the sun and enjoy another game drive as you exit the Serengeti and head for Mto wa Mbu. On arrival, take a stroll and acquaint yourself with this small village situated well off the tourist trail. Learn about the farmer and artisan co-op that operates at the local market.
Set off early heading to the border with Kenya and on to Nairobi (approximately 9–10 hours). There are plenty of good bars and restaurants if you fancy a night out. You may be joined by new travellers today for the next leg of the journey.