Day 1: Dar es Salaam - Zanzibar Island
Evocative and exotic, Zanzibar conjures up images of idyllic, sandy, palm fringed beaches; romantic winding cobbled alleys and lush tropical forests. You will find all these here – and an intriguing history. Zanzibar was the base of the great 19th century explorers such as John Hanning Speke, Richard Burton and David Livingstone and once was a major trading centre of spices. Indeed, the spice trade here is centuries old: Zanzibaris have traded with the people of the Arabian Peninsula for many generations, navigating the ocean in simple dhow sailboats, relying on the annual trade winds for passage. The Arab influence is evident in the architecture and diverse street stall offerings of the capital, Stone Town. This influence can be seen right along the Eastern coast – the Swahili language itself is a result of the mixing of Arab and African languages and cultures over many centuries.
Zanzibar’s other history is not so romantic. The island was also a staging post for slaves bought from the African interior, being held before shipping to slave owners in the Middle East. You can still see the places where these men and woman were held – and even a short visit is enough to convey the appalling conditions they had to endure.
Our time on the island over the next 3 nights is not structured and your time is at leisure. Perhaps the best way to see Stone Town is on foot: explore the bazaars for old maritime trinkets, fabrics and wooden carvings, or visit mosques, palaces, courtyards and alleyways of the old town. Spices are grown in plantations nearby and you can take day tours to visit some and have your senses dazzled by the tastes and scents experienced. If it’s white sand, sparkling ocean and hot sun you prefer – head to the northern beaches and enjoy the Indian Ocean at its best. Try snorkelling and diving, indulge in some sumptuous seafood, or simply relax beneath a coconut palm with a cocktail and a good book.
NB: As we leave the truck on the mainland, basic tourist class accommodation (B&B) is included but for the sake of flexibility other meals are left for your own account. Typically, we spend one night in Stone Town and the next two nights in the north of the island at one of the beaches. Your tour leader will be available to assist if you if you have any questions or need activities arranged.
Day 2: Zanzibar Island
Enjoy free time on Zanzibar and transfer to the northern beaches from Stone Town. Relax on the sun kissed beaches of Kendwa, in the northwest part of the island, take an optional diving trip to the rich colourful reefs or grab a snorkel and goggles to explore these from above.
Day 3: Zanzibar Island
Browse markets or enjoy hanging in a hammock with a cocktail and a good book. The beach is a great place to catch up with the locals who will pass by selling their wares, offering henna tattoos and inexpensive massages. Round the day off with a sunset dhow cruise or chilling to the tunes from the nearby beach bars.
Day 4: Zanzibar – Dar es Salaam
We have the morning to do any last-minute shopping or enjoy one last swim before catching the ferry back to the African mainland and Dar es Salaam and onwards to our campsite on the coast for the evening.
Please note that some group members may be ending their tour in Dar es Salaam. Both old and new are invited to join in any group outings.
Day 5: Dar es Salaam – Mikumi National park area
Leaving the bustling city and warm Atlantic coast, we drive inland through the Mikumi National Park where we may, with luck, spot forest elephant or giraffe feeding near the side of the road. Our campsite is located a short stone’s throw from the park, and we enjoy sundowners at the local bar/ restaurant followed by the evening around the open fire under the blanket of stars.
If time allows, we can go on an optional game drive in the afternoon to explore the magnificent park – Tanzania’s 5th largest. Expect to see Elephant, hippo, crocodiles, antelope and with some luck some buffalo or lion.
Day 6: Mikumi – Iringa
We continue our journey heading to the town of Iringa and the Kisolanza Farm. At an altitude of 1600m Kisolanza ensures a pleasant fresh climate in one of the most scenic areas in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. Home to the Ghaui family for over 70 years, Kisolanza remains a working farm providing organic meat (beef, lamb and chicken) and vegetables to the surrounding markets as well as Dar es Salaam. The farmhouse is a well-known spot to camp and is the overnight near our mid-way point for our journey from the ocean to the Malawi border.
Day 7: Iringa - Chitimba Beach, Malawi
After our last night in Tanzania, we head through lush mountain passes, rich grazing land, and banana and tea plantations to the Songwe border post into Malawi. Lake Malawi formerly ‘Lake Nyasa’ covers almost a fifth of the country’s area and provides the source of livelihood for many of the Malawi people. Fishermen, fish traders, canoe and net makers all ply their trade, and a common sight is that of a fisherman in his Bwato, (dugout canoe made from hollowed out tree trunk) fishing on the lake at the break of day. The lake also has the highest number of endemic freshwater fish species of any in the world.
Day 8: Chitimba Beach, Malawi
Relax on the beach, take a leisurely village walk or do the full day trip to Manchewe Falls where, after an 11km hike, you can cool off in a natural bath. The surrounding hills are home to the Livingstonia Mission where David Livingstone worked from for a time while staying in Malawi. The views from here are simply magnificent and well worth the effort of hiking to. For those staying at the campsite, there is a local craft market where you can enjoy learning the ins and outs of woodcarving your own souvenir, or learn to play the game of Bao, haggle for some souvenirs or enjoy a relaxing day admiring the shimmering waters from the beach.
Day 9: Chitimba Beach - Kande Beach
Today we take a nice scenic drive through rubber plantations to Mzuzu – the capital of the northern region and the third largest town in Malawi - where we stop for a short while to grab supplies and check out the markets, before arriving to Kande Beach. Try some of the optional water sports typically available, horse riding or else simply relax and enjoy the warm fresh waters of Lake Malawi. There is the opportunity to meet the local people, generally known as some of the friendliest in Africa, to gain insight into their way of life.
Day 10: Kande Beach
Today you’ll have some free time to try some of the water sports available including diving, snorkelling, and horse riding along the beach. Or simply relax and enjoy the warm fresh waters of Lake Malawi. There is the opportunity to meet the local people, by tradition very friendly, on an optional guided Village Walk, or you can simply head out and explore the lakeside, craft market and meet some of the locals.
Day 11: Kande Beach – Chipata, Zambia
Saying our goodbye’s to ‘the Lake’, we head for the border crossing into Zambia to Chipata. Formally named Fort Jamerson, the border town has a population of approx 98,000, and is the capital of Zambia’s Eastern Province. The town has colourful fruit and vegetable markets and an unexpected number of ornate mosques due to its large Indian community. If time allows, we will stop in Chipata before arriving to our campsite situated a short distance from the town centre.
Day 12: Chipata - Lusaka
Today we leave early and take the Great Eastern Road through lush country and small villages, cross the Luangwa River to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. Lusaka is Southern Africa’s fastest growing city with approx. 1.7m inhabitants. It is located on Zambia’s southern plateau at an elevation of 1300m with four main highways running north, south, east and west to different parts of Africa.
Our campsite for the evening is set in a tranquil and relaxing setting on a farm.
Day 13: Lusaka - Livingstone
We head south to Livingstone and set up camp at the Waterfront campsite on the banks of the Zambezi River, just a few kilometres from the Victoria Falls. At various times of year, the spray from the ‘Falls’ can be seen from up to 20 or 30 kilometres away, hence the local name Mosi oa Tunya – the ‘Smoke that Thunders’. Don’t forget your raincoat to keep you and your camera dry!
The campsite management provide information on all activities available in the area (typically these include rafting, canoeing, bungee, abseiling, gorge swinging, horse riding, scenic flights, river cruises), allowing you to plan your time accordingly over the next four nights.
Day 14: Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Zambia
We have a free day in Livingstone today to explore the town, pop over to neighbouring Zimbabwe or enjoy the many optional activities on offer such as rafting, bungee jumping, river cruises, flights over the falls, just to name a few.
Day 15: Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Zambia
Today we have a free day to enjoy the many optional activities on offer or spend your day at leisure by the poolside at the Waterfront. The perfect time to catch up on your social media and share your experiences.
Please note that some group members may be finishing their tour in Livingstone today.
Day 16: Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Zambia
We have a free day in Livingstone today to explore the town. Spend your leisure day in Livingstone exploring the activities, town and markets or simply relax poolside at the Waterfront. The perfect time to catch up on your social media and share your experiences before heading off into the Southern Africa part of your holiday.
Please note that some group members may be starting their tour in Livingstone today.
Day 17: Livingstone - Bulawayo
Departing Livingstone, we cross the border to Zimbabwe and pass through Victoria Falls town and head to Bulawayo, a pleasant city with broad tree lined avenues and wide-open spaces. Our campsite is located just outside the city centre. Once we settle in and camp is set, the rest of the afternoon is yours to explore the surrounds at leisure.
Day 18: Matobo National Park
Matobo National Park is located a short distance outside Bulawayo and knowledgeable guides will take us to this very impressive park. The wind sculptured Matobo Hills are the site of numerous Bushman paintings and the area holds a special cultural and spiritual importance to the indigenous people here. The reserve has the largest concentration of Black and White Rhino in Africa and, provided conditions are right, our guides will lead us on foot to some of the more concealed places in search of these magnificent animals. The park also has the densest population of leopard and black eagle in the world and we keep our eyes peeled high and low for these creatures. The hills are also home to the grave site of Cecil John Rhodes who chose this as his burial place owing to the intense natural beauty and startling views from the hills. His grave can be visited at World’s View - a place of continual debate owing to his involvement in claiming the land and its people for Queen & Country in colonial times.
Day 19: Bulawayo – Tshipise, South Africa
Leaving Bulawayo, we continue south to the border at Beitbridge. Completing formalities, we cross the Limpopo River -the second largest in South Africa and an important water source for this arid region. The Limpopo also acts as a natural boundary between South Africa and its neighbours Botswana and Zimbabwe, before it flows through Mozambique to the Indian Ocean. We continue to Tshipise, a town situated in the northern Limpopo province. Our campsite is located at Forever Resorts at the foot of one of Limpopo’s rolling koppies set adjacent the Honnet Nature Reserve. There are hot springs in the area which are surrounded by dense woodland comprising of Mopani, Red Bushwillow, Jakkalsbessie trees – and the third largest Baobab tree in South Africa.
Day 20: Tshipise - Hazyview
From Tshipise, we head for southern Africa’s premier game reserve, the Kruger National Park. Fences between the National Park and surrounding private reserves were removed several years ago to form the Greater Kruger, an area of some 24,000 sq km. Wildlife is free to roam the whole enormous area and it has become incredibly diverse in both fauna and flora. From the dwarf mongoose to the ‘Big Five’, almost every major African mammal (148 species) is present. There is also prolific birdlife (over 505 species) and over 330 varieties of trees.
We spend two nights within the Kruger area, enjoy Shangaan tribal dancing and singing on our first night and take a full day game drive in the National Park itself to spot as many animals as possible the next day!
Day 21: Hazyview – Kruger National Park
Waking early, we board our 4x4 game viewing vehicles with a resident guide for an intense but rewarding day in Kruger National Park. The impressive atmosphere of the park enables you to see why it is held in such high esteem amongst visitors from all over the world. We game drive in the morning and afternoon in search for the abundance of wildlife including the ‘Big 5’ – Rhino, elephant, buffalo, leopard and lion together with a high density of other mammals and diverse bird species such as eagles, hornbills, vultures and bee eaters. We break during the middle of the day to enjoy the peace of the rest camp and wait out the hottest part of the day (when wildlife is usually less active). We then continue our game drive through the park exiting in the late afternoon and continue to our accommodation for the night.
Day 22: Hazyview - Greater Kruger - Pretoria
We leave the Kruger behind and make our way to South Africa’s administrative city, Pretoria where our tour ends late afternoon / early evening on day 22 (we recommend that you plan to stay that evening in Pretoria)