Day 1 Cape Town
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. For those with time here before the trip starts, highly recommended excursions include catching the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain, taking the ferry across to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years), or the day trip down to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope Peninsula.
Day 2 Lambert's Bay
Depart Cape Town and travel along the west coast to the small seaside town of Lamberts Bay (265km approximately 4-5 hours). Its white beaches, lobsters and incredible wildlife earned this place the nickname ‘diamond of west coast’. It's also simply a quaint fishing town tucked into the western Cape Province, best explored by foot. You'll visit Cape Gannet Island today. At the right time of the year, you might be lucky enough to view the spectacular flocks of gannet, which make use of the spot for breeding in August and September. For birdwatchers, the colony at Lambert's Bay is the most accessible of the six gannet colonies in South Africa and Namibia. They are a spectacular sight in their tightly packed community, and it’s an awesome experience to see them wheel, land and settle into their designated positions. Sit down to a delicious feast at a local open-air restaurant, where the amazing ocean views are sure to dazzle.
Day 3 Orange River
Farewell your coastal retreat as you cross the border into Namibia (500km approximately 7hrs). You should reach your destination on the banks of the Orange River by mid-afternoon. The border crossing and a few photo stops could delay this arrival a little. This is the longest river in South Africa, running from high up in the Drakensberg mountain range and on to the Atlantic Ocean. The river is significant for its role in transporting diamonds which in turn leaves deposits that are found along the Namibian coastline.
Day 4 Fish River Canyon
Kick things off with a half-day canoe adventure along the Orange River today. You will wind through the ancient Richtersveld Mountains.
The canoe trip will be done in 2 man canoes with a local guide. It is a slow paced trip covering approximately 10km and we should be travelling down stream for most or all of the trip.
After you have returned to land you'll venture to the Fish River Canyon (200km approximately 5hrs), one of the biggest canyons in the world. Along the way you will stop at various lookouts, all great opportunities to catch this beautiful and gigantic gorge on camera. Look out for some exotic birdlife while you’re here: plovers, wagtails, hammerkops and herons. You might even catch a glimpse of a baboon or an antelope at dusk if you're lucky.
Day 5 Solitaire
Today is a long travel day. We head to the eastern edge of the Namib Desert today (610km approximately 9hrs). This region of the world's oldest desert is known for its array of geological features. Take in the diversity and sprawling beauty of the scenery as you drive to your lodgings for the night.
Day 6 Solitaire – Sossusvlei
Today you will make an early morning visit to Sossusvlei, which lies at the end of an ancient riverbed. If you find yourself in the mood, a climb to the top of Dune 45 will reward you with unparalleled views of the region.
After breakfast head to Dead Vlei. A clay pan well known for the iconic postcard like images taken here by many. The pan is surrounded by some of the highest dunes in the world, "Big Daddy" or "Crazy Dune" average about 350m.
If you'd like to avoid a long walk in the sun you can opt to pay for a 4x4 transfer from the 2x2 car park out to the Dead Vlei entrance point. This will cost approximately 180ZAR per person.
In the afternoon you will visit Sesriem Gorge, tranquil natural corridor you can walk through and explore. The canyon was caused by water erosion over thousands of years. The people who lived in the area used to pull buckets of water up from the depths with six knotted belts. Therefore, the canyon was named after the Afrikaans word “Sesriem” meaning “six belts”.
Day 7 Swakopmund
Depart your desert lodge and travel across the Namib Desert today (280km, approximately 6hrs), a trip culminating in the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean coastline. The drive goes through a beautiful, diverse, colourful landscape. You'll see the awesome Kuiseb Canyon along the way, before arriving at the beachside town of Swakopmund, located on the Skeleton Coast.
Day 8 Swakopmund
Enjoy some free time in this pretty coastal spot. Your accommodation is within walking distance of town. Perhaps go for a stroll along the beach, explore the open-air markets or visit the local museum. The Namibian National Marine Aquarium is also a good choice. There are plenty of options on offer at the local activity centre, which your leader will take you to.
Day 9 Damaraland
Get off the beaten track and head into the heart of Damaraland (330km approximately 6hrs). You should arrive at your lodge this afternoon.
The ancient landscapes of the Kunene Region are ruggedly spectacular, awesome sunsets and night skies filled with a multitude of dazzling stars await you. This part of Namibia is also known as Damaraland, as it is the ancestral home land of the enigmatic Damara people whose exact origins remain unclear. Also home to the small population of hardy desert adapted elephant as well as a host of other unique flora and fauna.
Day 10 Damaraland
Spend the morning visiting the surrounding sights such as Twyfelfontein Heritage Site and the Petrified Forest. Twyfelfontein has one of the largest concentrations of ancient rock engraving in southern Africa and is a fascinating insight into the past. The Petrified Forest looks back into nature’s history, where 280 million-year-old fossilised tree trunks lie.
We will be accompanied by local guides at both the Petrified forest and the Twyfelfontein sites. The guided walks take between 30-60mins and although not difficult there are some steep rocks and hills at the Twyfelfontein site. It can get hot at this time of day so be sure to have a hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water with you.
Daytime temperatures often peak around 30°C here, so sightseeing is best completed as early as possible, before the thermometer climbs too high. Spend the remainder of the day back at the lodge, perhaps by the pool or relaxing in the shade.
Day 11 Etosha National Park
Depart our lodge this morning and head towards Etosha National Park (220km approximately 5hrs). Namibia has protected its game reserves against poaching, so there are large herds of elephants, antelope and other herbivores here.
We head out on a short afternoon Game Drive in our truck on arrival.
Day 12 Etosha National Park
Enjoy a full day of game viewing in the truck.
Keep your eyes peeled for black rhino, Hartmann's mountain zebra, black-faced impala, roan antelope and the tiny Damara dik-dik. Game viewing in the park is relatively easy due to the man-made waterholes and the large, sparsely vegetated pans. The bushland surrounding the pans is hard to see through, but there are enough clearings, pans and waterholes to allow for some sightings. Head back to the lodge this evening.
Day 13 Windhoek
From Etosha National Park you will head to Windhoek, an old German colonial town, now a cosmopolitan centre. The Germanic colonial architecture of this city contributes to its charming feel. You'll arrive in the late afternoon or early evening. The old German colonial town of Windhoek has been blended into a modern city. The German architecture of the older buildings lends the town a historic atmosphere. Good examples of this German architecture can be seen in a number of buildings, but the best are the Tintenpalast (Ink Palace), the Christuskirche (church), the gymnasium and the Genossenschaftshaus. This evening you may wish to join new members of the group for an optional welcome dinner.
Day 14 Ghanzi/Central Kalahari
Cross the border into Botswana and travel to Ghanzi, known as the "Capital of the Kalahari" (560km approximately 8hrs). Accommodation tonight is at a lodge just outside the small cattle ranching town of Ghanzi and a bit more basic than what you will encounter throughout your journey, however the concept and experience will be well worth it. The lodge is situated in the Kalahari region of Botswana that is inhabited by a large portion of Botswanas’ San community. Unemployment is one of the main social issues that affect the San community, who have become an increasingly marginalized minority is Southern Africa . The lodge helps empower the community through employment. A traditional San/Southern African meal will be served in the communal lounge and dining area. There is also an bar with wine, beer and soft drinks available to buy. Later this evening we will be treated to a real cultural experience and interaction with the locals. Around the campfire, you will experience the ancient dance rituals of the San, with a chance to chat afterwards. On special occasions this could be a healing or trance dance, which can continue all night, and is an intense spiritual experience for both participants and visitors alike.
Day 15 Okavango Delta
Before breakfast this morning there will be a chance to go out on an optional walk with a member of the San community. The San are renowned as the most skillful trackers on Earth and have an extraordinary knowledge of the Kalahari for both plants and animal tracking. Here you will be shown the wide variety of both edible and medicinal plants, while also tracking a variety of animals and learning about their habits. Of course, you will also spend quality time with your guide to understand their very different world view. Head to the Okavango Delta (400km approximately 7hrs), where we board speedboats that will take us to your home for the next two nights, a houseboat in the Okavango Delta Panhandle. Please note you will need to pack a small bag or backpack for this trip as we won't be taking all of our luggage with us. Your floating home for the next 2 nights is the most incredibly peaceful way to experience the delta. The houseboat has twin-share cabins with bedding, towels and mosquito nets provided (no single supplement is available on these nights). Cabins are very small and basic with shared facilities however we don't expect you'll be spending much time in there. There is also a dining area on the deck, tea/coffee making facilities and a small collection of books and board games.
This evening head to the deck where your captain will serve dinner, enjoy a sundowner, and listen to the sound of the Hippos along the waters edge.
Day 16 Okavango Delta
After breakfast we take a speedboat and 4WD to a nearby poling station. From here you have the opportunity to experience the myriad waterways in traditional dugout canoes (mokoros) with a local guide. Your guide will take you on a short nature walk around one of the many Islands in the Delta Panhandle. After a picnic lunch, return to the houseboat where you're free to relax, read a book or do some fishing. This evening grab a sundowner, pull up a chair and witness the often breathtaking sunset.
Day 17 Maun
After breakfast, we leave our houseboat behind, and again board the speedboats to take us back to our truck, and then on towards Maun - the gateway of the Okavango Delta (350km approximately 6 hrs). For those wanting more adventure, there's an opportunity to fly over the delta in a small plane for a bird's-eye view - a great way to appreciate the immensity of this watery world. Your leader can give you more information on this activity and how to book. Otherwise the afternoon is free to sit by the pool, catch up on emails and laundry.
Day 18 Makgadikgadi Pans
We depart from our lodge after breakfast and head towards north-east Botswana (210km approximately 4hrs). Our next stop is the Makgadikgadi Pans; a large salt pan situation in the middle of the dry savanna is located. This pan is now all that remains of the former Lake Makgadikgadi. Our accommodation tonight is located on the edge of the pans. Sit by the pool or relax in the lounge area and take in your surroundings after a long day. Head out to the Makgadikgadi Pans for an afternoon excursion in open 4WDs to one of the largest salt flats in the world. Here you’ll sit out in the wild enjoy sundowners and snacks while observing the amazing scenery. With the aid of trackers you may have the opportunity to spend some time in the company of the local meerkat colony, and look out for elephants that meander their way down to the watering hole to quench their thirst. Soak in this incredible place while the sun sets behind the old beautiful baobab.
Day 19 Chobe National Park
This morning we make tracks after breakfast and travel towards Kasane on the edge of Chobe National Park (410km approximately 7hrs). The stretch of road between Nata and Kasane is known as the 'Elephant Highway'. With no fences elephants are free to move between Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and Botswana. So keep your eyes peeled for roadside elephants. Botswana's first national park, Chobe, is perhaps best known for its high concentration of elephants. You will spend the next two nights in a lodge on the banks of the Chobe River.
Day 20 Chobe National Park
This morning we wake early and take a dawn game drive in Chobe National Park, where you may see elephants drinking at the waters' edge, large herds of cape buffaloes and many impala within the park. In the afternoon you’ll take a breathtaking cruise on the Chobe River, ideal for spotting bird life such as saddle-billed storks, malachite kingfishers, fish eagles and beautiful bee-eaters as well as hippos, crocodiles and large families of elephants. The boat trip will be a shared activity with other travellers. There will be an opportunity to have a sundowner drink and watch the sunset over the river.
Day 21 Victoria Falls
Travel on to Victoria Falls, crossing the border into Zimbabwe in time to have lunch on the banks of the Zambezi (100km approximately 2hrs depending on border formalities). These falls are one of the natural wonders of the world and, when in full flow, form the largest sheet of falling water. Your leader will take you to a local activity centre where a range of activities will be on offer. We have not risk assessed all activities and only those listed in our trip notes are recommended. It is against company policy for leaders to facilitate the booking of any activities that have not been risk assessed or do not adhere to our company’s Responsible Travel policy and ethos. This includes organising transport to and from these activities in our vehicles. An included local brewery tour and a tasting paddle is a great way wash down the thrill of witnessing the magnificent falls.
Day 22 Johannesburg
Say goodbye to your fellow travellers who are ending their trip in Victoria Falls then take your transfers to the airport for your included flight. Today you fly to Johannesburg and spend a night here on the way to Nairobi. You will be unescorted during this portion of the tour. You can expect to arrive at the Peermont Metcourt Hotel Johannesburg by mid-afternoon. On arrival please make your way to the shuttle terminus located in the Parkade building, between the domestic & international terminals. If you are unsure on where to go please ask for directions at the Information Desk located within the arrivals area. At the shuttle terminus please wait for the black and gold Emperors Palace bus at the terminus. The shuttle runs every 20 minutes. Tell the driver you are staying at Peermont Metcourt. Peermont Metcourt is one of many hotels located within the Emperors Palace Hotel Casino Convention Resort, which is conveniently situated alongside OR Tambo International Airport. There are a number of facilities within the resort such as restaurants, entertainment and retail shops so you won’t need to venture out of the resort to have dinner.
Day 23 Nairobi
This morning you will take the courtesy airport shuttle from your hotel to Johannesburg International Airport, for your included flight to Nairobi. The shuttle service departs from the hotel at 20 minute intervals. On arrival in Nairobi, you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel by our Intrepid representative. You may wish to speak to our representative regarding any additional tours or activities that you might wish to do while you’re in Nairobi. There will be a trip briefing at the hotel at approximately 6.00pm this evening. The rest of the day is spent at your leisure.
Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, was established at the turn of the 20th century by Europeans as a stores depot during the construction of the East African Railway. Without plan or design, it established itself as the capital of the British protectorate, and today has a population of around three million.
Day 24 Lake Nakuru National Park
Depart Nairobi and head north-west towards Lake Nakuru National Park (approximately 4 hours), arriving in time for lunch. Afterwards climb into our truck for an afternoon game drive and hopefully see some of the once abundant pink flamingos converge on Lake Nakuru, all under the watchful eye of nearby rhinos and zebras. Lake Nakuru is a soda lake which is home to thousands of birds and in the past was a haven for pink flamingos. There is quite a good chance of seeing white rhinos, whilst black rhinos may prove to be more elusive. After spending the day in the park, we return to our permanent tented camp.
Day 25 Lake Naivasha
Leave the camp after breakfast and head to a nearby village with a local guide. This is a fantastic opportunity to interact with the locals and get a feel for everyday life. Here you'll learn about local projects where the women yarn and knit wool, make art from banana bark and recycle plastic bottles. Then enjoy lunch prepared by the local women and hear their stories of work and the village. Travel south along a road sandwiched between two impressive natural reserves, to Lake Naivasha (approximately 3 hrs). One of the few freshwater lakes in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha is bordered with flat-topped acacias and has floating islands of papyrus reeds. It's also home to a healthy population of hippos and a tremendous variety of birds. Here we take a boat ride spotting bird life and hippos and finishing up at Elsamere Conservation Centre. Enjoy afternoon tea while listening to their work on sustainability and the conservation trust.
Day 26 Lake Naivasha
Today is free to explore at your leisure. See all that this vast lake has to offer on a waterside bike ride or opt for time on the water instead and head out on a boat trip. If hiking is more to your tastes then there are two spectacular walks to consider – the first through the leafy hills and mountains of the Crater Lake Game Sanctuary, and the second to Hell's Gate National Park. Hell's Gate is a dry trail compared to the Crater Lake path, winding its way along scenic paths through narrow cliff breaks, and is home to rare bearded vultures. The walk can be quite challenging. Return to the permanent tented camp at Lake Naivasha.
Day 27 Masai Mara National Reserve
We head south-west to our next destination, the Masai Mara - arguably one of the finest game reserves in Africa (300kms, approx 8-9hrs). On the way you'll stop in Loita Hills, a remote region that's home to the traditional Maasai people. This is one of the key places where the Maasai people still practice their traditional way of life, with little influence from the western world. Make a stop at Tepesua Village, which is known for championing Maasai women’s health and education. You’ll be welcomed by Maasai Warriors by way of traditional song and dance. Meet your Maasai hosts and enjoy a fascinating talk, full of insights into this remarkable and ancient culture. Take a walk to the community village which was founded for widows who had lost their cows due to drought, and can never remarry. The village offers support, safety and economic growth through the ‘Tepesua Widows Income Project’. Here the women are engaged in making handicrafts and sewing eco-friendly handbags, washable sanitary pads, and backpacks to sell to visiting travellers and locals. Learn about village life and be shown around a traditional Maasai home, and their cattle enclosures.
Day 28 Masai Mara National Reserve
Today we wake before dawn to start our full day game drive. The Masai Mara is known for its rolling green plains, riverine woodlands and annual wildebeest and zebra migration. We may be lucky to observe black-maned lion, leopard and cheetah. These predators find an abundant food supply in the massive herds of wildebeest, zebra, Thomson's and Grant's gazelle that roam the grasslands. Also keep an eye out for elephants, hippos and giraffes among others. During the heat of the day we'll find shade under an Acacia tree and stop for a picnic lunch.
Day 29 Masai Mara National Reserve
If you missed out on seeing one of the Big 5 (lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards, and rhinoceros) yesterday, never fear! This morning is free to head out on an optional 4x4 game drive, a safari balloon ride or to just relax before the included afternoon game drive. Each day on the reserve is a shifting narrative, with new encounters and stories to be found as you cruise across the plains.
An optional balloon ride over the Masai Mara at sunrise is an unforgettable experience. If you have pre-booked this activity (please see 'Important Notes') you will be picked up and driven to the launch site, receive a safety briefing from your pilot and help inflate the balloon. You then glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, providing amazing wildlife photography opportunities; sometimes ascending to get an overview of the enormity of the Masai Mara plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. Upon landing you'll be treated to a bush breakfast before being returned to your vehicle. Please note if you are taking a balloon ride over the Mara you will be taken to the launch place from our camp before dawn and returned to the group when you have finished your ride.
Day 30 Nairobi
After breakfast, return to Nairobi, arriving in the late afternoon (240 km, approx 7-8 hrs). This eveing is free to soak up the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Nairobi.
Day 31 Lake Manyara National Park
This morning, jump back on the overland vehicle and head for Arusha, Tanzania (approximately 7 hours). Meet up with fellow group members, then head to Tarangire National Park. Tarangire National Park lies to the south of the Masailands and is defined by large open savannahs dotted with acacia woodland and large baobab trees. With the presence of the Tarangire River, this park forms a refuge during the dry season for many migratory animals.
Day 32 Tarangire National Park
At Tarangire you will enjoy a full day game. The Tarangire corridor is used by the animals to migrate from Tarangire to Lake Manyara in search of water and grasses. During the migration periods, you may be lucky enough to witness the migration of zebras, wildebeest and elephants right from the veranda of your tent. This is the real African bush experience! We have a whole day in the National Park, but as the animals tend to be more active in the cooler hours of the day, we will usually return to camp during the middle of the day to enjoy a hearty meal, relax and maybe take a siesta.
Day 33 Serengeti National Park
Today you leave for the wide open plains of the Serengeti. To reach the Serengeti you must travel through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, skirting the Ngorongoro Crater before entering into the Serengeti. You will spend the afternoon on a game drive covering the more southern regions of the Serengeti before reaching your camp site for the evening.
Day 34 Serengeti National Park
The seemingly endless Serengeti Plains capture the essence of Africa. They are home to massive numbers of grazing animals and also various predators, and the interaction between the many species often provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the world.
Today you will start around sunrise for a morning game drive and follow that up later on with an afternoon game drive, as the animals tend to be more active in the cooler hours of the day. You will usually return to camp during the hotter hours in the middle of the day, where you will enjoy a hearty meal, relax and maybe take a siesta.
Depending on wildlife movements and opportunities for sightings, the drive may continue through lunch and last all day. In this case, you will return to camp in the late afternoon.
Day 35 Ngorongoro Conservation Area
This morning you will have time to further explore the Serengeti and perhaps visit Simba Kopjes, an outcrop of rocks favoured by lion and cheetah, who can often be seen basking in the morning sun. You will spend your time game viewing and will stop for a picnic lunch on the drive from Serengeti National Park back toward the Ngorongoro Conservation area.
Day 36 Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Today you will explore the world-renowned Ngorongoro Crater, widely regarded as a microcosm of natural habitats in Africa and often touted as a veritable Garden of Eden. Within this crater lies every type of ecosystem, including riverine forests, open plains, freshwater and alkaline lakes.
Ngorongoro Crater is the remnants of an ancient volcano caldera, and within its 300 square kilometres is a remarkable concentration of wildlife. The scenery is spectacular as you descend almost 600 metres down to the crater floor. There is every chance that you will see a considerable variety of wildlife in this compact area, including the highly endangered black rhinoceros.
In the afternoon you will leave the crater and return to camp for a second night. (National park regulations stipulate that vehicles are only allowed a maximum of six hours in Ngorongoro Crater.) The late afternoon can be spent relaxing at the camp.
Day 37 Arusha
This morning we leave Karatu and drive back to Arusha (approximately 4 hours). We expect to arrive back in Arusha around noon.
Please do not book any international departures until after 5pm.
Touring with Intrepid Travel
Intrepid was started by two friends from Melbourne, Australia, in 1988 after embarking on a trip through the wilds of Africa in a modified ex-council truck, crammed with friends, supplies, a handful of aviator sunglasses and a case or two of beer. Could this type of travel be something others would be interested in? The answer was a resounding yes and today Intrepid send 100,000 travellers across the globe each year with the help of a staff of 1,000.
After three decades, founders Darrell and Manch, feel they know what travellers want. They get that it’s a big decision to fly across the world to wander the souks of Marrakech or enjoy a dreamy Angkor sunrise. They understand that you’re looking for a balance of inclusions and free time, a mix of classic highlights and local secrets you won’t find on Google. And of course, an authentic real life experience. Their leaders are born and raised in-country and they know their destination better than anyone. So you’ll do more than just see a place, you’ll live it. Small groups, big adventures and responsible travel – that’s Intrepid’s thing. With 1,000 trips in a variety of styles across 100 countries, you’re sure to find something you like.
Intrepid believe the real magic happens well away from the beaten path. It’s the little noodle bars, hidden galleries and backstreet bodegas and real life experiences you won’t find in a search engine. Real life experiences are those moments you know you’re really alive and experiencing something special. While it could be the instant you see one of the world’s great icons for the first time, it is more likely to be the moment you find yourself in the middle of a village square soccer game, being treated to a home-cooked meal by your new local friends or sharing a laugh with your fellow travellers as you try a new mode of transport … camel anyone? These unexpected moments are what travelling with Intrepid is all about, giving you a trip like no other.
Intrepid realises the world is a really big place. And there’s a plethora of different languages to learn, borders to cross and cultures to negotiate. Small group adventure travel makes these things easy and allows you to maximise your precious time off. Instead of worrying about logistics, you can focus all your energy on having the experience of a lifetime. Their tour groups are small enough to feel like you’re exploring a destination independently, but big enough to create a good social vibe. Group size will vary depending on where and how you’re travelling, but the average group size is about 10.
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