Africa East & South between Gondar and Nairobi with Gorillas, (EGR)

Gondar to Nairobi 1 days, departing 31 Jul 2015
Breakfast at the Samburu village stay, Kenya The grounds of the Royal Enclosure in Gondar, Ethiopia The main castle of the Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethoopia Young elephants at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi

Trip Overview

Trip Style: Overlanding
Route: Gondar to Nairobi
Duration: 1 days
Transport: Overland expedition vehicle
Physical Rating:

EASY HARD


These are physical tours; you may well be travelling at high altitudes, across deserts or through cold and windy or hot and steamy areas.
Accommodation:

57%43%

A mixture of small hotels & hostels with camping at campsites and wild camping

Route Map

Countries Visited

Ethiopia

With a friendly atmosphere, a country brimming with history, tribes and national parks. Ethiopia is a country that is as diverse as you can get in Africa.

Along the Sudanese frontier it changes from semi-desert to high mountains. The highland area and the Simien Mountains are known as the Roof of Africa and are home to the ancient Ethiopian Christian kingdom. In the far east of the country is a vast desert, home to Islamic nomads. In the south is the Rift Valley with stunning lakes and flora and fauna. To the south-west are the unique tribal lands of the Omo Valley and Mago National Park.

The principle national park is the Simien Mountains National Park, and with the range of wildlife in the park and great mountain vistas, it is nothing short of amazing. The parks most famous inhabitants are the Gelada Baboons.

Ethiopia is an ancient Christian kingdom and has architecture unusual in this part of Africa as a result. The rock churches of Lalibela and the forts of Gondar are completely unique in East Africa.

It is a country full of life and colour, and this is expressed through the sound of music. It is very diverse, as so many cultures across the country have their own sound. Most of Ethiopia's music is folk inspired and is influenced from other North African countries. The range of sound is diverse and there are many traditional instruments. Chordophones, Aerophones, Idiophones and Membranophones are the most common sounds used in traditional music. 

Vegetables and meat are the basis of many of the dishes in Ethiopia. Berbere is an ingredient used in many dishes. A cross between chilli powder and other spices give dishes a distinct taste when added to beautiful stews. Food brings Ethiopians together, and the act of Goorshsa shows this. This is the act of ripping off a piece of injera bread, rolling it in the sauce and placing it in a friend's mouth. This is an act of friendship and the larger the injera, the greater the friendship.

Kenya

Kenya is a country full of life and colour; of tribes and tradition and of wildlife and game parks.

In the lively capital of  Nairobi there are so many attractions to fill a few days. The Karen Blixen museum was donated by Denmark after popularity of 'Out of Africa'. The location of the museum now is also home to some beautiful wildlife including horses. Most visitors also take in the elephant orphanage and giraffe sanctuary, offering the chance to feed the giraffes from a raised platform.

Of course it's the wildlife that draws most people to Kenya due its excellent national parks and reserves such as The Maasai Mara (also known as the Masai Mara to the Mara to locals), Nakuru and Samburu . Of course most people want to get a snap of the big five but there are also good chances of seeing the lesser predators of the genet, jackal and hyena.

Mount Kenya is the country's highest mountain and is the 2nd largest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro. Standing at a height of over 5000 metres, it towers over the surrounding plains and is no mean feat to scale with most climbers regarding it as more of a challenge that it's taller cousin in Tanzania .

Kenya's music scene is one of the most eclectic in the whole of Africa. With over 40 regional languages across the country, the folk music of Kenya is incredibly varied. Many of the regions have their own type of music, and one of the most inspiring is the Polyphonic style of the Maasai region in which chanting makes up the song's rhythm.

Tribes all over Kenya are proud of their products, whether it is music or textiles or food. The staple diet is mainly maize based and although each region has its own specific taste, there are many that are common across the country. One of these is Sukuma wiki. It is a phrase that means "to push the week". This meal is full of seasonal vegetables which will last a family a week.

Kenya does pack a lot into a small space but don't underestimate the country, in terms of tourism it is Africa’s biggest hit!

 

Rwanda

Rwanda is a landlocked republic situated on the eastern rim of the western arm of the Great Rift Valley. It is part of the watershed of Africa's two largest river systems, the Nile and the Congo. Much of the country is covered in mountains, especially in the volcanic Virunga chain protected by the Volcanoes National Park. The two main tribal groupings are the Hutu and the Tutsi. The 1994 genocide was just the most recent chapter of a long and bitter relationship between the two groups. In recognition of this, whilst in Rwanda we will organise a visit to the Genocide Memorial at Kigali. Rwanda has made enormous progress in rebuilding itself following the troubles, and is rapidly acquiring a reputation for the warmth of the welcome provided to travellers.

In the Parc National Des Volcans, the volcanoes reach above the clouds and it is home to the rare mountain gorilla. Treks to see the gorillas are the major attraction for tourist to Rwanda, providing vital income for the country as well as unforgettable experience for the traveller. There are also many animals in Rwanda. Elephants, rhinos and monkeys are a few of the 'big ticket iteams', but there are early 200 species of mammals and over 700 species of birds.

There is a welcoming feeling that brings the opportunity to join in with the amazing traditions and experience what Rwanda has to offer.

Uganda

In the heart of East and Southern Africa lies the wonderful country of Uganda, which Winston Churchill famously called the 'Pearl of Afrcia'  

Uganda is brimming with national parks,  Queen Elizabeth National Park is one the most visited and contains the most astonishing number of different fauna including 100 different types of mammal and over 600 species of birds.

The capital of Kampala is situated at the south of the country and has many museums, theatres and markets that line the streets. Explore and discover the wonderful history of a capital that is built on seven hills.

Jinja is one of the highlights of any visit to Uganda. This is a place for the adventurer, the adrenaline junkie and for the eco-traveller who wants to do something really worthwhile. The area is beautiful and is located at the source of the Nile as it leaves Lake Victoria. The most popular activity here is the white-water rafting trip down the Nile.

Many locals use the national produce of bananas to from a way of life. One product made is an alcoholic drink called Tonto. The juices are combined with grains and fermented for two days, creating a smooth taste. Many dishes in Uganda have an English, Arab and Indian influence, creating a unique taste. Most meals are served with a centre of soup or stew, and this tradition makes a beautiful icon of Uganda.

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Daily Itinerary

The top of the incredible St. George cathedral, Lalibela, Ethiopia
Hippos socialising in Lake Naivasha, Kenya
A mighty silverback mountain gorilla in the Rwandan forests
Breakfast at the Samburu village stay, Kenya
Kids playing table football in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The Holy Trinity Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital
A typical street in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa
The broken Great Obelisk of the Axumite Empire, in Axum, northern Ethiopia
The 3rd-century Stelae Field of Axum, Ethiopia
The Blue Nile Falls near Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Carrying wood near Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
The mighty Blue Nile Falls during rainy season
Some of the beautiful moorland trails in the Bale Mountains, Ethiopia
Admiring the stunning and desolate scenery of the Sanetti Plateau in the Bale Mountains, Ethiopia
Overlooking the rolling landscape around Eldoret, Kenya
An adrenaline-fuelled rafting trip on the White Nile near Jinja, Uganda
At the source of the River Nile near Jinja, Uganda
At our campsite in Kampala, Uganda
A busy street in the Ugandan captial of Kampala
The phenomenal 12th-century St. George cathedral in Lalibela, Ethiopia
A local priest in the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia
On the challenging dirt-roads near Marsabit, northern Kenya
On the road to Moyale at the far north of Kenya
Young elephants at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi
At the Langata Giraffe Sanctuary in Nairobi
Showing some of the local kids our Dragoman truck in Nairobi
A baboon checks us out in Nakuru, Kenya
Zebras and flamingoes in Lake Nakuru, Kenya
Enjoying the breath-taking view over the Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
Up close with a gelada in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia
Our truck en route to the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
A Walia ibex overlooks our camping ground in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia
Grooming time for the geladas in the Simen Mountains, Ethiopia
Our incredible camping spot at Chenek, Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
The incredible colours of the sunrise near Naivasha, Kenya
A view of our campsite from the driver's seat, Naivasha, Kenya
A Fish Eagle looking for breakfast over Lake Naivasha, Kenya
Flamingoes in the Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
Tiny dik-dik antelopes in the Samburu National Reserve, Kenya
Butterflies enjoying the sun, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
A hippo observes us in the Kazinga Channel, Uganda
Getting to know the locals in Konso, southern Ethiopia
Crocodile finding an afternoon snack in Lake Chamo near Arba Minch, Ethiopia
The iconic huts of the Dorze tribe, near Arba Minch
Traditional cooking methods in Ethiopia
Colourful houses in the Rwandan capital of Kigali
Women from the Hamer tribe greet the truck in the Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Girls from the Banna tribe in Omo Valley, Ethiopia
Kids from the Arbore tribe in the Omo Valley of southern Ethiopia
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Day 1 to 2: Gondar

( Fri 31 Jul to Sat 01 Aug )

Border Information: if joining in Gondar, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Gondar Atse Tewodros Airport.

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting. If you are continuing to Kenya or beyond, your leader will need to check the validity dates of your Ethiopian visa.

On the next day, we will have a half day guided tour of the historical sites of Gondar, including Gondar Castle, the King Fasilades' Baths and the Debre Birhan Selassie church. 

In Gondar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Hotel for the night: Lammergeyer Hotel

Lammergeyer Hotel

PO box 57

Gondar

Ethiopia

Tel: 0581 12 29 03

Activity Approximate Cost

Learn all about medieval Ethiopia on a half-day guided tour of the castles, churches and baths of Gondar

Included in Kitty
Enjoy a tour of the local Dashen brewery in Gondar USD 8
About Gondar:

The historic city of Gondar is known as the city of castles and palaces. This was once the capital of Ethiopia in the reign of King Fasilidas who built the first castle. Successive kings added their own castles to the complex. On the outskirts of the town there is also Fasilidas' Bath, which is an interesting building standing in an artificial pool which is still filled for occasional religious ceremonies. At the Debre Berhan Sellassie Church we can see the famous ceiling which is painted with hundreds of faces of angels and hear about the church's fascinating yet violent history.

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Day 3 to 5: Debark, Simien Mountains National Park

( Sun 02 Aug to Tue 04 Aug )

Today marks the start of our 3-day excursion into the Simien Mountains National Park. We will first drive to Debark, where we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options we will have during our excursion. 

The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views!

The area is also home many indigenous animals, and during our time here we hope to spot lammargeyer vultures, geladas, Walia ibex, and (if we are very lucky) klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves.

On each day we aim to provide an option for a long trek (of 5-8 hours), a short trek (2-5 hours) or no trekking.

On our first day, we aim to wild camp at the area of Sankaber. On our second and third days, we aim to wild camp at the area of Chenek (underneath Ras Bwahit, the second-highest mountain in the Simiens, which we hope to get the opportunity to summit).

Please note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as our options will largely be determined by the weather. 

Please also note that the camping areas in the national park are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. Please also note that the food and provisions available in Debark and the national park are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night, so please be prepared!

Activity Approximate Cost

3 days of guided treks in the phenomenal Simien Mountains National Park

Included in Kitty
About Debark:

Standing at the gateway to the Simien Mountains is the town of Debark. Many people pass through here to experience the wonders that these mountains have to offer. With this beauty in its landscape, Debark has some of the most amazing scenery in Ethiopia.

About Simien Mountains National Park:

The Simien Mountains are known for their dramatic and spectacular scenery; jagged mountain peaks flank deep valleys and high altitude plains where only grasses, junipers and giant lobelias grow. This is one of the major mountain regions of Africa, home to mountain Ras Dejen (4543m), the fourth highest peak in the continent. The National Park was created primarily to protect a type of wild goat, the Walia Ibex; and the Gelada Baboon and rare Ethiopian Wolf are also found here. Standing on top of a sharp precipice and gazing out over the magnificent landscape here will take your breath away, so it's definitely worth taking a bit of time to explore. The area is a great place to do some trekking, or you can hire mules to go in search of some of the more easily spotted wildlife, like the klipspringer, ibex and baboon.

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Day 6: Debark

( Wed 05 Aug )

Today is our final day in the Simien Mountains National Park, and we make our way back to Debark for the night.

In Debark we will stay in a basic local hotel.

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Day 7 to 8: Adi Arkay, Axum

( Thu 06 Aug to Fri 07 Aug )

Leaving Debark behind us, we continue our journey with 2 days of driving through the foothills of the Simien Mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia, via a wild camp en route. The roads here are very tough, but we are rewarded with more truly breathtaking scenery!

On the first night of this journey, we aim to wild camp somewhere nearby to the village of Adi Arkay. On the second day we will stay in a basic hotel in Axum.

Drive time - 6 hours each day (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

About Axum:

Axum is the site of Ethiopia's oldest city. It has some impressive obelisks carved from single blocks of granite - the tallest still standing is 23 metres high and was probably transported by elephants from a nearby quarry. The scale of the monuments in this Stelae field are testament to the enormous importance that the ancient kingdom of Axum once enjoyed.

Close to the town are the ruins of a palace that is said to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba. There is also a complex of several churches, which have been built over the ages around the same site. The most interesting, is a small unimposing building with a green picket fence that holds the crowns of various former Ethiopian emperors and is said to house the original Ark of the Covenant.

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Day 9: Axum

( Sat 08 Aug )

Today we will have a half day guided tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum, the capital of the once-mighty Axumite Empire - included in this tour will be seeing the Stelae Field, the Tomb of King Kaleb, and the Palace of the Queen of Sheba. We will have a free afternoon to visit other places such as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, the supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Church of St. Mary of Zion at Axum

ETB 200

Take a guided tour of the ancient 4th-century tombs and palaces of the Axumite Kingdom in Axum

Included in Kitty
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Day 10: Mekele

( Sun 09 Aug )

Today we will continue through the breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains and visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church) near to Mekele. 

In Mekele we will stay in a decent local hotel.

Drive time - 10 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the ancient rock-hewn churches of Tigray at Mekele

Included in Kitty
About Mekele: Mekele is a cultral town famous for its churches and desert landscape. Historians date Mekele to be founded in the 13th century and it is a place with a colourful history. Derg The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front Monument is one of the most famous points and can be seen from nearly any place in the town. The palace of King Yohannes IV is a chance to see so much of Mekeles history during the reign of this king. The churches are worth a visit, as they are just beautiful.
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Day 11 to 12: Woldiya, Lalibela

( Mon 10 Aug to Tue 11 Aug )

From Mekele we have 2 days of journeying through more incredible mountainous scenery in central Ethiopia to reach the small medieval town of Lalibela. 

On the first night of this journey, we aim to wild camp near the town of Woldiya or Korem. On the second night we will stay in a local hotel in Lalibela.

Drive time - 7-8 hours each day.

 

About Lalibela:

Hidden in the hills of northern Ethiopia is the small town of Lalibela. This medieval village has grown up around 13 monolithic churches hewn from rock in the 12th Century. It’s an awe-inspiring feat of engineering which must have taken many years and thousands of men to complete. Fortunately the village is underdeveloped as a tourist site and still has its original Ethiopian charm.

Each of the churches is unique in design and beautifully carved. Legend has it that King Lalibela completed all the work in 12 days with the help of a band of angels who carved the rocks for him day and night.

The church of Asheten Mariam is hidden in the rugged hills behind the village. You may like to trek there on foot or take a mule to this fascinating monastery and enjoy the incredible views on the way.

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Day 13 to 14: Lalibela

( Wed 12 Aug to Thu 13 Aug )

On our first day in Lalibela, we will have full day guided tour of the world-famous 13th-century rock churches of Lalibela. Our guide will be able to explain the fascinating history of Lalibela and its churches, and there will be plenty of time to explore, absorb the haunting atmosphere inside the churches, and take plenty of photographs of the incredible architecture and the religious rituals within.

On our second day, we will have a free day for further exploration or optional activities. We will have opportunity to hike up the nearby mountains to the Asheten Monastery, visit the Yimrehane Kristos cave church outside the town, or freely explore the Lalibela churches again at your own pace.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a full guided tour of the 12th-century rock-hewn churches and monasteries at Lalibela

Included in Kitty
Explore the highlands of Lalibela on foot, possibly walking to the nearby Asheten Monastery ETB 500
Visit Yemrehana Kristos, the very unique 'church in a cave' near Lalibela ETB 600
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Day 15 to 17: Bahir Dar

( Fri 14 Aug to Sun 16 Aug )

Today we will drive to Bahir Dar, a small town on Lake Tana, the source of the mighty Blue Nile.

Drive time - 8-9 hours.

On our first day in Bahir Dar, we will have an included boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the famous old monastery of Gabriel Ure Kideth and to visit the spot where the lake outflows into the start of the Blue Nile. 

On our second full day, we will head off in the truck to visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a short walk around the area to the historic Portuguese Bridge. We will have some free time in the afternoon to visit some other spots around Bahir Dar such as the 'Hippo bridge' and the Tigray war memorial.

In Bahir Dar we will stay in decent local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the stunning Blue Nile Falls just downstream of Bahir Dar

Included in Kitty

Head out on a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the ancient Coptic churches and monasteries nearby

Included in Kitty
About Bahir Dar:

A few kilometres down the river from Bahir Dar are the spectacular Blue Nile Falls - locally known as Tissisat Falls (literally translating as 'water that smokes'). After walking around the falls, we use local reed boats to cross the river upstream. On the lake itself are a number of monasteries on islands and peninsulas and we take the opportunity to visit two on our boat trip. These churches feature the traditional murals and decoration of the Orthodox Church. We cross the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge which is 1 km deep, taking a couple of hours to drive down to the bottom, cross the river and drive back up the other side.

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Day 18: Dejen

( Mon 17 Aug )

Today we will continue our journey south towards Addis Ababa. We will break the journey with a nightstop in a basic local hotel in the small town of Debre Markos or Dejen en route.

Drive time - 5 hours.

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Day 19: Addis Ababa

( Tue 18 Aug )

Today we will complete our journey to the bustling Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side!

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Drive time - 8-9 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overland journey to Addis Ababa, passing through the immense Blue Nile Gorge

Included in Kitty
About Addis Ababa:

Referred to more commonly as "Addis", Addis Ababa (220 km, approx 7-8 hours) lies amongst wooded hills at an altitude of about 2300 metres, giving it a pleasant climate. Addis has many sights to offer visitors and we have free time to explore the sites. Get a fascinating glimpse into Ethiopia's many tribal groups at the Ethnological Museum, see the stunning fossil collection at the National Museum, and don't miss the chaotic bustle of the Merkato (local market). All manner of arts and crafts can be found in the souvenir shops on Churchill Avenue.

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Day 20: Addis Ababa

( Wed 19 Aug )

Today we will have a free day to explore Addis Ababa and visit the city's many museums and sights.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit "Lucy", one of the oldest complete hominid skeletons ever found, at the National Museum

ETB 10

Stroll through the Addis Ababa Mercato, one of the largest markets in Africa

USD

Visit Africa Hall, a symbol of African independence and optimism

USD

Visit the St. George's Cathedral (Giorgis Cathedral), built to commemorate Ethiopia's victory over the Italians in 1896

USD

Visit the Menelik Mausoleum, built to serve as the tombs of emperors and princes

USD
Explore the fascinating Ethnological Museum, one of the best museums in Africa set in a former palace of Haile Selassie ETB 100
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Day 21: Addis Ababa

( Thu 20 Aug )

Border Information: if finishing in Addis Ababa, you will most likely exit Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

We will have another free day to explore Addis Ababa today. If you are leaving the trip here please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight.

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Day 22: Addis Ababa

( Fri 21 Aug )

Border Information: If joining in Addis Ababa, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting.

The rest of the day before this meeting will be free to explore Addis Ababa and visit the city's many museums - we recommend that you arrive early (or the night before) if you would like the chance to fully explore the sights of Addis Ababa.

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Hotel for the night: Sarem International Hotel

Sarem International Hotel

Belay Zeleke Street (around Semien Mazegaja)

Addis Ababa

Ethiopia 

Tel: +251 11 126 2088/99

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit "Lucy", one of the oldest complete hominid skeletons ever found, at the National Museum

ETB 10

Stroll through the Addis Ababa Mercato, one of the largest markets in Africa

USD

Visit Africa Hall, a symbol of African independence and optimism

USD

Visit the St. George's Cathedral (Giorgis Cathedral), built to commemorate Ethiopia's victory over the Italians in 1896

USD

Visit the Menelik Mausoleum, built to serve as the tombs of emperors and princes

USD
Explore the fascinating Ethnological Museum, one of the best museums in Africa set in a former palace of Haile Selassie ETB 100
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Day 23: Lake Ziway, Tulu Gudo Island

( Sat 22 Aug )

Today we will leave Addis Ababa and head to the small town of Ziway.

After lunch we will take a boat tour across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, where we will have a short guided tour of the ancient monastery there and view some of the old religious manuscripts.

In Ziway we will stay in a small local hotel.

Drive time - 4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, and explore the old Coptic monastery on the island

Included in Kitty
About Lake Ziway:

Lake Ziway, about 60 miles south of Addis Ababa, and its surrounding area, nurtures an array of wildlife. Birds, hippopotamuses and fish roam the lake, which is dotted with five islands. One of the islands, Tulo Gudo, is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant in the ninth century. Long inhabited by the Gurage, an ethnic group rich in history and culture, the areas surrounding the lake are now under unprecedented pressure from deforestation.

About Tulu Gudo Island:

 

Among Ethiopia’s many ancient legends is that of the Ark of the Covenant. One of the islands on Lake Ziway, Tullo Gudo, is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant in the ninth century

The story goes that King Menelik I, the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, brought the powerful relic to Ethiopia in the 4th century B.C. Hidden within the Saint Mary Zion Church in Aksum, the Ark rested peacefully until the 10th century when the violent campaigns of warrior-Queen Gudit threatened to destroy the church. To protect the Ark, it was carried far south to the island now known as Tulu Gudo, where it remained for some 70 years before being safely returned to Aksum. Those that brought the Ark to Tulu Gudo came to be known as the Zay people, the guardians of the Ark. Tulu Gudo’s Maryam Tsion Monastery boasts a number of millennium-old manuscripts that are said to have accompanied the Ark of the Covenant on its journey to the island.

On Tulu Gudo Island we learn about the unique culture of the Zay people. Though just 900 of them live on the island, their culture and language are completely different from the surrounding Oromo people. We pass through the village, meet the community, experience the local way of life, and discover traditional weaving. The Maryam Tsion Monastery is the highlight of the tour. Home to a fascinating collection of ancient relics dating back over 1,000 years, the monastery houses relics such as the beautiful Gedle-Kidusen manuscript, a parchment book written in Ge’ez, as well as a number of stunning platters and crosses.

 

 

 

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Day 24 to 26: Bale Mountains National Park

( Sun 23 Aug to Tue 25 Aug )

Today we will leave Ziway and drive to the stunning Bale Mountains National Park.

Drive time - 8 hours.

We will enjoy 2 full days to explore the National Park. We will keep one day completely free to head out for guided walks - there are several possibilities for routes, including highland routes up the hills and moorlands searching for mountain nyalas, or lowland walks through the forest areas to look for Bale monkeys! On the other day we will drive in the truck up to the Sanetti Plateau, all the way to the second-highest point in Ethiopia (the summit of Tulu Dimtu) to explore the primeval landscape and search for Ethiopian wolves.

In the Bale Mountains we will stay in dorms in a basic lodge near the entrance to the National Park.

Activity Approximate Cost

Various walks through the forests, moors, and mountains of the beautiful Bale Mountains National Park

Included in Kitty
About Bale Mountains National Park: Bale Mountains National Park is situated on a high plateau surrounded by mountain peaks which soar to over 4000 metres in height. As you climb into the hills the terrain changes from forest on the lower slopes through junipers and heather to the exotic moorlands of the plateau, criss-crossed by fast-flowing streams. This beautiful park is home to three species unique to Ethiopia; the Simien red fox, Menelik's Bushbuck and the Mountain Nyala. There are some 200 species of bird within the park including 13 of Ethiopia's 23 endemic species.
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Day 27 to 28: Awassa, Wendo Genet

( Wed 26 Aug to Thu 27 Aug )

Today we will head north to the small town of Awassa, where we will visit  the Awassa Children's Project in the afternoon. This is a home for local children orphaned by the HIV epidemic, and we will be shown around and see how public donations and the support of Dragoman goes towards feeding, sheltering and educating the children.

After our visit we will head to Wendo Genet, a small town in the hills above Awassa, where we will stay for the 2 nights.

Drive time - 7-8 hours.

We will have a a free day to explore the region, go on an optional walk to some nearby waterfalls, and take a dip in the nearby hot springs.

In Wendo Genet we will camp in the grounds of a small local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the Dragoman-supported Awassa Children's Project, a home for orphaned children from the area

Included in Kitty

Relax in the hot springs at Wendo Genet

Included in Kitty
Head out on a short walk to the waterfalls near Wendo Genet ETB 100
About Awassa:

Awassa (also spelled Awasa or Hawassa) is a city in Ethiopia, on the shores of Lake Awassa in the Great Rift Valley where fishing is it major local industry.

Awassa was capital of the former Sidamo Province from about 1978 until the province was abolished with the adoption of the 1995 Constitution. This city is home to Hawassa University, Awasa Adventist College, and a major market.  Important local attractions include the St. Gabriel Church and the Awassa Kenema Stadium.

During our time in Awassa we will visit the Awassa Childrens Project.  The Awassa Children's Project promotes sensible, culturally responsible relief work aimed at assisting children primarily orphaned by AIDS, educating people in Africa's Sub-Saharan region about AIDS prevention, and offering a proactive and immediate approach towards the resolution of serious health and social issues facing the region.

The Awassa Children’s Project (ACP) is a grassroots non-profit organization formed in 2001.  ACP supports several organizations in Awassa, Ethiopia: a children’s centre that provides housing, food and education for over 60 children orphaned by AIDS; One Love Theatre (OLT), an AIDS education theatre company; and the Awassa Youth Campus, a community center in downtown Awassa which features–free to all Awassa children–aikido, sports, tutoring, art, music and a library, among other activities. These organizations continue to grow and dramatically improve the lives of Awassa children and the community in which they live. Especially in these times of dramatically increasing food costs in Ethiopia, your support is critical to our continued success.

For further information on the project please go to http://www.awassachildrensproject.org/

 

 

About Wendo Genet :

Wendo Genet (also known as Wondo Genet) is a resort town in Ethiopia. Located southeast of Shashemene in the Sidama Zone of the Southern Nations.

Wendo Genet is known for its hot springs and is surrounded by primary Ethiopian forests.   The Wendo Genet hotel was established in 1964, on land used as recreation site for the royal family until 1975. Emperor Haile Selassie bequeathed its name, meaning "Wondo Paradise", in reference to the beautiful panorama with a rich endowment of forests, wildlife and abundant water.

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Day 29 to 30: Arba Minch

( Fri 28 Aug to Sat 29 Aug )

Today we will travel to the town of Arba Minch, a small town overlooking Lake Chamo. 

Drive time - 9-10 hours.

The next day, we will have a free day for some well-earned rest after the Omo Valley, or to take an optional boat trip on Lake Chamo to the view the crocodiles that reside there, or hire bicycles to explore the scenic area.

In Arba Minch we will stay in a basic local hotel. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a boat trip on Lake Chamo, a stunning lake with a dense population of crocodiles

ETB 450

Visit the fascinating village of Chincha to learn all about the culture of the Dorze people

ETB 100

Hire bicycles to explore the stunning surrounds of Arba Minch

ETB 200
About Arba Minch:

Meaning 'forty springs', Arba Minch takes its name from the streams found between the two Rift Valley lakes of Abaya and Chamo. The town has stunning views over the lakes and surrounding forested areas, and also has an excellent and vibrant market.

Lake Chamo National Park is home to what the locals refer to as the 'crocodile market'. This is a place on the shores of the lake where vast numbers of crocs congregate, some of which reach over seven metres in length. The lake is home to the Guji and Ganjule people who traditionally hunt hippos and are famed for their 'ambatch boats', which resemble the boats carved in the tombs of the ancient Egyptians

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Day 31 to 34: Omo Valley Region

( Sun 30 Aug to Wed 02 Sep )

Over the next 4 days/3 nights we will be exploring the remote and rarely-visited tribal areas of the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia.

We will keep these days on a flexible itinerary so that we can react to news of special events being hosted by particular villages or tribes; as such, we cannot provide an exact itinerary for these days. However, we will aim to visit various tribal villages in the area, such as villages of the Hamer, the Mursi and the Konso tribes. 

We will camp in basic campsites on all these nights without possibility of upgrades, and we try to spend at least one of the nights camping in one of the tribal villages (this is not guaranteed to be possible on every trip). 

Drive times - 4-9 hours each day.

Please note that we will be travelling through very remote areas with rough roads and basic conditions on these days. Please also note that it is absolutely vital that you follow your tour leader's directions regarding responsible tourism in these regions, especially with regards to giving things away for free and taking photographs of the locals. 

Activity Approximate Cost

Journey through the remote Omo Valley, visiting several tribal communities along the way (possibly including the Hamer, Banna, Mursi, Ari, Konso or Danesesch tribes)

Included in Kitty
About Omo Valley Region:

The Omo Valley region is unusual in that it is home to so many different tribes all living very close to one another in such a small area. Anthropologists believe that this is because thousands of years ago this area of Africa acted as a kind of ethnic crossroads, as different groups of people migrated between north, south, east and west. 

Exploring the many small communities and settlements here will give you a fascinating insight into the different tribes, their cultures, traditions and way of life. On Dragoman trips we travel with a local guide, who will be able to introduce us to the Hamer, Arbore and the Dascensch tribes, among others.

There are also other tribal groupings throughout the area and our guide will point out the different tribes and their customs. Life is distinctly tribal throughout the region, with few modern amenities.

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Day 35: Konso

( Thu 03 Sep )

Today we will arrive in the town of Konso, marking the end of our time in the Omo Valley region.

In Konso we will camp in the grounds of a basic lodge.

If we have made good time and do not wish to stay in Konso, we may choose to push on to wild camp at Sode Crater, giving us a chance for some short walks in the morning before crossing the Kenyan border.

About Konso:

In the far south of Ethiopia on the banks of the Sagan river is Konso, gateway to the Omo Valley. The whole way of life in the villages here has changed little over the centuries and old traditions are strongly upheld.

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Day 36: Moyale

( Fri 04 Sep )

Border Information: Exit Ethiopia at Moyale, enter Kenya at Moyale.

Today we have a full drive day across the Kenyan border at Moyale, where we will camp at the town's police station or in a local campsite.

Drive time - 9-10 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Remote overland journey through the wilds of southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya

Included in Kitty
About Moyale:

The market town of Moyale splits the countries of Kenya and Ethiopia. There is a nice atmosphere that runs throughout the town and more of this can be discovered through exploring.

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Day 37 to 38: Marsabit, Samburu community village visit

( Sat 05 Sep to Sun 06 Sep )

Over the next two days we will be travelling through the very rarely-visited region of northern Kenya, crossing the infamous Moyale-Marsabit road to the central Samburu region. Both days will be fairly long hard driving, and the road can be incredibly bumpy and challenging, but scenery makes up for this as we travel through the black lunar landscapes near Marsabit and pass mountain greenery, spectacular craters, watercourses, bush country and termite mounds.

On the first day of our journey, we will reach the town of Marsabit and will stay in a basic local hotel with shared bathrooms.

Drive time - 9-12 hours (highly dependant on weather conditions).

On the second day of our journey, we will reach the Samburu region near to the small town of Archer's Post, where we will visit a Samburu village. Here we will be shown around the village and their homes, play with the children and learn all about the way of life here for the Samburu people! 

We will camp in the village in the heart of the community tonight, where there are no toilet or washing facilities.

Drive time - 8  hours (highly dependant on weather conditions).

Please note that due to security issues in this particular area, we will be accompanied by two armed police escorts between Moyale and Archer's Post.

About Marsabit: Marsabit lies on the extinct volcano of Mount Marsabit. Surrounded by forests on the hills, it is a contrasting image to the deserts in the background. At the heart of the forest is Lake Paradise. This gorgeous site attracts animals such as elephants and buffaloes to the spot and this and the Bongole Crater create a fascinating location for people all over to come and gaze at the beauty of the town.
About Samburu community village visit:

We stay at a Samburu village just outside the Samburu National Reserve. Similar in appearance to the Maasai but less known, the Samburu are a proud warrior tribe. Here we watch traditional Samburu dancing, and learn about Samburu tribal life and customs. The project is run by Samburu tribesmen for the benefit of the community.

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Day 38 to 39: Samburu National Reserve

( Sun 06 Sep to Mon 07 Sep )

Today we will get up early and enter the Samburu National Reserve, where we will head out for the entire day for game drives in the truck (breaking for a long lunch during the heat of the day). Samburu is a stunning National Reserve and is a great opportunity to spot big game such as cheetah, leopards, lions, and buffalo. The Reserve is also home to other animals rarely seen in the National Parks further south, such as Grevy's zebras, Somali ostriches and gerenuk ('giraffe-necked antelopes').

Tonight we will wild camp in a camping area in the National Reserve - facilities are very basic, but the area is a 5-10 minute walk from Samburu Lodge.

Please note that during very wet conditions we may need to use locally chartered 4x4 jeeps rather than our truck to get a good game drive in - in this instance we may make this option available at extra cost.

Activity Approximate Cost

Head out for a wildlife safari in our overland truck through the Samburu National Reserve, in search of local wildlife including gerenuk and Grevy's zebra

Included in Kitty
About Samburu National Reserve:

The Samburu region has hardly been touched by tourism and its pristine wilderness is home to a fascinating mix of Kenya's nomadic tribes who still retain traditional ways of life. These tribes include the Samburu, Rendille, Turkana, and Kalenjin. 

The Samburu National Reserve is famous for its reticulated giraffes, Grevy's zebras, graceful gerenuks, and Beisa oryx, whilst crocodiles are often seen in the river. If we are lucky, we may also see lions or leopards here.  The Ewaso Nyiro River meanders through the reserve forming a ribbon of oases in the parched landscape. 

We will visit the Samburu Cultural Centre outside Samburu National Reserve. Similar in appearance to the Maasai but lesser known, the Samburu are a proud warrior tribe. Here we watch traditional Samburu dancing, and learn about Samburu tribal life and customs. The project is run by Samburu tribesmen for the benefit of the community.

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Day 40 to 41: Naro Moru

( Tue 08 Sep to Wed 09 Sep )

Today we will exit the Samburu National Reserve via a final game drive, to arrive at the small village of Naro Moru at the base of Mount Kenya.

Drive time - 5-6 hours.

On the next day, we will have a free day in Naro Moru to take optional walks around the lower slopes of Mount Kenya, explore the nearby Mau Mau caves, or take an optional game drive in the nearby Sweetwaters National Reserve.

In Naro Moru we will stay at a well equipped campsite.

Activity Approximate Cost

Head out horse riding in the forests around Naro Moru

KES 1000

Nature walks around the base of Mt. Kenya, searching for birdlife and Colobus monkeys

USD 15

Game driving in the wildlife-packed private reserve of Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Sweetwaters Game Reserve

USD 190

Guided walk to the Nayaroi Caves in the foothills of Mt. Kenya, used by the Mau Mau during the rebellion against British colonial rule

KES 1000
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Day 42 to 43: Nakuru National Park

( Thu 10 Sep to Fri 11 Sep )

Today we will head through the hills of central Kenya, through the area's beautiful scenery and tea plantations, to arrive at Nakuru.

If we make good time on the drive we may have the opportunity to take a walk around the working dairy farm where our campsite is, and to visit a local women's knitting collective.

Drive time - 7 hours.

On the next day, we head into Nakuru National Park for an included full-day game drive in local safari trucks. Nakuru is a beautiful park with a large lake and many forested areas - it is teeming with wildlife and there is an excellent chance to see both black and white rhinos!

In Nakuru we will stay at a beautiful and well equipped campsite located on a dairy farm on the outskirts of Nakuru town.

Activity Approximate Cost

Walk to explore a colonial dairy farm and visit a local women's knitting collective

USD 5

Take a safari in 4x4 vans in the beautiful Lake Nakuru National Park

Included in Kitty
About Nakuru National Park:

Lake Nakuru National Park was established in 1968 to protect the huge flocks of lesser and greater flamingos that live here. At times there are over one million of these spectacular birds roaming around the acrid waters of the soda lake that is the centrepiece of the park. Even if you are not a keen birdwatcher the sight is inspiring and it is not hard to understand why the lake has become such a favourite for African wildlife documentaries. Nakuru is also where much of the film "Out of Africa" was shot.

The park is located on the floor of the Rift Valley and is a mixture of bushland, forest and rocky escarpment. Each area is an important habitat for many different species of wildlife. Besides the prolific birdlife, the park is also well established as one of East Africa's premier parks for big game. Beside the lake, hippo, waterbuck, warthogs, Bohor's reedbuck and zebra can regularly be found. Further up in the forests there's a large population of black and white colobus monkeys; and the ultimate forest predator, the leopard. The bushland on the valley floor is home to a large variety of antelope and gazelle including eland, impala, Chandler's reedbuck and the tiny dikdik; and the inevitable pride of lions.You can also see Rothschild giraffe here, but Nakuru's biggest draw is probably it's rhinos. In the late 1980s the Kenyan Wildlife Services used the park as a rhino sanctuary, and it now has a stable black and white rhino population.

 

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Day 44: Naivasha

( Sat 12 Sep )

Today we make our way to Lake Naivasha, a beautiful calm lake in the Great Rift Valley. Here we will have the chance to take an optional boat trip on the lake to spot hippos and African fish eagles, and also to visit the Elsamere Born Free Foundation at the old home of Joy Adamson.

In Naivasha we stay at a well equipped campsite on the lake shore.

Drive time - 3 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Boat trip on the beautiful and serene Lake Naivasha (price for the whole boat)

KES 7000

Walking safari in the wildlife-rich Crater Lake Game Sanctuary

USD 40

Visit the Elsamere Born Free Foundation at the former house of the conservationists Joy and George Adamson

Included in Kitty
Explore the beautiful landscape and wildlife of Hell's Gate National Park by foot or by bicycle USD 20
About Naivasha:

On the shores of Lake Naivasha lies the market town of Naivasha.

Here, there are a wide variety of birds to view in and around the lake, and hippos are usually seen wallowing along the shores. 

There is an option here to take an afternoon boat trip along the scenic shallow waters for a closer look at these creatures as well as many other ways to spend your time in this park.

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Day 45: Nairobi

( Sun 13 Sep )

Border Information: If you are finishing in Nairobi, you will most likely exit Kenya at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

This morning we will have some free time in Naivasha to relax at the lake, go on an optional early walk in the Crescent Lake Wildlife Sanctuary or hire bicycles to explore the nearby Hell's Gate National Park!

After lunch we will make our way to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

We expect to arrive back in Nairobi around 4pm in the afternoon. On arrival in Nairobi you will be dropped at our finishing point hotel. No accommodation is provided for tonight, but we are able to book you additional accommodation in Nairobi. Please ask at time of booking.

If you would like to explore Nairobi fully, we advise you spending an extra night here. Possible activities include visiting the Karen Blixen Museum, the National Museum and the Langata Giraffe Centre. Please do not book flights out of Nairobi for later than 8:00pm.

Drive time - 3 hours.

About Nairobi:

Nairobi is a lively city with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. The Kenyan capital takes it's name from the Maasai meaning 'Place of Cool Waters'. Today it is a busy, bustling place that comes alive through it's many markets, shops, bars and restaurants, not to mention it's vibrant nightlife. If you have time to explore the city, the National Museum of Kenya and Karen Blixen Museum are both worth a visit, or you can get up close to the Giraffe's and help to feed them at the Langata Giraffe Centre.  

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Day 46: Nairobi

( Mon 14 Sep )

Border Information: If joining the trip in Nairobi, you will most likely enter Kenya at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

There will be a group meeting at the Kivi Milimani Hotel at 6:00pm. Please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note, as this will often be a travelling day for the crew who will be joining you.

Address - Kivi Milimani Hotel, Milimani Road, Nairobi

Your trip leader will meet you at the Kivi Milimani Hotel reception, and then we will all head to our well equipped campsite situated in the suburb of Karen for a more detailed talk about your trip. Tonight we have the option of going out for a group meal.

Activity Approximate Cost
Visit to the David Sheldrick Animal Orphanage KES 500
Explore the museum at the site of the former home of Karen Blixen, the author of 'Out of Africa' KES 1200
Visit the Langata Giraffe Centre in Nairobi KES 1000

Learn all about the different tribal groups of Kenya at the Bomas of Kenya cultural centre in Nairobi

USD 40
Discover some of Kenya's ancient hominids at the National Museum in Nairobi

KES 1200
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Day 47: Gilgil, Nakuru National Park

( Tue 15 Sep )

After an early breakfast we will make our way to Gilgil, where we will visit the Saidia Children's Home - a Dragoman-supported home for orphaned children from the area.

From there, we will make our way to Nakuru, our base for tomorrow's excursion into Nakuru National Park. If we make good time on the drive we may have the opportunity to take a walk around the working dairy farm where our campsite is, and to visit a local women's knitting collective.

Tonight we will stay at a beautiful and well equipped campsite located on a dairy farm on the outskirts of Nakuru town.

Drive time - 4-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the Dragoman-supported orphanage at the Saidia Children's Home in Gilgil

Included in Kitty

Walk to explore a colonial dairy farm and visit a local women's knitting collective

USD 5
About Gilgil:

Gilgil is home to the Saida Childrens Home both of which are projects we support.

Saida Childrens home http://www.saidia-gilgil.org.uk/ works to improve the lives of AIDS orphans and other disadvantaged children in Gilgil and the surrounding area.

Mji wa Neema is Swahili for 'house of hope'. an is a small UK based charity raising funds to support orphaned children in and around Naivasha and Gilgil in Kenya, and specifically to fund Saidia Children's Home and projects started by Jill Simpson MBE, Teresa Wahito and Jane Kinuthia. Jill sadly passed away in October 2009 after a lifetime of good work, but Jane and Teresa continue to work tirelessly on behalf of AIDS orphans and other deprived children in the area.

Their efforts are now centred on Saidia Children's Home in Gilgil, and other projects which improve the lives of AIDS orphans and other disadvantaged children in Gilgil and the surrounding area.

We will make direct dontaions to help fund the project.

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Day 48: Nakuru National Park, Kericho

( Wed 16 Sep )

This morning we head into Nakuru National Park for an included half-day game drive in local safari trucks. Nakuru is a beautiful park with a large lake and many forested areas - it is teeming with wildlife and there is an excellent chance to see both black and white rhinos.

We will most likely have lunch in the area before driving on to Kericho this afternoon, where there is an optional tour around a nearby tea plantation.

Tonight we stay at a well equipped campsite.

Drive time - 3 hours

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a safari in 4x4 vans in the beautiful Lake Nakuru National Park

Included in Kitty

Head out on a guided walk of a tea plantation in Kericho in Western Kenya

KES 200
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Day 49 to 50: Jinja

( Thu 17 Sep to Fri 18 Sep )

Border Information: Exit Kenya at Busia, enter Uganda at Busia.

Today we have a full day's drive across the border into Uganda as we travel to Jinja, the adventure capital of East Africa!

Drive time - 10 hours.

On the next day, we will have a free day to get involved in the many optional adventure activities available here, such as white water rafting, bungee jumping and boat trips on the White Nile!

In Jinja we will stay at a well equipped campsite.

Activity Approximate Cost
Head out for a full day of white water rafting on the White Nile near Jinja USD 125
Go bungee jumping above the Nile at our campsite in Jinja USD 115
Explode up the rapids of the Nile in a 12-seater jet boat USD 75
Go on a boat trip to discover the source of the Nile where the river outflows from Lake Victoria USD 15
Head out on an adventure activity day of rafting, jet boating and bungee jumping USD 240
Head out for a full day of quad biking at the Bujagali Falls near Jinja USD 160
Head out horse riding along the banks of the White Nile USD 75
About Jinja:

Jinja is one of the highlights of any visit to Uganda. This is a place for the adventurer, the adrenaline junkie and the eco-concious traveller. The area is beautiful and is located at the source of the Nile as it leaves Lake Victoria. The most popular activity here is the white-water rafting trip down the Nile. Our base in Jiinja is perched spectacularly on a cliff-top thirty metres above the swirling currents of the young Nile. The camp is home to international rafting guides and several troops of monkeys.

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Day 51: Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

( Sat 19 Sep )

Today we continue our journey and head north to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary close to the town of Nakitoma. Here we will have the chance to track rhinos on foot with a local ranger!

Tonight we will stay in a well equipped campsite within the Rhino Sanctuary.

Drive time - 6-7 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Rhino tracking at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

USD 40
About Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary:

The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary was created to reintroduce rhinoceros to Uganda, which have been extinct since 1982.  The 70 square kilometer sanctuary in pristine bush country is currently home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda.  The Sanctuaries long-term goal is to build a sustainable rhino population and relocate rhinos back to their original habitat in Uganda's protected areas. In addition to the rhino-breeding program, Rhino Fund Uganda also runs community upliftment and education programs in the surrounding villages.      

During our stay one of the trained rangers will introduce you to the sanctuary and provide you with information about the rhinos.  Depending on where our rhinos happen to be when you arrive, you will drive to the closest location and then approach the rhinos on foot. 

You will then have an opportunity to observe the rhinos in their habitat at a very close, and very safe, distance.  The animals are magnificent and the opportunity to see them up close is truly one not to be missed!  The tracking excursion lasts on average between 1-2 hours.

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Day 52: Kaniyo Pabidi, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

( Sun 20 Sep )

Today we continue to Kaniyo Pabidi in the Budongo Forest in the southern part of the Murchison Falls National Park. Here we will head out for our included chimpanzee tracking walk in the afternoon!

Please note that for conservation reasons the maximum group size to track the chimpanzees is 12 people, so if we have a large group we will split in half, one half going to this afternoon and the other half going tomorrow morning.

Tonight we stay in basic dorm rooms in a small lodge in the Budongo Forest.

Drive time - 3 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Bird watching tour in Ziwa searching for shoebills

USD 35

Trek on foot in the Budongo Forest in search of habituated chimpanzees

Included in Kitty
About Kaniyo Pabidi:

Kaniyo Pabidi is and eco tourism site part of the Budongo Forest Reserve. The Jane Goodall Institute Uganda took over the management and infrastructure at both sites in 2006 which had been priviously operated by the National Forestry Authority. An eco tourist project was set up in 1993 and opened to the public in 1994 for chimpanzee viewing at both sites. 

The terrain is flat allowing for good on-foot travelling conditions for the average tourist; the campsite is located on the edge of the chimpanzees’ home range, significantly diminishing the risk of long trekking excursion before contact is made with the group; the habitat consists of primary forest with medium understory vegetation-density allowing for good visibility of the canopy (and thus of the chimpanzees) and the presence of savanna and grassland areas neighbouring the primary forest present an interesting opportunity for viewing of different ecosystems. Finally there is an extensive (115km in total) and well-maintained trail system that further facilitates visitor accessibility.

As of June 2006, the Jane Goodall Institute took over management of these two sites on behalf of NFA. This is due through a management agreement between NFA and JGI. The objective of this agreement is for JGI to ensure appropriate development of these sites for ecotourism, while ensuring that the chimpanzee communities are not put at risk due to these activities. At the same time, all profits made from the venture will be returned back into the protection of Budongo Forest Reserve. Improved law enforcement activities, monitoring, conservation education and community collaborative projects will all be funded from the profits made from these sites.

At Kaniyo Pabidi visitors can enjoy chimpanzee tracking, birding and wonderful accommodation in a beautiful natural setting while Busingiro offers birding and a bush camp. The Royal Mile is a popular birding site, also managed by the Jane Goodall Institute-Uganda, which is accessible with a guide from Busingiro.

.

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Day 53 to 54: Murchison Falls National Park

( Mon 21 Sep to Tue 22 Sep )

If we had to split the group for chimpanzee tracking, the other half of the group will head out for the walk this morning. When we are ready to continue, we will drive to the central region of Murchison National Park to reach our campsite.

Drive time - 3 hours (to the campsite).

On the next day, we will head out early in the truck for a morning of game driving around the northern area of the National Park - we will take a local vehicle barge to get over the Nile and pick up a ranger to show us around in search of wildlife!

We will return to our campsite for lunch, and then embark on an included launch cruise on the Nile to spot wildlife from the water and to see the spectacularly powerful Murchison Falls.

In Murchison Falls we will stay in a well equipped campsite at Paraa on the southern banks of the River Nile in the heart of the park.

Please note that the roads leading into and around Murchison Falls are very poor and can be hazardous in wet conditions. If there has been heavy rain recently, it may not be possible to go into the National Park beyond Kaniyo Pabidi - this is firstly for safety reasons on the drive in, and secondly due to the risk of extreme bogging that will cause us to miss the gorilla treks in Rwanda. We will always endaevour to reach the National Park as per the itinerary; but when this is occasionally not possible, please respect the tour leader's decision in this matter. On these occasions we will be able to utilise this time with spending longer in Lake Bunyonyi and Ruhengeri.

Activity Approximate Cost

Launch cruise on the River Nile to the mighty Murchison Falls

Included in Kitty

Head out game driving in our overland truck in Murchison Falls National Park

Included in Kitty
About Murchison Falls National Park:

Muchison Falls National Park is Uganda's largest national bisected by the mighty river Nile.  It is named for the dramatic Murchison Falls, as it is where the world's longest river explodes violently through a narrow cleft in the Rift Valley escarpment to plunge into a frothing pool 43m below. Wildlife populations have largely recovered from the poaching of the 1980s; in the lush grassland to the north of the Nile, elephant, buffalo, giraffe and a variety of antelope are regularly encountered on game drives, while lion are seen with increasing frequency.  In the southeast, Rabongo Forest is home to chimps and other rainforest creatures.

The Nile itself hosts one of Africa's densest hippo and crocodile populations, and an incredible variety of waterbirds.

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Day 55: Kampala

( Wed 23 Sep )

Today we have a full day's drive back south to Kampala, where we will have a nightstop in a well equipped campsite in the southern suburbs of the city.

Drive time - 8-9 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight stay on the outskirts of Uganda's bustling capital city

Included in Kitty
About Kampala: Kampala is the capital of Uganda. This city was practically destroyed in the civil wars and political disturbance in the 1980's, but it is now rebuilt and reorganised. It is a friendly city, with something of a buzz about it now as it's peoples confidence has been restored. Security has improved dramatically in the last few years, which has led to a real resurgence in the city's nightlife, and clubs and bars are beginning to become popular again.
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Day 56 to 57: Kabale, Mbarara, Lake Bunyonyi

( Thu 24 Sep to Fri 25 Sep )

Over the next 2 days we will continue travelling south through Uganda to reach Lake Bunyonyi, home to some of the most picturesque scenery in the whole of the country, where we will hopefully get the opportunity to explore the lake by boat and admire the surrounding landscape.

En route we will split the drive with a nightstop in either Mbarara or Kabale, which both have decent campsites that we can use. We will also cross the Equator and stop for the mandatory photos en route!

In Lake Bunyonyi we stay in a well equipped campsite.

*Please note that due to security concerns on the road to Lake Bunyonyi, we will often not be able to bring our truck here and will instead stay at a well-equipped campsite in Kabale. The decision to go or not will be entirely at the discretion of your tour leader and the Dragoman head office, and will be based on the latest safety advice from local operators - if we cannot bring the truck, it may still be possible to visit the lake as a day trip from Kabale in smaller local vehicles.*

Drive time - 12-14 hours (split over the 2 days - the exact breakdown depends on where we have the intermediary nightstop).

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Day 58 to 59: Ruhengeri & Volcanoes National Park, Kigali

( Sat 26 Sep to Sun 27 Sep )

Border Information: Exit Uganda at Katuna, enter Rwanda at Gatuna.

Leaving Uganda behind, we cross the border into the stunning country of Rwanda.

We will first travel to the capital city of Kigali, where we will have an included visit to the incredibly moving Genocide Memorial. After this we will drive the short distance to Ruhengeri (also known as Musanze), the gateway to the Volcanoes National Park, where we will spend the next 2 nights.

Drive time - 10 hours (allowing for 5 hours driving, 2 hours at the border and 3 hours at the Kigali Genocide Museum).

On the next day, we will go on what is undoubtedly the highlight of the trip - trekking to see the Mountain Gorillas in their natural forest habitat. 

This region is one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the mountain gorilla. No more than 8 people per day can visit any one habituated family, and visits are strictly controlled to minimise the possibility of disturbance or 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 pretty strenuous and often humid; however, the sheer thrill of 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 at least 4 hours - up and down hill. We 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! Once you find them, you will stay with the gorillas for one unforgettable hour!

When visiting the gorillas you will be assigned a trekking group and time on your permit. The group may be split up into different trekking groups during the day.

Whilst in Ruhengeri we stay in dorms at a local church mission, or camp in their grounds.

Please note that the gorilla permits are paid for in full by the trip kitty - however, Dragoman has to purchase the permits in advance on the customers' behalf, so a higher deposit is charged on the trip price to protect us from losing this money in the event of cancellation - please see the notes at the end for further detail.

Please also note that there is some flexibility in the itinerary depending on the circumstances of the trip and the weather, as such we sometimes may have extra time in Ruhengeri, in which case we will have time for some of the other activities here (listed below). 

Activity Approximate Cost

Learn all about the tragic 1994 Rwanda genocide at the extremely moving Genocide Memorial in Kigali

Included in Kitty

Trek in the forests of Rwanda's Volcanos National Park in search of the mighty mountain gorillas - an unforgettable experience!

Included in Kitty

Trek to search for the Golden Monkeys near Ruhengeri (if time allows)

USD 100

Visit the weaving collective at the Red Rocks Community Project (if time allows)

USD 10

Head out for a full day trekking around Visoke and other high volcanos in Volcanos National Park (if time allows)

USD 75

Trek out to Dian Fossey's Memorial in the forests around Ruhengeri (if time allows)

USD 75
About Ruhengeri & Volcanoes National Park:

The town of Ruhengeri is the jumping-off point for the famed Volcanoes National Park. The region is incredibly beautiful with stunning verdant mountains cascading down the shores of Lake Kivu. 

The park itself protects an area which is part of a chain of eight volcanoes running along the western branch of the Great Rift Valley. These spectacular mountains and the nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda are the last refuge of the mountain gorilla, the world's most endangered primate.

A trek out into the park in search of the gorillas is the experience of a lifetime. The pungent aromas of wet mountain vegetation will fill your senses as you trek through the forest following the local trackers, the sides of the mountains often shrouded in mist. The muddy and wet terrain is by no means easy, so it can be pretty strenuous and it's often very humid too - but the sheer thrill of coming face to face with a group of gorillas, dominated by a great male silverback, more than makes up for the difficulties of the trek. The animals are surprisingly placid and gentle and having the privilege of being able to watch their movements at close range is the ultimate wildlife experience. Currently there are four habituated groups. The largest is the Susa Group (35 members including 3 silverbacks) which lives on Karasimba Volcano, and was the original group studied by Dian Fossey. This is usually a pretty strenuous trek of between 1 to 4 hours.   The Trebize Group (13 members) and the Sabinyo Group are smaller and the trek is much easier. Lastly the Amahoro Group (also 13 members) live on the slopes of Mount Visoke. This trek is the intermediate one in terms of endurance.

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Day 60: Kabale

( Mon 28 Sep )

Border Information: Exit Rwanda at Cyanika, enter Uganda at Cyanika.

Today we have a free morning in Ruhengeri, then head out of Rwanda, crossing back into Uganda to camp in the town of Kabale.

Tonight we will stay in a well equipped campsite.

Drive time - 4-5 hours.

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Day 61: Queen Elizabeth National Park

( Tue 29 Sep )

This morning we travel to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, beautifully set between the Great Rift Valley lakes of Edward and George, undertaking a game drive on our way to the campsite. 

After lunch we will take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, well-known for pelicans, eagles and other wonderful birdlife as well as its healthy population of hippos. During our time in the park we also hope to see elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks. 

Tonight we will camp at a basic campsite with drop toilets, inside the National Park. Your leader will explain the basic safety aspects of camping in an unfenced area amongst the wildlife upon arrival.

Drive time - 5-6 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Head on a game drive around Queen Elizabeth National Park in our overland truck, in search of wildlife

Included in Kitty
Take a boat trip through the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park Included in Kitty
About Queen Elizabeth National Park:

This lies across the Equator in the southwest of Uganda and is bordered by two lakes. The animals that make their home here include hippos, tree-climbing lions, elephants, buffalo, Uganda kob, waterbuck, bushbuck and topi. Over the past 40 years or so, Uganda's wildlife took a terrible hammering from poaching and war. However, with the restoration of peace, the government and wildlife authorities have done a great deal to eradicate poaching and the wildlife is once again on the increase. Elephant numbers have increased substantially, with an influx from the Congo where they are still being persecuted. Queen Elizabeth National Park contains the most astonishing number of different fauna including 100 different types of mammal and over 600 species of birds. We take a boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, well-known for pelicans, eagles and other wonderful birdlife as well as its healthy population of hippos. During our time in the park we hope to see elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, Uganda kobs and waterbucks.

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Day 62 to 63: Mbarara, Jinja

( Wed 30 Sep to Thu 01 Oct )

Over the next 2 days we will travel back to the east through Kampala to Jinja. We will take a short game drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park on our way out in the morning.

We will most likely split the drive with a nightstop in Mbarara, but if the road conditions improve on a different road then we may go via Fort Portal instead. Both of these places have decent campsites to stay in.

Either way, we will reach Jinja by the second evening and enjoy a night relaxing at the same campsite as earlier in the trip.

Drive time - 11-12 hours split over 2 days.

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Day 64: Eldoret

( Fri 02 Oct )

Border Information: Exit Uganda at Malaba, enter Kenya at Malaba.

Today we travel back into Kenya and visit the town of Eldoret, where we have the option to visit a local cheese factory and creamery before heading to our campsite at Naiberi River just outside of town.

In Eldoret we will stay in an excellent campsite with the possibility of an Indian buffet meal.

Drive time - 7-9 hours.

About Eldoret:

Originally known as "64" because it was the 64th mile post on the wagon route from Londiani, Eldoret has developed into a vibrant town. There are nightclubs that line the streets and attractions such as the Keiro Valley, Kruger Farm and high altitude training camps.

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Day 65: Nairobi

( Sat 03 Oct )

Today we will make our way back to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where we will stay again in our well equipped campsite situated in the suburb of Karen.

Drive time - 6-7- hours.

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Day 66: Nairobi

( Sun 04 Oct )

Border Information: if you are leaving the trip in Nairobi, you will most likely exit Kenya at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Today is this is the final day of this section - if you are leaving here (or continuing northbound with us to Ethiopia) you will have a free day in Nairobi. If you are continuing your trip with us southbound towards Tanzania then there will a new group meeting at 10:00am for the next section of your journey, before heading away from Nairobi - your leader will give you detailed instructions about this.

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Important Notes

The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.

These trip notes have been compiled to help you prepare for your journey once you have booked. They include the full itinerary and dates, and information about kit lists, meeting hotels, insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other information that will help you get ready for your trip.

We update these notes regularly, so please ensure you have an up-to-date version of these trip notes.

We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature, overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, which often have poor infrastructure. You should expect that some of these areas do not adhere to 'Western' safety standards.

Altitude Warning

Warning - this trip goes above 2800m.

Please note that this trip spends time above 2800 metres/9200 feet where it is possible for travellers to experience some adverse effects on your health due to the altitude, potentially including Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).

Because of this it is very important that you make yourself aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude and monitor your health during this trip. 

For further information please click here to download our AMS information sheet or refer to the following website: www.high-altitude-medicine.com

Your leader will also hand you a copy of the AMS information sheet during your trip as well as holding a short meeting prior to travelling to altitudes above 2800m/9200ft for the first time.

If you are starting your trip in a destination above 2800m/9200ft we strongly advise reading this information prior to arrival.

Gorilla Trek Note

To track the gorillas you will need a permit. In order for us to to confirm this permit for you we require the following:

  1. Passport details at the time of booking
  2. A non refundable trip deposit payment of GBP650 at the time of booking (higher than our usual trip deposit)

Please be aware that we cannot confirm your place on a gorilla trip without your passport details. Please also note that the cost of the permit is still covered entirely by the kitty as is normal for a cost of this type. The deposit mentioned is simply a higher trip deposit to protect Dragoman against cancellations, as we have to pay for the permits in full in advance and our tour leaders collect this amount back from the kitty.    

The likelihood of seeing gorillas is virtually guaranteed; however, they are wild animals so we can never say that the chance is 100%.

Physical Preparation

Physical preparation for Eastern and Southern Africa

Travelling in Eastern and Southern Africa or Middle East can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions and basic campsites all provide a challenge. It can be very hot in places, but also can be surprisingly cold at night so please make sure you are prepared! There will be many early starts in Africa, especially on mornings where we head out on wildlife spotting trips. 

You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts.

The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. There are some long days driving on rough roads on all itineraries.

Physical preparation for The Nile Route

Travelling on the Nile Route can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions and basic accommodation all provide a challenge. It can be very hot in places during the day (especially in Sudan and Egypt) but also can be surprisingly cold at night so please make sure you are prepared! In Ethiopia it is often colder and has more rain than many people expect, and there are sections of high altitude, such as the Simien Mountains. You'll travel through some remote regions, and accommodation tends to be very basic in the entire region, including some wild camps with no facilities at all. 

You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts.

The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. There are some long days driving on rough roads on all itineraries.

Visa Information

Visa Information

Many countries that we visit on our travels will require visas to enter. Some are best obtained before you leave home, and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.

The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible. Please read the information very carefully to make sure everything is clear and you aware of what you need to do. Please also be aware that rules surrounding visas do change, often suddenly, and without prior warning. This is why it is important that you also double-check the information we provide for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you may wish to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. If you require any supporting documentation for your visa applications, please complete the ‘Visa Support Form’ available at this link: http://dragoman-visa-support.thevisamachine.com/visa-support.

However, for trips that involve multiple visas, our recommendation is that you use a visa agent to assist you with your applications. While this does increase the cost, it will make the process much easier for you. Dragoman have teamed up with ‘The Visa Machine’ to create a safe, secure, hassle-free way of obtaining visas and visa advice. Our unique link within their website is designed to make the visa process as straightforward as possible. Simply go to https://dragoman.thevisamachine.com and click on your region of travel followed by your trip route and ‘The Visa Machine’ will advise you about not only the required visas but also the dates by which you should apply. ‘The Visa Machine’ can then assist you in the actual visa application, thus taking all the worry and hassle out of the process. The visa service is not always available for all nationalities or non-UK residents, depending on the requirements of each specific embassy. The Visa Machine will advise you what they can and cannot provide for your specific circumstances.

As you will often need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure.

Most countries require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the country.

For trips that are not yet guaranteed, you may find yourself in the position whereby you will need to start the visa application process prior to your trip being guaranteed - in this situation we still advise you not to purchase flights until your trip is guaranteed. However, you can start your visa application process, ensuring that when applying for your visas or letters of invitation that you allow several days before and after your entry into the country to allow for delays, availability of flights, etc. 

Ethiopia 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter Ethiopia as a tourist for up to 90 days.

If arriving into Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, most nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport. If you are starting your trip in Gondar, you will be able to obtain your visa in Addis Ababa airport and stamp into Ethiopia before changing planes to fly to Gondar. At the time of writing (2015), the cost of a 30-day visa is USD50, and a 90-day visa is USD75. You will need two passport photos for the application. Please note that citizens of many Eastern European countries cannot obtain the visa on arrival, and will need to get it in advance as detailed below.

Please note that visas are not available on arrival at any land borders – if arriving at a land border (e.g. from Sudan or Kenya), then you must obtain your visa in advance. This must generally be done at the Ethiopian Embassy in your country of residence only (or the closest place which has an embassy). The Ethiopian Embassies in Cairo and Nairobi no longer issue visas to non-Egyptian or non-Kenyan residents respectively, so you will not be able to obtain one in either of these places. Please see this website to find your closest embassy or consulate - http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/ethiopia .

Please also be aware that the visa is valid from the date of issue and not the date of entry into Ethiopia, and it is no longer possible to post-date the visas, so please give careful consideration to the timing of your application and to which length of visa will be suitable for your stay.

If you are asked to provide an address in Ethiopia on your visa form, please use the address below:

Sarem International Hotel
Belay Zeleke Street

Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 126 2088

 

IMPORTANT NOTE - Those on longer Northbound combinations from Cape Town or Victoria Falls (specifically trip codes AGV, EEV, AAO, AGO, and EEW) will be unable to apply for an Ethiopia visa before travel, as it will expire before you are able to use it.

We have previously advised people to apply for the visa before travelling and ask them to post-date the visa so that it becomes valid when you are due to arrive in Ethiopia. Unfortunately Ethiopian Immigration Officers have now stopped doing this and are making their visas valid as soon as they are issued; they remain valid up to a maximum of 90 days during which time you will have had to have entered and exited Ethiopia.

As such, there are now only 2 options for getting this visa successfully in order to continue the combination trip. Both options have been successfully used in the past by those unable to get their visa post-dated.

Option 1 – obtain a 2ndconcurrent passport before travel, send your visa application using this new passport to The Visa Machine who can keep hold of it and apply for the visa on your behalf later on while you are already in Southern Africa (travelling using your 1st passport). Then The Visa Machine can arrange to have it sent out to you in Nairobi (via DHL, FedEx, etc.) for you to pick up. You will likely need a letter from your employer and from Dragoman to apply for a 2nd passport, but please contact Dragoman or The Visa Machine for further advice on this if you prefer this option.

Option 2 – continue on the trip as far as Samburu National Park, then temporarily leave the trip – as the truck heads North to Marsabit, you can travel South back to Nairobi on local transport (which our local Samburu guides can help arrange). From Nairobi you can take a flight to Addis Ababa (where you can obtain your Ethiopia visa on arrival) and then on to Arba Minch (airport code AMH). From here you can take a short drive in a local taxi or bus to the town of Konso (this transport can be very easily arranged on arrival) - here you will meet the truck again and re-join the trip. The only section you will miss by taking this option is the drive from Archer’s Post – Marsabit – Moyale – Konso, a section without any real ‘highlights’. Please contact Dragoman if you would like to take this option and would like assistance booking the flights, or if you would like to discuss these options in more depth.

Please note that you cannot obtain your visa here while waiting for a connecting flight, and then later try to use this visa to enter at a land border (for example - obtain the visa at Addis Ababa airport while waiting for a connecting flight to Nairobi, then later try to cross overland from Kenya to Ethiopia). This is not accepted - they will check the Place of Issue of the visa and refuse you entry into Ethiopia if you have obtained your visa this way.

Kenya 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter Kenya as a tourist for up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required.

From September 2015 it will no longer be possible to obtain a visa on arrival or at a consulate, and tourists of all nationalities will have to obtain an e-visa at least 7 days in advance of arrival into Kenya - please go to www.ecitizen.go.ke to set up an account and apply; it may take up to 7 days to be approved, then they will send a visa approval confirmation to your email address which you must print out to present at the border. At the time of writing (2015), the cost of a single-entry visa is USD50, EUR40 or GBP30 for all nationalities.

You are allowed to exit and then re-enter Kenya with just a single-entry visa, provided your travel in between visits to Kenya is only within Tanzania and Uganda. If you have been to any further countries during this time, then this single-entry visa will no longer be valid, and you will have to purchase a new e-visa to re-enter Kenya.

As of May 2014, there is a new East African Tourist Visa available – this is a common visa that covers Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. It is available on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi, or any major land border into Kenya (e.g. from Tanzania or Ethiopia). At the time of writing (2015), the cost of this visa is USD100 for all nationalities. This is recommended if you are doing our ‘gorilla loop’ through Uganda and Rwanda.

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission. 

Uganda 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most EU countries will need a visa to enter Uganda as a tourist for up to 90 days. Citizens of Ireland will not need a visa to enter Uganda.

The easiest way to get a visa is to obtain it on arrival. This is available for all nationalities at all land borders and airports into Kenya. At the time of writing (2015), the cost of a single-entry visa is USD100 for all nationalities, which should be paid in cash on arrival.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required (there are only a small number of nationalities that are exempt).

As of May 2014, there is a new East African Tourist Visa available – this is a common visa that covers Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. It is available on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi, or any major land border into Kenya (e.g. from Tanzania or Ethiopia). At the time of writing (2015), the cost of this visa is USD100 for all nationalities. This is recommended if you are doing our ‘gorilla loop’ through Uganda and Rwanda.

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission. 

Rwanda 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter Rwanda as a tourist for up to 30 days.

Citizens of the UK, Germany, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and South Africa can obtain a visa on arrival from any point of entry in to Rwanda. At the time of writing (2015), the cost of a single-entry visa is USD30 for these nationalities, which should be paid in cash on arrival.

All other nationalities (including other EU countries, Ireland, and the USA) will need to apply for an e-visa in advance – please go to www.migration.gov.rw to apply for a single-entry visa; it should take 2-5 days to be approved, then they will send a visa approval confirmation to your email address which you must print out to present at the border – the costs vary depending on nationality.

If you are asked to provide an address in Rwanda on your visa form, please use the address below:

Centre Pastoral Notre Dame De Fatima
Avenue de la Nutrition
Ruhengeri, Rwanda

 

There is a space on the online form to attach an invitation letter, however this is not needed. Please contact Dragoman if the embassy requests it.

As of May 2014, there is a new East African Tourist Visa available – this is a common visa that covers Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. It is available on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi, or any major land border into Kenya (e.g. from Tanzania or Ethiopia). At the time of writing (2015), the cost of this visa is USD100 for all nationalities. This is recommended if you are doing our ‘gorilla loop’ through Uganda and Rwanda.

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission. 

Personal Spending

Personal Spending - Africa

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on our trips in all of Africa, we recommend you allow between USD10 and USD20 per day.

This will cover individual expenses such as drinks, meals whilst out (when staying in cities), souvenirs, tips and personal permits.

Eastern and Southern Africa Currencies and Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel.  Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, a sensible mix of cash and cash passports such as TravelEx cards and ATM cards is best. However, most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash. 

You should take a mixture of denomination notes. Banks and moneychangers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are no more than 8 years old. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Please bring the majority of the money you intend to change in large denominations (USD/EUR100 and 50 bills) as the exchange rate is often significantly worse if you try to change smaller bills; however, it is also a good idea to have some smaller bills as well, as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over USD50.

Cash machines are readily available in most of East and Southern Africa but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Please note that most ATMs only take Visa cards NOT Mastercard. Please also do not not plan to take out large amounts of USD from the ATMs in Zimbabwe for use on the rest of the trip - the cash in Zimbabwe is often old, dirty and falling apart and will not be accepted anywhere else in the world. 

Credit cards such as Visa and American Express are the most commonly accepted, but be prepared for very high commission charges. Please do not rely on cards for daily use, as they are not always accepted outside of larger towns and cities.

Zambian Kwacha - please note that the currency of Zambia (the Kwacha, old code ZMK, new code ZMW) was re-based in 2013, and the old notes are no longer accepted. Please be careful that you only accept notes of the new currency (2013 and later) when exchanging money as some money changers have been known to offload old currency onto travellers. The new currency comes in denominations of ZMW2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 - any notes such as ZMK5000 are the old currency, do not accept them!

Nile Route Currencies and Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel.  Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

Cash machines are usually available in Egypt, but are infrequent in Ethiopia and northern Kenya, and do not exist in Sudan (at least not any that will work with non Sudanese cards). It is therefore very important that you have a good supply of USD cash, just bringing cards such as Travelex, VISA or Mastercard to top up your cash on the occasions when you find ATMs.

You should take a mixture of denomination notes. Banks and moneychangers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are no more than 8 years old. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Please bring the majority of the money you intend to change in large denominations (USD/EUR100 and 50 bills) as the exchange rate is often significantly worse if you try to change smaller bills; however, it is also a good idea to have some smaller bills as well, as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over USD50.

What else you need to know

Overland Lifestyle and Trip Suitability

Dragoman has 32 years experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up close. Your journey will be overland across vast distances so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention:

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Who Travels with Dragoman?

Our groups are made up of people from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split, males to females and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18 (or 7 on our Family Trips), as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the beauties of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and as well as the variety of people that you will meet.

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Group Size

The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location; however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.

Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi, for example, will visit Zanzibar at the same time as group starting a trip in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew and Guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew. The crew are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip. On our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and for them to offer suggestions of things to do and see.

On trips south of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes.

In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or the entire journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people.

Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your crew is new to a particular region or training other crew. Your crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.

Accommodation on Tour

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying hotels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip and whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation from time to time.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary depending on what options are available in each of the areas we travel through and the nightstops on our routes; The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses.

Equally, the type and standard of hotel accommodation will vary greatly depending on what is available in the area; hotels can vary from very basic multi-share rooms without electricity or running water all the way to high standard hotels with good facilities!

One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp; this allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.

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The Kitty

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip (please note that there is no kitty on our Family Trips). The kitty is payable in installments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees

• Meals whilst camping (not in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park entrances, excursions and local guides).

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility and transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive and save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties, as they are the group's fund. We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice, and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip, then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.

Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips) or via our new scheme where you can pay in advance 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip (please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v1.pdf for more details - this letter will also be sent in your booking confirmation upon booking a trip). 

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars, or Euros in West Africa). Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders are experiencing frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept TCs on our trips. As an alternative, in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines and use either a cash passport or a debit card.

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Meals and Group Participation

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help prepare meals).

An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.

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Dietary Requirements

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others.  If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, or would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring these with you.  Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

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Itineraries

Our itineraries are our intention but travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:

• The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

• Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers

• Leaders reports from off the road

• Local contacts we have built up over 33 years of experience

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British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advise when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advise rather than the advise of other governments.

However we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. Check to ensure that no travel warning is invalidating your travel insurance Here are a few useful addresses:

UK  www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Australia. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

Canada. http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp

Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip. We recommend you check this out before you travel. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.

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Health

You need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you from all or part of the trip without a refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase.

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Altitude

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

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Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria & other mosquito-borne diseases

Get expert advice before travelling about types of malaria pills and take them as instructed. Recommended types do change from time to time and from area to area. Consult your GP / travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

Other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever and Chikungunya are continuing to spread and becoming a bigger problem around the world. Bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists, can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping outside, use a mosquito net. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your clothing.

Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights and in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

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Vaccinations

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.

We also recommend you check out any specific health advice for the country you are travelling to either via your GP or the following websites: www.nathnac.org or www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk

In the UK, we have been working with Nomad Travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up-to-date vaccination and health information. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

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Safety & Security

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

We want you to have an enjoyable time but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third party suppliers we use during your trip.

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Transport Safety

• Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.

• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.

• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.

• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion

• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells

• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.

• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver

• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.

Road Safety

• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.

• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings.

• Crash Helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.

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Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Homestays

• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.

• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.

• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out.

• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.

• We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or homestays

Fire Safety – Campsites

• Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.

• Know how to raise the alarm.

• Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.

• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.

• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.

Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.

• Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.

• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.

• Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.

• All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.

• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.

• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.

• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.

• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.

• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group. Food Safety We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;

• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.

• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.

• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).

• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.

• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.

• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.

• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.

• Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.

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Personal Safety

One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise you to leave any valuable jewellery, watches, etc, at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.

• Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

• Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.

• In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away by the crew.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.

• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.

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Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included, whilst others are optional (i.e. hiking The Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas). These require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip to its fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish to, or have the physical ability to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the Client ‘on the road’ subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the Client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

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Included Activities

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

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Optional Activities

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

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Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £5,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000. Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, I pads, phones etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity you intend to undertake. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas.

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Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

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Emergency Contact

We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

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Luggage & Kit List

Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances, you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker, so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers, however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips, Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).

The clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats*, so you'll need to bring those with you. Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to- there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember that even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

IMPORTANT: Ground mats are provided on all of our overland trips that run in South and East Africa, between Nairobi and Cape Town. This includes our Family trips between Nairobi and Cape Town.

For a general idea of what you need this list provides a guide:

• Sleeping bag* - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months.

• Sleeping bag liner* (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides). It will help keep your sleeping bag clean, and can be used on its own on warm nights.

• Ground mat or compressed foam*

• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day

• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best)

• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship

• 2 pairs of shorts

• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking

• 1 pair of sunglasses

• Warm sweater/fleeces

• 1 waterproof jacket with hood

• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots)

• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops

• Underwear and socks (thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude or to the desert as it can get very cold at night)

• Swimwear

• 2 small towels

• Washing kit, including a small mirror

• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush & washing line (just a length of cord)

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries & bulbs (only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5v batteries are widely available en route)

• Passport photos (average of 2 per country for which visas will be applied for en route)

• Good water bottle at least 1 litre

• A pouch or money belt worn inside your clothing, or unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers, is a must.

• Alarm clock

• Pocket calculator (useful when exchanging money)

• Writing materials & notebook/diary

• Multi purpose knife.

• Mosquito net - The tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.

• "Wet Ones" (moistened tissues) and hand gel

• Toilet paper – this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route but one roll is worth packing

• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp

• Extra batteries for your camera / phone etc as there are only limited opportunities to recharge. For a comprehensive kit list take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. You will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/c/381/Overland

 

*For trips with camping nights

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Personal Medical Kit

All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit. In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce the Dragoman Travel Medical Kit. It has been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contains everything you would need for any minor accidents. For more details please visit their website:

http://www.nomadtravel.co.uk/pharmacy

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Passports

Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of the trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or "visitor's” passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for you trip. If you change your passport please remember to inform us.

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Pre and Post Trip Accommodation and Connecting Flights

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of the joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay? Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.

While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand that you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk-in rates or internet specials.

We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival; however we do have pre paid transfers in a few destinations.

Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer, as not all hotels offer this service.

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Continuing Your Trip

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet? If on your trip you decide that you would like to continue, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

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Contingency Emergency Fund

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you will be required to contribute the additional costs involved and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.

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Responsible Tourism

Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s responsible tourism policy linked from the home page.

www.dragoman.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/our-commitment

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Water

The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilised water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your pocket!

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Electrical Equipment

Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.

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A Few Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman groups. It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special. The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes or abuse children. Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.

We expect you to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass. This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory. Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.

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Issues on the Trip

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on

customer-relations@dragoman.co.uk.

You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip, but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

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Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it.

On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD $1 to USD $4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

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Our Community

At any time before or after you book, you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and you can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in - it's free and easy. We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other

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Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

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