|Route:||Cape Town to Cairo|
|Transport:||Overland expedition vehicle, 4x4s, Ferry|
Botswana is one of the finest safari destinations in Africa. With 17% of the country covered by National Parks, the wildlife is as diverse as the landscapes - there are over 85 species of mammals and well over 1000 types of birds that reside in the country, with a boat trip in Chobe National Park being one of the best places to observe elephants in the region.
The sand of the Kalahari Desert covers most of Botswana, and in the east there are the vast salt pans of Makgadikgadi. With very little rainfall, these areas are a perfect habitat for some Botswana's iconic wildlife. On the other end of the scale, another of Botswana's massive highlights is the Okavango Delta, where the Okvango River drains into and never reaches the ocean - this is one of the most scenic areas of the world and is packed full of wildlife. A trip in the local 'mokoros' to wild camp on the delta's islands is one of the most magical experiences in Africa!
Botswana is also home to a variety of cultures, perhaps most famously the San tribe - masters of desert survival, this incredible civilisation still thrives in their traditional lifestyle in the Kalahari.
Egypt is a country packed full of internationally-celebrated historical sites!
The history and culture of Ancient Egypt spans back an incredible 6000 years, and vast swathes of this heritage remains in its brilliantly-preserved glory. From the earliest Old Kingdom sites of Saqqara and Dashur, to the New Kingdom capital of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, to the Ptolemaic-era Temple of Edfu and the Greek and Roman sites of Alexandria, the country is brimming full of history and unique treasures.
The capital Cairo is the largest city in Africa, and is full of fascinating places to visit such as the Egyptian Museum and the Saladin-era Citadel, as well as being the centre of culture, art and music in the Arabic world. However, the main attraction for visitors are the iconic Great Pyramids of Giza - the oldest and only remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids are one of the most incredible and mind-blowing sights on the planet.
Some of Egypt's other amazing historical highlights include the remarkable Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel, the impeccably-preserved Temples of Edfu and Dendara, and Luxor's alley of the Kings and the Temple of Karnak. Other fantastic highlights are experiencing the coast of the glittering Red Sea, strolling around the busy city of Alexandria, exploring the remote Sahara deserts, and of course drifing down the famous River Nile on a traditional felucca sailing boat.
Egypt has an amazing history, and there is so much to be discovered and so many adventures to be found.
With a friendly atmosphere, a country brimming with history, fascinating tribes and scenic National Parks,
Ethiopia is home to some of the world's most dramatic and varied landscapes. The north contains spectacular mountains and highlands, including the breathtaking Simien Mountains National Park which contains a bewildering array of wildlife! The east contains vast lowland deserts and depressions, and the south has lush valleys and stunning lakes.
The culture and history of Ethiopia is also wonderfully unique. Ethiopia has contained a devoted Orthodox Christian culture for centuries, and this legacy is evident in the country's incredible monasteries and the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. In the far north was the home of the ancient Axumite Empire, and Gondar contains some of the most impressive medieval structures in Africa. The south we find the Omo Valley, home to some fascinating tribal cultures such as the Hamer, Konzo and the Dorze.
Ethiopia is a country full of life and colour, and this is expressed through the fantastic variety of the music, from the rhythmic folk music of the remote tribal areas to the incredibly cool Ethio-jazz styles of Addis Ababa. Ethiopia's cuisine is very unique, including the iconic (and acquired taste) of injera, the sourdough pancakes that are ubiquitous across the nation.
A journey into Ethiopia is a journey into some of the most interesting, amazing and varied areas of Africa, and should be high on everyone's lists!
Of course it's the wildlife that draws most people to
The main draw for visitors to
In the capital of
Deep in the corner of Southern Africa lies the wonderful country of Namibia. It has a massively diverse mix of cultures, amazing wildlife, and a seemingly infinite range of landscapes from wild seascapes to rugged mountains, lonely deserts, colonial cities.
A perfect place for an early trek to see the sunrise, the giant sand dunes and desolate salt pans of Sossusvlei and Sesriem are some of the most ethereal sights in Africa, and you'll be able to explore its surreal landscapes in-depth. The breathtaking views of sunset over the colossal Fish River Canyon are equally impressive! Namibia's incredible natural highlights also include the rugged mountain of Spitzkoppe, the bizarre Quiver Tree Forests of Keetmanshoop, and the hauntingly-desolate Namib Desert.
Namibia also contains some incredible wildlife, and the best place in the country for animal spotting is Etosha National Park in the north. Next to a huge salt pan, the park is packed full of zebras, antelopes, lions, leopards, elephants, zebras, rhinos, and much more! On the Atlantic coast at Cape Cross we can see one of the world's largest seal colonies in their natural habitat.
Swakopmund a laid-back coastal town and home to many pulse-raising optional activities, from quad-biking through the dunes, surfing the waves in the ocean or exploring the Skeleton Coast from the air on a stunning scenic flight. The country is also home to a vast variety of fascinating cultures, including the resilient San tribes and the remarkable Himba people.
Namibia is one of the least demanding African countries to travel in, but certainly one of the most rewarding.
South Africa is an unforgettable destination that you will want to travel to again and again.
The city of Cape Town is where we start and end our journeys through South Africa, and it is one of the world's most scenic cities - with its stunning coastline, the spectacular Table Mountain dominating over it, and modern cityscape, Cape Town is one of Africa's most appealing cities. There are vineyards on its doorstep, adventure activities around every corner, gardens, beaches, and museums to explore, and plenty of restaurants and cafes to relax in.
South Africa has some truly delicious food to sample - from the traditional 'Potjiekos' stew to the meaty 'Boerewors' sausages and the famous dried biltong, you'll never be disappointed when trying the country's fantastic cuisine. South Africa's wine is deservedly world famous, and the region also gave the world Rooibos tea!
The vibrant South African lifestyle is perfectly reflected in the music - from folk music to jazz, hip hop and pop, and traditional music still playing all over the country, the sounds of South Africa are beautifully diverse and an important factor in the country's culture.
South Africa is a modern country with deep roots in traditional African culture, and is a wonderful nation to explore!
Sudan is one of the least-visited places in Africa, and yet it has so much to offer the overland traveller. The friendliness of the Sudanese people is legendary in traveller circles, and you'll always find a warm and curious reception from the locals!
Khartoum is the capital city, and it is full of life and colour - there's a few interesting museums to explore and some incredible markets to see.
Sudan is famous for its unique Kushite-era temples and steep-sided pyramids. Much less-known than the ancient treasures of Egypt, the ancient Nubian ruins of Meroe, Naqa and Musawwarat are incredibly impressive and very special to witness.
Perhaps Sudan's biggest highlight is the vast and desolate Sahara Desert, and the incredible journey that we will make while overland across the country. Sudan is one of the world's best areas for remote and serene wild camping, and our many nights camping out underneath the dazzling stars will be truly transcendent.
Cherish this wonderful and often-overlooked country. Meet some of the friendliest people in the world, embrace the traditions and you'll never forget the magic of Sudan.
Next to the Serengeti is the phenomenal Ngorongoro Crater, a 19km-wide fertile volcanic caldera that is packed full of some of the most incredible wildlife in the world. You have a very good chance to spot leopards, lions, rhinos, hippos, buffalo, giraffes, cheetahs, elephants, and much more in this natural wonderland.
Tanzania is also home to the fabled tropical
Zambia is one of Southern Africa's gems, and yet it is often overlooked by travellers to the region - this wonderful small country features some incredible scenery, and friendly gentle people.
Zambia contains one of Africa's best-kept secrets - the spectacular South Luangwa National Park. Much less famous than its counterparts to the north such as the Serengeti and Maasai Mara, South Luangwa draws far fewer tourists; however, it is a game park that is teeming with wildlife, and you'll commonly spot lions, zebras, elephants, giraffes, leopards, and much much more roaming the primeval landscapes.
Of course, Zambia is also famous as being one side of the mighty Victoria Falls, Africa's largest waterfalls and one of the world's most impressive natural sights.
Zimbabwe is one of Southern Africa's most beautiful regions and home to spectacular rolling landscapes, National Parks and striking baobab trees.
A country recovering from its troubles in the early 2000s, Zimbabwe is once again becoming a gem on the Southern African circuit. Two of the continent's finest National Parks can be found here: Hwange, famous for its mighty elephant herds and wild dog populations, and Matobo, well-known for its rhinos, ancient cave paintings and the containing the grave of the colonialist Cecil Rhodes.
Some of sub-Saharan Africa's earliest great civilisations emerged from what is today Zimbabwe, and this legacy can be seen in some of the greatest ancient ruins found in the continent - the phenomenal 11th-Century ruins of Great Zimbabwe near Masvingo and Khami near Bulawayo.
And of course, Zimbabwe is most famous for containing one of the world's greatest highlights, the magnificent Victoria Falls! The largest waterfalls in Africa and featuring an unbroken curtain of water nearly a kilometre long, the Victoria Falls are also known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, "The Smoke That Thunders".
Zimbabwe is perfect for nature lovers and for all travellers who want to experience Africa at its purist.
Border Information: If joining in Cape Town, enter Cape Town at airport.
You can arrive at any time on day one, as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting tonight at 6pm. Your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information. After the group meeting there is the option of joining the group for dinner. We stay in a hotel situated in Cape Town's popular, lively and vibrant Kloof Street with a large variety of restaurants, coffee shops, cafe's and bars all within walking distance.
Return cable-car trip to the top of Table Mountain
Excursion to the former jail on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned
Visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Full-day Shark Cage Diving excursion
Tour to the Cape of Good Hope and the Boulders Penguin Colony
Tour of Cape Town Townships and the District Six Museum
With its stunning coastline, dominating mountain and modern cityscape, Cape Town is one of Africa's most appealing cities. With vineyards on its doorstep, adventure activities around every other corner and plenty of restaurants and cafes to while away the time, this is a fantastic holiday destination in its own right.
Whether you're finishing or joining a Dragoman trip here, Cape Town is a very easy city to spend some extra time in. Cape Town and the Western Cape in general has a very cosmopolitan feel thanks to its cultural diversity, vibrancy and creativity. The city is also lucky enough to benefit from great weather, with warm languid summers and mild winters - making it a great destination all year round.
Home to 6 internationally recognised Blue Flag beaches, it's a great place to kick back and relax, or if you'd rather get active, hop inside the revolving cable car and set off on one of hundreds of hiking trails that criss cross Table Mountain to its summit, stopping off to admire the views of Camps Bay down below. If you've got any energy left you can even strap on a harness and abseil all the way down. Other attractions in the city include the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, the famous Robben Island where Nelson Mandela once spent time as a prisoner, and the Cape Point Nature Reserve.
This morning you have time to relax in Cape Town. Later this day we travel approx. 290km to Citrusdal. Tonight we stay in a well equipped camp site.
Sample the delicious wines from the vineyards at the base of the Cederberg Mountains
|Included in Kitty|
The Western Cape of South Africa is one of the world's best regions for wine production - the temperate climate of the region and the altitude profile of the nearby Cedarberg Mountains make the area ideal for the cultivation of grapes, and a thriving wine industry has grown up in the area. Amongst the most common varieties of wine produced here are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Blanc de Blanc, Blanc de Noir, Chenin Blanc and Pinotage.
The area of the Cedarberg Mountains is also famous as rooibos tea is endemic there - enjoyed in Southern Africa for centuries, rooibos tea has become very popular worldwide in recent decades, and is still almost exclusively grown in the Western Cape.
Border Information: Exit South Africa at Noordoewer, enter Namibia at Noordoewer
Today we pass through Namaqualand to arrive at the beautiful Orange River, the natural border between South Africa and Namibia. It takes about an hour to exit South Africa and enter Namibia. Later we head for our camp on the banks of this river approx. 540 km.
Noordoewer (meaning "North Bank" in Afrikaans) is a small settlement on the banks of the Orange River, which marks the boundary between Namibia and South Africa. It is one of the hottest places in Namibia, but fortunately there is an abundance of water which is used to irrigate the fruit trees - in particular, the grape vines that are common in the area.
This morning there is a chance for an optional canoe adventure on the beautiful Orange River before we head 160Kms further west into the desert lands of Namibia towards Fish River Canyon. There are remarkable photographic opportunities here, as we take in the sunset orange glows before heading to our campsite.
Head out on a short canoe trip on the Orange River, which marks the boundary of Namibia and South Africa
Freely explore the ridge at the top of the incredible Fish River Canyon, and take in the jaw-dropping sunset vistas from the best viewpoint of the canyon
|Included in Kitty|
Fish River Canyon is one of the great natural wonders of Africa. It is Africa's largest canyon, and one of the largest canyons in the world - it is similar in dimension and sheer magnificence to the Colca Canyon in Peru and the Grand Canyon in the USA. Fish River has its source east of the Naukluft Mountains, and from there it flows down into the great Orange River. The river has cut into the escarpment through which it flows to create a canyon more than 150 kms long, and up to 550 m deep in places.
There are remarkable photographic opportunities here, and on our overland trips we will watch the incredible orange and pink glows of the ground at sunset before heading on to our campsite.
A driving day as we head 500Kms towards the fabled dunes of Namibia. The most famous part of the Namib Desert is its vast dune fields, the most spectacular of which are found near the Sesriem Canyon.
The Namib Deserts are thought to be the oldest in the world, and are between 55-80 million years old. The most famous parts of the Namib Desert are its vast dune fields, the most spectacular of which are found near the Sesriem Canyon and in the Namib-Naukluft National Park.
The Sesriem Canyon was formed when the Tsauchab River carved a gorge 30m deep into the gravel deposits about 15 million years ago. It is thought that this river once flowed to the Atlantic Ocean but its course was blocked by the encroaching sand dunes. Now the river flows out to the dune fields that stretch for hundreds of miles up the coast, and dries up in a clay pan at Soussusvlei.
The dunes are stunning, with magnificent red/orange tones from the brightly coloured sands - they are the highest sand dunes to be found anywhere in the world and are home to a plethora of animal life. The sight of the graceful oryx wandering along the base of these massive dunes is beautiful to see. We get the chance to appreciate the area in all its glory on a sunrise climb to the top of Dune 45 - a star-shaped dune at the 45th kilometre marker from the Sesriem gate, standing over 170m tall above the ancient desert. This is without doubt the best way to take in the landscape, and watching a sunrise there is an ethereal and unforgettable moment!
The Namib Desert stretches for about 2,000 km from Southern Angola to Olifants River in South Africa. It is squeezed into an area less than 200 kms wide between the South Atlantic Ocean and the Great Western Escarpment.
The desert has some stunning flora and fauna. Probably the most famous is the wonder plant, Welwitschia mirabilis, which is endemic to the Namib. Many of these horizontal trees are over 1,000 years old. This plant, which is part of the pine tree family, only has two leaves, but these leaves are vital as they allow the plant to take up fog water. In fact, the incessant fog, which comes in from the Atlantic in the mornings, is the reason that the Namib has such prolific flora and fauna, providing just enough moisture for life to carry on. Both plants and animals have adapted to utilising the small amount of moisture that is available.
Due to the fog and the winds off the Atlantic, the temperature here can drop very quickly, then soaring up to over 40ºC later in the day as the sun burns through the fog and the winds change to a hot dry easterly breeze. These extremes of temperature make the area inhospitable and yet the desert is home to extraordinary wildlife, including herds of elephant, zebra, oryx and other big game.
Early morning climb to the top of the dunes for a dramatic sunrise view across a vast sea of sand and opportunity for a trip to Soussusvlei. We then head off to our first bush camp of the trip in the desert approx. 240km
Take an unforgettable sunrise balloon trip over the Namib desert and Dune 45 (alternative to the included tour)
Climb the colossal sand dune of Dune 45 to witness the incredible shifting colours of the Namib deserts at sunrise
|Included in Kitty|
From the desert, we continue on to the old German colonial town of Swakopmund for plenty of adventure activities on offer, the drive is approx. 320km. Our accommodation here is in bungalows that accomodate 6 people each.
Learn all about the German colonial history of the area at the Swakopmund Museum
Take a scenic flight over the Forbidden Coast and the Skeleton Coast
Head out for a fun morning of sandboarding on the dunes near Swakopmund
Explore the ocean by boat and search for dolphins, seals, and other marine life
Head out for a quad-biking trip into the Namib deserts near Swakopmund
Go in search of dolphins on a sea kayak trip off the coast of Swakopmund
Take a boat out for off-shore fishing in the seas near the Forbidden Coast
Head out on horseback to explore the beautiful area around Swakopmund
Surrounded by the massive dune fields of the Namib Desert on three sides and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, Swakopmund is an extraordinary remnant of German colonial culture that's found throughout Namibia. It's worth wandering around the town to admire the beauty of the Germanic architecture and take advantage of some excellent souvenir shopping.
Swakopmund has become the adventure capital of the region. This is a great place for the adrenaline junkie, and there are some excellent outdoor activities that you can get involved with - some of the most popular include sandboarding, quad-biking across the beautiful dunes or exploring the marine life on a boat trip along the coast.
Experience the sight, sound and smell of thousands of olive-coloured seals on the shores of Cape Cross while travelling up the eerie Atlantic Coast on our journey to Sptitzkoppe approx. 240km. Our bush camp has very limited facilities.
Visit the largest Cape Seal colony at Cape Cross on the Skeleton Coast
|Included in Kitty|
The rugged mountain of Spitzkoppe is sometimes known as 'the Matterhorn of Namibia' - it is a staggering 700 million years old, and stands at 1,987m rising above the wild lands of the surrounding deserts.
Although you should not attempt climbing to the top, there are some excellent hikes throughout the area - it is a truly spectacular landscape, which although in the desolate rocky deserts is nevertheless abundant in unique plant life. This is a great place to get away from it all and to appreciate the stunning harsh beauty of this sparsely-populated country. One amazing sight to witness here are the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises, as the colour of the landscape takes on a series of remarkable orange and red hues.
As the Portuguese explorer Bartholemeu Diaz discovered 500 years before us, Cape Cross is a huge breeding ground for Cape fur seals - and it's now home to about 200,000 of them! It's quite an incredible sight to see the thousands of seals reeling about on the beach and interacting in their natural habitat. Sometimes you may see hyenas and jackals waiting on the edges of the colony for opportunities to steal pups while their mothers are at sea.
Please bear in mind that this is quite a raw experience, and you'll likely smell the seals well before you see them, so please don't expect idyllic scenes of seals basking on the shore!
Today we head to Etosha NP, one of the world's most pre-eminent wildlife areas with good chance to see the big five. We will stay in the park for a couple of days to give us plently of time for game drives.
Tonight we camp in Okaukuejo, a particularly spectacular camp as it overlooks a floodlit waterhole visited by many different species throughout the day and night.
Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa's most important game reserves, home to a huge range of wildlife including many big carnivores as well as five rare or endangered species - the Black Rhino, Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, Black Faced Impala, Roan Antelope and the tiny Damara Dik Dik - and because Namibia has protected its game reserves against poaching, there are large herds of elephant, antelope and other herbivores.
Etosha means "Great White Place" in the local language, describing the massive mineral pan that dominates the National Park's landscape. The wildlife here is prolific and Etosha has every right to proclaim itself as one of the world's most pre-eminent wildlife reserves. Game viewing in the park is superb due to the man-made water holes and the large sparsely-vegetated pans, which make it easier to get good sightings of many of the animals. The bushland surrounding the pans is more difficult to see through, but there are enough clearings, pans and waterholes to make most visits very worthwhile.
Today we game drive through the park and overnight in Namutoni another particularly spectacular camp as this also has a floodlit waterhole visited by many different species throughout the day and night
Search for all manner of African wildlife on a safari in our overland truck through the incredible Etosha National Park
|Included in Kitty|
Today we head towards our campsite just outside of Grootfontein. On the way we will stop to replenish our food supply approx. 300 km.
This morning we visit the San village for our bushwalk. We then head off to Rundu (approx. 290km) where we camp at a beautiful & tranquil spot on the banks of the Kavango River.
The drive along the Caprivi Strip can contain some marvellous sites, but it also has some fantastic places to relax and Rundu is one of them.
Rundu is the capital of the Kavango region of Namibia, on the border with Angola. A centre of activity for Namibia's growing Angolan community this is a great place to explore. Whether it is to try the regional taste of Paw Paws or to see what the wood carvings on sale at the market look like, Rundu is the place for it.
Relax at Rundu in the morning before heading to our camp at Bagani in Namibia (approx 200km). It is from this camp located in the Namibian Caprivi Strip that we organise our visit to the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
The town of Bagani is located in the Namibian Caprivi Strip. This is a land of fertile floodplains surrounded by perennial rivers, making for some beautiful scenery. The narrowest part of the Caprivi Strip is also a game reserve, and the main road we travel on runs right through the middle of the reserve.
The Strip is a classic example of how the former colonial powers shaped the boundaries of modern Africa. At 500 kms long, with the game reserve only 32 kms wide, the Strip opens up to almost 100kms wide at the eastern end, before narrowing to a point on the Zambezi River - and this is where the boundaries of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana meet. During the struggle for independence the Caprivi region was home to the South African army and police, and from the early 1960s until 1990 the region was in a constant state of war.
Most Caprivians make a living from farming and fishing. In the wet season, waters from the Zambezi and Kavango Rivers flood much of the area. During these months the local people travel through the region using the mokoro canoes similar to those that you see in the Okavango Delta.
Border Information: Exit Namibia at Muhembo, enter Botswana at Muhembo.
We drive across the border into Botswana, approx. 320km, and join our transport for the journey into the Delta from Seronga. You will be in the middle of a wilderness area and on the first night out you will camp out on an island away from civilisation. The Delta is of the world's most fascinating ecosystems. We will explore it in our small dugout styled canoes, poled out into the reed beds of the Delta
Head on an unforgettable 2-day/1-night guided safari deep into the Okavango Delta, including Mokoro trips and bushwalking safaris
|Included in Kitty|
The Okavango Delta in Botswana is home to one of the world's most fascinating eco-systems. The Delta is essentially a large swamp plain, created where the Okavango River flows out into a basin on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, never reaching the ocean. The river has no outlet from the desert and the water spreads out into thousands of small streams to form a maze of wetlands - a totally unqiue and unspoiled habitat which is home to an incredible variety of flora and fauna.
The Delta is a magical wilderness of meandering clear waterways, green islands, lush plains and prolific wildlife, including hippos, crocodiles, elephants, warthogs, and a myriad of different birds. Despite its abundance of wildlife, spotting game is not always easy in the Delta due to the lush plantlife that grows in the area - however, exploring the Okavango is less about searching for wildlife and more about enveloping yourself in a truly unique and magical landscape.
In the Delta, we drift along the labyrinth of waterways in a dugout canoe called a mokoro - like an African gondola, the mokoro is punted along with a long pole by a local boat driver, helping you glide serenely through the reeds and the meandering waterways. Reeds and lily pads line the streams and birds startled by the mokoros rise out of the long grasses. Punting along, the peace of the Delta is only shattered by the occasional deep grunting of hippos and other animal sounds.
We continue our trip around the Delta and then return to Gao Island and head to the relative civilisation of Umvuvu Camp with its hot showers and small bar.
Border Information: Exit Botswana at Muhembo, enter Namibia at Muhembo.
Today we leave the Delta and re enter Namibia and drive to Bagani, approx. 150 km. A free day to relax or take part in activites at the campsite.
Border Information: Exit Namibia at Ngoma, enter Botswana at Ngoma.
Bagani to Chobe National Park is quite a long drive, approx. 430km. We re-enter Botswana at Goma border, which is also the gateway to the park. We stay on the outskirts of Chobe near the town of Kasane which will be our base for our visit to Chobe National Park.
Kasane is the gateway to the Chobe National Park. The wonderful stretch of the river side creates a lovely scene for the small town. It's a great base for exploring the national park and finding out about the wildlife of Botswana.
Today is spent in Chobe NP which is principally renowned for its elephants. In the morning there is a game drive and the afternoon we take a cruise down the Chobe River.
Together with the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park is arguably one of Botswana's top two wildlife destinations. Whilst it's not the country's largest wildlife reserve, its reputation is justifiably deserved, as it is home to some of the most diverse and abundant flora and fauna in the whole of Africa. Chobe is probably best known for its elephants, being home to some 120,000 of them, migrating hundreds of kilometres from the saltpans in the south of the park to the banks of the Chobe and Linyati between the wet and dry seasons.
Inhabiting the park alongside the elephants are giraffe, oribi, roan and sable antelope, waterbuck, hippo and lion. Birdlife along the river is also incredibly diverse and includes fish eagle, harrier hawk, guinea fowl and carmine bee-eaters.
On our visits to Chobe we tend to explore the north of the park, basing ourselves in the River Front region of the Chobe River. In many ways being on the river itself on a boat cruise is the best way to experience the park. Keep an eye out for swimming elephants, a huge variety of bird life as well as hippos wallowing and crocs sunning themselves by the water's edge.
Border Information: Exit Botswana at Kazangula, enter Zimbabwe at Kazangula.
Moving on from the Chobe, we cross the border into Zimbabwe. It's only a short drive to the town of Victoria Falls, approx 115km, located very close to the mighty Victoria Falls. We experience one of our journey's highlights- a visit to the magnificent Victoria Falls. The remainder of our time in Victoria Falls is free to allow you to participate in some of the many optional activities on offer. Our campground is centrally located. It has ablution blocks, comprising showers and toilets.
Visit to the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, the largest waterfalls in Africa
|Included in Kitty|
The lively town of Victoria Falls is located right on the border with Zambia, and is the gateway to the magnificent Victoria Falls, situated just a short distance further up-river. The falls themselves are one of Africa's most spectacular and recognisable icons! They comprise of an enormous curtain of water about a mile wide, falling 108m into a narrow chasm below.
In the wet season, the falls create an impressive raging torrent and creates a spray that can rise an incredible 400m and can be seen from miles away. The locals call the falls "Mosi oa Tunya", which means "the smoke that thunders" - a fantastic description of this magnificent sight. In the dry season the view of the falls is less obstructed by spray, and it's also possible to see the little islets in the river below. Whichever season you choose, you are sure to be blown away by this awe-inspiring spectacle!
As well as enjoying the falls, there are a whole host of other activities you can do here - so if you are starting or finishing a trip at Victoria Falls it is well worth allowing a bit of extra time here. Options to choose from include white water rafting, canoeing, horse-riding, abseiling or even bungee-jumping from the bridge across one the cataracts! Please be aware that many activities may need to be booked in advance to avoid them being booked up (especially if you are starting your trip in Victoria Falls) - please see the website of our approved activitiy supplier in Victoria Falls, Adventure Zone, to see what options they have available and to book any that you wish to do before your trip starts - http://www.adventurezonevicfalls.com/
Responsible travel note: During your visit to the Victoria Falls area you may notice businesses offering an optional "Walk with the Lions" experience. We recommend that travellers bypass this activity, as it is contrary to our Responsible Travel ethos. Professional wildlife conservation organisations, including Born Free and the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), advise that habituating lions to humans can shorten their life and may result in lion-human conflict issues. Whilst there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards lion research, we feel that the negative impacts on the lions' rehabilitation far outweigh this.
Border Information: If joining in Vic Falls, enter Zimbabwe at Vic Falls airport.
Group meeting at 18.00hrs. Tonight we will stay in a well equipped campsite in the heart of Vic Falls.
Victoria Falls Rest Camp
Tel - +27 216 836 444
Today you make your way to the Victoria Falls National Park to visit to the falls themselves and the rest of the day is free for various activities and excursions to choose from both on the water, on land or high above it all. Choose from white water rafting, Helicopter flights, Bungi jumping etc. Tonight we will stay at the same campsite.
Visit to the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, the largest waterfalls in Africa
|Included in Kitty|
Head out for a full day white-water rafting on the Zambezi
|Bungee jump (111m) from the bridge over the Second Gorge of the Victoria Falls||USD 135|
|Take a relaxing sunset cruise on the Zambezi||USD 55|
|Horse riding along the scenic banks of the Zambezi||USD 95|
After breakfast we head towards Hwange National Park (190 km, approx 3-4 hours) stopping en route to visit the Painted Dog Conservation Group for an insight into the plight of the African Wild Dog. We head off on an afternoon game drive in 4 x 4s within the park. Tonight we will camp in the National park.
Jeep safaris through Hwange National Park
|Included in Kitty|
Visit to the Painted Dog Conservation project near Hwange
|Included in Kitty|
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe's largest nature reserve, and contains a wonderful array of landscapes, including grasslands, forests, wetlands, sections of the arid Kalahari, and lava flows. The area designated as the hunting grounds for the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th Century, and was set aside as a protected nature area in 1928.
Today, Hwange boasts a tremendous population of wildlife, with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species. The elephants of Hwange are world famous, and the National Park's elephant population is one of the largest in Africa. We will explore the park in open 4x4 vehicles and stay within the National Park at one of the designated camp grounds.
Up early we once more embark on an early morning game drive withing the park before we travel 310kms to Bulawayo. In Bulawayo we stay in a campground with shared facilities, upgrades are available.
Known as the 'City of Kings', Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second largest city and has a very interesting historical past. It was founded by the Lobengula, the king of the Ndebele people and the son of Mzilikazi kaMatshobana, the first Ndebele king to settle in modern-day Zimbabwe in the 1840s after their great trek from Zululand. In 1893, the settlement was invaded by the forces of the British South Afirca Company, and turned into a colonial settlement under the supervision of the infamous British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Bulawayo was regarded as the industrial centre of Zimbabwe in the 20th Century, and the city served as the hub to the country's rail network due to its strategic position near Botswana and South Africa.
These days, Bulawayo is most famous as the gateway to the nearby Matobo National Park.
Up early the following morning we venture out for the day to explore the Matobo National Park, home to a large population of black and white rhinoceros. We have an incredible safari to track them on foot.
Guided walking safari in search of White Rhino in Matobo National Park
|Included in Kitty|
Matobo National Park is one of Zimbabwe's most fascinating safari destinations. The park is a haven for African wildlife and is excellent for game viewing, and it especially famous as being home to a large population of black and white rhinoceros - we will be able to track the rhinos on foot with our local guide, whose knowledge and connections with the local Ndebele tribes is unrivalled.
The Matobo area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people, and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place. There are some fascinating ancient cave paintings made by various San people adorning some of the cave shelters within the National Park, which we will also visit on our excursion here.
Matobo also contains the site of the grave of Cecil Rhodes, the infamous and controversial British colonialist, businessman and imperialist, Cecil Rhodes - here we will pay a visit to admire the stunning views over the plains and find out about some of this history from our local guide.
A360kms drive today takes is to Masvingo the oldest colonial settlement in Zimbabwe and the perfect base to explore the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. We will have the whole afternoon to explore the ruins. Our campground in Masvingo has shared facilities.
Masvingo is the town in which we base ourselves from to visit Great Zimbabwe.
Great Zimbabwe is the national monument that Zimbabwe is named after. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the ruined city was first constructed in the 11th century where it was thought to be a royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch.
The city’s exact history is unknown but recent research suggests a gold-rich civilisation flourishing between 1200 and 1450 AD. The site consists of three main groups of stone structures: the Hill Complex, once thought to be the home of the witch doctor but now believed to be the King’s residence; the Great Enclosure; and the Valley Complex. Its splendour is best appreciated at sunrise or sunset. Archaeologists have found fragments of Chinese pottery at the site suggesting that Great Zimbabwe is the end of the Silk Trading Route from the east.
Today we head to Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. Arriving in time for lunch we have the afternoon to explore the city on our own or relax at our campground.
Border information: Exit
We have two long days to cover with just over 1000kms to cover. Day 8 will see us crossing over to Zambia. Starting with a scenic drive to the border, we cover 450Kms, approx 8hrs today.
We camp just outside Lusaka, The capital city of Zambia. The following day we continue to make our way through the heartland of Zambia towards the border with Malawi. We spend a final night in Zambia. Travel distance covered is 600Kms – approx 10hrs.
Lusaka is as much part of Africa as any national park. It is a bustling chaotic place, throbbing with vital energy. Most outsiders passing through, see little reason to stay, but it is definitely a place to explore if you have the time. The city is a good example of African hope emerging from chaos and it is a place which has energy, great music, colourful markets and numerous new shops. The local markets are very traditional with a myriad of stalls selling anything from local foods, fruit, jewellery and tourist souvenirs. Check out the rows and rows of "salaula" sellers, who do brisk business selling discarded clothing from the West, sold to Africa by the bale.
Border information: Exit Zambia at Chipata, Enter Malawi at Mchinji
Today we travel to Lake Malawi where we base ourselves for the next couple of days.
Our campsite is right on the shore of Lake Malawi.
Malawi is dominated by the stunning Lake Malawi, the large inland lake that covers almost a fifth of the country's area. The lake provides a source of livelihood for many of the Malawian people - fishermen, fish traders, canoe and net makers all ply their trade, and a common sight is that of a fisherman in his bwato (dugout canoe made from a hollowed-out tree trunk), fishing on the still lake at the break of day.
On our trips we head away from the commercialism and crowds, and enjoy a few days on the lake's more peaceful beaches. Kande sits on the coast of Lake Malawi and is a half-way point from the towns of Bandawe and Mphoza. Less than 2 miles from the village lies Kande beach, a great spot to kick back an relax. This is also a great place for water sports - you can hire pedalos, snorkeling gear or canoes, and the clear waters of the lake are perfect to explore. As well as chilling on the beach and participating in the many optional activities on offer, make sure you take the opportunity to meet some of the friendly local Malawians!
Free day at Kande beach on Lake Malawi for relaxation and activities like horse riding or visit to local tribal village. Overnight at same lakeside campsite
Scuba diving trip in Lake Malawi
|Snorkelling excursion to Lake Malawi||USD 15|
|Canoe hire to explore Lake Malawi from the water||USD 10|
Today we drive 235 km (approx 5-6 hours) and camp in Chitimba on the northern shores of Lake Malawi and only 120 km from the Tanzanian border. Here we overnight at a campsite with good facilities.
Chitimba is a small village on the shores of Lake Malawi - with long, white beaches and clear waters, it's a great place to relax and explore.
Border Information: Exit Malawi at Kaporo, enter Tanzania at Kaporo.
Long travel day as we enter Tanzania and its southern highlands.
We set up camp before the town of Iringa (530km, approx. 9-10 hours) on the grounds of a local farmhouse.
Heading for Dar es Salaam on the coast we travel through Mikumi National Park. The journey today is 530kms. Once in Dar es Salaam, we set up camp on a balmy beach outside of the city.
Dar es Salaam (meaning 'Haven of Peace' in Arabic) is Tanzania's largest city and was the country's capital until 1974 when the capital was moved to the central town of Dodoma. The city is the most populous in East Africa and one of the fastest growing cities in the world - it is Tanzania's financial centre and the most prominent city in the country's arts, fashion, media, music, film and television.
Dar es Salaam acts as the gateway to the beautiful island of Zanzibar, and the port area is fascinating to visit with its ocean-going "dhows" and inshore "ngalawas" (outrigger fishing canoes). Many of the buildings display Arabian influences, and the melting pot of African, Muslim and South Asian influences give Dar a vibrant atmosphere, making it well worth exploring if you have the time.
On our trips we stay on the beaches of the southern district of Kigamboni - this is a beautiful and serene part of Dar es Salaam, and you'll be forgiven for not realising you're so close to such a big metropolis!
Mikumi National Park is situated at the foot of the thickly wooded Uluguru Mountains and is home to large herds of elephant, buffalo and giraffe, as well as lions and leopards. It is Tanzania's third largest National Park, and we spend a couple of hours travelling through the park on the main route to and from southern Tanzania.
Although we do not make an off-road safari into the depths of the park on our trips, the scenery along the road is wonderful and we often see a decent selection of wildlife here as we pass by along the way.
This morning we travel to the Dar es Salaam port and catch a local ferry to Zanzibar. The ferry is quite comfortable with airline type seats. The journey time is around 90 minutes. When we reach Zanzibar we clear customs and immigration after which we will make our way to our hotel in Stone Town.
The exotic spice island of Zanzibar is filled with idyllic beaches, winding cobblestone alleyways and fragrant bazaars, and its rich history involves everything from slave traders to Arabian sultans and fruit exporters. The sight of traditional dhows sailing along the coast makes it easy to imagine what the island was like back in the days of David Livingstone.
Stone Town is the old port town of Zanzibar and is one of the most atmospheric old towns in Africa - the best way to experience the city is on foot, exploring the bazaars, shops, mosques, palaces, courtyards and intricate alleyways. When the sun is setting, you can enjoy a sundowner from a bar overlooking the seafront, before trying one of the island's local seafood curries for dinner at one of the town's many restaurants.
The famous spices are grown in plantations outside of Stone Town which we will visit on our trips. This tour will also includes a local meal and a tour around the main sites of Stone Town to learn about the history of its former slave market. In the spice plantations you will have the opportunity to touch, smell and taste various spices such as cinnamon, vanilla and ginger, and teas made with these spices. At the end of the day there will also be an opportunity to buy some of the locally-grown spices.
The other major highlight of Zanzibar is of course its world-famous beaches. The northern beaches boast beautiful white sand and sparkling blue seas - displaying the Indian Ocean at its very best. Try snorkeling or diving, eat sumptuous seafood, or simply relax in a hammock underneath a coconut tree with a good book - Zanzibar is a paradise in every sense of the word!
On our second day here we take in a guided Spice tour before heading to the northern beaches and enjoy white sand and sparkling blue sea. Our accommodation on these nights is in twin share rooms with ensuites.
Take a guided tour of Zanzibar's historical sites, markets, and the spice plantations
|Included in Kitty|
There is plenty of time on the northern beaches to enjoy the Indian Ocean at its best. Try snorkeling or diving, eat sumptuous seafood, or simply relax in a hammock underneath a coconut tree with a good book.
Snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean near Zanzibar
Take a beautiful sunset dhow trip off the coast of Zanzibar
|Explore the beautiful 'Prison' Island near Zanzibar||USD 30|
Scuba diving in the incredible waters of the Indian Ocean near Zanzibar (per dive)
Today we transfer back to the ferry (approx. 45 minutes) and return to our campsite by the beach outside Dar es Salaam arriving in the late afternoon.
We overland most of the day as we climb high onto the slopes of Kilimanjaro and to the village of Marangu, the journey is about 560km. We camp in the grounds of the very colonial Marangu hotel where upgrades may be available.
The small village of Marangu is located on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, and is the starting point for the most popular route to climb to the mountain's summit. Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest mountain at 5,895m tall, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world - it is absolutely stunning to see from its base and is a magnificent backdrop to the surrounding grasslands on a clear day!
Early start to view Kilimanjaro & then walking tour of Mshiri Village. After sampling a delicious local lunch on the tour we head to our campsite on the outskirts of Arusha (120Km, 5Hrs) where we camp for the night.
On our trips we make a short stop in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. Arusha is the largest city in northern Tanzania, and used to be the capital of the East African community. The town sits in lush countryside near the foot of Mount Meru and enjoys a temperate climate throughout the year, and surrounding it are many coffee, wheat and maize estates tended by the Arusha and Meru people.
Arusha is the centre of Tanzania's safari business and is the gateway for safaris to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater National Parks.
Today we are up with the sun and after packing our camping and personal gear into 6 person jeeps we make an early start, heading out through the Ngorongoro Crater reserve and conservation area to our Campiste in the Serengeti National Park.
On a Dragoman trip you will bush camp within the Sergengeti park itself. The camps we stay at are very simple, although they do have showers and flush toilets, located in the middle of the plains, surrounded by the wildlife - falling asleep to the nocturnal noises of Serengeti is a truly unique experience. During your stay your leader will outline the basic safety rules and precautions that must be followed when camping in an unfenced location where wild animals are present.
Head on an unforgettable 3-day/2-night safari in 4x4s into the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater National Reserves - two of the world's most incredible areas for wildlife spotting
|Included in Kitty|
The wide open plains of the Serengeti, green after the rains, brown and burnt in the dry season and home to thousands of hoofed animals and fierce predators, is perhaps the quintessential image of Africa. Flat and rolling with long grasses, the plains get its name from the Maasai word siringitu, "the place where the land moves on forever".
Game viewing in the Serengeti is amazing and as you camp out at night, don't be surprised to hear lions in the distance as you recount your amazing sightings from during the day. The Serengeti plains usually live up to every-one's expectations - the classic East African scenery of rolling grasslands dotted with acacia trees and teeming with lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, buffaloes, gazelles, impalas, cheetahs, warthogs, hyenas, vultures, hippos, zebras, wildebeest, and much more!
For those who really want to spoil themselves with the ultimate game viewing experience, an optional balloon ride over the Serengeti at sunrise will leave you with some unforgettable memories. Please note that this must be pre-booked in advance through the Dragoman Sales team.
Full day game driving in the Serengeti NP before before heading back to the Serengeti camp site for our second night.
Take a stunning sunrise flight over the vast savannahs of the Serengeti in a hot air balloon (alternative to the scheduled morning game drive). This must be pre-booked through your sales consultant.
The Ngorongoro Crater is a huge caldera - a volcano which collapsed in an immense explosion. It measures 19kms in diameter and 265km² in area. The stunning crater is one of the most spectacular sights in Africa, and is absolutely packed with wildlife.
On our trips we make the most of our safari in the crater, spending between four and five hours exploring the area at the base of the crater. There is an excellent chance of spotting many of the 'Big Five' (lions, buffaloes, rhinos, elephants and leopards), not to mention many other species.
Leaving the Serengeti very early this morning we visit the world famous Ngorongoro Crater. We will descend into the crater on a fabulous game drive and picnic lunch before heading to our well equipped campsite in the village of Mto Wa Mbu where we will enjoy our last camp group meal together.
Mto Wa Mbu is the half-way point between Arusha and the Ngorongoro Crater. It is well known in Tanzania as being a village with great ethnic and cultural diveristy, and is the homeland of many different tribal groupings. There are some excellent handicrafts produced here, such as woodcarving and batik paintings done in the the local 'Tinga-tinga' style. The village is also well known for a unique red banana that grows in the area, that the locals brew into a special 'banana beer' - quite an acquired taste!
Border Information: If Joining in Nairobi, enter Kenya at Nairobi Airport.
Group meeting at 18:00hrs. Staying in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
If you arrive early why not head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum (author of Out of Africa), or Bomas (displays of traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes in an outdoor village).
Kivi Milimani Hotel
+254 202 722 358
Visit to the David Sheldrick Animal Orphanage in Nairobi
|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
|Discover some of Kenya's ancient hominids at the National Museum in Nairobi||KES 1200|
Nairobi is a lively city with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. The Kenyan capital takes its 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 its 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 giraffes and help to feed them at the Langata Giraffe Centre.
This morning we depart for our camp on the shores of Lake Naivasha (140 km, approx 3-4 hours), one of the most beautiful of the Great Rift Valley bodies of water, to relax by the lakeside.
Our camp ground has showers and flush toilets.
We have the morning free to explore a little more before departing for our campsite near to Nakuru town (120 km, approx 2-3 hours).
The following day we head into Nakuru National Park for a game drive in Jeeps.
Take a safari in 4x4 vans in the beautiful Lake Nakuru National Park
|Included in Kitty|
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. However, 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.
Leaving the park early this morning, we travel through fantastic scenery as we travel to the slopes of Mt Kenya, spending the night on the grounds of one of the many lodges that are dotted around the area.
We might choose to utilise one of our spare days here to explore nearby Sweet Water Game Sanctuary or take the opportunity to explore the lower slopes of Mt Kenya.
Guided walk to the Nayaroi Caves in the foothills of Mt. Kenya, used by the Mau Mau during the rebellion against British colonial rule
|Included in Kitty|
Head out horse riding in the forests around Naro Moru
Nature walks around the base of Mt. Kenya, searching for birdlife and Colobus monkeys
Game driving in the wildlife-packed private reserve of Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Sweetwaters Game Reserve
We travel on to Samburu National Reserve (140 km, approx 4-5hours).
We'll take a game drive into the park and also visit a Samburu Village just outside the Samburu National Reserve
The camp is in the heart of the park. Facilities are drop toilets and cold showers.
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|
Visit and stay at the Samburu tribal community and cultural project, learning all about the culture of the Samburu people
|Included in Kitty|
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.
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.
The following day we travel on to Marsabit (240 km, approx 6-7 hours). We will travel through the black lunar landscape and pass mountain greenery, spectacular craters, watercourses, bush country and termite mounds.
Due to security issues in this particular area we will be accompanied by a police escort.
The following day we cross the border in to Ethiopia and the border town of Moyale (265 km, approx 7-8 hours), where we set up camp.
We have a full day of travel on towards Konzo (330 km, approx 7-8 hours) home to the local Konso people. We will have time to explore the local market and perhaps take a tour of some traditional houses.
In the far south of Ethiopia on the banks of the Sagan river is the town of Konso, the gateway to the Omo Valley. Home to the Konso people, a Cushtic-speaking people native to the region, there are many traditional Konso village in the area where little has changed about the way of life over the centuries and old traditions are strongly upheld.
In the far south of the country lies the Omo Valley area. We drive down through this remote region (145 km, approx 5-6 hours) to the settlement of Turmi which is our launch point for the Omo Valley. From here we will spend 3 nights and 4 days visiting a combination of markets and small tribal settlements in the surrounding region.
You should be aware we will be travelling through very remote areas where road and sanitary conditions will be rough. We will staying in basic camp sites.
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|
The Omo Valley region is unusual in that it is home to so many different tribal groups, 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, Mursi, Arbore and the Danesesch tribes. There are also other tribal groupings throughout the area and our guides will explain some of their traditions and customs. Life is distinctly tribal throughout the region, with few modern amenities.
The following day we drive to Arba Minch (110 km, approx 2-3 hours).
We spend time here to allow exploration of the area. Options include a five-hour boat trip into Lake Chamo National Park to the Crocodile Market.
For those who prefer a less strenuous day, you can hire bikes and ride around the local area, or perhaps visit the local government-run crocodile farm.
In Arba Minch for two nights we stay in a hotel.
Hire bicycles to explore the stunning surrounds of Arba Minch
Take a boat trip on Lake Chamo, a stunning lake with a dense population of crocodiles
Visit the fascinating village of Chincha to learn all about the culture of the Dorze people
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 7 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.
We head today to Wendo Genet located approx. 35Kms from the town of
Tonight we will camp in the grounds of the Hot Spring Hotel.
Relax in the hot springs at Wendo Genet
Wendo Genet is a resort town in Ethiopia located near Awassa. 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 "Wendo Paradise", in reference to the beautiful panorama with a rich endowment of forests, wildlife and abundant water.
Today we will head to Awassa to visit the Awassa Childrens Project which is an organisation dedicated to housing, feeding, educating, providing health care and AIDS Education to children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
After visiting the project we will stop in Awassa town for shopping and stay overnight in Awassa Town in a small local run pension.
Visit the Dragoman-supported Awassa Children's Project, a home for orphaned children from the area
|Included in Kitty|
Awassa is a small town near the Ethiopian city of Shashemene, and was the capital of the former Sidamo Province. During our time in Awassa we will visit the Awassa Children's Project, which 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 project runs a children's centre that provides housing, food and education for over 60 children orphaned by AIDS, the One Love Theatre AIDS education theatre company, and the Awassa Youth Campus community centre in downtown Awassa.
For further information on the project please go to http://www.awassachildrensproject.org/.
Leaving Wendo Genet we drive on towards the Bale Mountains National Park (280 km, approx. 10-11 hours).
We will drive high onto the plateau in search of the Simien fox and, time allowing, you may be able to hire horses and follow the riding trails.
In the Bale Mountains we stay in a lodge.
The Bale Mountains National Park is situated on a high plateau surrounded by mountain peaks which soar to over 4,000 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 Ethiopian wolf, Menelik's bushbuck and the Mountain nyala. There are some 200 species of birds within the park, including 13 of Ethiopia's 23 endemic species.
There are many different trekking routes around the National Park, through the forests and mountains and up onto the moorlands. The high Sanetti Plateau is accessible to vehicles, so we can also explore this high moor in our overland truck.
North of the town of Shashemene is the beautiful Lake Ziway.
We will stay at Lake Ziway for 2 nights during which time we will take a boat tour across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island for a guided tour.
During your time at Lake Ziway you will also have the option to become involved in the Stoves and Livelihoods community project whereby you can make a donation to the project.
Our 2 nights will be spent in a small local run hotel.
Take a boat trip across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, and explore the old Coptic monastery on the island
|Included in Kitty|
Lake Ziway, about 100kms south of Addis Ababa, 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 home to an atmospheric and colourful old Coptic Christian monastery which is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant in the 9th Century CE.
We travel from Lake Abiyata to Addis Ababa (215 km, approx 5-6 hours).
Why not take the chance to head to one of the city's many restaurants for the chance to eat some local food and perhaps listen to some traditional music.
In Addis Ababa we stay in a hotel.
Referred to more commonly as simply "Addis", the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa lies amongst wooded hills at an altitude of about 2,300 metres, giving it a pleasant climate.
Addis has many sights to offer visitors - 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 Mercato, one of Africa's largest open-air markets. All manner of arts and crafts can be found in the souvenir shops on Churchill Avenue, and there is often some excellent live music to be found in the centre of the city!
Border Information: If Joining in Addis enter Ethiopia at Addis Airport.
There will be a group meeting at 18.00hrs.
We stay for 2 nights in a comfortable hotel with good facilities in Addis Ababa.
Why not take the chance to head to one of the city's many restaurants for the chance to eat some local food and perhaps listen to some traditional music.
Visit "Lucy", one of the oldest complete hominid skeletons ever found, at the National Museum
Stroll through the Addis Ababa Mercato, one of the largest markets in Africa
Visit Africa Hall, a symbol of African independence and optimism
Visit the St. George's Cathedral (Giorgis Cathedral), built to commemorate Ethiopia's victory over the Italians in 1896
Visit the Menelik Mausoleum, built to serve as the tombs of emperors and princes
We spend a night in Dejen (260 km, approx 7-8 hours), visiting the Blue Nile Gorge en route.
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.
Travel on to Bahir Dar (270 km, approx. 6-7 hours), where we have a 3 night stay. Located on the shores of Lake Tana and only a few hundred metres from the source of the mighty Blue Nile, this is a fascinating place.
In Bahir Dar we stay in a hotel.
Head out on a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the ancient Coptic churches and monasteries nearby
|Included in Kitty|
Explore the stunning Blue Nile Falls just downstream of Bahir Dar
|Included in Kitty|
Bahir Dar is a small city located on the banks of Lake Tana, a beautiful lake that is famous as the source of the Blue Nile.
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'), these waterfalls are located in a stunning area which is excellent to trek around.
On the lake itself are a number of monasteries on islands and peninsulas, and we take the opportunity to visit at least one on a boat trip on the lake. These churches feature the traditional murals and decorations of the Ethiopian Coptic Church - as Christianity in Ethiopia was isolated after the emergence of Islam in the 7th Century, the religion here took a distinct style and the decorations of the monasteries of Lake Tana reflect that perfectly.
Full day journey of 310 km to the medieval town of Lalibela where we stay for 3 nights in a Local, friendly hotel.
We walk with a local guide who is able to unlock the fascinating history of both the churches and Lalibela itself.
In Lalibela we stay in a basic hotel.
Take a full guided tour of the 12th-century rock-hewn churches and monasteries at Lalibela
|Included in Kitty|
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 CE.
The layout and names of the major buildings in Lalibela are widely accepted to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem, which has led some experts to date the churches to the years following the capture of Jerusalem in 1187 by Muslim leader Saladin. The rock-hewn churches are an awe-inspiring feat of engineering, and each is uniquely-designed and beautifully carved - the legend goes that King Lalibela completed all the work in 12 days with the help of a band of angels, but in reality the project took many years and thousands of labourers to complete.
The village is small, the churches largely visited by devout Ethiopian pilgrims rather than masses of foreign tourists, and therefore retains its original Ethiopian charm and incredible atmosphere. The monastery of Asheten Mariam is hidden in the rugged hills behind the village, and there is a wonderful trek up the cliffs to reach it and take in the incredible views at the top. Near to Lalibela is the ancient church of Yemrehana Kristos, uniquely located in a cave - this can be visited during our free time in Lalibela.
Leaving the town behind we travel around 170 km (approx 7-8 hours) before bushcamping for the night.
From our bush camp it is a full day's journey to Mekele (266 km, approx 8-9 hours).
Mekele is the base for exploring the intriguing rock-hewn churches of Tigray. Sculpted into cliff faces or pre-existing caves, there are at least 120 churches with many of the churches located in clusters; the most famous being Gheralta, Takatisfi, Tembien and Atsbi.
Freely explore the ancient rock-hewn churches of Tigray at Mekele
|Included in Kitty|
Mekele is the cultural, economic and political hub of the northern region of Tigray. Historians date the town of Mekele back to the 13th Century CE, and it is famous for its rock-hewn churches in the surrounding desert landscapes - these churches are stunning and remote, some of them dating all the way back to the 4th and 5th Centuries. We will aim to visit at least one of these atmospheric old Coptic churches on our journey through the province of Tigray.
It is a full day's journey from Mekele to Axum (300 km, approx 8-9 hours).
Once in Axum (Aksum), we take a guided city tour which will take in the main sights of this fascinating town, the site of Ethiopia's oldest city.
In Axum (Aksum) we stay in a basic hotel.
Take a guided tour of the ancient 4th-century tombs and palaces of the Axumite Kingdom in Axum
|Included in Kitty|
Visit the Church of St. Mary of Zion at Axum
Axum is the site of Ethiopia's oldest city, and was once the centre of the mighty Axumite Empire. This empire flourished in the area between the 1st and 8th Centuries CE, and by the 5th Century controlled much of present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Yemen and Saudi Arabia!
The town retains some impressive obelisks from the Axumite era 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 extensive ruins of a palace that is said to have belonged to the biblical figure of the Queen of Sheba, who was said to have travelled to Jerusalem to test the wisdom of King Solomon.
Also in the town are a complex of several ancient churches - the most famous of these is a small unimposing building known as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, which is rumoured by devout Coptic Christians to house the original Ark of the Covenant (the legendary box that contained the original Ten Commandments), although apparently only one appointed guardian is ever allowed to see it!
Leaving Axum behind we travel toward Debark (255 km, approx 13 hours). it a very long travel day to Debark. Whilst the distance is not to far the roads in this part of Ethiopia are rough. We may choose to break the journey and stop over in Sellassie for the night if the roads are particularly bad.
Once in Debark we set to arranging our trek into the mountains. The process can take quiet some time as we arrange permits, campsites and scouts and guides.
Debark is a tiny settlement that was built in the 1840s along the busy Gondar-Massawa trading route. There is not much of interest in the town, but it is the gateway to the magnificent Simien Mountains National Park and a decent place to stock up on supplies before visiting the park,
We will trek for the next two days, the route we take and time we trek each day will be decided by you as a group, it is also possible to spilt in to two groups if need be. The adventurous may choose to hire mules to trek even further in search of klipspringer, Walia ibex or the gelada baboon and perhaps if you are lucky a glimpse of an endangered Simien fox. This park is very impressive, with huge volcanic cores jutting up from the plateau to from high altitude plains where only grasses, junipers and giant lobelias grow. There are some fabulous views to be enjoyed.
In the Simien Mountains we stay for two nights at a campsite.
The following day we will return to Debark for the night.
Head out on 3 days of guided treks in the phenomenal scenery of the Simien Mountains National Park
|Included in Kitty|
The Simien Mountains are known throughout the world for their dramatic and spectacular scenery - jagged mountain peaks flank deep valleys and high altitude plains where only grasses, junipers and giant lobelias grow. The Simiens are one of the major mountain regions of Africa, home to the mountain Ras Dejen, which at 4,543m is the highest mountain in Ethiopia.
The National Park was created initially as a protection area for the Walia ibex, a very agile wild goat that inhabits the area. Other wildlife that are commonly seen in the area are geladas (a baboon-type primate with long hair), klipspringers, Ethiopian wolves, and Lammageyer vultures!
Perhaps the best highlight of the National Park is the phenomenal mountain scenery, best seen by trekking through the wonderful landscape - 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.
Leaving the mountains behind, we travel on to Gonder (100 km, approx 4 -5 hours).
We spend two nights in Gonder at a small pension.
The historic city of Gondar is a magnificent city of castles and palaces, and is sometimes known as the 'Camelot of Africa'. This was once the capital of Ethiopia during the reign of King Fasilidas in the mid-17th Century, who built the incredible European-style castle in the centre of the town. Successive kings put in their own additions to this royal complex, and Gondar remained Ethiopia's royal capital until Emperor Tewodros II moved it to Magadala to the south east.
On the outskirts of the town there is also the Fasilidas' Bath complex - an interesting building that stands in an artificial pool which is still filled for occasional religious ceremonies. At the Debre Birhan Selassie 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.
Today take our tour of Gonder where we gain a fascinating insight into ancient times.
Learn all about medieval Ethiopia on a half-day guided tour of the castles, churches and baths of Gondar
|Included in Kitty|
Tel - +251 581 122 903
Border Information: Exit Ethiopia at Metema, enter Sudan at Metema.
Today is a drive day of approx 400kms where we will cross the border into Sudan and head to the Gedaref area where tonight we aim to Bush camp.
Border Information: If Joining in Khartoum, enter Sudan at Khartoum Airport.
There are no activities planned today until the important group meeting at 18.00hrs. This is where you will meet your Dragoman crew and our local facilitator who will accompany us on the truck for the duration that we are in Sudan.
You have free time to explore Khartoum including the bustling Omdurman market.
In Khartoum we stay at a well equppied campsite
Qasr Avenue and Saied Abd El Rahman Street
Tel - +249 183 775 970
Freely explore the huge markets of Omdurman and Arabi in Khartoum
Learn all about the Islamic Mahdist era with a visit to the Khalifa House Museum and the Mahdi's Tomb in Omdurman
Khartoum is Sudan's fascinating capital and an interesting place to explore. The city is split down the middle by the Nile - the British colonial city, ornate mosques and modern business districts on the east banks, and the sprawling settlements, markets, and iconic Whirling Dervishes of Omdurman on the west.
There are some good museums in the city, such as the Khalifa Museum in Omdurman, near the Mahdi's tomb, or the National Museum. Khartoum is located on the confluence of the White Nile and Blue Nile, and this can be seen at the 'Mogran' area of the city.
Today we leave the hustle and bustle of Khartoum behind us as we head out to Meroe stopping to explore the the Kushite temples of Naqa and Musawwarat. If time allows today we will visit the Pyramids at Meroe.
Tonight we aim to wild camp at Meroe.
Explore the other-worldly pyramids at Meroe, the late capital of the Kushite civilisation
|Included in Kitty|
Explore the ancient Kushite temples of Naqa and Musawwarat
|Included in Kitty|
Meroe was the southern capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries between 850 BCE and 350 CE. Early signs of culture in Nubia (northern Sudan and southern Egypt) first appear from around 3500 BCE, when Egypt was in the period of the Old Kingdom. Over time, the Nubian Kushite kingdom became increasingly powerful and consequently the Egyptians began to feel threatened, which prompted an invasion where they attempted to subdue their close neighbours.
Having given in to occupation, Kush effectively became a province of Egypt between 1500 and 1100 BCE. During this time the Egyptians controlled all the trade and the mineral wealth, in particular the gold mines - this is what made Egypt the richest nation in the world during this time, and led to the two cultures being assimilated and becoming one. The Egyptians eventually withdrew from Nubia around 1100 BCE, and in the ensuing vacuum a group of powerful kings arose.
The kings of the Kush had aspirations far beyond their frontiers - one of them, Pharaoh Kashta, was invited by the powerful priests of Amun in Thebes to intercede on their behalf in the internal conflict between the reigning Egyptian Pharaohs. Consequently he and his successor Piankhy received the blessings of the priests, proceeded north, conquered and reunified the warring states of Egypt and thus began the rule of the "Black Pharaohs" from 760 BCE through to 660 BCE.
The Kushite Pharaohs did more than rule - they reinvented Egypt with a cultural renaissance. Some of the finest treasures, temples and artwork date from the period of Nubian rule, known as the Kushite or 25th Dynasty. However their reign in Egypt was shortlived, as at the zenith of their glory the Assyrians invaded Egypt and the Kushite Pharaohs were forced to flee south with their armies and court to their homeland of Nubia. Despite attempted invasions from Egypt, the Kingdom of Kush continued to flourish under an unbroken line of kings until the 4th Century CE, when it finally collapsed due to internal rebellion. At the same time, Egypt was endiring successive invasions from Persia, the Greek state of Macedonia (under Alexander the Great) and finally by Rome.
Perhaps the most splendid of all the Kushite temples and pyramids are those at Meroe, Naqa and Musawwarat. The pyramids at Meroe are the most impressive in Nubia and the site is very well preserved and restored. By the 4th Century BCE, the Kushite kings had moved south down the Nile and set up the royal city in and around Meroe. The southern culture gradually prevailed over Egyptian culture and the area became a powerful centre of trade between the north and the south. The site of Meroe was home to a large population supported by advanced irrigation and a centralised political system - Roman baths, royal palaces, pyramids and temples all tell the tale of an advanced Egyptian-style civilisation.
Today the site is virtually unvisited. Scattered across the sands of the desert are numerous steep pyramids with entrance pylons. The guardian of this Nubian site has been there since 1977 and has probably seen every visitor who has passed through since then. While the mainstream tourists flock to the Egyptian ruins to our north, you will have this remarkable site to yourself. Only a few travellers and a handful of tour groups a year come here.
Fifty kilometres east of the river Nile lies the ruins of the ancient city of Naqa, built by the Kushite Empire. This ancient site is one of the largest in Sudan, and two of the largest temples here are very well preserved.
Naqa served as one of the centres of the Kingdom of Meroe and it served as a bridge between southern Africa and the Mediterranean. The two temples are dedicated to Amun (the king of the gods) and Apedemak (a lion-headed guardian of deceased kings that was revered prominently by the Merotic people of Nubia). There is also a small temple called the 'Roman Kiosk' due to it's Greco-Roman appearance, which was likely dedicated to the worship of Hathor (the godess of joy and motherhood).
All are relatively well preserved, and the Apedemak temple in particular has some beautiful carvings and is considered a classic piece of Kushite architecture.
To travel up through Northern Sudan is to journey across deserts finding your way through the dunes or along the plains.
On the road from Atbara in the South to Wadi Halfa in the north there are a succession of ruined temples along the River Nile. As you would imagine with such a long history of civilisation, these date back to many different periods of Kushite and Egyptian history. Many are in a poor state of repair, but some are classics.
We will try to visit one or more of the following: the Temple of Sulb, the Temple of Deffufa near Dongola and the pyramids and temple complex on top of Jebel Barkal near the town of Merowe (as opposed to Meroe which is near Atbara).
This portion of the trip is rugged. We will be travelling through the desert sands, following the Nile as it cuts through vast fields of sand dunes. Along the Nile small villages and towns cling to a narrow belt of cultivation. Trade routes through the area date back to ancient times, but the roads are mere sandy tracks, often difficult to find and always a struggle to get through. You will be expected to help sand mat the vehicles and to be part of this expedition. There are no passengers here, only people who are prepared to get stuck in to achieve their goal - the exploration of the relics of the Kushite kingdom and the Nile Valley of northern Sudan.
These nights we camp out in the desert vastness as we sit around our camp fire in the middle of this wilderness.
Visit to the Kushite temples and climb to the summit of the distinctive Jebel Barkal mountain
|Included in Kitty|
Visit the pre-Kushite Temple of Deffufa, a 5,500 year old Nubian archaeological site built by the Kerma civilisation
|Included in Kitty|
Near the small town of Karima are the ruins at of the Temple of Amun underneath the distinctive flat-topped mountain of Jebel Barkal.
The hill top of Jebel Barkal was one of the earliest spiritual centres of Kush, and a major landmark for traders and travellers navigating their way through Nubia. The all-powerful Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II constructed a temple to the Theban god Amun here in the 13th Century BCE, some of which remains to this day. 600 years later, it is said that the great Nubian Pharaoh Taharqa had the mountain's peak covered in gold during his reign in the 7th Century BCE.
The area has numerous historical sites, including some the tombs and pyramids at nearby Nuri - this site contained the tombs of 21 kings, together with 52 queens and princes. Taharqa, the penultimate king of the 25th Dynasty, was the first king to build his tomb at Nuri, and it is the biggest pyramid built at the site. These pyramids are on the opposite bank of the river from Jebel Barkal, and you can get some excellent views of the site if you have the energy to climb to the top of Jebel Barkal!
The ancient site of Old Dongola is a deserted town on the east bank of the Nile - it was an important settlement in medieval times, as it was the departure point for caravans heading west towards Darfur and Kordofan. The old town flourished between the 4th and 14th Centuries CE as the capital of the Kingdom of Makuria, a small Christian kingdom that ruled over the surrounding areas as far north as modern-day Aswan at its peak. In the 19th Century, the remaining population of Old Dongola moved 80kms downstream to the modern site of Dongola.
Today we will visit the Temple of Sulb early in the morning before our final direv in Sudan brings us to Wadi Halfa.
The road in between Wawa and Wadi Halfa heads inland from the Nile along a rough piste through rocky terrain. We are well away from civilisation here and you will see few other travellers on this section of the journey.
Tonight we will stay in a rustic Guesthouse in Wadi Halfa
The port of Wadi Halfa is our exit point of Sudan and is situated on the southernmost tip of Lake Nasser in the Sudanese Sahara and is the most northerly place in Sudan.
Today is free to explore Wadi Halfa and prepare for the Ferry crossing the next day.
Tonight we stay in a Rustic Guesthouse in Wadi Halfa.
Border Information: Exit Sudan at Wadi Halfa, enter Egypt at Aswan.
From Wadi Halfa we board a ferry to cross Lake Nasser.
The crossing of Lake Nasser is certainly an experience. Don't expect a Nile cruise boat or you may be disappointed! An old passenger ferry plies the waters between Aswan and Wadi Halfa and it has limited comforts. However, to make up for this you will be travelling through the spectacular scenery of a harsh and craggy desert landscape. The journey usually lasts 17 hours, but it is notoriously unpredictable. Depending on sailing routes and conditions we should pass the beautiful temple of Abu Simbel en route to Wadi Halfa.
Accommodation aboard the ferry is very basic.
Upon disembarking the ferry we have a short drive of 20 km (approx. 30 minutes) to Aswan in Egypt where we have three nights to enjoy wealth of history and culture that Aswan has to offer.
You will have 2 full days to explore the sites of Aswan.
In Aswan we stay in a simple hotel.
Visit the Philae Temple, a beautiful Ptolomaic-era temple to Osiris on an island near Aswan
Visit the controversial Aswan High Dam
Take a boat trip out to Elephantine Island to explore its ruins and Nileometers, and to the beautiful botanical gardens on Elnabatat's Island
Explore the Tombs of the Nobles near Aswan, the rock-hewn tombs of nobility all the way from the Old Kingdom to the Roman era
Aswan is a beautiful town situated on one of the most picturesque parts of the Nile - it has stunning vistas, a vibrant market, some wonderful ancient sites, and the whole town is characterised by the Nubian people.
At Aswan you can visit the phenomenal Philae Temple, a quarry with an unfinished obelisk, and the famous Aswan high dam - the dam was built to control the flow of the Nile thus creating Lake Nasser, the largest artificial lake in the world. There is also an opportunity to take a boat trip out to the beautiful Elephantine Island and explore the botanical gardens on nearby Einabatat Island, which were originally cultivated by Lord Kitchener.
Another highlight of Aswan is the excellent Nubian Museum, which showcases the unique and fascinating Nubian culture and history. Aswan is wonderful for a having dinner on one of the many floating riverfront restaurants, watching the traditional feluccas sail by.
This morning we head to Luxor, a drive of around 220 km taking around 3.5 hours.
On the way we make a visit to The Temple of Horus in Edfu (also known as the Temple of Edfu) is considered the best-preserved cult temple in Egypt.
In Luxor we take a donkey ride on the west bank before visiting the tombs in the Valley of the King's. This is one of the highlights of any trip to Egypt. The amazingly well preserved paintings in the tombs of the Pharaohs are brought to life on this guided adventure. We will also go and see the biggest of all Egyptian temples, the mighty Karnak with a local Egyptologist.
There is also plenty of free time for you to explore. Perhaps hire a bicycle to ride through sugarcane fields and nearby villages to see a different side of Luxor. It is worth visiting the smaller Luxor temple located smack in the middle of town and the small but beautiful Luxor Museum filled with priceless treasures from this amazing area.
In Luxor we stay in a hotel.
Take a guided tour of the Ptolomaic-era Temple of Horus at Edfu, considered to be the best preserved temple in Egypt
|Included in Kitty|
Situated on the banks of the Nile, modern-day Luxor was once the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes (also known to the Ancient Egyptians as Waset). Thebes was first inhabited from around 3200 BCE, initially merely as a small trading post when the Old Kingdom capital was at Memphis, near current-day Cairo. Thebes grew as a religious centre throughout the Midde Kingdom between 1900 and 1700 BCE, but rose to huge prominence in the 18th Dynasty (New Kingdom period) when it was made the capital by Pharoah Ahmose I in around 1550 BCE. The New Kingdom, with Thebes as its capital, saw some of the most influential Pharoahs come to power, including Hatshepsut, Amenhotep III, Akenaten and Tutankhamun - after the onset of the 19th Dynasty in 1292 BCE, the capital was moved to the Nile Delta.
On the site of Thebes is the modern town of Luxor, and there are some unbeliveable highlights to be found in and around the town. In the north of the town is the spectacular temple complex of Karnak, the largest temple in Egypt and the second largest religious site ever built in the world (second only to Angkor Wat in Cambodia). From humble beginnings in the Middle Kingdom, Karnak was continually added to and modified all the way up until its abondoment in 323 CE, making it a site that was active for over 2000 years! The temple has a vast array of pillars, pylons, and temples, including the largest still-standing ancient obelisk in the world, erected by Hatshepsut in the mid 15th Century BCE.
On the other side of the Nile on the west bank is the world-famous Valley of the Kings - a hidden labyrinth of tombs of former Pharoahs and other nobles dating from the 16th to the 11th Centuries BCE, including that of Ramses II, Hatshepsut, Akenaten, and of course of Tutankhamun. So far, 63 tombs and chambers have been discovered, many with phenomenal paintings and murals inside that have been protected from sun damage for centuries. Unfortunately, all of the tombs have been ransacked by various tomb robbers throughout the ages - all except for the tomb of Tutankamun, which was discovered in 1922 with the entrance and all the treasures within completely intact - the contents having now been moved to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The Temple of Horus in Edfu (also known as the Temple of Edfu) is considered the best-preserved cult temple in Egypt. This partly because it was built later than most during the Ptolemaic era after Alexander the Great's invasion of Egypt - it is thought that the temple was constructed over nearly 200 years between 237 and 57 BCE.
Dedicated to the falcon god Horus, Edfu is also the second largest temple in Egypt after the Karnark Temple in Luxor. Despite its later construction, the temple exactly reflects the traditional Egyptian Pharaonic architecture and provides us with an excellent and authentic idea of how all the temples once must have looked. The temple is a spectacular highlight of our time in Egypt, featuring large sections that are completely preserved and very little that lies in ruins. Much of the paintwork has been preserved, and the interior carvings are very intricately designed.
Driving about 8.5 hours today (280 km) we reach the El Kharga Oasis.
Desert travel is uniquely romantic. No matter what desert you are crossing, being in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by solitude and wilderness, is a fantastic experience. It is even better when you can camp out in the desert and visit true oases. The Egyptian Western Desert has five thriving oases and on our route through the desert we will be able to visit four of these: Bahariya, Dakhla and El Kharga.
We will visit El Kharga Oasis and its surrounding area. Here there are numerous other sites of antiquities. You will have the opportunity to visit a number of these including the Bagawaat Necropolis, Hibis Temple and Kharga Museum.
Tonight will be camping.
El Kharga Oasis is definitely a place to go for exploration. There are many monumental sites here, including the Temple of Hibis. You can go for a camel ride around the oasis, and this could be an adventure in itself. The palm tree lined city is the spot to find beautiful handcrafts and unspoilt springs. It is a beauty of Egypt and will certainly create life long memories.
Today we drive about 280 km to reach the Dakhla Oasis.
We can also take the optional opportunity to trek out into the desert here for the day or even overnight on camels. The overnight trip is a favourite, heading off into the desert and camping out by hot springs for the night.
Tonight will be camping.
Overnight Camel Safari into the Western Desert
Verdant cultivated areas and a great wall of rose-hued rock across the northern horizon make a feast for the eyes in Dakhla Oasis. Dakhla has Pharaonic, Roman and Coptic antiquities, dunes, palm groves and hot springs to explore.
The following morning we have a free morning in Dakhla or some may be returning from the overnight camel safari. This afternoon we drive about 5 hours (250 km) to reach our bush camp in the White Desert.
Tonight will be camping.
Today we drive about 6 hours (250 km) through the White Desert to reach Bahariya Oasis.
We will visit the museum that houses the golden mummies. Just south of the oasis lie the White and the Black Deserts. We will spend a day exploring these as well as visiting Crystal Mountain.
Tonight will be camping.
Situated in Egypt's Great Western Desert, Bahariya is the smallest of the four oases in this area. It used to serve as an artery between Libya and Egypt, but these days people come here to enjoy the hot springs and palm groves, and to get a feel for the Western Desert. There are numerous sites of antiquities including the Temple of Alexander and various Ptolemaic tombs, as well as a museum that houses the golden mummies found here. Just south of the oasis lie the White and Black Deserts, easily visited from the town.
Today is a drive day as we head north from Bahariya Oasis, by passing Cairo we head to the coast. If we get time today we will stop at the war cemeteries & museum at El Alemain.
Tonight we aim to wild camp en route to Siwa.
Visit to the war cemeteries of El Alamein
|Included in Kitty|
Alamein cemetry contains the graves of men who died at all stages of the Western Desert campaigns, especially those who died in the Battle of El Alamein at the end of October 1942 and in the period immediately before that. The cemetery now contains 7,240 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, of which 815 are unidentified. There are also 102 war graves of other nationalities.
We head south into Egypt’s Western Desert to the Siwa Paradise. This area is famous for its dates and olives, and is one of the most beautiful landscapes of Egypt.
We will be treated to a Bedouin meal on the first night and you will have the option on the second day of a Half day or Full day desert safari.
We will stay here for 2 nights in rooms.
Leaving the desert behind us we jounry back north towards the coastal City of Alexandria where we will base ourselves for 2 nights. If we didn't manage to stop already at El Alamein then we will do so on this day.
Whilst in Alexandria we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Egypt's second largest city and main port, Alexandria was built by the Greek architect Dinocrates in 331 BCE under the orders of Alexander the Great. The city, immortalising Alexander's name, quickly flourished into a prominent cultural, intellectual, political and economic metropolis, and it has been an important Mediterranean settlement ever since.
Modern Alexandria is still a bustling urban centre, and features some wonderful historical sites, including the Roman amphitheatre of Kom El Dikka and the incredible 15th Century fort of the Citadel of Qaitbey. There are some fantastic museums and the wonderful modern architecture of the Alexandria Library.
If you are keen on scuba diving, there are also some excellent trips out to wrecks and sunken Egyptian towns out of the harbour!
Our final drive today is of approx. 230Km from Alexandria to our final destination of Cairo.
We will arrive in Cairo late afternoon and check into our comfortable hotel located in the district of Dokki, Giza. The hotel is a short drive from the Egyptian museum and downtown Cairo
Situated on the banks of the River Nile on the edge of the Nile Delta, Cairo is one of the largest cities in Africa. Built near the remains of the ancient Old Kingdom capital of Memphis, the modern capital is a colossal buzzing metropolis which is the world's centre of Arabic culture, music and art.
There are countless highlights and activities to see and do in Cairo, such as exploring the narrow cobbled streets and ancient churches of the Coptic Christian sector, visiting the Saladin-era Cairo citadel, and discover some fantastic art in the Museum of Islamic Art.
Whilst in Cairo, we take an unforgettable tour around the sites of Giza - these include the ruins of the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis, the ancient Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara (built all the way back in the 3rd Dynasty in approximately 2650 BCE), and the Red Pyramid of Sneferu at Dahshur (built in the 4th Dynasty between 2613 and 2589 BCE). This tour culminates in a visit to the world-famous icons of Ancient Egypt - the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx! Built as the tombs of the Pharoahs Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure between 2570 and 2510 BCE, the pyramids are truly a masterpiece of ancient engineering and ambition - the pyramid of Khufu was the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and is the only one that still stands today!
Another massive highlight of Cairo is a visit to the Egyptian Museum in the central Tahrir Square. The museum is one of the most incredibly well-stocked collections of ancient treasures in the world, and contains the horde of phenomenal art and gifts that were uncovered from the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, including the Pharoah's iconic blue and gold funerary mask. The museum also contains a fabulous collection of other artifacts and the mummies of several important Pharoahs, making a visit absolutely essential while you are in Cairo!
After breakfast we set off in the truck for our full day guided tour of the Pyramids at Giza and Saqqara.
We will aim to be back in Cairo for around 4pm today and stay over night in the same hotel.
Tonight is the last night of the trip so we will go out for our final night group meal together.
Entrance to the interior of the Khufu Pyramid at Giza
|Included in Kitty|
See the stunning Sound and Light show at the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx
Visit the site of Dashur, with the fascinating Red and Bent Pyramids built by the 4th Dynasty Pharoah Sneferu - includes entrance to the interior of the Red Pyramid
Entrance to the interior of the Menkaure Pyramid at Giza
Border Information: If finishing in Cairo, exit Egypt at Cairo Airport.
This morning you will head out on your final activity for a half day guided visit to the Egyptian Museum.
The trip will finish at approx. 4pm.
Today is the end of this section of the trip. However if you are continuing on to Casablanca and Morocco then your leader will assist you with getting to the airport for your included flight. You will overnight tonight in a comfortable hotel in either Cairo or Casablanca, (depending on the flight times and availability).
Take a guided tour of the incredible Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and see it's overwhelming collection of antiquities including the contents of Tutankhamun's tomb
|Included in Kitty|
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.
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.
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.
We will be travelling to areas in remote locations where medical assistance will not be available. If you have a medical condition such as a heart condition that would put you at risk, we would suggest that this is not the trip for you. Also, please be aware that should an emergency occur, there is likely to be a considerable delay in accessing medical care, and by joining our trip you accept this risk.
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.
Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter Egypt as a tourist for up to 30 days. The easiest way to obtain a visa for Egypt is to purchase it on arrival - the cost for this at the time of writing (2016) is USD25. Alternatively you could get it yourself in advance from your nearest consulate.
Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required, and whether you will need to obatin it in advance.
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk).
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
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 2nd concurrent 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.
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk).
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.
Tourists of all nationalities can obtain a visa in advance at any High Commission. Another option is to apply for an e-visa, this will need to be applied for 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 USD51, EUR40 or GBP30 for all nationalities.
It is also possible to obtain a visa on arrival in Kenya (at an airport or land border) until further notice, however this opportunity could be cancelled at any time without notice.
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 visa or e-visa to re-enter Kenya.
There is also an East African Tourist Visa available – this is a common visa that covers Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, and must be organised in advance from the embassy of the first country that you'll enter (in all Dragoman trips this will be Kenya). 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. Please note that citizens of Ireland can travel to Uganda freely without a visa, so it may be more cost effective to apply for Kenyan and Rwandan visas separately rather than apply for the East Africa Tourist Visa. Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether they are similarly exempt (there are only a small number of nationalities that are exempt).
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most EU countries will need a visa to enter Tanzania as a tourist for up to 90 days. Citizens of Romania will not need a visa to enter Tanzania.
The easiest way to get a visa is to obtain it on arrival. This is available for almost all nationalities at all land borders and airports into Tanzania. At the time of writing (2015), the cost of a single-entry visa is USD50 for most nationalities and USD100 for USA passport holders - this must be paid in USD cash.
Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required, and whether it will be necessary to obtain it in advance (this is only necessary for a small number of nationalities).
Travelling to and from Zanzibar is still within Tanzania, so does not affect the validity of your Tanzanian visa. However, you will still need to stamp your passport in and out of Zanzibar.
You are allowed to exit and then re-enter Tanzania with just a single-entry visa, provided your travel in between visits to Tanzania is only within Kenya 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 visa to re-enter Tanzania.
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk). You will almost certainly be asked to show your yellow fever vaccination certificate when arriving to Zanzibar as well.
Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most EU countries will not need a visa to visit Botswana 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. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting through an airport in an area of risk).
Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most EU countries will not need a visa to visit Namibia as a tourist for up to 3 months.
Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance. Please note that certain Eastern European nationalities will need to obtain a visa.
Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and EU countries will need a visa to enter Malawi as a tourist for up to 90 days. The visa can be obtained in advance through your nearest consulate. If you can’t get a visa before travel, you can get a visa on arrival at the border, however you may require a pre-authorisation visa letter from the Malawi Immigration Department - please check this with the nearest consulate. It is recommended to get the visa in advance as they can take a while to process if obtaining them on arrival - the current (August 2016) cost if obtaining the visa on the border is USD75 for all nationalities.
Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required.
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter Sudan as a tourist for up to 30 days. You will need to obtain the visa in advance.
Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required, and whether it will be necessary to obtain it in advance (only a small number of nationalities are exempt from obtaining visas in advance).
The process of obtaining a Sudan visa can take up to 8 weeks, so it must be started well in advance of travel. You will need to hire the services of a Sudanese travel agent, who will apply for the necessary authorisation letters for you to make a visa application at a specific embassy, so that you can later collect your visa at that specific embassy. You will have your application rejected if you try to apply for a visa without that embassy having been previously sent authorisation letters for you from a Sudanese agent.
We recommend that you contact Waleed Arafat at Lendi Travel in Khartoum (email - firstname.lastname@example.org, tel - +249 183 794 990 or +249 912 874 080) who is our main agent in Sudan and can apply for your authorisation number. At the time of writing (2015), his fee for this service is USD165 (but this varies depending on the embassy of application), to be paid in cash upon our arrival in Khartoum (he will visit the joining hotel to meet the group). You will need to send Waleed a scan of your passport and specify to him which embassy you need to make you application to.
If you are joining the trip in Gondar, you will need to apply for the visa and collect it from your nearest Sudan Embassy before travel. If you are joining the trip in Khartoum, it is now possible to apply for the visa to be picked up on arrival in Khartoum Airport, which is the cheapest and most convenient way to obtain the visa – however, you will need to go through the whole process with Waleed as above, as this will need pre-arranging. If you are on a Southbound trip from Cairo, we recommend that you apply for the visa to collect at the Sudan Embassy in Aswan, Egypt, where your tour leaders can assist with obtaining these for the whole group in one go. Similarly, if you are on a Northbound trip from Addis Ababa, we recommend that you apply for the visa to collect at the Sudan Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. You will need 6 passport photos and scans of your passport for the application.
At the time of writing (2015), the cost of a single entry visa was USD100 for most nationalities (and USD150 for USA passport holders) in Aswan and Addis Ababa, but this varies significantly depending on the embassy. This is payable in cash at the embassy.
On arrival in Sudan, you will need to register your visa – this is done by Waleed in Khartoum, or by his representative in Wadi Halfa on your behalf. The current (2015) cost for this is USD55, and you will need another 2 passport photos.
Please note that entry to Sudan will be refused to Israelis or any travellers with evidence of previous travel to Israel in their passport.
Please also note that travelling to Sudan will usually make you ineligible for the USA's ESTA visa waiver scheme should you plan to travel to the USA in the future. You will still be able to travel to the USA, but will have to obtain a visa (usually the B-1/B-2 temporary visitor's visa) to do so as your ESTA will be denied. There are some exceptions to this, please see the following link for more details - http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/01/251577.htm.
Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most EU countries will not need a visa to visit South Africa as a tourist for up to 3 months.
Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance and apply in person to provide biometric data.
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission (including transiting for over 12 hours in an airport in an area of risk).
Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will require a visa to enter Zimbabwe as a tourist for up to 90 days.
The easiest way to get a visa is to obtain it on arrival. This is available for most nationalities at all land borders and airports into Zimbabwe. At the time of writing (2015), the cost of a single-entry visa is USD55 for UK and Irish passport holders, and USD30 for most other nationalities - this must be paid in USD cash.
Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required, and whether it will be necessary to obtain it in advance. Please note that certain Eastern European nationalities will need to obtain the visa in advance as well.
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Citizens of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most EU countries will require a visa to enter Zambia as a tourist for up to 90 days. Citizens of Ireland will not need a visa to enter Zambia.
The easiest way to get a visa is to obtain it on arrival. This is available for most nationalities at all land borders and airports into Zambia. At the time of writing (2015), the cost of a single-entry visa is USD50 for all nationalities - this must be paid in USD cash.
Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required, and whether it will be necessary to obtain it in advance.
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.
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.
Please note that due to a shortage of money in banks and ATMs in Zimbabwe, many ATMs are running dry of cash and some local banks are putting restrictions on international cards being used. It is also illegal to exit Zimbabwe with more than USD1000 per person, so please make sure that you do not bring a greater amount than this out of Zimbabwe.
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!
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:
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.
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 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.
Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels or hostels, 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 greatly depending on what options are available at the time; hotels can vary from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to high standard hotels with good facilities! Generally in hotels most rooms will be twin-share but in South America many rooms are triple-share. Hostels, gers and yurts are nearly always multi-share.
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. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we wild camp away from the tourist crowds. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays allowing us to get close to the indigenous population and ensuring that our money stays within the local community.
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 note that this option is not available for our trips to West Africa or Iran (please see http://www.dragoman.com/files/Kitty_doc_v6.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.
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.
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.
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
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:
New Zealand. http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
United States. http://travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html
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.
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.
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.
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, Chikungunya and Zika 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. Health professionals have issued warnings for pregnant women travelling to areas affected by the Zika virus - please see more information here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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.
You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included (e.g. hiking the Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas, visiting the Taj Mahal, etc.), whilst others are optional (e.g. white water rafting in Uganda, zip-lining in Costa Rica, etc.). 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.
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.
A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This list is designed to be a helpful guide as to what is commonly available in each location, and is neither an exhaustive list, a guarantee that the activity is available, or an endorsement or recommendation. Please note that certain activities may not be available on your particular visit if they are overbooked, underbooked, out of season, or for any other reason - the list of activities is made according to our latest information and in the best faith, but please be aware that things may change between our last visit and your arrival. Please also note that it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, and it is recommended to give yourself extra time in your joining or ending city if you would like to participate in some optional activities there.
Prices listed are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated - again, these prices are displayed according to our latest information and in the best faith, but prices do fluctuate due to exchange rates, season, numbers of participants, and simple increases from the operator - any prices listed are a guide only and certainly cannot be guaranteed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
• 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
All of our trucks have a standard motorist first aid kit on board for use in emergency situations only. The first aid kit is in compliance with UK standards for first aid provision within motor vehicles and contain supplies to treat road side injuries. We do not carry prescription medications, 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 travel medical kits. They have been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contain everything you would need for any minor incidents and health issues. For more details please visit their website:
Overlander kit (including painkillers) - www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2910/Overlander-Medical-Kit-(P)
Independent kit (including painkillers and antibiotics) - www.nomadtravel.co.uk/p/2909/Independent-Medical-Kit-(POM)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Please note that accommodation prices in Ethiopia may significantly increase during late December and January due to several national holidays surrounding Coptic Christmas; this may push the price of the kitty up an extra USD50 per person. We will endeavour to negotiate and save money on the ground where possible, but please be aware that we are likely to need extra money in the kitty for trips over this time.
Please also note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as our options will largely be determined by the weather. The camping areas in the Simien Mountains National Park are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. 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 (often dropping below freezing), so please be prepared by bringing suitably warm clothes, and a 4-season sleeping bag and sleeping mat.