Overland Gondar And Vic Falls (EGF)

Victoria Falls to Gondar 67 days, departing 13 Dec 2012

Ratings for this trip

Comfort Zone: Basic / Adventurous

Basic comfort levels. Expect to rough it every now and again. On OVERLAND TRIPS be prepared to have some nights wild camping, campsites with basic facilities as well as some basic hotels, often on a multi-share basis. Some of the roads we travel along may be poor. On our ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS you will stay in simple, budget (1-2 star) accommodation with some shared facilities. Some accommodation may be on a multi-share basis and transport will be mainly local.

Physical Challenge: Strenuous in parts

STRENUOUS IN PARTS: These are physical tours; we may well be travelling at high altitudes, across deserts or through hot and steamy tropical countries. Physically it can be quite tough, but not necessarily all the time and there will be plenty of rest days and time to relax as well. The fitter you are the more you will enjoy the trip.

Countries Visited

Ethiopia

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Malawi

Malawi is often referred to as the warm heart of Africa, as there is a friendly welcome awaiting any visitors to the country. It is a place full of breathtaking sites and some amazing national parks with plenty to for the adventurous traveller.

The main draw for visitors to Malawi is the lake that takes the country's name, also referred to as the Lake of Stars. It's possible to kayak, snorkel, scuba dive or just kick back and enjoy the beach. After a busy day activities (or not as the case may be) the shore of Lake Malawi is the perfect place to watch the sunsets and enjoy a sundowner. Another attraction is Luwawa Forest is in the Viphya Mountains.  At about 1200m above sea level the forest has claim to be the largest man-made forest in Africa and is made up of conifers and native trees of Malawi.

Although overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Malawi does have some opportunities for game viewing; the Liwonde game reserve and the Luangwa game reserve are home to some of the great wildlife, including warthogs, hippos and elephants. There are over 60 species of animals and over 400 species of birds to be found in these parks.

In the capital of Lilongwe, there is a city brimming with culture. There are markets that line the streets and the sound of jazz is never far away. Malawian jazz is totally different to other types across the world influenced by traditional music.

The main dish in Malawi is fish however tropical fruits and dairy products are also a popular choice of cuisine. Nthoci is bread made with banana and Mbatata which is a mixture of sweet potato and cinnamon cookies and are two more of the delicacies Malawi has to offer.

Malawians want to make visitors feel welcome and their happiness and generous nature have to be admired. It is easy to see why this country is amongst the happiest in the world.

Tanzania

Tanzania is the place for the classic East Africa safari experience, home to some of the world’s most famous game parks. 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 during the day. Most visitors either choose the Serengeti as their favourite game park or the Ngorongoro Crater. This huge caldera - a volcano which collapsed in an immense explosion measures 19km in diameter and 265km² in area. There is an excellent chance of spotting many of the Big Five as well as many, many other species.

Tanzania is also home to the Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. It stands at nearly 6000 metres. There are many routes to the summit and each bring a fantastic sensation of accomplishment. Standing at the foot of this giant, is the town of Moshi and not only does it boast one of the most magnificent landscapes in the world, it is also a central region in Tanzania's coffee district.

After safari or mountain climbing where better to relax than the island of Zanzibar. From the white beaches with the lapping sky blue waves, to the stone paved walkways, you can disappear into a world of calm. There is opportunity to visit the slaving forts of Stone Town, visit the spice farms, or scuba dive on the islands fantastic coral reefs.

Tanzania is a country full of challenges and beauty, but also it is a chance to relax. Pick your challenge and discover Tanzania.

Zambia

Zambia is not a country that is considered by most visitors to Africa and yet it has so much to offer the traveller. It has some stunning scenery, friendly people, fascinating tribal traditions and a developing infrastructure. Rural Zambia is the Africa of storybooks and our drive across the country takes us through stunning semi-forested mountains dotted with small villages.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is landlocked between Zambia, South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique and is very much part of the Southern African safari circuit, with Matobo National Park and Hwange National Park amongst the best in the region.

Here you can see black and white rhinos, elephants, lions and a vast array of birdlife. There is also the opportunity to know the Ndebele people with our expert local guide.

Sadly, it’s impossible to describe Zimbabwe without mentioning the problems the country has faced due to Robert Mugabe’s policy of land re-distribution. Whether this policy was correct or not will be a matter for the historians, but all we know is that it triggered a decade of violence, and economic ruin.

Happily today the country is getting back on its feet and tourism is playing a vital part in that recovery.

Zimbabwe is perfect for nature lovers and for all travellers who want to experience Africa at its purist. Leave your preconceptions and enjoy the ancient ruins, abundance of wildlife and of course the mighty Victoria Falls.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Victoria Falls

Thu 13 Dec 2012

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.

Hotel for the night: Victoria Falls Rest Camp

Victoria Falls Rest Camp

PO Box CT 794

Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe

+27 (0)21 683 6444

Activity Approximate Cost

2 night stay at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

Included in Kitty

Victoria Falls

When you arrive in Victoria Falls you will have arrived in one of the friendliest places in Zimbabwe. This lively town 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 an enormous curtain of water about a mile wide, falling 108m into a narrow chasm below. In the wet season, the spray created can rise an incredible 400m, the falls create an impressive raging torrent and the spray can be seen from miles away. The locals call the falls "Mosi oa Tunya" which means "smoke that thunders", a good 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. If you have time, it is also possible to jet boat down the gorges and rapids under the falls. Or take an adventurous plunge and dive down the waters on a bungee jump.

As well as enjoying the falls, the is 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 gorge swinging. You could also cross over to Livingstone and visit the Livingstone Museum, which contains a few of explorer David Livingstone's possessions, or explore the life size model village of an African village and maps dating back to the late 17th century.

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.

Day 2: Victoria Falls

Fri 14 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the incredible Victoria Falls

Included in Kitty

White water rafting on the Zambezi

USD 150

Bungee jumping, Victoria Falls

USD 115

Helicopter flight over the falls, Victoria falls

USD 120

Sunset Cruise, Victoria Falls

USD 55

Jet boat, Victoria Falls

USD 100

Day trip over to Zambia to see the falls from the other side (please note you must use the same border to enter & exit through)

USD 20

Day 3: Hwange National Park

Sat 15 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Jeep safari in Hwange National Park

Included in Kitty

Visit to the Painted Dog Conservation project

Included in Kitty

Hwange National Park

Hwange National Park became the royal hunting grounds to the Ndebele warrior-king Mzilikazi in the early 19th century and was set aside as a National Park in 1929. Today Hwange boasts a tremendous selection of wildlife with over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 bird species. The elephants of Hwange are world famous and the park elephant population is one of the largest in the Africa.  We will explore the park in open 4x4 vehicles and stay within the park at one of the camp grounds.

Day 4: Bulawayo

Sun 16 Dec 2012

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.

Bulawayo

Known locally as the 'City of Kings', Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second largest city and has a very interesting historical past. We will have the afternoon free to explore the city, giving you plenty of opportunity to explore local markets, chat with a local or perhaps find a game of football or rugby to watch!

Day 5: Bulawayo, Matobo National Park

Mon 17 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided walking safari in search of White Rhino in Matobo National Park

Included in Kitty

Matobo National Park

Matobo National Park is one of Zimbabwe's most fascinating safari destinations. The park is a haven for African wildlife and excellent for game viewing.  It is chiefly home to a large population of black and white rhinoceros that we are able to track on foot with our local guide whose knowledge and connections with the local Ndebele tribe is unrivaled.


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.

Day 6: Masvingo

Tue 18 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the remarkable Great Zimbabwe Ruins

Included in Kitty

Masvingo

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.

Day 7: Harare

Wed 19 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight on the outskirts of Zimbabwe's Capital Harare

Included in Kitty

Harare

Harare is Zimbabwe's capital city and also it's largest city. There is plenty to see and do, you might want to head to the National Gallery, the museum, the botanical gardens or simply wander the city centre and explore the shops and markets. Wood, soapstone and beautiful malachite carvings are just a few of the incredible array of souvenirs to be found in at the markets in Harare.

Day 8 to 9: Lusaka, Chipata

Thu 20 Dec to Fri 21 Dec 2012

Border information: Exit Zimbabwe at Chirundu, Enter Zambia at Chirundu

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

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.

Chipata

Touching the border of Malawi is the colourful town of Chipata. There are many fruit and vegetable markets across the centre the town has many mosques, a golf course and an airstrip. The welcome arch gives a hospitable feel and it is a close distance to the South Luangwa National Park.

Day 10: Kande

Sat 22 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights to relax on the beaches of Lake Malawi

Included in Kitty

Kande

Malawi is dominated by Lake Malawi which covers almost a fifth of the country. 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 sets and canoe and the clear waters make it perfect for exploring. As well as chilling on the beach and participating in the many optional water activites on offer, make sure you take the opportunity to meet some local Malawians, easily some of the friendliest in Africa.

Day 11: Kande

Sun 23 Dec 2012

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

Activity Approximate Cost

Scuba dive, Lake Malawi

USD 85

Horse riding, Lake Malawi

USD 60

Guided village walks, Lake Malawi

USD 10

Day 12: Chitimba

Mon 24 Dec 2012

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

Chitimba is a small village with long, white beaches and clear waters, which make it a great place to relax. On the shores of Lake Malawi, there is some amazing scenery and many places to hike.

Day 13: Iringa

Tue 25 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight at the Old Farm house in Iringa

Included in Kitty

Iringa

Iringa is set into the slopes of a cliff and overlooks the Little Ruaha River. One place of interest is the markets. They are full of many Tanzanian cultures including the Dabaga chili sauce. This is a treasure to East Africa. Many locals will flock to the scene and you can always see the vibrant colours of the clothes and of Iringa and Tanzania itself.

Day 14: Dar Es Salaam, Mikumi

Wed 26 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight camping on the white beaches of the Indian ocean near Dar Es Salaam

Included in Kitty

Dar Es Salaam

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's old capital, means Haven of Peace. The city 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.

Mikumi

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, we usually still see a good selection of wildlife here as we pass by along the way.

Day 15: Zanzibar

Thu 27 Dec 2012

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.

 

 

Activity Approximate Cost

3 nights exploring the spice island of Zanzibar

Included in Kitty

Zanzibar

The exotic spice island of Zanzibar Filled with idyllic beaches, winding cobblestone alleyways and fragrant bazaars, Zanzibar's 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 Livingstone.

Stone Town is the old port town of Zanziba and 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 and on our trips we head out on a Spice Tour that will dazzle your senses. This 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. We also drive to the spice plantations where 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 side to Zanzibar is it's many beaches. The northern beaches enjoy beautiful white sand and sparkling blue sea - 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.

Day 16: Zanzibar

Fri 28 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of Spice Plantations and local lunch

Included in Kitty

Day 17: Zanzibar

Sat 29 Dec 2012

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.

 

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Snorkelling day trip, Zanzibar

USD 40

Dhow trip, Zanzibar

USD 40

Prison Island tour, Zanzibar

USD 30

Scuba dive, Zanzibar

USD 80

Day 18: Dar Es Salaam

Sun 30 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Hydrofoil over to Zanzibar

Included in Kitty

Day 19: Marangu

Mon 31 Dec 2012

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight stay in Marangu with time for early morning views of Kilimanjaro

Included in Kitty

Marangu

The small village of Marangu is located on the lower slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The fertile fields are irrigated by streams that are fed by Mt. Kilimanjaro's glaciers.

Day 20: Mshiri Village, Arusha

Tue 01 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided walk and Visit to the Kilimanjaro Village Educational project

Included in Kitty

Mshiri Village

 

 

Situated close by to Marangu is the Village Education Project at Mshiri Village. Beginning with a walking tour of Mshiri Village, the base for the Village Education Project we can witness the day-to-day life of the Chagga people, long established as crop-growers on the fertile slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. We walk around their shamba (farm). We also visit the primary school as well as the other institutions where local young people are taught various skills. For more information on the Village Education Project visit www.kiliproject.org.

Arusha

On our trips we make a short stop in Arusha. Arusha is Tanzania's second major city 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. Surrounding it are many coffee, wheat and maize estates tended by the Arusha and Meru people. The town is the centre of Tanzania's safari business and is bustling and busy.

Day 21: Serengeti National Park

Wed 02 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

48 hrs on Jeep safari in the Serengeti National Park

Included in Kitty

Serengeti National Park

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 Masai 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. In normal circumstances we would expect to see the Big 5 during our stay in the Serengeti. The Serengeti Plains usually live up to every-one's expectations. This is the classic East African scenery of rolling grasslands is dotted with Acacia trees. In normal circumstances we would expect to see all of the Big 5 during our stay in the park.

Responsible Travel Note: You will notice many Masai villages in the region of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater. While it is of course fascinating to visit different cultures, past experience has shown that these villages exist primarily as businesses. You will be charged an entry fee of approx. US$20 and the Masai will try very hard to sell souvenirs to you. While many clients still enjoy the experience, others have found it artificial and uncomfortable. We would very much prefer that Dragoman clients choose to by-pass this activity as we feel it negatively impacts the Masai culture and your perception of this culture. Unfortunately the tourist village business is such a high earner that we have been unable to find an "True" Masai experience in Tanzania, which is disappointing for all.

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. If you pre-book this activity with us you will be picked up and driven to the launch site early in the morning. Here you will receive a safety briefing from your pilot and help  to inflate the balloon. You will then glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height providing amazing wildlife photography opportunities, sometimes ascending to get an overview of the enormity of the Serengeti and the spectacular early morning sight of teeming herds of animals as they set out on their movements for the day. Upon landing and before being returned to your vehicle and group you'll be treated to a five star bush breakfast!

Please note the balloon safari must be pre-booked in advance through us and the option cannot be guaranteed until confirmation. Weather conditions sometimes stop the balloon flying in which case a full refund will be made. It does get booked up well in advance so you should book early.

Day 22: Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park

Thu 03 Jan 2013

Full day game driving in the Serengeti NP before before heading back to the Serengeti camp site for our second night.

Activity Approximate Cost

Hot Air Balloon ride in the Serengeti (This must be pre booked through your sales consultant. The cost for this is approximately $650 USD)

USD 650

Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater is a huge caldera - a volcano which collapsed in an immense explosion. It measures 19km in diameter and 265km² in area. On our trips we make the most of our safari in the crater, spending between four and five hours exploring the area which is sometimes called the "Garden of Eden". There is an excellent chance of spotting many of the Big Five, not to mention many other species.

Day 23: Ngorongoro Crater, Mto Wa Mbu

Fri 04 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Jeep safari into the Ngorongoro Crater Reserve

Included in Kitty

Mto Wa Mbu

Mto Wa Mbu is the halfway point between Arusha and the Ngorongoro crater. It is a place to explore and The Curio market is a good place to start. The local merchants will want you to buy their products, a lot are ebony carvings and Massai spears. They are proud of their goods and want to share the culture with others. Occasionally there is a cattle market where the Maasi people will gather with their cows. It is a spectactular site as thousands of people gather at a time.

Day 24: Nairobi

Sat 05 Jan 2013

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).

Hotel for the night: Kivi Milimani Hotel

Kivi Milimani Hotel.

Milimani Road

PO Box 20681

Nairobi

+254-20-2722358

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in Kenya's capital, Nairobi

Included in Kitty

NNP Animal orphanage & Safari walk, Nairobi

USD 20

Karen Blixen Museum, Nairobi

USD 14

Giraffe Centre, Nairobi

USD 12

Carnivore Restaurant, Nairobi

USD 40

Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi

USD 40

National Museum, Nairobi

USD 14

Nairobi

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

Day 25: Lake Naivasha

Sun 06 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the Elsamere Born Free foundation & High tea at Lake Naivasha

Included in Kitty

Walking safaris with big game in Naivasha

USD 40

Hippo spotting boat trip, Lake Naivasha

USD 20

Lake Naivasha

One of the few freshwater lakes in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha has floating islands of papyrus reeds and a border of flat-topped acacias. It's also home to a healthy population of hippos a tremendous variety of birds and the Elsamere Conservation Centre, once the home of the Adamsons of 'Born Free' fame.

Day 26 to 27: Nakuru National Park

Mon 07 Jan to Tue 08 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Safari in Lake Nakuru National Park

Included in Kitty

Kenyan colonial farm visit

Nakuru National Park

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

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

 

Day 28: Naro Moru

Wed 09 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in Naro Moru at the foothills of Mount Kenya

Included in Kitty

Horse riding, Naro Moru

USD 15

Nayaroi caves (Mau Mau) & waterfalls, Naro Moru

USD 15

Game driving in Sweetwaters Game Reserve, Naro Moru

USD 100

Nature Trails, Naro Moru

USD 10

Day 29 to 30: Samburu National Reserve, Samburu community village visit

Thu 10 Jan to Fri 11 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Wildlife safari in Samburu National Reserve

Included in Kitty

Visit to Samburu tribal community and cultural project

Included in Kitty

Samburu National Reserve

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

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

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

Samburu community village visit

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

Day 31 to 32: Moyale, Marsabit

Sat 12 Jan to Sun 13 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

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

Moyale

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

Marsabit

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

Day 33: Konso

Mon 14 Jan 2013

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.


Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in Konzo, centre of the Konso people

Included in Kitty

Take a guided tour of the village of Konso

USD 5

Visit the cultural handicraft market in Konso

Konso

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

Day 34 to 36: Omo Valley Region

Tue 15 Jan to Thu 17 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided Omo Valley Tribal Tour visiting either the Hamer, Banna, Mursi or Ari tribes.

Included in Kitty

Omo Valley Region

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

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

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

Day 37 to 38: Arba Minch

Fri 18 Jan to Sat 19 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

2 nights exploring Arba Minch and the surrounding area

Included in Kitty

Bicycle hire, Arba Minch

USD 10

Boat trip on Lake Chamo to see the crocodile 'market'

USD 65

Visit to the Crocodile farm, Arba Minch

USD 5

Arba Minch

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

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

Day 39: Wendo Genet

Sun 20 Jan 2013

We head today to Wendo Genet located approx. 35Kms from the town of Awasa located on the shores of Lake Awasa.

Tonight we will camp in the grounds of the Hot Spring Hotel.
.

Activity Approximate Cost

Relax in the Hot Springs at Wendo Genet

USD

Wendo Genet

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

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

Day 40: Awassa

Mon 21 Jan 2013

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.

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit to the Awassa Childrens Project

Included in Kitty

Awassa

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Day 41 to 43: Bale Mountains National Park

Tue 22 Jan to Thu 24 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

3 nights in the wilds of Bale Mountains National Park

Included in Kitty

Bale Mountains National Park

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

Day 44 to 45: Lake Ziway, Tulu Gudo Island

Fri 25 Jan to Sat 26 Jan 2013

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.

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of Tulu Gudo Island on Lake Ziway

Included in Kitty

Scenic boat trip across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island

Included in Kitty

Lake Ziway

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

Promoting Energy Saving Stoves to Save Livelihoods
Sustainable Environment and Development Action (SEDA)

Persistent poverty has created an informal industry of deforestation. Workers cut trees to sell as fuel and women gather wood to cook long hours over open fires. 

The “Stoves and Livelihoods” project is designed to improve the health of local families and conserve the natural environment by introducing energy saving stoves to communities throughout the Central Rift Valley. These low-tech stoves cut firewood consumption in half.  In addition to conserving local forests, the project protects women and children, who are most susceptible to the common respiratory illnesses caused by traditional indoor cooking methods. Often responsible for cutting firewood, women and children save up to two hours a day gathering fuel. And by protecting the natural environment, the project and its champions are creating a virtuous cycle that promotes a sustainable tourism economy, which pays dividends to workers and maintains the destination’s iconic appeal.
How you can help..........................
You can provide a cook stove to someone in need by letting your tour leader know you want to make a donation during the visit to the project. You can donate directly to our project partners in the field as part of your visit. Upon return you can also donate to these projects on the Global Giving website online. 
Even small donations can make a huge impact!
$34 = 1 cook stove provided to a family, and training to help ensure reduction in deforestation and cleaner household air

About SEDA
SEDA has been working on promotion of environmentally friendly technologies complimented by various environmental rehabilitation, livelihood development and community based eco-tourism projects in numerous districts of Central Rift Valley since 1994. The organization has focused on promoting energy saving stoves as a key environmental development strategy. So far, more than 2000 women have been trained and given fuel efficient stoves through SEDA.

 

Tulu Gudo Island

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

Day 46: Addis Ababa

Sun 27 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa

Included in Kitty

Overland journey to Addis through the immense Blue Nile Gorge

Included in Kitty

Addis Ababa

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

Day 47: Addis Ababa

Mon 28 Jan 2013

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.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Taitu

Itege Hotel Taitu

Downtown (Piazza)

Addis Ababa

Tel: +251 11 1 560787

0.0Km from the City Centre

7 Kms from Bole International Airport

 

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa

Included in Kitty

Day 48: Addis Ababa

Tue 29 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit "Lucy" at the National Museum, Addis Ababa

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

Visit Africa Hall - a symbol of African independence and optimism, Addis Ababa

St George's Cathedral (Giorgis Cathedral) built to commemorate Ethiopia's victory over the Italians, Addis Ababa

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

Day 49: Dejen

Wed 30 Jan 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overland journey into the immense Blue Nile Gorge

Included in Kitty

Day 50 to 52: Bahir Dar

Thu 31 Jan to Sat 02 Feb 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Boat trip on Lake Tana from Bahir Dar to visit the monasteries

Included in Kitty

Witness the stunning Blue Nile Falls

Included in Kitty

3 nights at Bahir Dar

Included in Kitty

Bahir Dar

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

Day 53 to 55: Lalibela

Sun 03 Feb to Tue 05 Feb 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of the ancient rock churches and monasteries at Lalibela

Included in Kitty

Lalibela

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

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

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

Day 56: Woldiya

Wed 06 Feb 2013

Leaving the town behind we travel around 170 km (approx 7-8 hours) before bushcamping for the night.

Day 57: Mekele

Thu 07 Feb 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the Tigray rock-hewn churches at Mekele

Included in Kitty

Visit the Debre Demo Monastery around Mekele

Mekele

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

Day 58 to 59: Axum

Fri 08 Feb to Sat 09 Feb 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of palaces and temples in historic Axum

Included in Kitty

Visit the Church of St Mary of Zion at Axum

Axum

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

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

Day 60: Enda Selassie

Sun 10 Feb 2013

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.

Day 61: Debark

Mon 11 Feb 2013

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

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

Day 62 to 64: Simien Mountains National Park, Debark

Tue 12 Feb to Thu 14 Feb 2013

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided treks in the Simien Mountains National Park

Included in Kitty

Simien Mountains National Park

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

Day 65: Gondar

Fri 15 Feb 2013

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.

Gondar

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

Day 66: Gondar

Sat 16 Feb 2013

Today take our tour of Gonder where we gain a fascinating insight into ancient times.

Activity Approximate Cost

Guided tour of Castles and Bath complexes in ancient Gondar

Included in Kitty

Day 67: Gondar

Sun 17 Feb 2013

Border Information: If finishing in Gonder, exit Ethiopia at Gonder Airport.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Gonder.

For passengers continuing their journey on to Khartoum your night stop will not be in Gonder.  Instead today you will have a drive day of approx 400kms crossing the border into Sudan to the Gedaref area where tonight we will aim to Bush camp.

Visa Information:

Important Notes

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

 

We intend following the planned route but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic 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, often in areas without western infrastructure. You should expect that some these areas do not adhere to western safety standards.

Itinerary changes since brochure 

Please note there are a couple of errors in our description of the trip, which refers to "visiting small villages in the Usambara Mountains" and "staying on a community project in Malawi". These do not happen on this trip.

Codeshare note

Local Partner
Dragoman runs this trip in conjunction with our trusted local partner Intrepid Guerba Kenya who share our ethos for adventure travel and have had many years' expertise in over landing. 

Our departures are code shared, with certain departures run by Dragoman in one of our vehicles, others by Intrepid (Intrepid Guerba Kenya) in one of theirs. This allows us to run many more departures so you have more choice when you want to travel. 


You'll get the same itineraries, activities and accommodation on both departures and the vehicles of both fleets have been standardised to a common specification, so you won't be compromising on quality. All departures have three-crew incl. an African camp master. The only difference is that the intrepid Guerba crew will all be African.


If you would like to know who is running your departure, Dragoman or Intrepid Guerba Kenya, please ask at the time of booking.

Serengeti Balloon Safari

The Balloon Safaris in the Masai Mara and Serengeti must be pre-booked through the UK and is subject to availability.

Physical Preparation

Physical preparation for the North, East & South Africa and Middle East Itineraries

Travelling in North, East & South Africa or Middle East can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions and basic campsites all provide a challenge. The conditions in the North can be more challenging than in the East or South, where public camp sites and bathroom facilities can be very basic and may be non existent in the case of bush camps. 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. 

 

Altitude

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 check out 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.

Visa Information

Most countries we visit on our travels will require visas. 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 be aware though that rules do change, often without prior warning, which is why it is important that you check for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you can choose to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate.  However, 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.  This should apply for ALL nationalities and countries of residence.

As you will 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. However if you do need to travel in this period please let us know as soon as possible so that we can help you work out the options for your visa application process. 

Ethiopia

Most nationalities require a visa for entry to Ethiopia and you must obtain this before travel in your country of residency. Most Embassies or Consulates of Ethiopia only accept visa applications from nationals of the county in which the Embassy is located - for example, the Ethiopian Embassy in London will only accept applications from British passport holders or those who hold an appropriate work/residency visa in their passport. Please see this website to find your closest embassy or consulate  http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/ethiopia

Important: If you have not obtained an Ethiopian visa before travel this could result in you having to send your passport back to your country of residency to obtain the visa at an extra personal cost, and could even result in you missing days of the trip waiting for your passport to return.

Please also note: If you are travelling on a long combination trip i.e. starting in Cape Town or Cairo you must apply for a multi entry visa valid for 3 or 6 months to ensure the visa is still valid upon entry. The 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. If your visa is due to expire during your time in Ethiopia you must extend it at the Immigration office in Addis Ababa.

Visa Validity: Please be aware that the visa is valid from the date of issue and not the date of entry into Ethiopia. It is no longer possible to post-date visas, so please give careful consideration as to which length of visa will be suitable for your stay. You must take into account the time taken to process your visa application as well allow for postage times and the number of days in advance of your travel you have applied, as your visa will have be valid from the date it has been processed at the Embassy.

For example, if you are visiting Ethiopia for 20 days, and you are applying for a single tourist or business visa more than a week in advance of your departure, you must take into account the length of time it takes for post to reach the Embassy, the time it takes to process the visa, the length of time it takes for post to reach you from the Embassy and consider exactly how many days in advance of your journey you have applied. If the total exceeds the 30 day limit, you must apply for a multiple entry 3 month visa.

If you wish to stay in Ethiopia for a longer period you will have to visit the Immigration Office in Addis Ababa and ask for an extension but we cannot guarantee that this will be granted. 

Visa on arrival at Addis Ababa airport

Tourist visas can sometimes be issued on arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

A 3 month tourist visas can only be issued on arrival to:
• foreign nationals who are coming from countries where there is no Ethiopian Mission OR
• foreign nationals who are coming from and are permanent residents in any of the following internationally recognised tourist-generating countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea Republic, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.

If applying for a tourist visa on arrival, visitors will need to bring with them two recent passport-sized photographs and no less than USD20 before their application can be processed.

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.

When applying for the visa the form will ask you for a contact in Ethiopia please put:

Sarem International Hotel
Belay Zeleke Street
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 126 2088

 

Kenya

Kenyan visas are required by most nationalities.

Single-entry visas are available at the point of entry to most nationalities and cost USD50. In some cases you may be able get a transit visa upon arrival for USD20. Some nationalities require visas to be purchased in advance - you MUST check before departure.

Multiple-entry visas are required for people travelling to Rwanda to visit the Gorillas.  We recommend that you obtain this in advance as you cannot obtain a multiple-entry visa at the border. However if you are unable to obtain a multiple-entry visa before travel, you will have to purchase single-entry visas at the border upon each entry into Kenya. 

For more information, including application forms and visa fee rates, is available at http://www.kenyahighcommission.net. Kenya there is an airport departure tax of USD20. Payment is also accepted in Kenyan Shillings. This tax is normally included in the price of airline tickets but if you are unsure, you should check with the airline or travel company.

IMPORTANT: Please take note ALL flights passengers travelling to Nairobi require a yellow fever certificate, if you do not have one you risk being denied boarding at the gate.

Tanzania

A visa is required by visitors of most nationalities including those from the EU, UK, USA and Australia. Most nationalities can obtain their visa at any major port of entry into Tanzania. At the time of writing, the cost is USD50 for most nationalities (or USD100 for USA passport holders).

Travelling to and from Zanzibar is still within Tanzania, so does not affect the validity of your Tanzanian visa. However, you still need to stamp your passport in and out of Zanzibar.

At the present time, you are allowed to exit and then re-enter Tanzania on just a single-entry visa, as long as your travel in between visits to Tanzania is only within Kenya or Uganda. If you have been to any further countries during this time, then this single-entry visa is no longer valid and you will have to purchase another visa to re-enter Tanzania.

If you do require a multiple entry visa you will need to arrange this through a Tanzanian diplomatic mission before your arrival in Tanzania.  Alternatively, you can buy a single-entry visa each time you enter the country.

If you do decide to obtain your visa in advance please use the following address on the application form:

Kipepeo Beach & Village

P.O. Box 1520

Dar es Salaam,

Tanzania

Tel :+255 (0)754 276 178

 

Departure tax

On the 2nd of July 2012 the Tanzanian Government announced an increase to it's passenger airport service charge from 5,000TSH to 10,000TSH for domestic departures, and from 30USD to 40USD for international departures.

This change comes into effect from 1st of July 2012 and will be included in any new Airline ticket costs. Passengers who have already purchased tickets will be required to pay the difference on departure.

Yellow Fever Certificate

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission.  This is particularly relevant for those travelling to Tanzania from neighbouring African countries and you will almost certainly be asked to show your yellow fever certificate card when arriving in Zanzibar.  See the Tanzanian Government website for more details:  http://www.tanzania.go.tz/immigration.html.

Malawi

Citizens of Australia, New Zealand, the UK and USA do not require a visa to enter Malawi for stays of up to 90 days. All nationalities should check with the respective embassies for more information.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean visas are required by most nationalities, including those from the UK, EU, USA and Australia. All nationalities should check with their nearest Zimbabwean Embassy for more information. For most nationalities, Zimbabwean visas are available at the point of entry. If you plan to purchase your visa on arrival you will need US dollars cash. 

At the time of writing (2013), the cost of a single-entry visa is USD55 for UK and Irish passport holders, and USD30 for most other nationalities.

Zimbabwean authorities are planning to introduce a new airport tax in the country to be used for the upgrading of all airports. The tax will be charged at USD30 and comes into affect for all air bookings ticketed as from April 2011.

TYPHOID:
It is recommended that if you are travelling to Harare you make sure that your Typhoid vaccinations are up to date. There has been an outbreak of typhoid in parts of Harare, with over 1500 cases reported since October 2011. For more information speak to your doctor and see the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

Zambia

Zambian visas are required by most nationalities, including those from the EU, UK, USA and Australia. 

For most nationalities, Zambian visas are available at the point of entry. If you plan to purchase your visa on arrival you will need US dollars cash. 

At the time of writing (2013), the cost of a single-entry visa is USD50 for all nationalities.

Personal Spending

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on this trip, we recommend you allow between a minimum of USD10 and a maximum of USD20 per day.

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

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 dated from 2006 or later. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on.

What else you need to know

Currencies & Cash

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

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

You should take a mixture of denomination notes. Banks and moneychangers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are dated from 2006 or later. 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 there are no cash machines in Sudan. Please note that most ATMs only take Visa cards NOT Mastercard. Please also do not not plan to take out large amounts of USD from the ATMs in Zimbabwe for use on the rest of the trip - the cash in Zimbabwe is often old, dirty and falling apart and will not be accepted anywhere else in the world. 

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

Pre and post trip accommodation and connecting flights

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of your 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 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.

Accommodation on tour

Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip, in accommodation ranging from twin to multi-share. The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. On some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities. 

Group size?

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

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

Who travels with Dragoman?

Our passengers come 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, 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.

Our Community

At any time before or after you book you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories 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 - you can join here

Our crew and guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all 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 two western crew who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation will accompany you. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and 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 all of the 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 tour leader has a duty of care to all of their passengers and therefore they have the authority to ask passengers to leave the trip if they require medical assistance, 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.

Health

All Dragoman travellers 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 assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude them 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. 

For trips that travel to areas of high altitude we also require all travellers to complete an altitude questionnaire. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases customers 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. 

 

Vaccinations

 Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to 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. It is essential that you 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. Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

A good source of up to date information is the world Health Organisation - http://www.who.int/en/

Malaria

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 vaccination centre for the most up-to-date requirements

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wear 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 out, use a mosquito net. Wear repellent applied directly to the skin or soaked into 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, in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

Meals and group participation

On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger - you're part of the crew. 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).

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. 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.

Responsible tourism

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

A few Rules 

 Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman customers.  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. 

 We expect all our customers 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.

Safety and security

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 passengers 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.

Please note: Any personal effects that are left on the truck, even if they are stored in the safe, are left at your own risk and Dragoman cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft that may occur.

The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority of 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 31 years of experience

Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougoThis website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip.

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. You should always make yourself aware of the travel advice before you book and again before you travel. Below are links to some of the websites

Britain. http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country

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

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

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

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

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £3,000,000 and £10,000,000 respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

Emergency contact

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

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

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564.

Insurance

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

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel. 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 they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. 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. We recommend that any policy has the following minimum levels of cover: Medical (incl. repatriation) £5,000,000 Personal Liability £5,000,000 Cancellation and Curtailment £5,000 Loss of Baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice.

Issues on the trip

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

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on customer_relations@dragoman.co.uk. You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

Passports

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

Luggage & Kit List

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

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 maximum 20kg.  Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

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

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

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

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

For a comprehensive kit lists take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel have created.  Dragoman customers will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists www.nomadtravel.co.uk/kitlist/overlanders-kit-list

Water

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

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized 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 hip pocket!

Personal medical kit

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

nomadtravel.co.uk/catalog/view/dragoman-medical-kit

Electrical equipment

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

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

The kitty

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip. The kitty is payable in instalments 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 & kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

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

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility & 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 & 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.

At least half of your kitty should be paid in cash in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars or Euros in West Africa). The outstanding amount can be paid in local currency during your trip; your leader will give you the exchange rate.  Most of our travellers choose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.

Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.

Continuing your trip

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet?  If on your trip you decide 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.

Contingency emergency fund

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you should be prepared to contribute towards the costs 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.

Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person.