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Nairobi to Gondar

Overlanding is the only way to see East Africa! This fantastic route, taking you on the epic overland journey between Ethiopia's historic city of Gondar and Kenya's bustling capital of Nairobi, will give you a deep insight into this amazing continent. Dragoman have been leading the way in African overland expeditions since 1981, so take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. With Dragoman you will visit the wonders of Ethiopia such as the Temples of Axum, the rock churches of Lalibela, and trek in the spectacular Simien Mountains. You will journey through the remote tribal lands of Ethiopia's Omo Valley, and head out on safari in some of Kenya's fantastic game parks such as the Samburu and Nakuru National Parks. This is a phenomenal adventure that takes in some of the best historical and cultural areas of Africa, complete with some phenomenal wildlife viewing - join us for this wonderful African journey!


Duration: 44 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Safari, Local Culture & Cuisine Physical rating: Demanding
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 158006
Starts: Nairobi, Kenya Finishes: Gondar, Ethiopia
You will visit
  • Nairobi
  • Naivasha
  • Nakuru National Park
  • Samburu Village
  • Samburu National Reserve
  • Moyale
  • Marsabit
  • Konso
  • Omo Valley Region
  • Arba Minch
  • Awassa
  • Wendo Genet
  • Bale Mountains National Park
  • Lake Ziway
  • Addis Ababa
  • Debre Markos
  • Bahir Dar
  • Lalibela
  • Mekele
  • Woldiya
  • Axum
  • Debark
  • Adi Arkay
  • Simien Mountains National Park
  • Gondar

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Nairobi

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

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting - your leader will need to check your Ethiopia visa (please see below for details).

If you would like to explore Nairobi fully, we advise you arrive a day earlier, or arrive early in the morning to give yourself a full day before the meeting in the evening. Possible activities include visiting the Karen Blixen Museum, the National Museum and the Langata Giraffe Centre.

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

02

Day 2: Naivasha

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

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

Estimated Drive Time - 3 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

03

Day 3: Nakuru National Park

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

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

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

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

04

Day 4: Nakuru National Park

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

We stay in the same campsite in Nakuru tonight.

05

Day 5-6:

Today we will head through the hills of central Kenya, through the area's beautiful scenery and tea plantations, to arrive at the small village of Naro Moru at the base of Mount Kenya.

Estimated Drive Time - 6 hours.

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

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

06

Day 7: Samburu Village

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

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

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

07

Day 8: Samburu National Reserve

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

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

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

08

Day 9-10: Moyale

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

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

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours (highly dependant on weather conditions).

On the second day of our journey, we will reach the town of Moyale where we will camp at the town's police station or in a local campsite.

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

Please note that due to security issues in this particular area, we will be accompanied by two armed police escorts.

09

Day 11: Konso

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

For those on a longer combination trip starting in Cape Town or Victoria Falls, please play special attention to the visa notes in the information below.

Today we will cross the border into Ethiopia and have a full day of travel to Konso, home to the local Konso people and our gateway to the very remote Omo Valley region of southern Ethiopia.

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

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.

10

Day 12-14: Omo Valley Region

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

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

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

Drive times - 4-9 hours each day.

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

11

Day 15-16: Arba Minch

Today we will exit the Omo Valley region and arrive in the town of Arba Minch, a small town overlooking Lake Chamo.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

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

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

12

Day 17-18: Awassa

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

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

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.

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

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

13

Day 19-21: Bale Mountains National Park

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

Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours.

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

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

14

Day 22: Lake Ziway

Today we will leave the Bale Mountains and head to the small town of Ziway.

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

In Ziway we will stay in a small local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.

15

Day 23: Addis Ababa

Today we will travel to the bustling Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where we will have a free afternoon to explore the city.

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

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

16

Day 24-25: Addis Ababa

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

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

On the next day, we will have a free day to explore Addis Ababa and visit the city's many museums and sights. If you are travelling to the Sudan and have arranged to pick the visa up in Addis Ababa, this day will be spend arranging this visa.

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

17

Day 26: Debre Markos

We will start our journey today with a drive to the small town of Debre Markos. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side!

In Debre Markos we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

18

Day 27-29: Bahir Dar

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

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.

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

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

In Bahir Dar we will stay in decent local hotel.

19

Day 30-32: Lalibela

Today we have a full day's drive through the beautiful scenery of central Ethiopia to reach the small medieval town of Lalibela.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

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

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

In Lalibela we will stay in a local hotel.

20

Day 33-34: Mekele

Leaving Lalibela behind us, we have 2 days of driving through increasingly mountainous scenery to reach the town of Mekele.

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

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours each day.

21

Day 35-36: Axum

Today we will visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church), then continue through the increasingly breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia.

Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours.

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

In Axum we will stay in a basic local hotel.

22

Day 37-38: Debark

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

Debark is the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, and on arrival we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options we will have during our excursion starting the following day.

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

Estimated Drive Time - 6 hours each day.

23

Day 39-41: Simien Mountains National Park

Today marks the start of our 3 day excursion into the Simien Mountains National Park. The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views!

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

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

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

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

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

24

Day 42-43: Gondar

Today we head back out to the mountains to Debark, and then finally join the tarmac road again to reach the ancient royal city of Gondar!

Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours.

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

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

25

Day 44: Gondar

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

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Gondar. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight.

For passengers continuing their journey north on to Khartoum, the trip will continue on to Gedaref in the Sudan today. For passengers continuing south back to Addis Ababa on the Ethiopia Loop, we will leave today to reach Bahir Dar.

Inclusions:
    Activities
      Tour Staff
      • 2 crew with local guides as necessary
      Accomodation
      • 45% Camping - 55% Hotels
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