Overlanding is the only way to see East Africa! 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. This hugely adventurous trip from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, via a loop of Uganda and Rwanda, is packed full with some of East Africa's biggest and best wildlife areas, including the world famous plains of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater, the waving grasslands of the Maasai Mara, and the less-visited Ugandan National Parks of Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls. We will track chimpanzees on foot in the forests of Uganda, and journey deep into Rwanda for one of the world's ultimate wildlife experiences - a face-to-face encounter with the incredible mountain gorillas of Volcanoes National Park. We will journey through northern Tanzania past the colossal Mount Kilimanjaro to the tropical island of Zanzibar, where we explore the stunning old town, take a tour of the spice plantations, and relax on some of the Indian Ocean's finest beaches. An incredible and truly memorable trip!
Border Information: If joining at Zanzibar, you will most likely enter Tanzania from Zanzibar Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (IATA code: ZNZ).
There will be an informal meet-and-greet and orientation of Stone Town with our local Zanzibar guide at 6:00pm - please meet at the reception of the joining hotel at this time if you wish to take part in this orientation. Please note that you will not usually meet your regular Dragoman crew tonight, as they will be arriving in Dar es Salaam this evening and will travel to Zanzibar with members of their previous group tomorrow.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Zanzibar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Zanzibar.
In Stone Town we will stay in a good local hotel.
Please note that the first 4 days of this trip overlap with our "YDF - Victoria Falls to Zanzibar" trip, so some of the group that come to Zanzibar will leave before we take the ferry to Dar es Salaam. This is because Zanzibar is part of both trips, so it means customers going all the way through do not follow our Zanzibar itinerary twice!
Today will be a free day to explore Stone Town, the atmospheric old town on the exotic and beautiful island of Zanzibar!
Your Dragoman crew will arrive on Zanzibar this afternoon, and there will be an important meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel - there will then be the option going for sunset drinks at Africa House and heading out to the night markets for a local dinner.
On our second day on Zanzibar we will join our local guide for a very interesting and informative tour around the sights of Stone Town and learn about the history of the island. We will then head away from town and take in a tour of a spice plantation, enjoy a local lunch with our guide, then head to Nungwi beach at the very north of the island. Nungwi is the Indian Ocean at its best - bright white sand, sparkling blue sea outstanding seafood and a fantastic chilled atmosphere.
On our third day on Zanzibar, we will have free time to enjoy Nungwi beach and relax, or to try snorkeling, diving, or other beach activities, or maybe go further afield looking for Red Colobus monkeys in the Jozani Forest.
In Nungwi we will spend both nights in a good hotel right on the shore of the ocean.
Today we will return to Stone Town and then take a ferry from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam, before travelling on the local commuter barge from the city centre to the suburb of Kigamboni. The ferry will take about 2 hours and 30 minutes. The rest of the afternoon will be free to relax at the campsite.
In Dar es Salaam we stay at a beautiful and well-equipped beach camp on the southern side of the bay across from the city.
Today we join our overland truck and set off early to beat the morning trafiic in Dar es Salaam. We have a full day's drive to Marangu, where we have a nightstop camping in the grounds of a beautiful colonial hotel at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. We should have good views of the mountain on the drive in (if it is not covered in cloud!).
In Marangu we will camp in the grounds of a hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 11-12 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
After breakfast we head west to the town of Arusha, where we will stop for food shopping in preparation for our excursion to the Serengeti National Park. On the drive to Arusha we will go past the whole length of Mount Kilimanjaro where we'll hope for clear skies and fantastic views from the road.
We will then head to our campsite on the outskirts of Arusha. On arrival we should have time to go on an optional walk to a nearby Maasai village, or visit a reptile house and snake-bite clinic that are run by the campsite. We will also prepare and re-pack for the Serengeti excursion starting the following day.
In Arusha we will stay in a well equipped campsite.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Today we will be met at the campsite by our fleet of 6-person 4x4 jeeps - we will load the jeeps with our camping and personal gear, and then head out for our 3-day excursion to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, leaving our truck behind.
Today will be a full drive along the rim of the Ngoronogoro Crater (stopping to take in the awe-inspiring views!) and then down into the plains of the Serengeti. We will take an evening game drive around the savannah before heading to our campsite - the area is one of the world's premier spot for wildlife viewing and we hope to able to find elephants, lions, leopards, giraffe and other big game during our time here!
Tonight we will stay at a campsite within the Serengeti National Park. The camp where we stay is very basic (with showers and flush toilets, but no other facilities) but is located right in the middle of the plains, surrounded by animals and their nocturnal noises! Your leader will outline the basic safety rules to be followed when camping in an unfenced location where wild animals are present.
Today we will get up very early and we set off in our jeeps for an early morning game drive in the heart of the Serengeti plains. The early morning is the best time of day for wildlife viewing, as many of the animals are at their most active while it is still cool.
There is an option this morning for to take a hot air balloon flight over the Serengeti instead of the game drive - demand is high for this activity, so this must be pre-booked at the time that you book your trip with Dragoman.
We will return to our campsite for brunch, and then aim to exit the Serengeti at around lunch time. We will head back through the conservation area to our second campsite, on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, where we will arrive in the early evening.
Again, the campsite tonight is very basic and unfenced. It can often be quite cold on the crater rim so it is recommended that you take some warm clothes for this night.
This morning we will have another early start to descend into the world-famous Ngorongoro Crater for a morning game drive. Again, the Ngorongoro Crater is an outstanding area for wildlife spotting, often described as a 'natural wildlife enclosure'. This is the best chance on the excursion to spot black rhinos as well as a myriad of other big game.
We will spend as long as our entry tickets allow in the Ngorongoro Crater before departing, which will usually give us about 3-4 hours of game driving. We will then be dropped off at our next campsite in the small town of Mto Wa Mbu, where we are re-united with our truck. Here we will go on a fantastic community walk around the town where we will see local craft workshops, learn a little about the life here, and enjoy a lunch of delicious specialities from the area. We will then head back to our camp for a relaxing evening at the campsite!
In Mto Wa Mbu we stay at a well equipped campsite in the grounds of a good hotel.
Border Information: Exit Tanzania at Namanga, enter Kenya at Namanga.
Today we will set off again in our overland truck and head over the Kenyan border and on to the capital of Nairobi. Here we will prepare and re-pack for our Maasai Mara excursion the following day.
In Nairobi we will stay in a well equipped campsite in the suburb of Karen on the outskirts of the city.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.
This morning we will be met at the campsite by our 6-person 4x4 jeeps that will take us on our 2-night excursion to the Maasai Mara. We will load the jeeps with our personal gear (but we will not need our camping equipment) and then head off to Maasai Mara, leaving our truck behind.
On arrival we will have the chance for a short evening game drive in the Maasai Mara National Park before heading to our campsite. The Maasai Mara is an incredibly scenic area and is one of the world's greatest places for wildlife spotting which is absolutely teeming with giraffe, buffalo, zebra, elephants, lions, cheetah, leopards, and other big game!
On the next day, we will go out for the full day game driving in the National Park before returning to our campsite for a second night. There is also the opportunity for a sunset balloon flight over the savannah - demand for this activity is very high so you must reserve this at the time of booking your Dragoman trip to avoid disappointment.
On both nights we will stay in a basic campground on the outskirts of the National Park. The campsite has set-tents and bedding, but is self-catered (we will use our kitchen equipment brought from the truck).
Border Information - if you are leaving the trip here, you will most likely exit Kenya from Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (IATA code: NBO).
Today we will have a final game drive in the Maasai Mara in the early morning, before heading back to Nairobi and our campsite in Karen, arriving at about 4:00pm or 5:00pm.
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Nairobi. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below. If leaving today please do not book flights departing from Nairobi earlier than 8:00pm, to allow plenty of time to get back from the Maasai Mara.
Border Information: If joining the trip in Nairobi, you will most likely enter Kenya at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (IATA code: NBO).
Welcome to Kenya! There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note, as this will often be a travelling day for the crew who will be joining you.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Nairobi before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Nairobi.
After an early breakfast we will make our way to Gilgil, where we will visit the Saidia Children's Home - a Dragoman-supported home for orphaned children from the area.
From there, we will make our way to Nakuru, our base for tomorrow's excursion into Nakuru National Park. If we make good time on the drive we may have the opportunity to take a walk around the working dairy farm where our campsite is, and to visit a local women's knitting collective.
In Nakuru we will stay at a beautiful and well equipped campsite located on a dairy farm on the outskirts of town.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
This morning we head into Nakuru National Park for an included half-day game drive in local safari trucks. Nakuru is a beautiful park with a large lake and many forested areas - it is teeming with wildlife and there is an excellent chance to see both black and white rhinos.
We will most likely have lunch in the area before driving on to Kericho this afternoon, where there is an optional tour around a nearby tea plantation.
In Kericho we will stay at a well equipped campsite.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
Border Information: Exit Kenya at Busia, enter Uganda at Busia.
Today we have a full day's drive across the border into Uganda as we travel to Jinja, the adventure capital of East Africa!
Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.
On the following day we will have a free day to get involved in the many optional adventure activities available here, such as white water rafting, bungee jumping and boat trips on the White Nile!
In Jinja we will stay at a well equipped campsite.
Today we continue our journey and head north to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary close to the town of Nakitoma. Here we will have the chance to track rhinos on foot with a local ranger!
In Nakitoma we will stay in a well equipped campsite within the Rhino Sanctuary.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
Today we continue to Kaniyo Pabidi in the Budongo Forest, in the southern part of the Murchison Falls National Park. Here we will head out for our included chimpanzee tracking walk in the afternoon!
Please note that for conservation reasons the maximum group size to track the chimpanzees is 12 people, so if we have a large group we will split in half, one half going on the walk this afternoon and the other half going tomorrow morning.
In Kaniyo Pabidi we will stay in basic dorm rooms in a small lodge in the Budongo Forest.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
If we had to split the group for chimpanzee tracking, the other half of the group will head out for the walk this morning. When we are ready to continue, we will drive to the central region of Murchison Falls National Park to reach our campsite.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours (to the campsite).
On the next day, we will head out early in the truck for a included morning of game driving around the northern area of the National Park - we will take a local vehicle barge to get over the Nile and pick up a ranger to show us around in search of wildlife!
We will return to our campsite for lunch, and then embark on an included launch cruise on the Nile to spot wildlife from the water and to see the spectacularly-powerful Murchison Falls.
In Murchison Falls National Park we will stay in a well equipped campsite at Paraa on the southern banks of the River Nile in the heart of the park.
Please note that the roads leading into and around Murchison Falls are very poor and can be hazardous in wet conditions. If there has been heavy rain recently, it may not be possible to go into the National Park beyond Kaniyo Pabidi - this is firstly for safety reasons on the drive in, and secondly due to the risk of extreme bogging that will cause us to miss the gorilla treks in Rwanda. We will always endaevour to reach the National Park as per the itinerary; but when this is occasionally not possible, please respect the tour leader's decision in this matter. On these occasions we will be able to utilise this time with spending longer in Lake Bunyonyi and Ruhengeri.
Today we have a full day's drive back south to Kampala, where we will have a nightstop in a well equipped campsite in the southern suburbs of the city.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.
Over the next 2 days we will continue travelling south through Uganda to reach Lake Bunyonyi, home to some of the most picturesque scenery in the whole of the country, where we will hopefully get the opportunity to explore the lake by boat and admire the surrounding landscape.
En route we will split the drive with a nightstop in either Mbarara or Kabale, which both have decent campsites that we can use. We will also cross the Equator and stop for the mandatory photos en route!
In Lake Bunyonyi we stay in a well equipped campsite.
Estimated Drive Times - 7-8 hours each day.
Border Information: Exit Uganda at Katuna, enter Rwanda at Gatuna.
Leaving Uganda behind, we cross the border into the stunning country of Rwanda.
We will first travel to the capital city of Kigali, where we will have an included visit to the incredibly moving Genocide Memorial. After this we will drive the short distance to Ruhengeri (also known as Musanze), the gateway to the Volcanoes National Park, where we will spend the next 2 nights.
Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours (allowing for 5 hours driving, 2 hours at the border and 3 hours at the Kigali Genocide Museum).
On the next day, we will go on what is undoubtedly the highlight of the trip - trekking to see the Mountain Gorillas in their natural forest habitat.
This region is one of the last remaining sanctuaries for the mountain gorilla. No more than 8 people per day can visit any one habituated family, and visits are strictly controlled to minimise the possibility of disturbance or transmission of disease to the animals.
Tracking gorillas in the dense forest can sometimes be wet, muddy and uncomfortable. The terrain is by no means easy either, so it can be pretty strenuous and often humid; however, the sheer thrill of coming across a habituated group of gorillas, dominated by a great male silverback, more than outweighs any difficulty. You need to be prepared and fit enough to walk at least 4 hours - uphill and downhill. We can usually get very close to the mountain gorillas, who are placid and gentle, and watching their movements is like seeing a mirror image of yourself! Once you find them, you will stay with the gorillas for one unforgettable hour!
When visiting the gorillas you will be assigned a trekking group and time on your permit. The group may be split up into different trekking groups during the day.
In Ruhengeri we will stay in dorms at a local church mission, or camp in their grounds.
Please note that the gorilla permits are paid for in full by the trip kitty - however, Dragoman has to purchase the permits in advance on the customers' behalf, so a higher deposit is charged on the trip price to protect us from losing this money in the event of cancellation - please see the notes at the end for further detail.
Please also note that there is some flexibility in the itinerary depending on the circumstances of the trip and the weather, as such we sometimes may have extra time in Ruhengeri, in which case we will have time for some other activities here (your leader can detail some of these if you have the time available).
Border Information: Exit Rwanda at Cyanika, enter Uganda at Cyanika.
Today we have a free morning in Ruhengeri before heading out of Rwanda, crossing back into Uganda to camp in the town of Kabale.
In Kabale we will stay in a well equipped campsite.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
This morning we travel to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, beautifully set between the Great Rift Valley lakes of Lake Edward and Lake George, undertaking a game drive on our way to the campsite.
After lunch we will take an included boat cruise along the Kazinga Channel, well-known for pelicans, eagles and other wonderful birdlife as well as its healthy population of hippos. During our time in the park we also hope to see elephants, lions, leopards, buffaloes, Ugandan kobs and waterbucks.
In Queen Elizabeth National Park we will camp at a basic campsite with drop toilets inside the park. Your leader will explain the basic safety aspects of camping in an unfenced area amongst the wildlife upon arrival.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
Over the next 2 days we will travel back to the east through Kampala to Jinja. We will take a short game drive through Queen Elizabeth National Park on our way out in the morning.
We will most likely split the drive with a nightstop in Mbarara, but if the road conditions improve on a different road then we may go via the western town of Fort Portal instead. Both Mbarara and Fort Portal have decent campsites to stay in.
Either way, we will reach Jinja by the second evening and enjoy a night relaxing at the same campsite as earlier in the trip.
Estimated Drive Times - 6-7 hours each day.
Border Information: Exit Uganda at Malaba, enter Kenya at Malaba.
Today we travel back into Kenya and visit the town of Eldoret, where we will stay in an excellent campsite at Naiberi River just outside of town. There will be the possibility of an Indian buffet meal at our campsite tonight.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.
Today we will make our way back to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where we will stay again in our well equipped campsite situated in the suburb of Karen.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
Border Information: if you are leaving the trip in Nairobi, you will most likely exit Kenya at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (IATA code: NBO).
Today is this is the final day of this section - if you are leaving here (or continuing northbound with us to Ethiopia) you will have a free day in Nairobi. If you are continuing your trip with us southbound towards Tanzania then there will a new group meeting at 10:00am for the next section of your journey, before heading away from Nairobi - your leader will give you detailed instructions about this.
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Nairobi. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
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Trip Name: Zanzibar to Nairobi
Duration: 34 Days
From Price: $2,392
Supplier Tour ID: AUZ2/158203
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