Connecting two major hubs, this overland journey will take you from Johannesburg to Nairobi and into the stunning wilderness of the six countries that lie in between. Track Africa’s Big Five on game drives in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro and head to the Okavango Delta for a game walk and mokoro canoe excursion. Inhale the mists of Victoria Falls and the fragrant air of spice plantations in Zanzibar. You’ll make your discoveries from a rugged overland truck, ready to take on Africa. Combine this with bush camping, a social atmosphere and a comprehensive itinerary and you have one hell of an adventure.
Marvel at Victoria Falls
Track rhinos at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Experience 4×4 game drives in Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater
Immerse yourself in ancient cultures with traditional dancing
Spend three glorious days on exotic Zanzibar.
Duration: 27 days
Start/Finish City: Johannesburg to Nairobi
Service Level: Camping
Excellent value, amazing prices, quality experiences
Camping most nights with some hotel stays to start and throughout
Private transport to out-of-the-way places in order to keep your gear stowed and secure
Physical Grading: 3
Trips may include activities like hiking, biking, rafting or kayaking. No sweat, right?
Adventures for 18 to thirty somethings
Designed for young, budget-minded travellers, Yolo trips maximize time and money by squeezing the most out of a destination. This ain’t your typical big-bus tour, though. Small groups, insider access and personal freedom to follow the whim of the moment are the order of the day, every day.
Trip Type: Small Group
Group trips average 12 travellers per departure, depending on the adventure. The maximum is usually no more than 16, but some can be smaller or bigger, depending on the trip. Check individual trips for details.
Day 1 Johannesburg
Arrive in Johannesburg any time and make your way to the joining point hotel. A brief departure meeting will be held in the hotel reception area in evening on Day 1 of your tour. Upon arrival look for information from your CEO on the hotel bulletin board regarding the meeting time (approx 6-7pm). Please make sure you have all of the necessary visas for this tour by the time of the welcome meeting. It is very important to read the Visa section in our trip details to make sure which visas you will need, if any. Please note that not all nationalities are able to obtain a visa on arrival at the border.
Our starting hotel is located outside of the city of Johannesburg, but take some time on an optional excursion to Soweto or to the famous Apartheid Museum, if you arrive a day earlier or two.
*Please note: if you have pre-booked the Okavango Delta Flight your CEO will inform you when you will do the activity throughout your tour, days are subject to change: Okavango Delta Flight (Day 3 – Okavango Delta). For more information on the Extra see the Optional Activities section.
George Harrison discovered gold near present-day Johannesburg in March 1886 on the Witwatersrand. Surveyors were instructed by the government to lay this farm out as a future town. They completed their work on 03 Dec 1886. The name Johannesburg was written for the first time on their plans of streets and stands.
Only five days after the completion of the survey the first 986 stands were auctioned, and the first building to be erected was a corrugated iron hut. Within 12 months, Johannesburg was the second largest town in Transvaal, and by the middle 1890s there were 20 separate mining companies working from headquarters in Johannesburg.
The Transvaal government granted Johannesburg municipal status in 1897. Later, the city became almost deserted with the advent of the Anglo-Boer war on 11 Oct 1899, as trainloads of refugees fled. Johannesburg was placed under martial law, to protect the existing claims. After the war, the labour shortage led to a proposed suggestion to import Chinese labour. The first load of 1055 Chinese labourers arrived in 1904. By 1905 they numbered 46,895. In December of 1905 the British liberal party ( who just won the national elections) suspended the Chinese recruitment. Between 1903 and 1997, 55,877 miners had been killed in mine accidents. In the same period 47,229 tons of gold had been produced.
Johannesburg officially became a city in 1928, and by 1960 it had more than 1 million inhabitants. Today, Johannesburg is fondly known as eGoli, or place of gold.
Day 2-3 Serowe/Maun (2B,2L,2D)
Approximate Distance: 524 km
Estimated Travel Time: 8 hrs
Today’s travel takes us through a very desolate part of central-eastern Botswana. We cross into Botswana and finish the day at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, a unique community-based initiative in wildlife conservation. Opt to go on a rhino game drive in an open vehicle barring any delays on the road or at the border. If there are delays, we will arrive at dusk or after dark and a game drive will not be possible.
The Khama Rhino Sanctuary is centred around the Serowe Pan, a large grass-covered depression with several natural water holes and covering about 4,3000 hectares of Kalahari sandveld. It was established to safe-guard both the white and black rhino population, which had been severely depleted by indiscriminate poaching. In 1995, a 28 km electric fence was completed, and all the rhinos were released and now roam freely within the sanctuary. Our campsite is located within the sanctuary.
Maun, although officially still a village, is the fifth largest town in Botswana. It is an eclectic mix of modern buildings and native huts. Maun is the ”tourism capital” of Botswana and the administrative centre of Ngamiland district. It still retains a rural atmosphere and local tribesmen continue to bring their cattle to Maun to sell.
Day 4 Okavango Delta (1B,1L,1D)
After one night in Maun and leaving some of our luggage in Maun, we begin our exciting 2 day/1 night excursion into the delta as we drive about 1-2 hours (depending on which dock we go to) to the ”dock” where we hop into a mokoro, a traditional dug-out canoe, that’ll take us deep into the delta. After a couple hours in mokoro, we arrive to our basic “bush camp”. Please note that there will be no shower for those two days but you will be compensated by the incredible landscape (we recommend you bring a 5l bottle of water into the Delta, for drinking and cleaning purposes). For 1 1/2 days, enjoy game walks, mokoros (occasionally unavailable due to seasonality), birdlife and game viewing in the pristine wilderness area of the Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta. Don’t forget to bring a book with you as there is plenty of time in between the early morning and afternoon game drive where you relax at your camp, read a book or have a nap. In the evenings count the shooting stars, sing with the locals or just unwind and enjoy your sundowner and sit around the campfire.
”Where all this water goes is a mystery”, Aurel Schultz, 1897
The area of the delta was once part of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake that dried up some 10,000 years ago. Today, the Okavango River has no outlet to the sea. Instead, it empties onto the sands of the Kalahari Desert, irrigating 15,000 km_ of the desert. Each year some 11 cubic kilometers of water reach the delta. Some of this water reaches further south to create Lake Ngami. The water entering the delta is unusually pure, due to the lack of agriculture and industry along the Okavango River. It passes through the sand aquifers of the numerous delta islands and evaporates/transpirates by leaving enormous quantities of salt behind. This precipitation processes are so strong that the vegetation disappears in the center of the islands and thick salt crusts are formed. The waters of the Okavango Delta are subject to seasonal flooding, which begins about mid-summer in the north and six months later in the south (May/June). The water from the delta is evaporated relatively rapidly by the high temperatures, resulting in a cycle of cresting and dropping water in the south. Islands can disappear completely during the peak flood, then reappear at the end of the season.
Day 5-6 Gweta/Chobe River (2B,2L,2D)
Approximate Distance: 200 km
Estimated Travel Time: 3 hrs from Maun.
Enjoy one last sunrise over the Delta, get up early for your last game walk, set out on foot to explore the delta area in search of game. Cruise back down the crystal clear channels of the Okavango Delta. We return to Maun to and continue our journey to Gweta, an ideal base for an optional sunset trip into the Makgadikgadi Pans (Nxasini pan – one of the smaller pan).
When the rain comes, it brings life to the pans, as it fills just a few centimetres awaking the dormant fish and aquatic shrimps from the mud. The surrounding grasslands also team with life and are home to an impressive number of antelope that attract a wide variety of predators.
Makgadikgadi Pans National park was declared a game reserve in 1970, but in December 1992 it was enlarged and declared a national park. Today it comprises 4900 square km. It was initially state land. Although it is totally devoid of any water, people used to live there before it was declared state land. Villagers where allowed to graze their livestock inside the boundaries during dry season.
Approximate Distance: 420 km
Estimated Travel Time: 6 hrs
Today we journey to the area of Chobe National Park, home to the largest elephant population in Southern Africa. The best way to appreciate one of Botswana’s national parks and its thousands of resident elephants, crocodiles, and hippos, is on an optional sunset boat cruise on the Chobe River. You may also choose to embark on a game drive in search of lions, antelope, and of course elephants.
We camp on banks of the Chobe River, near its mouth. This is where the Chobe and Zambezi rivers meet, creating a border area of four countries – Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Chobe National Park is Botswana’s first national park, and is situated along the Chobe River. It has one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa and one of the world’s last remaining sizeable wilderness areas. By size, this is the third largest park (11,000 sq km) of the country, though it is definitely the most diverse and spectacular. The park is probably best known for its spectacular elephant population: with over 120,000 it has the highest elephant concentration of Africa. Moreover, most of them are probably part of the largest continuous surviving elephant population on Earth. During the dry season, these elephants sojourn in Chobe River and the Linyanti River areas. During the rain season, they make a 200 km migration to the south-east region of the park. Their distribution zone however outreaches the park and spreads to north-western Zimbabwe.
Day 7-9 Livingstone (3B,1L)
Approximate Distance: 100 km
Estimated Travel Time: 3 hrs (depending on ferry crossing)
Please note that as this is a combo tour some of your fellow travellers might be ending their journey in Livingstone and you might also get some new people joining your tour.
Cross the Zambezi River by ferry to enter into Zambia and continue to Livingstone. We will spend the last days of our tour here, a great base to see both natural wonders and take part in some exciting activities. Get up close (and wet from the spray) while awing at the immense Victoria Falls, raft the whitewater of the mighty Zambezi, and for the more adventurous, bungee jump with the Victoria Falls in view.
David Livingstone was born on March 19, 1813 in the village of Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. He first studied Greek, medicine, and theology at the University of Glasgow and while working in London, joined the London Missionary Society became a minister. He originally planned to gain access to China through his medical knowledge. The Opium Wars, which were raging at this stage with no signs of peace on the horizon, forced Livingstone to consider other options. From 1840 he worked in Bechuanaland (present-day Botswana), and in the period 1852–56, he explored the African interior, and was the first European to see the Mosi-oa-Tunya waterfall, which he renamed Victoria Falls after his monarch, Queen Victoria.
The Victoria Falls waterfalls occur in a country that is perfectly flat. From its source on the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Zambezi River meanders for 1300 km across the wooded plateau of Zambia, eroding for itself a shallow valley on its mild descent to the site of the falls. The river eventually found a weak spot on the lower lip of the surface over which it passed, and forced a passage which was steadily deepened into an exit gorge. During the last half million years the river has scoured out eight of these cracks across its bed. The Victoria falls occur where the river is 1688m wide, presents the spectacle of an average maximum of 550 million liters of water a minute tumbling over the lip of the trench in five main falls, the Devil’s Cataract, Main falls, Horseshoe Falls, Rainbow falls and the Eastern Cataract. The highest of these is Rainbow falls, on an average 108 m high. A peak flood sees 750 million liters of water in one minute hurtling over the falls.
The name Zambezi comes from the Tonka tribe, also meaning Great River, but the Sotho-speaking Kololo people of the upper reaches of the river gave it the well-known name of Mosi o a Thunya (smoke that rises). The Lozi people call it by the same name but translated it into smoke that sounds. The Ndebele call it aManza Thunqayo (the water that rises like smoke). The Namibian people call it Chinotimba (a noise-making place like the distant sound of digging).
Day 10-15 Lusaka/Lake Malawi (6B,6L,6D)
Day 10 Lusaka (B,L,D)
Approximate Distance: 543km
Estimated Travel Time: 10 hrs
We depart early in the morning (approx. 6am) for today’s long journey across rough and bumpy roads takes us to a private game farm called Eureka, 29km’s outside of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, where we will spend the night. Here you may see Zebras, Buffalos, and the Boks that roam the property, or relax by the pool or at the rest camp’s bar.
Day 11 Chipata (B,L,D)
Approximate Distance: 544 km
Estimated Travel Time: 10 hrs
Today is another long travel day to get us closer to Malawi. We will depart around 6am and drive north east up through the Zambian country-side, we head to the capital of the Eastern Province, Chipata. On our way we will drive through a trading post village just before Luangwa Bridge with a beautiful local market. There is a chance to interact with the villagers, try some exotic fruits or buy some baskets as a souvenir. As today is a long driving day we will not be able to visit Chipata town.
Day 12-15 Lake Malawi (4B,4L,4D)
Day 12 – Approximate Distance: 400 km ; Estimated Travel Time: 10 hrs
Day 14 – Approximate Distance: 235 km ; Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs
Today we will cross the border from Zambia to Malawi. We leave camp around 7am and travel about 2 hours to the border. The name of the border posts are Mwami border post on the Zambian side and /Mchinji border post on the Malawian side. We have been experiencing a lot of problems with people that need visas for Malawi. Malawian visas is not available at the border, so please make very sure if you do need a visa before arrival. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility; please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for Malawi. The currency in Malawi is Malawian Kwacha (MWK.). Most establishments, activities etc. do accept USD for payment but it is better to pay in local currency.
It is a long but scenic drive through Malawi. Watch out for exotic wildlife while we drive through the Nhkotakota Game Reserve Park for at least two hours. It is the oldest established reserve in Malawi. There is a a wide variety of antelope including Roan, Sable, Kudu and Waterbuck.
Birdwatching is especially rewarding here with more than 300 species being recorded.
The first two nights are spent at Kande beach, located on the shore of Lake Malawi. Spend time relaxing on the shores of “the Lake of Stars”. Beach walks, swimming in the crystal clear water and snorkelling among the tropical fish are all part and parcel of your stay. Opt to take a village walk and meet the friendly Malawians just outside the campsite. We include a dinner here at a local friend’s house—this is sure to be a highlight of Lake Malawi as our groups get to experience Malawian hospitality first hand and spend some time at a local home.
Leave Kande Beach in the morning and drive up further north along lake Malawi toward Chitimba Beach. Chitimba Beach has beautiful mountains in the back. Opt to take a spectacular hike 6 hour all the way up to Livingstonia. The hike is breathtaking and you will have a chance to cool off under the Manchewe Falls. Enjoy a night out at the local pub and challenge the regulars to a game of pool; the first drink is on us!
Please note that it is recommended to not expose shoulders and knees in public places due to the influence of the first independent government in Malawi.
Day 16 Iringa (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 534 km
Estimated Travel Time: 11 hrs
Today we will cross the border from Malawi to Tanzania. The name of the border posts are Songwe border post on the Malawian side and Kasumulu border post on the Tanzanian side.
Begin the day by making the border crossing out of Malawi and into Tanzania. Climbing out of the Great Rift Valley through some spectacular mountain passes, view the vast tea plantations in the highlands along the way.
Tonight we stay in at an old farmhouse on a working farm with cattle, sheep, vegetables, tobacco and flowers.
Day 17 Dar Es Salaam (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 637 km
Estimated Travel Time: 12 hrs
Today is a long travel day to Dar Es Salaam. You will depart at approximately at 4am and arrive at camp in the evening, depending on the traffic in Dar Es Salaam.
Dar Es Salaam – Arabic for “Abode of Peace” (a word closely related to the familiar “Yer u-salem” in Israel) – is the largest city in Tanzania. With a population estimated around 2,500,000, it is also the country’s richest city and an important economic centre.
Day 18-21 Zanzibar (4B)
Day 18 – Estimated Travel Time: 3 hrs (ferry ride)
Day 19 – Estimated Travel Time: 4 hrs (including 2 hr Spice Tour)
Day 21 – Estimated Travel Time: 2 hrs
We depart early in the morning and arrive in Stone Town in time for lunch. After arriving on Zanzibar, spend the remainder of the day exploring Stone Town, the heart of the island. It has an intriguing maze of narrow, cobbled lanes hemmed in by Arabic buildings. The best way to see the Stone Town is, literally, to get lost. You can spend hours just wandering the alleys and squares, drinking potent coffee from pavement vendors, or buying sweetmeats from scores of tiny cafes.
The following morning we head north to Nungwi for two days/ two nights at one of Zanzibar’s major highlights. Here you can either relax on the idyllic white-sandy beaches, take an optional diving/snorkeling excursion, or take a wander through the village of Nungwi.
No visit to Zanzibar would be complete without a visit to the spice plantations – an activity that is included on our way north to Nungwi on Day 12. Your senses will be aroused as you will receive a detailed description on the assortment of spices (black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, breadfruit, jackfruit, vanilla, lemon grass) and their various uses. It was the wonderful spice plantations that brought the beginnings of Zanzibar’s infamous slave trade dating back to the 1840’s.
On our fourth day on the island, we head back south to Stone Town, for our final night on this enchanting island. It’s your last chance to shop and/or enjoy all that Stone Town has to offer.
Remember that Zanzibar is a Muslim society, and immodestly dressed women, or men in shorts, will get harassed and cause great offence in Stone Town. In Nungwi, customs are a little more relaxed, but passengers are encouraged to be respectful of the islands culture and still cover up when walking around. Never try to take a photograph without asking permission. The polite way to ask is “Tafadhali (pronounced tougher-thaarli) naomba ruhusu kwa kupiga picha yako.” Many guidebooks say the correct phrase is “nataka kupiga picha yako”, but this is incredibly rude, the equivalent of saying “give me your picture”.
Day 22 Korogwe (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 370km
Estimated Travel Time: 8hrs (excl. 3hr ferry ride)
We depart around 7am to head back inland. It is a long travel day to get to our campsite on the river. The campsite is very basic so enjoy a relaxing evening next to the river and listen to the sounds of a true African night.
Please note that because the campsite is next to the river there may be an increase of mosquitoes, please protect yourself with clothing and insect repellent.
If you have booked the Zanzibar Express you will say goodbye to the group this morning and enjoy one additional night in Stone Town. Spend the extra free time to explore on your own and relax. The following day, transfer to the airport for a flight to Arusha. Included: transfers, flight and one night in Stone Town. Meals not included.
Day 23 Arusha (1B,1D)
Approximate Distance: 250km
Estimated Travel Time: 7-8 hrs
Pass Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and head towards Arusha. If you are lucky you will get to see this shy mountain that is normally behind a veil of cloud. Arusha sits at the foot of rugged Mount Meru, Africa’s fifth highest mountain. If time allows we will be visiting a project called Shanga.
Shanga is a heartwarming project dedicated to supporting and empowering disabled community members. With breaking down obstacles for disabled Tanzanians and a commitment to environmentally sustainable business practises as its core values, it comprised of a bustling workshop, open-air restaurant, and three trendy boutiques.
Arusha, also known as Tanzania’s “safari capital”, is undoubtedly the most important center in northern Tanzania. With many protected national parks, reserves, and mountains nearby.
The campsite that we overnight at is an extremely important for the local community. They provide free medical care to the local Masai people especially snake bites. The camp also provides support to local schools and provides care for orphans. There is a local market as part of the campsite as well as a craft shop and Masaai museum.
Day 24-25 Serengeti NP/Ngorongoro Conservation Area (2B,2L,2D)
Day 24 Approximate Distance: 320 km; Estimated Travel Time: 8 hrs (including game drive into Serengeti)
Day 25 Approximate Distance 160 km; Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs (including game drive out of Serengeti)
You only need a small day pack for the next two days. After breakfast, we begin our 2 night/3 day excursion to the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, two of Africa’s premier wildlife areas. Changing to specialized 4WD 7-seater safari vehicles, we are met by experienced safari driver/guides, who will ensure us wonderful wildlife encounters. Our safari vehicles each have sliding windows and a large pop-up roof, perfect for game viewing. They are smaller than our overland truck, and will allow us to maneuver easily through the wildlife areas. As the vehicles are smaller than our overland truck, our group will split up among several vehicles.
On our way the way to the Serengeti we will past through the Rift Valley and past Lake Manyara. As we drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and on to the Serengeti National Park, en route you will begin to experience the sheer vastness of this territory, and you will marvel at the multitude of animal and bird life while cruising through this acacia-spotted savannah. We will stop at Ngorongoro Crater rim for lunch.
The Serengeti is to Tanzania what the Masai Mara Game Reserve is to Kenya, though with an area of 14,763 sq km, it is actually over 7 times as large! The area where you will be staying and game viewing is in the central Serengeti ‘Seronera’ area, which lies in the southeast of the National Park. Because of the sheer size of the National Park other areas will not be accessible during your stay.
We will search for the ”Big 5” – lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino – while taking in the vastness of the Serengeti plains with a game drives through out the day. In the late afternoon we will return to the Ngorongoro rim to camp overnight. Here you might have the opportunity to see zebra and nuffalo grazing around your tent.
Day 26 Ngorongoro Crater/Arusha (1B,1L,1D)
Approximate Distance: 200 km
Estimated Travel Time: 5 hrs (including game drive in Crater)
In the early morning venture down to the crater floor, and take in your final safari experience viewing the high concentration of wildlife, including zebra, gazelle, impala, cheetah, lions, elephants and black rhino bound by the crater walls. Exit the crater late morning and continue back to Arusha for your final night of camping.
Day 27 Nairobi (1B,1L)
Approximate Distance: 286 km
Estimated Travel Time: 7 hrs (depending on border crossing)
Today we will cross the border from Tanzania to Kenya. The name of the border posts are Namanga border post on both sides. Some nationalities do require a visa for Kenya. See our visa section for further information. Remember that visas are your own responsibility; please double check with your agent if you will require a visa for Kenya.
The currency in Kenya is Kenyan shilling (KES.)You will be able to change your left over TZS at the border or in Nairobi. Most establishments, activities etc. do accept USD for payment.
Departing Arusha in the morning we make our way to Nairobi, and the tour ends upon arrival into Nairobi, in the late afternoon, at the Hotel Boulevard in central Nairobi. In order to avoid any necessary issues with timing, please book your outgoing flight from Nairobi from 21:00 hrs or later.
There is no included accommodation for this night in Nairobi. You may choose to pre-reserve post-tour accommodation at through G Adventures.