Ultimate Africa

Duration: 16 days

Highlights: Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Victoria Falls, Zambia, Okavango Delta, Botswana, Cape Town, South Africa

This journey highlights the very best that East and Southern Africa has to offer. Start in the jungles of Rwanda tracking the rare mountain gorillas then out onto the open plains of the Serengeti which plays host to the great wildebeest migration. From here fly down to witness the power of the Victoria Falls then into the waterways of the Okavango Delta. They finish this wonderful safari in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town renowned for its outstanding food and wine.

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Kigali

On arrival at Kigali International Airport you will be met by your representative and transferred to your hotel for the night.  

Overnight: Kigali Serena

Meal Plan:

Day 2 - Volcanoes National Park

After breakfast meet your driver guide and visit the Genocide Memorial Centre – this is a very moving experience that will give you an in-depth insight into the history of Rwanda and how the genocide started, peaked and the recovery process that the country has been going through ever since.

After the visit you will have lunch at a local restaurant where you will also go over your safari itinerary with your driver guide. After lunch drive north to Ruhengeri (also called Musanze) at the foothills of the Virunga’s arriving at your hotel in the late afternoon in time for dinner and overnight.

Overnight: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 3 - Gorilla Tracking

After an early breakfast your driver guide will transfer you to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters to be allocated a gorilla tracking group.

07:00: you will be given a full briefing by your trackers – you will be told about the gorilla family that you are tracking, what to expect during the track, how to behave when with the family, how long you will be with them as well as meeting the other travelers who are tracking with you. There will be a total of eight guests per gorilla family. Once your briefing is completed you will meet your porter who will help you carry your backpack and help you with your footing during the hike. Then your driver guide will drive you to the start of the trail head to begin your amazing adventure.

Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is often described as “life changing” and with good reason. With only an estimated 1000 Gorillas left in the world, to see these gentle creatures in their natural habitat is a truly unique moment.

Gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo-covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park in northern Rwanda. Trek to see them and you’ll be introduced by your expert trackers and guides to one of the fully-habituated families of mountain gorillas and you can stay with them for an awe-inspiring hour, often crouching just a few feet away, whilst the gorillas go about their daily lives.

Hikes in the mountains can last anywhere from 30 minutes to four+ hours depending on the family allocated to your group and their location. The journey back can take just as long, but you are often carried along by the euphoria you feel at seeing the gorillas!

You will arrive back at the lodge in time for lunch and the team will whisk away your dirty shoes and clothes which will be returned that evening ready for your hike the next day.

Overnight: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 4 - Golden Monkey Tracking

Besides tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda, the Volcanoes National Park is where silver meets gold! The golden monkeys are fascinating creatures that are worth tracking while on safari in Rwanda. The trek can last up to four hours with one hour of face to face encounter with the primates. Most of these unique species largely live within the bamboo forest of Volcanoes National Park. The procedure will be similar to what you experienced with the gorilla tracking – you will meet your guide and group at seven am at the headquarters where you will be allocated a family to track as well as meeting your porters. The golden monkeys move a little faster through the trees than the gorillas so be prepared for a slightly swifter pace.

In the afternoon visit the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Centre – an interesting cultural experience that was set up by ex poachers who realized the importance of the forest and wanted to showcase their culture to the visitors who came to see the gorillas. The village displays traditional homes and there is even an example of a King’s home, you can meet the medicine man and see what plants he uses to cure his patients or try your hand a shooting bows and arrows. There are also various traditional dances that you can watch during your afternoon excursion.

Overnight: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 5 - Serengeti National Park

Today you drive back to Kigali where you will catch your flight directly into the Serengeti National Park. On arrival you will be met by your Driver Guide who will collect you in your exclusive vehicle. You will then head out on a game drive from the airstrip back to camp for the night.

This mobile camp moves around the Serengeti following the migratory wildebeest herds. This means that you have a front row seat to this impressive spectacle no matter when you embark on this journey.

Overnight: Sanctuary Kichakani 

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 6 & 7 - Serengeti National Park

Over the next two days you will explore the vast plains of the Serengeti National Park – you can choose to head out on morning and evening game drives or set off with a picnic lunch and maximize your time in this astounding wildlife area.

Every year, triggered by the rains, 1.3 million wildebeest, 200,000 zebra and 300,000 Thomson's gazelle gather to undertake the long trek to new grazing lands. The migration of the herbivores roughly defines the boundaries of Serengeti National Park, which is the central zone of the Serengeti ecosystem, an area that also takes in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Maswa Game Reserve in the south.

The Serengeti is not only famous for the great Wildebeest Migration that moves around the park but also for the vast number of species that reside in the park year-round. The concentration of predators in the Serengeti is high with large prides of lion, numerous hyena clans and regular sightings of both cheetah and leopard. Elephant, buffalo, giraffe and antelope can be found feeding on the rich plains as well as some of the lesser known species such as aardwolf, mongoose, caracal, servals and hyrax.

Overnight: Sanctuary Kichakani 

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 8 - Livingstone

Today you will fly from the Serengeti to Livingstone via Nairobi. On arrival into Livingstone you will be met by our representative and transferred to the camp for the night.

Overnight: Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 9 - Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls)

First described to Europe by explorer David Livingstone and known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or "the smoke that thunders", Victoria Falls makes a constant roar and is accompanied by a cloud of brilliant spray where the mile-wide Upper Zambezi falls 100 metres (300 feet) into the Lower Zambezi. As you walk along the edge of this magnificent natural wonder you will see rainbows constantly form and collapse in the tropical sunlight over the waterfall. The river is bordered by ebony groves and mopane forest and is well-known for its bird life, with many fish-eating raptors attracted to the rich pickings in the river.

Return to camp for lunch then in the afternoon head out on the river.

A Zambezi River cruise is a great way to spend a few hours before drifting back to the lodge, a warm shower and delicious dinner. The boats are specially designed to navigate the changing waters and your guide will take the boat through a series of grade 2 rapids before finding a spot to beach for a break and a sunset cocktail. The combination of Zambezi spray on your face and delicious drink in hand makes for a memorable sunset cruise. Sipping on a cocktail while watching the sunset over the majestic Zambezi River is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Overnight: Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 10 - Okavango Delta

Today you will fly into the Okavango Deltathe largest inland delta in the world. Instead of flowing into the sea, the annual flood of fresh water flows inland, spreading over 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles) of the Kalahari sand in a maze of lagoons and channels. Its headwaters start in Angola's eastern highlands, with numerous tributaries joining to form the Cubango river, which then flows through Namibia (called the Kavango) and finally enters Botswana, where it is then called the Okavango. 

You will be met at the airstrip by a camp car and driver who will transfer you to the property for the night.  

Overnight: Sanctuary Stanley’s

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 11 & 12 - Okavango Delta

Over the next two days there are several ways to explore the delta – one favorite is setting out on a Mokoro ride. The Okavango Delta is flooded for much of the year and when it is, you can experience serene silence at the gentle pace of a poled mokoro excursion along the narrow channels. Sit back and relax as you glide through lily ponds on local dugout canoes while seeing eye to eye with a buffalo as it laps water from the river, watch crocodiles sunbathe on the banks or cruise past a pod of hippos as they lie in a pool. Fish eagles, frogs and fabulous lilies form much of this experience, but more frequently it is the quietness and gentle pace that makes its impression.

Another must do activity whilst here is visiting the Living with Elephants Foundation; the foundation is devoted to providing rescued African elephants with a second chance and safe home in the wilderness of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Currently under care are Jabu and Morula, two rescued elephants, saved from culling operations in which they were orphaned. Doug and Sandi Groves have dedicated nearly 30 years to providing world-class care and refuge to these orphans. The elephants thrive in a loving supportive environment and are provided with specialized care. Jabu and Morula live in expansive natural elephant habitat, which offers freedom for exploration, natural behaviour and wildlife interactions. Jabu and Morula cannot yet be released fully to the wild due to their traumatic starts in life and chronic injuries.

Low volumes of visitors to Sanctuary Retreats are given the rare opportunity to visit Jabu and Morula in the heart of the Okavango Delta. During their walk with the elephants, guests witness private moments as they forage, mud wallow and amble through the bush. This is an intimate and highly educational bush walk where you will learn about the status of the African Elephant, their role in the ecosystem and conservation in general. Doug and Sandi are renowned specialists in elephant biology, ecosystems and natural history. Having lived intimately with their herd in Botswana for three decades, they are your perfect guides for a “day in the life of the African Elephant” and help you connect to elephants and their environment.

Overnight: Sanctuary Stanley’s

Meal Plan: B,L,D

Day 13 - Cape Town

After breakfast fly down to Maun and catch your connecting flight into Cape Town. On arrival meet your representative and you are transferred to your hotel where you will have the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the facilities.

Overnight: One & Only Cape Town

Meal Plan: B

Day 14 - Cape Town

Today you will explore Cape Point – start your journey at the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, beautifully located along the Atlantic coast. You then descend into the Hout Bay valley, with its bustling fishing harbour and white sand beach. Travel over the famous Chapman's Peak Drive (subject to road conditions). This historic road, high on the mountainside overlooking the sea, was once considered "impossible to build", but Charl Marais rose to the challenge and Chapman's Peak Drive was opened to the public in 1922.

Your journey continues to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. The reserve, which covers 22,000 acres of land, converges in the south at Cape Point. You can walk up the steep pathway or ride in the Flying Dutchman funicular to the lighthouse where panoramic views await. Drive through the nature reserve and admire the endemic ‘fynbos’ and you may even spot wild animals like zebra, ostrich and antelope.

En route to lunch you visit Boulders, a lovely beach famous for its colony of endangered Cape Penguins on the coast of False Bay. Pass through Simon's Town, which was the Royal Navy's main base in the South Atlantic from 1815 until 1957. Travel back towards Cape Town passing through the up-market suburb of Constantia. At Kirstenbosch the world-renowned National Botanical Garden, a local guide ensures that you learn about some of the more fascinating aspects of the gardens.

Overnight: One & Only Cape Town

Meal Plan: B,L

Day 15 - Cape Town

This morning you will head out into the winelands for a day of tasting some of the finest wines available in the country. You will start in Stellenbosch, not only home to some of the world's finest wines, but also a famous university town, founded in 1679 by Governor Simon van der Stel. Explore the town with a specialized guide whose local knowledge is intimate. Walk through the town, learning about its historic significance and renowned contemporary wine industry.

The quaint Huguenot village of Franschhoek ("French Corner") is your setting for lunch. The area was originally known as Olifants Hoek ("Elephant's Corner") after elephants took to calving in the sheltered valley with its plentiful supply of food and water. To top off lunch you head for a cheese tasting, accompanied of course by a glass of wine at the local "Fromagerie". Time permitting explore Franschhoek’s charming high street, visit quaint art and antique shops. Visit the distinctive Huguenot Monument and museum and learn about the rich heritage and history of the Franschhoek Valley.

Overnight: One & Only Cape Town

Meal Plan: B, L

Day 16 - Depart

Today is your last day in the city. This morning you will have an early morning trip up Table Mountain for a last view of this magnificent city. The cable car ride is exciting and from the top you will be able to see all the sights that you have visited during your stay.

You will then have the rest of the day to relax and do some last-minute shopping before checking out and driving to the airport for your flight home.

Overnight: 

Meal Plan: B

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