Below are some of the major travel highlights for The Great African Journey. For more in-depth attractions of each country on this route, click on the country names below or select a route to see the highlights on this section of the journey. Click on the icons below to focus on specific types of features (click again to return to all).
|In-depth highlights: Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda|
Highlights of Kenya - Vic Falls
The Masai Mara is the finest wildlife reserve in Kenya and one of the most famous in all of Africa. Though quite small at just 1,500 km², the abundance of wildlife and the rolling plains and riverbank woodlands of the Mara make for great game drives. Part of the Serengeti ecosystem, it hosts the annual migration of wildebeest where immense herds head north from the Serengeti between July and October each year in search of fresh grazing lands. The huge numbers of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles means plentiful food for lions, leopards and cheetahs which can hunt in pristine wilderness. Other animals include elephant, black rhino, hyena and warthog while the Mara River is home to numerous hippos and crocodiles which prey on the game crossing the river during the Migration. The Mara isn't a national park which means the Masai people have retained their traditional way of life within the reserve, allowing visitors to see them herding cattle and learn of their culture during village visits, witnessing a wonderful harmony between people and nature.
Lake Nakuru is a beautiful national park, best know for its huge population of pink flamingos which are attracted to the algae of its soda lake - one of the greatest bird spectacles on earth where entire portions of the lake can be turned pink due to the vast numbers. Over 400 other bird species are also resident here, including 13 globally threatened species and is a major nesting and breeding ground for great white pelicans. On dry land, it's an excellent place to view black and white rhinos, as well as buffalo, cheetah, lion, greater kudu, zebra and the endangered Rothschild giraffe.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley
Lake Naivasha is a picturesque lake in the Great Rift Valley, that allows boat trips to view hippos and the abundant birdlife here, home to over 400 species. Nearby is Crescent Island Sanctuary where you can go on walking safari to view zebra, giraffe and wildebeest, Hell's Gate National Park for bike riding amidst spectacular canyons and hot springs and Elsamere, the former home of Joy Adamson of 'Born Free' fame, where you can learn about her life and work.
Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa at 5199m. The trekking route up Mount Kenya has been described as more beautiful than that of Kilimanjaro. The trekking peak reached is Point Lenana at 4985m, higher are the technical peaks of Batian (5199m) and Nelion (5188m). For the less adventurous, the slopes of Mount Kenya makes for excellent hikes through grasslands, moorlands and dense forests.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest
|Serengeti National Park|
The Serengeti is the quintessential East African national park and perhaps the most famous, covering some 15,000 km² of savannah plains. The Serengeti boasts the largest concentration of plains game in Africa, with an estimated three million large animals, including some 2,500 lions. It is famous as the location of the annual migration of huge herds of wildebeest, zebras and gazelles as they travel between here and the Masai Mara in Kenya in search of fresh grazing lands, offering excellent chances to see kills by predators seeking nourishment of their own.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Serengeti National Park
The Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania is one of the most unique and exciting wildlife reserves in Africa. Ngorongoro is actually a caldera, formed from a collapsed volcano millions of years ago, which now forms a huge natural amphitheatre with perhaps the greatest permanent concentration of wildlife in Africa. The crater's steep walls (over 600 metres high) enclose a vast space of 260 km² which includes open savannah, swamps, forests and the Lake Magadi soda lake, attracting flamingos and other water birds. Most large African animals are found in the crater (exceptions being giraffe and white rhino) and the crater's walls, balance of species and permanent water source mean they rarely leave. Of particular note are some 30 black rhino, the largest concentration left in Africa, and its famous lion population, though the 60 or so lions found there today are apparently suffering from the effects of inbreeding. Leopards, elephants, buffalo, hippos, hyenas and various prey species also call the Ngorongoro Crater home. You may also spot Maasai tribesmen lead their cattle down the crater walls - they have grazing and watering rights in the crater.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest mountain. It is a magnificent site, rising out of the surrounding plains, encircled in mountain forest, with its snowy peak 5,895m above sea level. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the great trekking challenges in the world. Though not requiring any specialist mountaineering skills, it is still a fairly arduous task, with oxygen levels at its peak only half those at sea level. The view from the top, with hundreds of miles of the plains of Tanzania and Kenya below you, make all the effort worthwhile though.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Kilimanjaro National Park
The exotic spice island of Zanzibar is one of the most evocative names in travel. Apart from Stone Town, the island comprises numerous spice plantations which can be visited with the chance to taste and buy numerous exotic spices. The island also has some of the most stunning beaches and waters you're ever likely to encounter with the chance to relax and view the marine wildlife by snorkelling or diving.
Stone Town on Zanzibar is a centuries old East African trading port. The town is a maze of narrow streets and passageways with the remains of beautiful homes built by Arab traders made rich by trading gold, ivory and slaves. Zanzibar was once the largest slave market on the east coast of Africa and the remains of the slave market can be visited, where a 19th century Anglican church now exists. Stone Town also has many quaint shops and bazaars, excellent for souvenir shopping and watching the dhow silhouettes in the sea at sunset is magical.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Stone Town of Zanzibar
Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and runs along the eastern border of Malawi for most of its length. It's a breathtaking expanse of clear blue waters and is home to more fish species than any lake in the world. There are a number of stops along the length of Lake Malawi including Senga Bay, Chitimba and Chintheche where you can partake in various water sports, visit local villages and buy the famous Malawian wood carvings or relax on the beach (though be sure to rise early to catch a glorious sunrise over the lake).
|South Luangwa National Park|
South Luangwa National Park is Zambia's premier wildlife park and safari experience. It's regarded as one of Africa's finest wildlife reserves, comprising more than 9000 km² of unspoilt wilderness in Zambia's eastern province, yet is well off the beaten tourist track. The varied terrain includes dry shrublands and grasslands, mopane woodlands and oxbow lakes as well as the Luangwa River which teems with crocodiles and hippos. South Luangwa is home to over 400 bird species and 100 animal species, including elephant, buffalo, bushbuck, kudu, lion and the world's highest naturally occurring population of leopard. South Luangwa is famous for its walking safaris with expert guides, allowing you to get up close and personal to Africa's wildlife and immerse yourself in sights, sounds and scents of the African bush.
Lake Kariba affords the opportunity for sunset cruises and game cruises to see animals at the water's edge and the wide variety of birdlife. There is also the option of spending one or more nights on a house boat, relaxing and enjoying the scenery and spectacular sunsets. Maaze Island on Lake Kariba offers a game walk and visit to a crocodile farm.
Following in the footsteps of the explorer David Livingstone who described "scenes so lovely they must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight", the Lower Zambezi River offers the chance of a safari with a difference - canoeing trips down the river as you glide past herds of elephant and buffalo drinking in the river, crocodiles on the riverbank and pods of hippos lying in the water. Travelling between Kariba and Luangwa, the river flows past two national parks - the Lower Zambezi National Park to the north and the Mana Pools National Park to the south, offering the chance to see creatures such as zebra, lion or even leopard by the riverside.
The town of Livingstone is the Zambian base for exploring Victoria Falls and is located 11km from the Falls. It has experienced a renaissance in popularity with the recent political troubles in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Aside from exploring the Falls themselves from the ground and the air, there are a range of adventure activities available including world class white water rafting on the Zambezi, bungee jumping from the bridge over the Zambezi connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe, gorge swings over Batoka Gorge, and river boarding. After all that activity you can wind down on a sunset booze cruise.
|Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls|
Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya ("the smoke that thunders") are one of the natural wonders of the world. Spanning the entire breadth of the Zambezi River, they are 1700 metres wide and drop over 100 metres to the gorge below, creating a thunderous noise and a mist that can be seen, and felt, at great distances. The Falls transform a wide, calm river into a ferocious torrent that flows through a series of narrow gauges below. On the Zambian side in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park you can stand right next to the eastern cataract of the Falls and feel the full force of the water. In Victoria Falls National Park on the Zimbabwe side, you're further from the Falls but have a greater perspective. The best perspective is perhaps obtained from above though, on flights on either fixed wing aircraft, helicopters or microlights. The flow over the Falls is very dependent on the time of year - there can be a 20 fold difference between the rainy season (March to May) and the dry season (September to December), though the sheer scale of the Falls can be easier to appreciate with less volume.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls
|Victoria Falls Town|
The town of Victoria Falls is the Zimbabwean base for exploring Falls of the same name and is located just over a kilometre from the Falls. It was built as a tourist town and caters to every need of the traveller with some excellent souvenir shopping available at the craft markets. Aside from exploring the Falls themselves from the ground and the air, there are a range of adventure activities available including world class white water rafting on the Zambezi, bungee jumping from the bridge over the Zambezi connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe, gorge swings over Batoka Gorge, and river boarding. After all that activity you can wind down on a sunset booze cruise. You can also have up close and personal wildlife experiences with elephant riding and walks with lion cubs.