Africa is home to some stunning natural wonders, plentiful wildlife and exotic cultures. Our overland expedition will take us across seven countries, the tour heading south from Nairobi to Cape Town, each country offering something unique; from the continent’s last remaining wetland wilderness, the Okavango Delta, to the worlds largest unbroken caldera, the Ngorongoro Crater. Regarded by most as the birthplace of the human species between five million to eight million years ago, the tribal landscape of sub-Saharan Africa is full of fascinating cultures that are steeped in tradition. We’ll be crossing paths with the Maasai and the San Bushmen en route, our journey also taking us to Stone Town, it’s lively market and local crafts allowing us to peer into the heart and soul of Zanzibar.
Semi-nomadic, the Maasai live in southern Kenya and Tanzania. While they have their own language, Maa, most of the tribe can also speak both English and Swahili, and with their pierced, stretched earlobes, ornamental bead-work and brightly coloured clothing, the image of the Maasai warrior is probably one of the most recognizable images of East Africa. Village visits are available in Arusha, Tanzania’s safari capital, but we’re also expecting to see the tribe herding their cattle in the Ngorongoro Crater, and there is a vibrant Maasai market in Nairobi.
The Ngorongoro Crater is the largest unbroken caldera in the world. Also known as Africa’s Garden of Eden, the Olduvai Gorge or Cradle of Humankind is located within its boundaries. The crater, formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed in on itself millions of years ago. The UNESCO world heritage site is now a year round safari haunt, home to the Big Five, and one of the most densely crowded wildlife areas in the world. As with our expedition, usually a visit here will be combined with the Serengeti, the land of endless plains playing host to the annual migration.
One of the world’s largest inland deltas, the Okavango, is known as ‘the river which never finds the sea’. The flow of waters starts in Angola’s western highlands, and from here it flows south through Namibia before entering Botswana. Tectonic activity and faulting interrupted the flow of the river causing it to backup and form this wonder of mother nature. A unique system of natural wetland, it is composed of reed filled water channels, lagoons and islands, the delta supporting an outstanding biodiversity of life including, 150 species of mammals, over 500 species of birds and 90 species of fish, as well as plants, reptiles, invertebrates and amphibians. Wildlife viewing is available from the skies on a flight over the delta, an optional activity alongside walking and mokoro safaris. Located in the true wilds of Africa, here we will be bush camping on one of the delta’s many islands.
The names San or Bushmen are a collective description for various indigenous hunter-gatherer tribes, the groups stretching across a large portion of southern Africa. Their language and traditions vary greatly, but the similarities in cultural kinship and their appearance is striking. Interestingly, the San are one of fourteen known extant “ancestral population clusters” from which all known modern humans descend, and one of the oldest. They live in small pockets, mostly around the Mkgadikgadi pans and in areas of western Botswana. We will have the opportunity to learn about their traditional ways including hunting and gathering and we’re looking forward to getting acquainted with th tribe’s ancient click language.
Etosha National Park
Located in the northwestern portion of Nambia, Etosha is one of the largest game parks in Africa (22,270 sq kilometres). Its name means place of dry water, the huge flat calcrete depression reflecting the sun to produce mirages. With 144 mammal species including the endangered black rhino, and 24/7 game viewing at the floodlit waterholes, this is certainly David Attenborough territory. A wide variety of plains game also gather here such as the desert dwelling oryx, zebra, wildebeest and elephant, and the optimum time for wildlife viewing is from May through September which means our departure is perfectly timed.