Johannesburg to Gorillas

Trip Code: UBODC

Why we love it

Support local conservation efforts by visiting the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, the only place left in Botswana where both black and white rhinos reside., Go wildlife-spotting with your small group and expert guides in Chobe National Park, South Luangwa National Park, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. The Big Five have never been so close!, Camping on a remote island in the heart of the Okavango wilderness is an experience you’ll never forget. As the sun sets and night falls, the sounds of Africa come alive., Journey from the interior plains out to some idyllic Indian Ocean hotspots. Take a stroll along the shores in Dar es Salaam and consider strolling through spice plantations in Zanzibar., With permits included in the price of the trip, take a trek through Uganda's steamy forests to seek out rare mountain gorillas and spend an unforgettable hour in their presence.

Is this trip right for me?

This is an overland trip. That means you’ll be travelling with a group in a purpose-built vehicle, visiting remote communities, setting up your own tent, occasionally roughing it in the bush with no facilities, and getting the best possible views of the Big Five. While the trucks don’t have air conditioning, they do have sliding windows which let in the breeze and make it even easier to take spectacular snaps of the local wildlife. The drive days can be long, but it’s as much about the journey as the destination, and half the fun is the camaraderie. For more info on this style of travel, see our Africa overland page: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/africa/overland

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. But the sheer thrill in 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 up to 4 hours - up and down hill. A top tip is to pack some gardening gloves to assist in any up-hill climbs. See https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/gorilla-trekking for more information.

We use mokoros (small dugout canoes) to pass through the shallow waterways of the Okavango Delta to get to our campsite for the night.

Camping out in the Okavango wilderness means digging a bush toilet and going without a shower. For most travellers this is a small price to pay for such a gorgeous remote island location.

The African wild comes alive at sunrise, so there will be some early starts. The thrill of spotting your first lion or rhino is well worth any loss of sleep.

At Usambara Mountains, you'll hike to the beautiful Irente viewpoint. It's not overly strenuous, but a reasonable level of fitness is required.

Camping in the Serengeti National Park with no barriers between you and the animals is amazing, but it's important to heed the safety advice of your leader. You will be briefed as a group on arrival.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2.This trip requires a higher non-refundable deposit (AUD 1000, USD 1000, EUR 800, NZD 1250, GBP 650, CAD 1000, ZAR 8000, CHF 900) in order to secure the included gorilla permit. Please note that we need to confirm availability of a gorilla permit if you are booking within 45 days of departure. The additional deposit paid at time of booking will be credited to the final balance of your booking.
3. Optional sunrise balloon rides in the Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara National Reserve are possible on this itinerary. Please see the itinerary above for full details of this activity. As the balloon only holds 16 people, places are limited and we recommend you book in advance. Please inquire when booking your trip to book this optional activity.
4. This trip is a combination of UBOO,YXOS,YXON,YXOQ and YXOG our most popular itineraries. As such the make up of your group and your leader may change on days 10,26,29 and 37.
5. The Zanzibar portion of your itinerary may have more passengers than the maximum group size of 22 as we have a crossover of trips starting and finishing in Zanzibar.
6. This trip finishes upon arrival in Nairobi on Day 52. Please do not book any flights until after 10 pm this evening.
7. Our operator has advised that customers with the J&J vaccine and no booster may have difficulty crossing the border into Botswana (and potentially Zimbabwe) without a negative test result. This information conflicts with various government travel advice websites. We recommend you check with your local consulate before travel to ensure you have the most up to date information.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances.

Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.

ESSENTIALS:
- Sleeping bag. We recommend a 3–4 season sleeping bag because it can get very cold at night in winter months in desert and mountainous regions. Sleeping bags are also available for hire (if pre-booked). Please speak to your sales consultant, at least 14 days prior to departure, if you wish to hire one.
- Pillow, travel pillow or pillow case (to put your soft jacket in)
- Closed in shoes. As this trip includes camping and/or bush walking we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment.
- Lightweight clothing. You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing, some warm items for the evenings, and long shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes in the malaria areas. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry and neutral colors for when on safari. Some people like to take jeans for evenings out but they can be tough to dry and should not be used for hiking. Consider shorts for summer. Ex-military or military style clothing and equipment is not recommended.
- Waterproof/windproof jacket is a good idea for wet days, and early morning or evening game activities when it can be cool.
- Warm fleece and beanie for morning and evening game drives (especially if travelling in winter)
- A good quality, high-beam headlamp or torch for around the campsite at night. Some campsites have limited lighting and are powered by generators that switch off at a certain time. Although the trucks do carry lamps for meal times it’s a good idea to bring a headlamp to navigate the campsites and in particular going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
- Towel (or travel towel)

RECOMMENDED:
- A simple plastic bag/waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures.
- Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, anti-diarrhoeal, antibacterial gel, wet wipes, bandaids/plasters etc.
- Insect repellent.
- Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1 litre capacity. Our vehicle have large tanks of treated water for your refills.
- Camera with spare battery and/or power bank.
- Overnight bag. To take 2 days' worth of luggage on your Okavango Delta portion of the itinerary
- Binoculars
- For longer trips a small bottle of biodegradable laundry soap and string for hand washing and hanging your clothes
- Ear plugs to guard against a snoring tent-mate
- A good book, a journal or smart phone with music for the long drives
- toilet paper and soap to carry in your day bag

OPTIONAL:
- Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
- Thermarest. While we provide a basic camping mattress for each client, some travellers find they like the extra comfort of a double layer.

LUGGAGE LIMIT:
The weight limit for luggage on all overland vehicles is a strict maximum of 20kg.Your main luggage will be stored in a compartment at the back of the truck. Traditional, framed suitcases are not recommended as they are large and can damage other travellers belongings while on the road. Backpacks or duffel bags are an ideal choice. Some overland vehicles also have lockers for items that you may need more access to. We recommend a 20-30mm sized padlock.

VALUABLES:
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe and the safe on the overland truck to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

POWER:
Our overland vehicles are equipped with multiple power boards which may be used at the crew’s discretion, however, do bear in mind that only a minimal number of items can be charged at a time and will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Some campsites have electricity and charging of devices is advised before checking out the following day. We also recommend power banks and multi country power converters.

CONSERVATIVE DRESS FOR WOMEN:
In many parts of Africa women travelers should dress modestly as there is a wide range of cultural differences. Wear skirts or shorts that reach just above the knee and tops that cover shoulders at a minimum. If visiting coastal areas wear a cover-up when you step off the beaches., GORILLA TREK:

Tracking gorillas in the dense forest can sometimes be wet, muddy and uncomfortable. You will need a comfortable pair of waterproof hiking boots. Some of the foliage in the forest has sharp spikes and can be prickly. A typical gardening glove with a hard surface on the palm will make it easier to grab onto trees and bushes as you pull yourself up the hillside. It's also a good idea to pack a pair of long socks so that you can tuck your trousers into them and avoid any ants or insects getting to your ankles. Your rain jacket for the trek should be a neutral or dark colour as bright coloured clothes are not permitted in the park., ZAMBIA DRESS CODE
Zambia have strict rules around dress code. When in public the following attire falls into their indecent exposure category and can result in fines and even jail; leggings, skinny jeans, mini-skirts (anything above the knee), tight fitting dresses, lace attire, crop tops and sagging trousers. Please ensure you pack and dress appropriately., PLASTIC BAG BANS ACROSS AFRICA
While Namibia holds people liable to a fine of N$500 or imprisonment for entering Game Parks with a plastic bag, Botswana has announced a countrywide ban on plastic bags to come into effect on 1 November 2018. The ban will make the importing, trading and commercial use of plastic bags a criminal offence. Exceptions will be made for plastics that are essential for health and hygiene. With these announcements, Botswana and Namibia join other African countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tunisia, Morocco, Rwanda, Uganda, Somalia and Eritrea that have banned plastic bags. South Africa imposed a levy on plastic bags in 2004 but they have not yet been banned.
Many countries are strictly enforcing this and have been searching luggage at border points. Camping stores are good for obtaining waterproof reusable bags, for dirty laundry etc, prior to departure.

Physical rating

3

You do not need any real fitness for this safari besides the ability to get in and out of the safari vehicles. The step up into the overland truck, while not overly high, can become tiring, as can the constant setting and packing up of camp. You need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down at least 8-10 times a day. Please also note that, in some areas, the roads are in quite poor condition and you may experience a fair amount of bouncing around.

This itinerary includes some village walks and a hike at Usambara Mountains. In addition to this you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the overland truck at least 8-10 times a day, and to be able to set up and take down your tent and each new location. Please also note that many roads in Africa are in quite poor condition and you may experience a fair amount of bouncing around.

Joining your group

Holiday Inn Rosebank, The Zone Phase 2, 187 Oxford Rd, Johannesburg, Johannesburg, 2196, SOUTH AFRICA

The Holiday Inn Rosebank is a comfortable modern hotel conveniently located just a short walk from the Rosebank Train Station and Zone Shopping Centre. The hotel facilities include an outdoor pool, a well-equipped gym and nearby golfing facilities. Guest rooms are fully air conditioned, include a TV with satellite channels, ensuite, tea and coffee maker and free WiFi. The Holiday Inn Rosebank is located 25kms from Johannesburg's O. R. Tambo International Airport.

Joining instructions

We recommend that if this is your first time to Johannesburg or if you are travelling alone, that you pre book an arrival transfer through. This can be done through your bookings consultant once you provide your flight details. There are two airports in Johannesburg; Lanseria and OR Tambo International. If you are taking a domestic flight to Johannesburg, please make sure to check your arrival airport and advise your booking agent.

If you have pre-booked a transfer, your driver will be waiting for you at the Information Counter in your respective arrival terminal (domestic/international). There are often large crowds here so please look carefully for your transfer representative who will be holding a card with your name on it. Please do not agree to travel with individuals that claim to be your driver and do not represent “Page Corporate Transfer Services”.

If you are unable to find your driver you can call +27 84 400 8896 at any time of the day or call the Page Corporate Transfer Services Office +27 11 452 6970 .If your flight has been delayed we recommend to contact our local emergency number to inform them of your arrival on +27 82 822 9407. If your cell phone is not on roaming you may prefer to purchase a pre-paid sim card at the OR Tambo Arrivals Hall. Some reliable providers in South Africa are MTN, Vodacom and Cell-C. The driver will wait for two hours after your scheduled arrival time. If you are delayed beyond one hour after your scheduled arrival time and you have not been able to inform the transfer provider, please make your own way to the hotel. If your driver does not have your transfer on record, please present a voucher that proves your transfer booking. Our airport representative will make arrangements accordingly.

Metered official Airport Taxis are also available. The cost to the hotel will be approximately ZAR400-650 which is payable to the driver. The taxi rank is located just outside the arrivals area. Please note that the journey can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on time of day and traffic.

If you'd prefer to make your own way from the Airport to our hotel in Johannesburg, the Gautrain is a fast and inexpensive option. Please note that the train only operates between 05:30am and 20:30pm daily. The train journey from O.R Tambo International Airport to Sandton takes 15 minutes. From Sandton train station you will need to catch another train just one stop to Rosebank Station. A one-way fare costs approximately 162.00ZAR. During Peak hours the trains depart every 12minutes (05:30-08:30 & 16:00-19:00).

Finishing your trip

Kenya Comfort Hotel Suites, Junction of Milimani Road/Ralph Bunche, Milimani, Nairobi,, Nairobi, KENYA, Phone: 254 737111111

The Kenya Comfort Hotel Suites is simple but clean and comfortable. All rooms have ensuites with hot water, TV's, and WiFi is available. Hotel facilities include a swimming pool, bar, restaurant & spa.

If you have pre-booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.

It's also possible to book a taxi to the airport via the hotel - please inquire at the reception.

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 51

Lunches included: 35

Dinners included: 42

By travelling on an Overland trip you have chosen a participation camping tour. This means that you will be helping your cook prepare meals for the group. You may also get the chance to help with the shopping.

Your cook will come up with meal ideas and quantities needed for large groups. Participating in the camp is usually done on a duty roster system with group of 5 or 6 people (depending on group size) having a different camp job each day.

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking, and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting.

A typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, cereal, something hot such as eggs or pancakes, as well as tea and coffee. Lunch is almost always a sandwich with healthy salad and assorted fillings, sometimes with fruit to follow. On occasion there will be the opportunity to buy your lunch to allow you try the local cuisine or provide some variety to sandwiches. Dinner might be a BBQ, rice dish or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some African food such as ugali and stew.

Your overland truck has a tank of treated water that is safe to drink. Your crew will use this to cook and provide cordial at meal times. Please do not hesitate to use this water to minimise the consumption of plastic water bottles. Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are not part of included meals.

One thing is sure - you definitely won't go hungry or lose weight on your safari! When you aren't camping you will have the freedom to decide where, what and with whom you eat.

Climate & seasonal information

WINTER MONTHS:
Yes it is Africa, however the winter months can be very cold. Please bring a warm sleeping bag as well as warm winter clothing such as a wool pullover, jacket and woolly hat. It's also a good idea to check the weather reports prior to travel.

WEATHER IN BOTSWANA
The Okavango Delta, Moremi and Chobe are Botswana's most popular parks. The best time to visit them is from May to September, during the dry season and winter, resulting in more moderate temperatures. There is also less vegetation and animals tend to concentrate around waterholes and rivers, making wildlife easier to spot. The Okavango Delta is also in full flood. The skies are clear, rain is rare and there are fewer mosquitoes. It does get cold at night and in the mornings. Packing warm winter clothing during June, July and August for the cold morning game drives is advisable.

In September and October temperatures climb again, drying the landscapes and concentrating the game even more. However, October can feel very hot, with maximum temperatures sometimes approaching 40°C.
November is difficult to predict, as it can sometimes be a continuation of October's heat, whilst sometimes it's cooled by the first rains; it's always an interesting month.

November to April is known the wet Season and Summer. Although wildlife is easier to spot in the dry season, you'll still see plenty, including newborn animals and migratory birds. Except for January and February, rains are mostly short afternoon showers and seldom have a negative impact on your trip.

The water from the Angolan Highlands starts to push into the Delta in the late summer and early autumn months with winter offering the highest levels. The Okavango water levels start receding towards the end of the winter months and into spring, with the summer months offering up the lowest levels. Please be aware that this can affect some water activities such as mokoro or boat trips.

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below.

For transfers and accommodation issues, Intrepid's Kenya Office can be reached on their 24 hour number +254 733 523 813

Intrepid's local Operator: +27828229407

+254 796 611 289 or +254 795 832 616

Accommodations

Accommodation on this trip is mainly in two-person canvas dome tents with camping mattresses supplied.

The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hotels. In Africa it's not usually practical to camp when staying in towns and cities so we use hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants.

There may be the occasional night stop, when we stay in the grounds of a hotel or at a campsite which may also have rooms/cabins available. In this case there may be a choice of camping or upgrading to a room. Rooms cost approximately USD60-120 per room per night for a twin room and cannot be pre-booked. Standards of these rooms vary greatly and we recommend viewing the room before purchasing the nights accommodation. The day by day itinerary advises when upgrades may be possible (subject to availability).

Keep in mind that if we are staying in dormitory accommodation, you may have to share with other passengers or be split into same sex rooms.

Campsites do have facilities but they usually aren't to the same standard you would find in western countries. For example the bathroom facilities can be very basic. There is rarely toilet paper provided and shower facilities can be as simple as a hose pipe spurting out cold water. Wild camps have no facilities at all.

At times there may be spare tents in the vehicles. Unfortunately these cannot be used without purchase of a single supplement. This is to ensure the tents avoid wear and tear, or are clean and ready for the customers arriving on the next section of the trip.

Transportation

Our trucks are purpose-built, self contained safari vehicles. Our fleet of vehicles varies depending on your group size, trip route and style. Your vehicle type may differ from those listed above. It is also important to note that our overland vehicles are not air-conditioned, but all vehicles have windows that can be opened to allow for fresh air. Each seat will have access to a power socket to charge your devices. This outlet will use a UK/Kenyan 3 pronged outlet.

There are many early starts with long hours spent driving on rough roads on all African itineraries. While most people love the chance to watch the changing landscape and daily village life, feedback shows that long periods of inactivity does not appeal to all clients. We provide the approximate distance covered each day and how many hours this normally takes to drive so that you can choose the safari experience that is right for you.

African conditions are extremely tough on vehicles. While we fastidiously maintain our vehicles at our workshops, you should not expect Africa to be your traditional touring experience. While it's certainly our aim to avoid them, it's important that you set off on your trip knowing that the occasional breakdown can happen and are best treated as part of the African adventure. Due to wet weather there may be times when we have to take an alternative route which will mean longer travel times.


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