Discover the Long Way Down
Cairo to Cape
Fully Guided Self-Drive Africa Adventure
16 Weeks, 11 countries
Adventurers take note. Cairo to Cape Town - Ultimate Self Drive 4x4 Africa Adventure is for you. Taking in all the popular highlights from Cairo to Cape Town including the great Pyramids of Egypt and Sudan; monasteries on Lake Tana and Lalibela in Ethiopia; great deserts of Sudan, Kenya and Namibia; and of course, all the most famous game parks in Africa. 16 weeks cruising the diverse African lands overland; meeting new people and making friends for life. The Ultimate fully guided self drive Africa adventure - Cairo to Cape Town. An exclusive tour with limited numbers.
Countries visited: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
Our epic adventure begins in Cairo the bustling vibrant Capital city of Egypt. We stay in central Cairo for the first few days allowing ample time to explore the many historical sites. We will explore the Pyramids of Giza; the Step Pyramid at Saqqara and the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities as well the Citadel and the unforgettable colorful markets of Khan El Khalili.
From Cairo we will head south west into the Black and White desert, we will be amazed by limestone rock formations, oases, sand dunes and hot springs. We will enjoy a mixture of hotels and camping under a blanket of stars.
We arrive in Luxor, the home of the Valley of the Kings and Queens and Hatshepsut's Temple. We will spend time with our qualified Egyptologist guide exploring these ancient sites as well as Karnak and Luxor Temples.
We will then board our cruise for an unforgettable cruise down the Nile River. We will sit back and watch the world pass us by, giving us a rare insight into life on the Nile for local Egyptians - kids swimming in the tepid waters, farmers ploughing their fields and irrigating crops using ancient techniques. We will stop along the way to explore the many historic sites like Edfu and Kom Ombo Temples. After a couple of relaxing days we arrive in Aswan where we will visit Philae Temple and High Dam - a masterful engineering feat.
Our final highlight in Egypt before departing for Sudan is a visit to the Great Sun Temple of Abu Simbel; the entire temple was relocated in the 1960s piece by piece to prevent the temple being lost to Lake Nasser for ever.
We bid farewell to Egypt and start a very special adventure: the crossing of Lake Nasser to Wadi Halfa, Sudan. Since all land borders between Egypt and Sudan are permanently closed the only way to continue south into black Africa is by boat. This is definitely one of the major highlights on this expedition. We take the passenger ferry from Egypt to Sudan, at best this will take 24 hours. Sudanese immigration is done on the ferry; as we step off the ferry in Sudan we will feel like we have entered a completely different world to Egypt.
It is here we meet our expedition vehicles, have time to get acquainted, load them up and head into the Nubian desert.....
This will be our first desert crossing on our guided self drive 4x4 Africa adventure. Surrounded by sand dunes for miles the peace and quiet is like nothing else we have experienced; and a pleasant change to the hustle and bustle of Egypt. It will take us about 3 days to overland this part of the biggest desert in the world. As we pass small isolated desert villages the local kids come out in droves to welcome us.
Meeting up with the Nile we head for Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. The Blue Nile originating in Ethiopia and the White Nile with its source in Uganda joins here.
We spend a couple of days on the banks of the Nile exploring the city, check on our 4x4 vehicles and stock up on food and water. Most visitors are surprised by the vibrant city of Khartoum and the warmth and friendliness of the Sudanese people. Shy by nature, they watch curiously and shyly from a distance as we make our way through the large city.
Refreshed we continue south to Ethiopia.
Most images we have of Ethiopia are of starving children and unfertile desert land. A vast contrary to what we will discover on our travels through this mystical land. Queen of Sheeba and King Solomon ruled here; St George killed dragons in this stunning land of gorges and lakes.
As we approach Ethiopia from Sudan the land becomes greener, fertile and mountainous. Wooden huts scattered throughout the countryside next to small fields being ploughed by ox and man. The best way to explore this part of the World is overland in our 4x4 vehicles.
Our first stop not long after the border is Gondar.
Gondar, the "Camelot" of Africa so duly named for its castles and churches. The original capital of Ethiopia from its foundation by Emperor Fasilidas in 1632. A must is a visit to the Royal Enclosure and Daschen Brewery for a completely different experience.
Week 5 and 6:
From Gondar we continue our journey to Lalibela. Perched at an altitude of 2630m above sea level, Lalibela remains a very isolated place and a centre of pilgrimage. Famous for it 11 rock-hewn churches built in one century by the help of Angels - so is the belief. The churches are maintained and guarded by priests and monks. A guided tour through these churches, religious or not, will leave you in awe.
We bid farewell to Lalibela and overland to Bahir Dar on the shores of Lake Tana. Lake Tana is dotted with islands boasting some of the oldest monasteries in the World. It is possible to visit these monasteries and if lucky enough view ancient biblical books still closely guarded by resident monks.
Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile, a visit to Blue Nile Falls brings us into close contact not only with the falls but tens of curios kids.
The route on our fully guided self drive 4x4 Cairo to Cape Town leads us to Addis Ababa "The new Flower" in Amharic.
We spend a few days in the world capital of the Rastafarians to relax and restock our supplies. Lucy, the oldest human remains in the world can be seen at the museum here. The Merkato (local market) is the place to buy intricate religious icons such as Lalibela Crucifix and old style paintings of Mary, Joseph, Moses and St George. Strangely, for those with a sweet tooth will be able to satisfy cravings at one of the many pastry shops scattered throughout the city.
Lake Langano will be our next stop and first opportunity to possibly spot African wildlife - hippos. From here we descend into the Great Rift Valley, stretching from Syria through the African continent to Mozambique, toward Lake Turkana and the border to Kenya.
Crossing the northern district of Kenya overland is one of the more challenging parts of our self drive 4x4 Africa adventure. A very arid area and demanding road conditions for us and the 4x4 vehicles. The crossing will take 2 days, but in that time we will be lucky to have covered 500kms. The going is slow and dusty.
Passing Mount Kenya we cross the equator and make our way to Nairobi, the Capital of Kenya. Once again we take some time to relax and recover, service the 4x4 vehicles and restock.
We stay on the outskirts of Nairobi close to Nairobi National Park, David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and the Nairobi Giraffe Centre for those wanting to go exploring. A night out at Carnivores restaurant feasting on various meats is often a popular suggestion.
Our guided self drive Africa Adventure has reached the very heart of "safari country" and the half way point between Cairo and Cape Town.
Lake Naivasha, a short drive from Nairobi, awaits us with "Elsamere" - the home of Born Free. Indulge in high tea, watch a video about Joy Adamson's life and visit a little museum dedicated to Joy and George. From here we visit Lake Nakuru National Park, famous for its white rhino population and millions of pink flamingos gracefully perched in the shallows of Lake Nakuru. We can drive right to the Lake's edge; but be warned many 4x4s have been bogged doing just that!
If Walt Disney was to build a Game Park he would definitely model it on Lake Nakuru National Park. A small game park, teeming with wildlife, a soda Lake as the centre piece and cliffs drawing the background. A truly stunning setting.
We continue through the Great Rift Valley and up into the western highlands of Kenya. We are blessed with stunning views down into the Valley before descending to the Lake Victoria basin.
We enter Tanzania and the world famous Serengeti National Park. It will take us two days to cross overland through the most documented game park in Africa, before reaching the town of Arusha.
The Serengeti is the most famous game park in all of Africa, and after spending some time there you will know why. The Serengeti is littered with lion, rhino, buffalo, elephant, zebra, and wildebeest - just to name a few. This time of year the wildebeest and zebra are migrating through Seronera, the area we base ourselves for 2 nights.
We overland in the wild savannah plains amongst the African Big 5 wildlife in the most famous game park in Africa. Our days are spent game driving and photographing wildlife like: lion, leopard, wildebeest, rhino, warthog, cheetah, gazelle, zebra, giraffe, elephants, buffalo, hartebeest, reedbuck plus many more. If we are lucky we may also spot the African Little 5. As the sun goes down we make camp amongst the wildlife, eat a hearty meal and fall asleep listening to the sounds of Africa. Your reservation awaits you at the 1000000 star Hotel (the breath taking African skies).
No guided self drive 4x4 Africa adventure would be complete without the thrill of driving through the most famous game park in Africa.
We leave the Serengeti continuing through Masai Land to Meserani, a Masai Village. Here we visit a Masai Village and Cultural Centre.
A 2 day drive takes us to the coast and Dar es Salaam or "Haven of Peace" in Kiswahili. We leave the 4x4 vehicles and catch a ferry to the spice island of Zanzibar with its ancient Arab architecture, tropical beaches and crystal clear waters.
The ferry arrives in Stone Town - a classic Arabic old city, with narrow cobble stoned streets, sweet smell of spices floats through the air, and the local mosque hums in the background. At sun-down the plaza changes form and as the sun disappears over the Indian Ocean, the Plaza comes alive with the smell of barbecuing fresh seafood, colorfully dressed women mix dough in preparation to make Zanzibar pizzas and the men stand around talking politics. For the true Zanzibar experience a visit and a meal in the plaza is an absolute must. A visit to Zanzibar would not be complete without taking one of the many spice tours on offer and a couple of days relaxing on the tropical beaches and swimming in crystal clear waters. For those wanting to partake in aquatic activities Zanzibar will not disappoint - snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, sailing and windsurfing are all on offer.
We spend a few days to relax and enjoy.
Leaving Dar es Salaam behind us we head west through Mikumi National Park and reach the border of Malawi. Driving through Mikumi NP it is not uncommon to have to stop on the main highway to give way to herds of Elephants crossing.
We follow the lake shore and enjoy the laid back atmosphere of this beautiful country. Lake Malawi with its beautiful beaches and coves not only gave the country its name it also covers one third of the county's surface. We make our way along the Lake stopping at idyllic spots for some time to chat to the locals and watch local craftsmen carve Malawi chairs.
An optional visit to Livingstonia – a mission from 1894 – perched 800m above Lake Malawi offers some of the most spectacular views of Africa in Malawi.
Heading further south we cross into Zambia and visit South Luangwa national park, one of the best kept secrets of African game parks. Not many travelers know about this outstanding park hidden in the Luangwa valley.
Overlanding on some particularly bad roads we arrive at our "home" for the coming 2 nights – Croc Valley Campsite. The campsite is situated on the banks of the Luangwa River - a natural fence separating the campsite from South Luangwa National Park. It is not unusual for Elephants to wander into camp at breakfast time to check-out the breakfast menu; be warned Kellogg's Cornflakes are one of their favorite foods and they are not shy in helping themselves! The campsite has several platforms high in the tress - a perfect spot to lay out your mattress under a mosquito net and listen to the wild African sounds.
South Luangwa National Park is famous for leopard, lion, giraffe, hippos, crocodiles, hyena and aardvark. It is one of the few parks where night game drives as well as walking safaris are possible. A spectacular park situated in a spectacular part of Africa.
Passing through the capital Lusaka we reach the world famous "smoke that thunders" renamed to Victoria Falls by David Livingstone.
Long before we reach Livingstone we can see the mist coming from the famous Victoria Falls. The mist becomes more pronounced as we arrive in the centre of Livingstone, Zambia. The Zambezi River with its Victoria Falls is a natural border line separating Zambia from Zimbabwe; the Falls leaves many speechless with her sheer size and power; 1 mile long and pumps an incredible 4.5 million cubic meters of water every second into the Zambezi Gorge.
Livingstone is the perfect base to enjoy the many activities on offer including a sunset cruise down the Zambezi; white water rafting; abseil and gorge swing in the Zambezi Gorge, bungee jump 111m with Victoria Falls providing the perfect backdrop; take an afternoon stroll with Rhinos; or photograph the Falls from great heights in a micro light, helicopter or light aircraft - the options are endless.
Our next destination is Botswana. We spend some time on the banks of the Chobe River taking time to cruise along the river watching animals playing in the shallows. A game drive through Chobe National Park famous for large Elephant population in a custom built open safari vehicle with a local safari guide gives us insight into the unique population home to this region.
We continue through the Caprivi Strip and Northern Namibia to the northern tip of the Okavango Delta. The Kavango river is famous for its abundance of birdlife and African animals alike. We explore the area on an open deck boat offering excellent viewing and photo opportunities. We also take the opportunity to game drive in the area.
From here we make our way to the world's biggest meteorite before entering Etosha National Park.
Etosha is Namibia's draw card. A vast game park situated in classic African savannah surroundings. The well located watering holes often mean we do not have to travel far to see wild life. The well equipped campsites situated near a flood lit watering hole is a pleasant surprise and a perfect setting to unwind and watch animals come in to drink. Sitting by one of watering holes peacefully watching wild life is a vast contrast to the hustle and bustle of Cairo and Egypt - you will begin to wonder if you are still on the same continent!
Along the way we will stop to visit a Petrified Forest. The trees, distant relatives of modern day conifers and ferns, grew to over 40m high. These trees were uprooted over 200 million years ago and were swept along by rivers in flood, covered by sediments and then subsequently uncovered by erosion. Your local community guides will provide more of an insight into the area, whilst ensuring that pieces of petrified wood are not removed.
Twyfelfontein, a World Heritage Site is home to one of the largest and most important concentrations of rock art in Africa. The site contains around 2,000 rock carvings. The early Stone Age artists, probably the work of San hunters, engraved their art representing animals and significant ceremonial symbols and activities. We take a guided tour of the area to see some of the famous rock gravings and paintings.
Continuing our way South along the Skeleton Coast we stop for a brief visit to one of the largest seal colonies in the Southern Hemisphere at Cape Cross.
The German colonial towns of Swakopmund and Luderitz are well worth a visit as well. Swakopmund appropriately labeled as the desert adventure capital of Southern Africa, there are many activities to had including quad biking, sky diving and deep sea fishing. For those looking for a more relaxed time there are plenty of excellent restaurants serving famous Namibian seafood and traditional German food and beer. Luderitz, an old Bavarian style German colonial town, is a true step back in time. On the icy shores of the South Atlantic Ocean it is home to seals, penguins, flamingos and assorted marine life.
Not far from Luderitz is the diamond ghost town of Kohlmanskop. Once a bustling diamond mining town until the slump in diamond prices after WW1 and richer deposits discovered further south left Kohlmanskop a mere reminder of what life was like pre WW1.
Sesriem National Park provides us the chance to climb to Dune 45, the largest sand dune in World. A visit to Fish River Canyon and the hot springs of Ai Ais are also a must in this part of the Africa.
South Africa is our last country and final destination on our fully guided self drive 4x4 Cairo to Cape Town adventure. Leaving the arid landscape of Namibia we soon hit the green Mediterranean like wine region of the Western Cape and our final destination of Cape Town.
A wine tour around Stellenbosch is a civilised way to wind down our epic journey across the African continent.
As we arrive in Cape Town and enjoy a final meal together we reminisce over the previous 4 months; remembering our overland adventures we toast to our experiences, the interesting people we have met along the way and more importantly to us; for turning our dreams into a reality.
It is here we conclude our Guided Self Drive 4x4 Africa Adventure - Cairo to Cape Town.
For those wanting to spend more time exploring the Southern Cape we can assist in car hire and great destinations to visit.
What Our Customers Say...
For our family Steve absolutely made the trip so special. The girls adored him and he was so kind to them in so many little ways. For someone who had travelled so much in Africa I was impressed how he was always enthusiastic about where we were going and could impart knowledge, road conditions and instructions in such a humorous and entertaining way. He is a marvelous story teller and regularly had the girls spell bound and gob smacked all in one!
- 4x4 overland vehicle (max 2 people per vehicle)
- Transport in 4x4 vehicles and private buses in Egypt
- Fuel, road tolls, spare parts, international vehicle paperwork, ferries
- Camping equipment (tent, camp bed, director camping chair)
- Kitchen and cooking equipment
- Guide/lead vehicle
- 2 experienced expedition crew (mechanic and tour leader/cook)
- Meals while camping
- Accommodation - 20% hotels/hostels 80% camping
- Maps and local information
- Pyramids, Cairo, Egypt
- Egyptian museum, Cairo
- Black and White Desert, Egypt
- Valley of Kings and Valley of Queens, Egypt
- Karnak Temple, Egypt
- Nile River Cruise, Egypt
- Abu Simbel, Egypt
- Philae Temple, Egypt
- Royal Enclosure, Gondar, Ethiopia
- Lalibela, Ethiopia
- Monasteries Tours, Lake Tana, Ethiopia
- Samburu National Park, Kenya
- High Tea Elsamere, Naivasha, Kenya
- Nakuru National Park, Kenya
- Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
- Return ferry to Zanzibar
- Spice Tour, Zanzibar
- Mikumi National Park, Tanzania
- South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
- Victoria Falls National Park, Zambia
- Boat trip Chobe River, Botswana
- Game drive Chobe National Park, Botswana
- Kavango River, Namibia
- Etosha National Park, Namibia
- Skeleton Coast, Namibia
- Sesriem National Park, Namibia
- Kolmanskop Diamond ghost town, Namibia
- Fish River Canyon, Namibia
- Wine tour Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa
- International driving permit
- Meals while in hotels, lunches while in same campsite for more than 1 day
- Sleeping bag
- Personal comprehensive travel insurance
- Personal spending money
- Minor or adventure activities en-route (white water rafting, walking with lions, ballooning Serengeti etc); drinks and snacks, meals while staying in hostels/hotels
This expedition is also available as a tag-along in your own vehicle - email Debs for more information firstname.lastname@example.org