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Nairobi to Gondar

Overlanding is the only way to see East Africa! This fantastic route, taking you on the epic overland journey between Ethiopia's historic city of Gondar and Kenya's bustling capital of Nairobi, will give you a deep insight into this amazing continent. Dragoman have been leading the way in African overland expeditions since 1981, so take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. With Dragoman you will visit the wonders of Ethiopia such as the Temples of Axum, the rock churches of Lalibela, and trek in the spectacular Simien Mountains. You will journey through the remote tribal lands of Ethiopia's Omo Valley, and head out on safari in some of Kenya's fantastic game parks such as the Samburu and Nakuru National Parks. This is a phenomenal adventure that takes in some of the best historical and cultural areas of Africa, complete with some phenomenal wildlife viewing - join us for this wonderful African journey!

  • Duration: 44 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Active/Adrenaline
  • Physical rating: Demanding
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: EGN2/158006
  • Starts: Nairobi, Kenya
  • Finishes: Gondar, Ethiopia
You will Visit
  • Nairobi
  • Naivasha
  • Naro Moru
  • Samburu Village
  • Samburu National Reserve
  • Moyale
  • Konso
  • Arba Minch
  • Awassa
  • Wendo Genet
  • Bale Mountains National Park
  • Lake Ziway
  • Awash National Park
  • Harar
  • Addis Ababa
  • Debre Markos
  • Bahir Dar
  • Lalibela
  • Mekele
  • Danakil Depression
  • Axum
  • Debark
  • Simien Mountains National Park
  • Gondar

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Nairobi

Border Information: If joining in Nairobi, you will most likely enter Kenya at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (IATA code: NBO).

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting - your leader will need to check your Ethiopia visa (please see below for details).

If you would like to explore Nairobi fully, we advise you arrive a day earlier, or arrive early in the morning to give yourself a full day before the meeting in the evening. Possible activities include visiting the Karen Blixen Museum, the National Museum and the Langata Giraffe Centre. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Nairobi before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Nairobi.

In Nairobi we will camp in the grounds of a peaceful eco-camp in the suburb of Karen.

02

Day 2: Naivasha

Today we make our way to Naivasha, on the edge of a beautiful calm lake in the Great Rift Valley. Here we will have the chance to take an optional boat trip on the lake to spot hippos and African fish eagles, and also to visit the Elsamere Born Free Foundation at the old home of Joy Adamson.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

On the following day we will have free time in the morning to enjoy some excellent optional activities around Naivasha. Naivasha is the base for exploring the Crater Lake Game Sanctuary and the Hell's Gate National Park, two scenic areas that are some of the only places in East Africa where you can safely explore and look for wildlife on foot.

In Naivasha we will stay at a well equipped campsite on the lake shore.

03

Day 3-4: Naivasha

Today we will have some free time for optional activities in Naivasha before we head through the hills of central Kenya through the area's beautiful scenery and tea plantations, to arrive at the small village of Naro Moru at the base of Mount Kenya.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

On the following day we will have a free day in Naro Moru to take optional walks around the lower slopes of Mount Kenya, explore the nearby Mau Mau caves, or take an optional game drive in the nearby Sweetwaters National Reserve.

In Naro Moru we will stay at a well equipped campsite.

04

Day 5: Samburu Village

Today we will travel to the Samburu region near to the small town of Archer's Post, where we will visit a Samburu village. Here we will be shown around the village and their homes, play with the children and learn all about the way of life here for the Samburu people!

We will camp in the village in the heart of the community tonight, where there are no toilet or washing facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

05

Day 6: Samburu National Reserve

This morning we will enter the Samburu National Reserve, where we will enjoy game drives in the truck (breaking for a long lunch during the heat of the day).

Samburu is a stunning National Reserve and is a great opportunity to spot big game such as cheetah, leopards, lions, and buffalo. The Reserve is also home to other animals rarely seen in the National Parks further south, such as Grevy's zebras, Somali ostriches and gerenuk ('giraffe-necked antelopes').

Tonight we will wild camp in a camping area in the National Reserve - facilities are very basic, but the area is a 5-10 minute walk from Samburu Lodge.

Please note that during very wet conditions we may need to use locally-chartered 4x4 jeeps rather than our truck to get a good game drive in - in this instance we may make this option available at extra cost.

06

Day 7: Moyale

Today we will have an early start to travel through the very rarely-visited region of northern Kenya, crossing the infamous Marsabit-Moyale road to the very northern border town of Moyale. The scenery today is spectacular as we travel through the black lunar landscapes near Marsabit and pass mountain greenery, spectacular craters, watercourses, bush country and termite mounds.

Estimated Drive Time - 11-12 hours.

In Moyale we will stay in a basic local hotel or camp in a local campsite.

Please note that due to security issues in this particular area, we will sometimes be accompanied by two armed police escorts.

07

Day 8: Konso

Border information: Exit Kenya at Moyale, enter Ethiopia at Moyale.

For those on a longer combination trip starting in Cape Town or Victoria Falls, please play special attention to the visa notes in the information below.

Today we will cross the border into Ethiopia and have a full day of travel to Konso, home to the local Konso people and our gateway to southern Ethiopia.

In Konso we will camp in the grounds of a basic lodge.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.

08

Day 9: Arba Minch

Today we will arrive in the town of Arba Minch, a small town overlooking Lake Chamo. On route we will visit Konso Village and a Cultural Centre.

In Arba Minch we will stay in a basic local hotel. 

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

09

Day 10-11: Arba Minch

Border Information: If you are joining in Arba Minch, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Arba Minch Airport (IATA code: AMH).

Welcome to Ethiopia! Today is the arrival day for those joining in Arba Minch, and will be a free day to explore the town.

There will be an important meeting with your crew at 6:00pm today. Look out for a note from them at the hotel reception letting you know where to meet.

The following day we have time for optional activities such as the crocodile market or bike rides around the city.

In Arba Minch we will stay in a basic local hotel.

 

 

10

Day 12: Awassa

Today we will head north to the small town of Awassa, where we can visit the local fish market.

After our visit we will head to Wendo Genet, a small town in the hills above Awassa, where we will stay for the night.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

 

11

Day 13-15: Bale Mountains National Park

Today we will leave Wendo Genet and drive to the stunning Bale Mountains National Park.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

We will enjoy 2 full days to explore the National Park. We will keep one day completely free to head out for optional guided walks - there are several possibilities for routes, including highland routes up the hills and moorlands searching for mountain nyalas, or lowland walks through the forest areas to look for Bale monkeys! On the other day we will drive in the truck up to the Sanetti Plateau, all the way to the second-highest point in Ethiopia (the 4359m summit of Tulu Dimtu) to explore the primeval landscape and search for Ethiopian wolves.

In the Bale Mountains we will stay in dorms in a basic lodge near the entrance to the National Park.

12

Day 16-17: Lake Ziway

Today we will leave the Bale Mountains and head to the small town of Ziway.

The following day we will take an included boat trip across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, where we will have a short guided tour of the ancient monastery there and view some of the old religious manuscripts.

In Ziway we will stay in a small local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

13

Day 18: Awash National Park

Toady we will drive to Awash National Park and overnight in the lovely Awash Falls Lodge. Who said luxury was not part of overlanding! This is a stunning place to experience this great little National Park.

Estimated drive time - 7 - 8 hours

 

 

 

14

Day 19-21: Harar

Today we will have a long drive east through the mountains to the ancient trading city of Harar.  We will stay in a charming small hotel in the old city inself.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours

The following day we have a free day in ancient Harar and will have an included guided city tour of the walled city of Harar (Harar Jugol). Enjoy its colourful markets, mosques and shrines. In the evening you can visit the Hyena Men who feed the hyenas every night just outside the walls of the city. 

Our final day in this incredible city is a free day to explore this amazing city on your own.  It is one of the most important historic sites on this trip and one not to be missed. 

 

15

Day 22-23: Addis Ababa

Today we will travel to the bustling Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where we will have a free afternoon to explore the city.

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Border Information: if you are leaving in Addis Ababa, you will most likely exit Ethiopia from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (IATA code: ADD).

The following day is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Addis Ababa. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

16

Day 24: Addis Ababa

Border Information: If joining in Addis Ababa, you will most likely enter Ethiopia at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (IATA code: ADD).

There will be a group meeting at the joining hotel at 6:00pm. Please look out for a note from your tour leader at the reception when you arrive giving more details about this important meeting.

On the next day, we will have a free day to explore Addis Ababa and visit the city's many museums and sights. If you are travelling to the Sudan and have arranged to pick the visa up in Addis Ababa, this day will be spend arranging this visa.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Addis Ababa before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Addis Ababa.

In Addis Ababa we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

17

Day 25: Debre Markos

We will start our journey today with a drive to the small town of Debre Markos. En route we will drive to the bottom of the dramatic Blue Nile Gorge and up the other side!

In Debre Markos we will stay in a basic local hotel. 

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

18

Day 26-28: Bahir Dar

Today we will complete our drive to Bahir Dar, a small town on Lake Tana, the source of the mighty Blue Nile.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

On our first full day in Bahir Dar, we will have an included boat trip on Lake Tana to visit the famous old monastery of Gabriel Ure Kideth and to visit the spot where the lake outflows into the start of the Blue Nile. 

On our second day, we will head off in the truck to visit the Blue Nile Falls and take a short walk around the area to the historic Portuguese Bridge. We will have some free time in the afternoon to take optional visits to some other spots around Bahir Dar such as the 'Hippo bridge' and the Tigray war memorial.

In Bahir Dar we will stay in decent local hotel.

19

Day 29-31: Lalibela

Today we have a full day's drive through the beautiful scenery of central Ethiopia to reach the small medieval town of Lalibela.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

On our first day in Lalibela, we will have an included full-day guided tour of the world-famous 13th-century rock churches of Lalibela. Our guide will be able to explain the fascinating history of Lalibela and its churches, and there will be plenty of time to explore, absorb the haunting atmosphere inside the churches, and take plenty of photographs of the incredible architecture and the religious rituals within.

On the second day, we will have a free day for further exploration or optional activities. We will have opportunity to hike up the nearby mountains to the Asheten Monastery, visit the Yemrehana Kristos cave church outside the town, or freely explore the Lalibela churches again at your own pace.

In Lalibela we will stay in a local hotel.

20

Day 32: Mekele

Leaving Lalibela behind us, we have a full days drive through increasingly mountainous scenery to reach the town of Mekele.

We will stay in a decent local hotel in Mekele.

Estimated Drive Times - 9-10 hours

21

Day 33-34: Danakil Depression

After breakfast meet your 4 x 4 vehicles and drive to Hamed Ella. On the way you will pass through the beautiful Tigre Villages and the escarpment of the Afar depression, this is commonly known as the cradle of mankind is part of the Great East African Rift Valley. Along the way you will see camel caravans going to the traditional salt minin or to the North Eastern highlands of the country, loaded with salt bars in the old traditional way. We will also stop at Brehalle where we will get our permits and scouts for the trip into the Danakil Depression. 

On the second day we drive to Dallol. Here in Dallol you will visit the beautiful land covered by salt, sulfur and different minerals that gives the area a spectactular colour. We will then continue on to Lake Asale to watch the Afar and Tigre men cut the salt into bars and load up their camels before they head to the highlands of Ethiopia. 

We will wildcamp at Hammed Ella both nights for this excursion. The final day we will then make our way back to Mekele visiting villages along the way. 

22

Day 35: Mekele

Today we will make our way back to Mekele where we will stay in a basic hotel overnight. 

23

Day 36-37: Axum

Today we will visit one of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray (either the Abraha Atsbeha or Wukro Chirkos church), then continue through the increasingly breathtaking mountain scenery of the Adwa mountains to reach the ancient town of Axum in the far north of Ethiopia.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

The next day we will have an included half-day guided tour of the incredible historical sites of Axum, the capital of the once-mighty Axumite Empire - included in this tour will be seeing the Stelae Field, the Tomb of King Kaleb, and the Palace of the Queen of Sheba. We will have a free afternoon to make optional visits to other places such as the Church of St. Mary of Zion, the supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.

In Axum we will stay in a basic local hotel.

24

Day 38: Debark

Leaving Axum behind us, we continue our journey with a full day of driving through the foothills of the Simien Mountains to reach the small village of Debark. The roads here are very tough, but we are rewarded with more truly breathtaking scenery!

Debark is the gateway to the Simien Mountains National Park, and on arrival we will have a briefing from our local mountain guide explaining the various trekking options that we will have during our excursion starting the following day.

Here we will stay in a basic hotel.

Estimated Drive Times 9 - 10 hours.

25

Day 39-41: Simien Mountains National Park

Today marks the start of our 3-day excursion into the Simien Mountains National Park. The area is home to some of Africa's most jaw-dropping mountain scenery and is a great opportunity to enjoy some incredibly beautiful treks and breathtaking views!

The area is also home many indigenous animals, and during our time here we hope to spot Lammargeyer vultures, geladas, Walia ibex, and (if we are very lucky) klipspringers and Ethiopian wolves.

We will spend 3 nights in the incredible Simien Mountains National Park. On each day we aim to provide an option for a long trek (of 5-8 hours), a short trek (2-5 hours) or no trekking.

On our first day we aim to wild camp at the area of Sankaber. On our second and third days we aim to wild camp at the area of Chenek (underneath Ras Bwahit, the second-highest mountain in the Simiens, which we hope to get the opportunity to summit).

Please note that we must keep a flexible itinerary in the Simien Mountains, as our options will largely be determined by the weather. 

Please also note that the camping areas in the national park are very basic, and are essentially wild camps with long drop toilets. Please also note that the food and provisions available in Debark and the National Park are very limited, and it is also likely to be very cold at night (often dropping below freezing), so please be prepared!

26

Day 42-43: Gondar

Today we head back out to the mountains to Debark, and then finally join the tarmac road again to reach the ancient royal city of Gondar! 

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

On the next day, we will have an included half-day guided tour of the historical sites of Gondar, including Gondar Castle, the King Fasilades' Baths and the Debre Birhan Selassie church. 

In Gondar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

27

Day 44: Gondar

Border Information: If you are finishing in Gondar, you will most likely exit Ethiopia at Gondar Atse Tewodros Airport (IATA code: GDQ).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Gondar. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

For passengers continuing their journey north on to Khartoum, the trip will continue on to Gedaref in the Sudan today. For passengers continuing south back to Addis Ababa on the Ethiopia Loop, we will leave today to reach Bahir Dar.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Horseriding or cycling at Hells Gate
    • Visit to Samburu tribal community and cultural project
    • Wildlife safari in Samburu National Reserve
    • Visit this traditional village and see how locals have lived there for hundreds of years. Soak in the calm atmosphere of a village that has stood the test of time
    • Experience the true local culture at this fish market. If you would like to try the soup make sure you bring your own bowl!  
    • Horse/mule treks or guided hikes through Bale Mountain National Park
    • Head up to the incredible Sanetti Plateau on a day trip with our overland truck, stopping to explore the area on foot and search for Ethiopian Wolves
    • Take a boat trip across Lake Ziway to Tulu Gudo Island, and explore the old Coptic monastery on the island
    • Head out with a scout to explore the trails of this National Park. 
    • Take a guided tour for half of the day through the winding streets of this ancient city
    • Witness Harar's tradition of feeding wild Hyenas by hand each evening just outside the city walls
    • Overland journey north of Addis Ababa, passing through the immense Blue Nile Gorge
    • Boat trip on Lake Tana from Bahir Dar to visit the monasteries
    • Explore the stunning Blue Nile Falls just downstream of Bahir Dar
    • Guided tour of the ancient rock churches and monasteries at Lalibela
    • Journey out on an incredible 3 day/2 night excursion to the Danakil Depression. 
    • Guided tour of palaces and temples in historic Axum
    • Guided treks in the Simien Mountains National Park
    • Learn all about medieval Ethiopia on a half-day guided tour of the castles, churches and baths of Gondar
    Tour Staff
    • 2 crew with local guides as necessary
    Accomodation
    • 25% Camping - 75% Hotels
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