The Big trip...
Trip Start Aug 08, 2011
64Trip End Jul 22, 2013
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Kim and Gareth came to visit this weekend which was great! 2 of their friends from home Craig and Rob also came to Byron at the same time so there was a big group of us which was fun. The weather even picked up a little for them and we had blue skies for quite a lot of the time. Sadly the sea has not recovered so quickly - usually a perfect aqua colour, torrential rains and cyclones have turned the water a black-brown colour!
We managed to achieve quite a lot and dodged the occasional showers. We did a few coastal walks including the Lighthouse walk of course! We also did the sea kayaking trip again but this time the sea was so choppy that 3 of the 5 of us spent it feeling so sick as we were thrown about in 4M waves out to sea! On the upside we saw a huge pod of dolphins 40-50 of them! And also saw a loggerhead turtle! We also ate out a lot at some of the nicest restaurants and cafes Byron has to offer. I took them to Bangalow to have a look at some of the nice shops there and then the weekend was sadly over! Back to work for me tomorrow so today I am trying to tick off a few things on my gigantic to-do list!
Ive been trying to do some research on the africa trips Im deciding between and trying to find blogs about them which has actually been quite tricky. Therefore for the sake of anyone trying to do similar, I am copying and pasting my travel itinery with all its trip titles/companies and buzz words to help other backpackers track down information. Hopefully then they can direct themselves to the appropriate entry to get an in-depth review/journal entry from the trips when I do them! Its very long so unless your extremely bored, don't try and read it all! Heres goes:
7th april Travel to Brisbane ?stay with Leila
8th april fly to Alice Springs
9th-18th Outback trip. Way Outback Crocodile Roack in reverse
9 april Day 1 - (Lunch / Dinner)
You’re on your way to the remote outback of Central Australia with its red soil, ancient geology and ghost gums. Australian pioneers originally used camels for transport and cartage and you now have the opportunity to check out the view from atop at the Outback Camel Farm at Stuarts Well (own expense). We turn off the Stuart Highway at Erldunda and while your guide refuels the vehicle, you can check out the Aboriginal art and craft on display. The first monolith you will see is Mount Connor (Atila), an imposing mesa located on a flat salt pan – not to be confused with Uluru which is some 100km further along the track.
After we arrive at the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park your guide will take you on an interpretive base walk of Uluru and those choosing to climb will have the opportunity to do so, weather permitting. (Note: Uluru is a sacred site and the Anangu people ask visitors to respect their law and do not climb it). The Cultural Centre is impressive and well worth a visit before watching the ever changing colours of Uluru at sunset. After dinner cooked over the open fire, some campfire stories and star gazing at our private campsite, it’s time for a good night’s rest for another active day tomorrow.
- Stuarts Well, Ebenezer Roadhouse, View Mt. Connor (Atila), Base Walk / Climb at Uluru, Cultural Centre, Sunset at Uluru
Your guide will wake you bright and early to experience a mesmerising Uluru sunrise which can be viewed close-by our campsite, early mornings being such a magical time in the desert. Then it’s a short drive to Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), an aboriginal word for “many heads”, to explore its domes of which there are 36 in total. Pull on your hiking boots and take the Valley of the Winds walk through creek beds, domes and beautiful wilderness. After lunch, it’s farewell to Uluru – Kata Tjuta National
Park as we travel to Kings Creek Station where we camp for the night. Our campsite really is ‘wayoutback’, set in a private location on this working cattle station.
- Uluru / Kata Tjuta Sunrise, Kata Tjuta, Kings Creek Station
11 april Day 3 - (Breakfast / Lunch)
This morning we enter the Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park, home of a mighty chasm with sheer red rock faces which soar over 100 metres above lush palm forests. The rim of Kings Canyon is a 6km round trip walk and you will visit the Amphitheatre, Lost City and tranquil Garden of Eden. After our final meal together we begin our journey back to Alice Springs arriving in the late afternoon. Two nights dorm or Budget ensuite (Twin/Single) accommodation in Alice Springs is included (dinner is at own expense).
- Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park, Alice Springs
12 april Day 4
A day at leisure to either relax or explore the Red Centre township of Alice Springs. All activities and meals are at your own expense. Dorm or Budget ensuite (Twin/Single) accommodation in Alice Springs is included.
13 april Day 5 - (Lunch / Dinner)
You will be collected from your Alice Springs accommodation at approximately 6.00 am and then our adventure through the ‘Territory’ to Darwin begins. Just north of Alice Springs is the Tropic of Capricorn (80% of the Northern Territory lays north of this point). Further along the track are the Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu) which are a collection of gigantic granite boulders magically balanced on top of one another. Our day winds to a close just north of Tennant Creek at historic Banka Banka Cattle Station where we camp for the night.
- Tropic of Capricorn, Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu), Banka Banka Cattle Station
14 april Day 6 - (Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner)
No trip to the ‘Territory’ is complete without a visit to the Daly Waters Pub, an important watering hole for explorers and drovers in days gone by and now a great spot for a cold beer, a bit of history and a ‘fair dinkum outback experience’! Later in the day you can take a soak in the Mataranka Thermal Pools, a lush oasis fringed by paperbark trees and nearby where we camp overnight.
- Daly Waters Pub, Mataranka Thermal Pools
15 april day 7 - (Breakfast / Lunch)
Your guide will wake you early this morning for the short drive to the Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park which is owned by the Jawoyn Aboriginal people. Ancient sandstone has been carved away by the Katherine River to create a deep and picturesque gorge. You may like to take a boat cruise or paddle a canoe (seasonal) through the peaceful water (both optional and additional cost). In the afternoon, relax and watch the changing landscape as we travel to cosmopolitan Darwin. Overnight dorm or Budget ensuite (Twin/Single) accommodation in Darwin is included.
- Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park, Darwin
16 april Day 8 - (Lunch / Dinner)
You will be collected from your Darwin accommodation at approximately 6.30am when our Top End adventure begins as we travel to the Mary River Wetlands. This region is home to over 250 bird species and has the highest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the Southern Hemisphere. Search for ‘crocs’ and other wildlife as you cruise on Corroboree Billabong. Our entrance to Kakadu National Park is at the South Alligator River, a picturesque location for a picnic lunch. There’s the opportunity to purchase Aboriginal arts and crafts at the Bowali Visitor Centre before our late afternoon arrival at Ubirr. Here you will view a wide range of ancient Aboriginal art which will be interpreted by your guide. Learn the story of the Rainbow Serpent and climb the Nadab Lookout for panoramic views over the floodplain and beyond into Arnhem Land. As the day draws to a close we head to our private campsite at Cooinda for dinner and our overnight stay.
- Mary River Wetlands, Corroboree Billabong cruise, Bowali Visitor Centre, Ubirr
17 april Day 9 - (Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner)
Our journey is towards the southern end of Kakadu where we spend the whole morning at Gunlom Falls (*seasonal). There’s a large plunge pool at the base of the waterfall to enjoy, however the climb to the top of the falls is a must! Relax in a natural infinity pool with a postcard backdrop of the Arnhem Land escarpment, take a dip in the sandy middle pool and swim under a waterfall in the rear pool. So many choices. Crocodile Dundee loved this magical place and you will too! After lunch and a final swim in the lower plunge pool we exit the national park and travel via Batchelor to our overnight campsite near Litchfield National Park.
- Gunlom Falls, Plunge pools and waterfalls
18 april Day 10 - (Breakfast / Lunch)
Today is spent exploring the waterfalls, spring-fed streams and rugged sandstone escarpments of Litchfield National Park. Marvel at the intriguing magnetic and cathedral termite mounds and swim, hike and explore Florence and Wangi Falls (seasonal). Discover the many rock holes and cascading waterfalls of Buley Rockhole before our early evening arrival back in Darwin.
- Termite mounds, Florence Falls, Wangi Falls, Buley Rockhole
19th Darwin afternoon flight to Phuket
20th am arrive phuket
21st April Phuket Sailing Adventure with Intrepid
21st april Day 1 Phuket
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand.
Meet your skipper and other group members at 1PM ready to board.
Sail towards Ko Rang Yai island where we will drop anchor in front of a private beach. A great place to ease in to life on board with a dip in the water, dinner on board and a beautiful sunset.
22nd april Day 2 Phang Nga Bay
After Breakfast we start to explore by cruising in to the famous Phang Nga Bay where the James Bond Movie 'Man with the golden Gun' was made. Enjoy Lunch in remote Islands with gorgeous kayaking and swimming spots. Tonight we anchor well of the 'beaten path' in the north east part of the bay between Koh Klui and Koh Chang.
23 april Day 3 Ko Hong & Railay
We set sail this morning towards the lonely island of Ko Hong. Here we explore its sea caves in our dinghy before a stop on a tropical beach for swimming and snorkelling. Our sailing day ends in Railay - a paradise for rock climbers with sheer-sided limestone mountains around the beach. After viewing a stunning sunset we have dinner ashore and enjoy the buzzing night-life of the various pubs.
24 april Day 4 Ko Phi Phi
Enjoy the most talked about island group in Thailand - Ko Phi Phi. Visit Phi Phi Le and 'Maya Beach' - the backdrop for the film 'The Beach' with Leonardo di Caprio.
25 april Day 5 Ko Yao Yai
We depart in the early morning before a stop at Monkey Bay for snorkelling. Approaching Ko Yao Yai in the afternoon we find lovely lonely beaches surrounded by mangroves. Enjoy a fire on the beach followed by a BBQ.
26 april Day 6 Ko Racha
Sail south west to Ko Racha. Known for the clearest blue water in the area, these islands are a great destination for diving and snorkelling. Enjoy the white sandy beaches, water activities or take a trip to the hilltop viewpoint on the bay's south which offers a magnificent view of the whole island.
27 april Day 7 Phuket
A smooth sail brings us to our final destination on Phuket island around noon.
Fly to Bangkok. 6pm meeting and start Cambodia and Vietnam on a shoestring with Gadventures.
DAY 1 BANGKOK
Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned. You are free to relax, explore the city & adjust to the frenetic pace and humid heat of Bangkok.
Please arrive at our start point hotel before 6pm for an important group meeting where you will meet you Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. Please look for a sign on the hotel's notice board for the time and location of your group meeting.
At this meeting you CEO will ask to sight your travel insurance, check that you have a visas for Vietnam and complete some other paper work. Please note that you MUST arrive on tour with your Vietnam visa. Please refer to the visa information section of these trip notes for more information on obtaining your Vietnamese visa.
After your meeting, you may choose to head out for an optional dinner to further get to know your CEO and fellow group members.
We spend this evening in Bangkok. Our hotel is located in China Town, next to the central train station and MRT (Subway), and is only a short USD2 taxi ride from Khao San road and the central shopping area of Siam Square, MBK, Siam Paragon, etc. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. The hotel has a small pool and wifi is available at extra cost.
28 /29 april SIEM REAP/ANGKOR WAT (2B, 1D)
After breakfast on day 2, we leave Bangkok and make way on the long journey to Siem Reap, Cambodia. It will take us approximately 4 hours to travel from Bangkok to the border. It is possible to get your Cambodian visa at the border - ask your CEO for details. Once at the border, we will disembark with our luggage and cross the border by foot. This process can take up to an hour or more so please pack your patience. After the border formalities are complete, we meet our Cambodian bus and continue on to Siem Reap. The scenery is spectacular and the contrast between Thailand and Cambodia is immediate.
Angkor, the former capital of the Khmer Kingdom, is one of the wonders of the archeological world. Rediscovered at the end of the last century by French explorers, this vast ruined city is becoming one of the most popular sites in South East Asia. You can purchase a day pass which will enable you to visit many of the highlights of this ancient capital, such as the magnificent temple of Angkor Wat, the enigmatic faces of Bayon within the walled city Angkor Thom and the much photographed temple of Ta Prohm which is slowly being re claimed by the jungle. Your group may wish to hire the services of a local guide who will very much add to your experience, showing you all the highlights of this ancient complex.
During your stay, you will enjoy a local Khmer dinner with your group, at a nearby village. Supported by G Adventures, this particular meal is kindly prepared and served by our local partners – Philar and New Hope for Cambodian Children. Philar has set up school teaching English to Cambodian children while New Hope for Cambodian Children - NHCC is the local charity organization that provides a comprehensive healthcare and education for vulnerable children and their families. The meal here has been voted the best meal in Cambodia by most of our passengers...and even better, the money for your meal is going directly back to supporting these local grass roots projects.
We spend two nights in Siem Reap. Our Hotel is located some 10 minutes walk from city center. The hotel lobby has 2 computers for guests to browse the internet. Free wifi is also available. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom.
Approx travel time:
Bangkok to Thai/Cambodian border: 4 hours by private transport.
Border crossing from Thailand to Cambodian border: 30 mins to 1 hour.
Cambodian border to Siem Reap: 3 hours by private transport.
30/1 may DAY 4-5 PHNOM PENH (2B)
On day 4, we journey by local bus to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. After a brief walking orientation tour from your CEO, you are free to explore Phnom Penh. Sights you might choose to visit this afternoon include the National Museum and adjacent complex of the Silver Pagoda and Royal Palace.
After 1975, when Pol Pot and his henchmen took power, Cambodia was thrown into an abyss of unspeakable violence and mass-murder. Millions of Cambodians perished during this time. Witness to this genocide are the Killing fields of Choeung Ek and the Tuol Sleng prison. A Tuk Tuk can be hired locally to take you there, or your CEO can organise a bus and private guide for the group. You may also wish to explore town or go shopping at the famous Russian Market. Phnom Penh can be confusing and we recommend to always keep a hotel card with you when you are exploring. Tuktuks (local transport) usually cost between 2-3 USD to anywhere in town.
In the evening, there are many pleasant local restaurants where you can try some local specialties such as fish amok.
We overnight two nights in Phnom Penh. Our Hotel is centrally located, close to the riverfront. The hotel has free wifi. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms.
Approx travel time:
Public bus with A/C from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 6-7 hours
It is best to prepare your earplugs ready for this journey if you are not a fan of loud Khmer pop music!
2/3 may DAY 6-7 SIHANOUKVILLE
We travel by public bus to Cambodia's southern coast and the beaches of Sihanoukville. Time to relax on the white sand while perhaps enjoying a massage and eating fresh seafood, or why not join a boat trip for a day of snorkelling and lunch on an uninhabited island.
In the evening, enjoy a barbeque on the beach before hitting one of the many fun bars to dance the night away.
We spend two nights in Sihanoukville. Our Hotel is only a two minute walk to the beach. The hotel has swimming pool and free-Wifi available. Bar and pool table are also available. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Tuktuks (local motorised transport) usually costs 2-3 USD in and around town.
Approx travel time:
Public bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville: 4-5 hours
4 may DAY 8 MEKONG DELTA (1D)
This morning we make our way to the Cambodia/Vietnam border. After driving for approximately 2 hours, we'll stop for a break in Kampot, an attractive riverside Cambodian town, well-known for the quality of its local pepper. It is approximately another 2 hours to reach the Vietnamese the border. The border crossing requires you to walk approx 150 meters on a flat road with your bags into Vietnam where our private bus will be waiting for us. After completing the necessary formalities, we will continue on to Chau Doc (Vietnam), a 4-5 hour drive.
Tonight we will stay in a basic village homestay that includes dinner.
Approx travel time:Private bus from Sihanoukville to Chau Doc: 9 hours
5/6 may DAY 9-10 HO CHI MINH CITY (1B)
After breakfast on day 9, we head to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) a journey which will take most of the day. This evening, why not head to one of the rooftop bars such as the Rex Hotel, one of the classic colonial Saigon institutions, where there is often live music.
Day 10 is free for you to explore. You may choose to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, a complex network of tunnels 90 minutes from the city where the locals lived during the American War to keep safe. Perhaps visit the the immense Ben Thanh Market and grab a snack at one of its many food stands. Those with an interest in Vietnam's recent war history may like to visit the Reunification Palace, the residence of the presidents of South Vietnam before 1974, and the fascinating nearby War Remnants Museum. Also very interesting is Cholon, Saigon’s Chinese quarter. A cyclo can take you to any of these places for a very reasonable price and is a fun way to travel around Ho Chi Minh City.
On the evening of day 10, we take an overnight train to Nha Trang, the first of 3 sleeper trains you will take in Vietnam. The sleeper trains throughout Vietnam are quite comfortable. Each cabin sleeps 4 people in 2 bunk beds. You will be able to lock the door from the inside. All bedding is provided. The train is air conditioned and has squat and Western style toilets with a wash basin at the end of each compartment. Bags can be stored in your cabin and accessed at anytime. Food and drinks are available for purchase on board. This is not to everyone’s taste so we recommend you bring your own.
Our Saigon hotel is located in front of the city’s main market, Ben Than Market, and very close to Saigon's backpackers street. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Wifi is available. A small swimming pool is also available on the second floor.
Approx Travel Time:
Private bus from Chau Doc to Ho Chi Minh City: 7-8 hrs
7/8 may DAY 11-12 NHA TRANG
We arrive in Nha Trang in the morning with plenty of time for you to explore the local shops and markets, relax on the beach soaking up the sun or visit nearby historical sites. Optional activities in Nha Trang include a boat trip to nearby islands for snorkeling, or perhaps a fun filled all day beach party.
On the evening of day 4 we take the second of our overnight trains in Vietnam to Danang, where we will transfer to our final destination, Hoi An. The train is air conditioned and has squat and Western style toilets and wash basins at the end of each compartment. Your bags are located in your cabin and can be accessed at anytime.
Our hotel in Nha Trang is centrally located in town and everything is within walking distance. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Wifi is available.
Approx travel time:
Transfer train station to hotel: 10 min each way
Overnight sleeper train Nha Trang to Danang: 9-10 hrs.
9/10 may DAY 13-14 HOI AN (B)
From Danang, it is only short drive to the picturesque port town of Hoi An. Once known as Faifo, it was an important trading town with strong south Chinese influence and connections.
Take a self guided walking tour of this living museum whose main sights includes the Museum of History and Culture, the Tan Ky house, the Japanese bridge, the Fujian Assembly Hall and lunch at a riverside restaurant to sample some of the delicious local delicacies and fusion food at the restaurants for which Hoi An is becoming famous. This is a great place to sign up for a cooking class. You might consider heading off on an optional motorbike or bicycle tour to visit the beautiful countryside surrounding Hoi An.
Hoi An is a shopping mecca. Tailors can produce virtually any item of clothing you may wish for overnight at extremely reasonable prices, and silk lanterns, lacquer ware and many other crafts abound. It is also the centre of modern art in Vietnam. For sun worshipers, Cua Dai Beach is 4kms from town- a great flat bike ride away. Add in lots of fun bars into the mix and this really is a town that has it all and trust us, you’ll have trouble tearing yourself away!
Our hotel is located approximately ten minutes walk from Hoi An downtown. All hotel rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. The hotel also has swimming pool.
Approx travel time:
Transfer from train station in Danang to Hoi An: 45 min
Approx Travel Time:
Danang to Hoi An, 45 minutes by private mini van.
11/12 may DAY 15-16 HUE (B)
We continue our journey north to the city of Hue. We will make a stop about half way into our ride at the Hai Van Pass where you can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
When in Hue, options to explore include a visit to the former Royal Citadel which was modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing or traveling by boat along the Perfume River. Don't miss a visit to the seven tiered Tien Mu Pagoda and try to fit in a visit to at least one of the tombs of the former rulers of Vietnam, located here in the quiet countryside, all of which are like self contained mini palaces. A true highlight of Hue is the surrounding countryside and cycling is a great way to get out and experience this while checking out the sights.
On the late evening of Day 8 we will travel by sleeper train from Hue to Hanoi.
Our hotel is centrally located in town and is very convenient to explore the city. All hotel rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning. The hotel has internet, with a computer available for passengers at the lobby.
Approx travel time:
Private bus from Hoi An to Hue (Day 7): 4 hours
Overnight sleeper train Hue to Hanoi (Day 8): 14 hours
13 may DAY 17 HALONG BAY/BAI CHAY HARBOUR (1L)
We arrive in the early morning to bustling Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. After meeting our local guide we transfer to a private bus and make our way to the beautiful and famous Halong Bay.
Thousands of islands rise dramatically from the waters of the Bay and, to further their beauty, intricate caves have been hollowed out through these limestone karst formations. Aboard a sailing junk we'll enjoy a seafood lunch and a visit to one of the islands and caves before transfering to the mainland for our overnight stay.
Private bus Ha Noi to Halong Bay: 4 hours
14/15 may DAYS 18-19 HANOI (B)
After breakfast, we'll transfer back to Hanoi. Upon arrival, explore Hanoi with an orientation walking tour through the city's old quarter. Each street is named after the trade practiced on that street for several generations; it's an interesting glimpse into the life of a Hanoian in one of the oldest parts of town.
Opt to visits the Tran Quoc Pagoda, the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) or Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Museum. The Mausoleum houses the remains of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of the unified Vietnam (closed October-November). Don’t miss taking a walk through Hanoi's Old Quarter – a maze of street, each one traditionally devoted to a different product or industry. Follow this up with a walk around nearby Hoan Kiem lake and see if you can spot one of the famous 100 year old turtles which may still live within its murky waters. In the evening you have an option to attend a performance at the famous Water Puppets and sample some of Hanoi's amazing eating venues. Ask your CEO to tell you about the local Northern delicacies.
Approx Travel Time:
Private bus Ha Long Bay to Ha Noi: 4 hours
16 mayDAY 20 HANOI (B)
You are free to depart at any time today. Please note that hotel check out time is 12pm.
6 days in Hanoi to organise mountain trekking in Sapa/Home stay / ?further Halong Bay
Laos & Thailand on a shoestring with Gadventures
21 may DAY 1 HANOI
Welcome to bustling Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned. Please arrive at our start point hotel before 6pm for an important group meeting. At this meeting you CEO will ask to sight your travel insurance, check that you have a visas for Vietnam and complete some other paper work. Please note that you MUST arrive on tour with your Vietnam visa. Please refer to the visa information section of these trip notes for more information on obtaining your Vietnamese visa.
Spend your day relaxing or exploring the city & adjust to the frantic pace and humid heat of Hanoi. Why not take the chance to visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) or Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Museum. The Mausoleum houses the remains of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of unified Vietnam (closed October-November). Don't miss taking a walk through Hanoi's Old Quarter – a maze of streets, each one traditionally devoted to a different product or industry, and the nearby Hoan Kiem Lake.
After your meeting, you may choose to head out for an optional dinner to further get to know your CEO and fellow group members
may 22 DAY 2 VIENTIANE (B)
This morning, a short flight takes us from Hanoi to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. There is a wealth of cultural delights to discover - on foot, by bicycle or, for the less energetic, by tuk-tuk. Visit Laos' most important national monument, Phat That Luang, or meander down the dusty riverside tracks to find villages full of friendly children, dogs and chickens. A visit to Vientiane's vibrant, colorful morning market (which incidentally is open all day!) is worthwhile, to find plenty of local treasures. A great way to round off the day is to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Mekong.
Approx travel time:
Transfer hotel to Hanoi airport: 45 min
Flight Hanoi to Vientiane: 1.25 hrs
Transfer airport to Vientiane hotel: 15 min.
may 23/24 DAYS 3-4 VANG VIENG (B)
A picturesque drive north takes us to beautiful Vang Vieng. This quiet town is set along the Nam Song river amidst rice fields and limestone karsts. On Day 4 why not explore some of the caves by bicycle or take an invigorating walk. In the evening, soak in the natural beauty of Vang Vieng as the sun sets over the river.
Approx travel time:
Private bus Vientiane to Vang Vieng: 3-4 hrs
may 25/26 DAYS 5-6 LUANG PRABANG (B)
This morning we travel from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang has a magical feel about it. Nestled in the hills of northern Laos on the confluence of the Mekong and Khan Rivers, it is studded with ornate temples and French colonial architecture. A visit the Royal Palace Museum, which has remained untouched since the royal family departed in 1975, is sure to impress.
Traditional Laotian culture is to give daily alms to monks. Monks are only allowed to eat food which has been donated to them before noon. On one of your mornings here, you may decide to rise with the sun, and watch one of the most important religious ceremonies in Laos. This is simply an unforgettable South East Asian experience.
Our hotel tonight is centrally located and convenient for exploring most of the tourist attractions in town by foot. All hotel rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Computers and wifi are available.
Approx travel time:
Private bus from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang: 7 hours
The road crosses mountains on a winding road. The spectacular views make this overland trip well worth it.
may 27 DAY 7 MEKONG RIVER (1B,1D)
We board our boat for the two day journey up the mighty Mekong River making our way to Chiang Khong. The journey is relaxed, as we experience the slow pace of village life and the breathtaking scenery along the river. Our private boat is reasonably comfortable and spacious. A toilet is available on board. Fruit, tea and coffee are provided free of charge for you to enjoy and other drinks, such as water and soft drinks might be available for purchase on the boat. It can also be quite cold from November to February so make sure you have some warm gear packed.
Tonight we will stay in a basic village homestay along the Mekong including dinner. Typically the group is divided into two or more houses (depending on group size) in close proximity to each other. When it comes time to sleep, mattresses are placed across the floor in central living area. Each mattress comes with a blanket, a pillow and a mosquito net. Bathroom facilities are shared. The evening meal is eaten together in one of the houses with the food provided being very simple - giving you the chance to experience typical Laotian cuisine. A vegetarian option is always served and the second option is typically a pork stirfry. Your local guide will take time to explain the local life of the people in this village. You have the option of swimming in the Mekong. Evenings can get cold, so bring a long sleeved top.
Approx Travel Time: 8-10 hours depending on river conditions.
may 28 DAY 8 CHIANG KONG (1B,1L)
This morning we re-board our boat and continue our leisurely cruise up the river before arriving at the Laos/Thai border and crossing to Chiang Khong in the late afternoon.
Our hotel in Chiang Khong is located right on the riverfront of the Mekong river. All hotel rooms are double or twin share with en suite bathroom. Free wifi is available.
Approx travel time:
River to Chiang Khong: 8-10 hours depending on river conditions
may 29 DAY 9 CHIANG MAI
Departing Chiang Khong after breakfast, we drive to Chiang Mai where you have the afternoon free to explore this fascinating city, once the capital of the Kingdom of Lan. Surrounded by rolling hills, Chiang Mai offers both pretty scenery and architecture. Enclosed by a moat and crumbling walls, the old city features great cafes, shops and accommodations. An important Buddhist centre since the 14th century, Chiang Mai is home to more than 300 temples. Many visitors come here to attend meditation retreats, massage classes or yoga lessons. It is also a centre of handicraft production, with a long history of silver work, woodcarving, pottery-making and weaving. Not to be missed is the Night Bazaar, a series of covered markets, shops and stalls that offer the best selection of handicrafts in Thailand.
Approx travel time:
Private transport Chiang Kong to Chiang Mai: 5 hours
may 30 DAY 10 CHIANG MAI/OVERNIGHT TRAIN
Today, why not try your hand at local cuisine with a Thai cooking class, visit the magnificent temple of Doi Suthep standing watch over the city from the hills above, take a bicycle ride in the countryside or Embrace the Bizarre and get a massage from the training school at the local woman's prison! Tonight we catch our final overnight train to Bangkok
Tonight's accommodation is an overnight sleeper train. Bunks are dormitory style, with bunks on two layers along the side of the train carriage. There are curtains along each bunk for privacy. Your luggage is stored beside you. The train has air-conditioning and clean bedding is provided for each bunk. There are both western style and asian style toilets at the end of each carriage, with wash basins. Food and drinks are available on the train, but you may choose to bring your own snacks from the shop and restaurants around the train station.
Approx travel time:
Overnight train Chiang Mai to Bangkok: 12-13 hours
may 31 DAY 11 BANGKOK - My Birthday!
We'll arrive early in the morning to Bangkok, Thailand's capital city. The day is free to explore the many sights of Bangkok. The Grand Palace, Wat Po, National Museum, and Jim Thompson's House are just a few suggestions. A trip along the Chao Praya river and through the canals (or klongs) gives you a different perspective of daily life in this busy city.
In the evening we'll say good bye and enjoy a Thai meal and perhaps a beer together to celebrate the end of an amazing journey.
1 june DAY 12 BANGKOK (B)
Bangkok to Singapore on a shoestring with Gadventures
June 1/2 DAYS 1-2 BANGKOK (1B)
You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned. Meet your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) around 6pm for a meeting. Please check at reception for a notice detailing the actual time and place for a group meeting and optional dinner on the evening of Day 1.
Bangkok is a fantastic city and there is endless sightseeing to be done.
Undoubtedly the best way to get around Bangkok is by water taxi, as the streets are often crazy with traffic. From the Chao Phraya River you have an excellent view of this vast metropolis. Perhaps take a longtail boat to explore the canals of Bangkok. The life that goes on along these canals seems like a different world. We also recommend visiting Wat Pho, home of the reclining Buddha. You can have a traditional Thai massage either here, at a school that teaches massage within the temple, or choose somewhere near the hotel - this is highly recommended!
In the evening of day 2 (November to April) we catch an overnight sleeper train to Surat Thani in the south of Thailand or to Chumporn (May to October).
We spend this evening in Bangkok. Our hotel is located in China Town, next to the central train station and MRT (Subway), and is only a short USD2 taxi ride from Khao San road and the central shopping area of Siam Square, MBK, Siam Paragon, etc. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. The hotel has a small pool and wifi and computers are available at extra cost.
Approx travel times:
Train Bangkok to Surat Thani (November to April): 12-13 hours
Train Bangkok to Chumporn (May to October): 7-8 hours
june 3/4 DAYS 3-4 KOH PHANGAN
A short boat ride takes us to the small island of Koh Pha Ngan where we have the next few days to explore the islands waterfalls, swim in its lagoons or just relax. Options for snorkelling, hiking, visit waterfalls or simply chill out. With everything from yoga and meditation courses, natural beauty, waterfalls and its famous Full Moon Parties, Koh Pha Ngan has something for everyone.
We stay for 2 nights in Koh Phangan. Our accommodation is basic huts right on Bottle Beach. All of the rooms are twin or double share and come equipped with an en suite bathroom.
Approx travel times:
Bus and Ferry to Koh Pha Ngan: 3 hours
Transfer from pier to hotel: 15 min
June 5 DAY 5 KOH SAMUI
Lying off of Thailand’s east coast in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui offers everything you could possibly want in a tropical retreat: white sandy beaches, coconut palms, fresh seafood and warm, clear waters. With an area of 247 square kilometers, Koh Samui is the largest island in an archipelago of around 80 islands.
We stay in a resort that is located a stone's throw away from the beach and has all the amenities that you may require, including a bar and swimming pool. All of our rooms are twin share and come with an en suite bathroom.
June 6 DAY 6 NAKHON SI THAMMARAT
Located on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, Nakhon Si Thammarat was the administrative center of Southern Thailand during most of its history. An intriguing blend of cultures, where Muslim Mosques and Buddhist Temples blend with 17th Century European factories and houses, relics of a time when this city was a major trading hub.
We stay in a comfortable hotel with twin share rooms and en suite bathrooms.
Approx travel times:
Transfer pier to hotel in Nakkon Si Thammarat: 2 hours.
7 June DAY 7 PENANG (1B)
You will have an early start from Nakhon Si Thammarat today.
Once you arrive in Penang you have the option of a bicycle-rickshaw to meander through the streets and lanes of Georgetown. You can also see colourful bazaars, bargain at the night markets or visit numerous Chinese temples. If time allows, a visit to the Butterfly Farm on the north of the island offers a great insight into Malaysia's fascinating insects.
Penang has something to offer everyone. Food is also a treat here, with an impressive variety from Chinese to Malay and Indian. Don't miss the waterfront night market that serves up excellent local food.
Our hotel in Penang is located on the outskirts of the city center and comes with comfortable twin and double share rooms with en suite bathrooms. The hotel also has free wifi in all the rooms.
Approx travel times:
Private bus from Nakkon Si Thammarat to Satun: 4 hours (not including border crossing)
Private bus from Satun to Penang: 4 1/2 hours
8/9 June DAY 8-9 CAMERON HIGHLANDS
This morning take a private bus and head for the hills. The Cameron Highlands hill station is one of Malaysia's most famous. Our hotel is situated in the town of Tanah Rata. Established in 1885 by William Cameron, a British surveyor, the hill station is famous for its tea plantations and strawberry farms. The drive takes us from the flat lowlands through to mountainous terrain. In your free time you may want to take a walk along one of the many well marked trails, visit the tea plantations or just relax and enjoy the cooler temperatures!
Our hotel is located a 2 minute walk from the town of Tanah Rata. All of the rooms have a fan and an en suite bathroom and a balcony. There is a communal lounge area to watch movies. There is internet and wifi available for an additional charge.
Approx travel times:
Private bus from Penang to the Cameron Highlands: 6 hours
10/11 June DAYS 10-11 KUALA LUMPUR
We take private transport to Kuala Lumpur. We will arrive in the afternoon and have ample time to see the city's impressive architecture and experience the fascinating cultural mix that gives this city such a uniquely cosmopolitan feel. You might like to head out of town to visit the famous Batu Caves or the Orang Asli Museum, north of town. The evening is best spent at the night market sampling the different cuisine, some of the best in South East Asia and bargain hunting among the stalls of Chinatown's night market. And don't forget a visit to the Petronas Towers,the tallest twin towers in the world.
Our hotel is located in a quiet area, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The rooms all come with a fan and en suite bathrooms. Computers are available for an extra charge and there is free wifi in the hotel.
Approx travel time:
Private bus Cameroon Highlands to Kuala Lumpur: 4 hours.
12 june DAY 12 MELAKA
A public bus journey takes us to the old port town of Melaka where we can wander the narrow streets and absorb the atmosphere of this historically important town.
With the beginning of trade with China in the early 15th Century, Melaka rapidly became the most important trading port in South East Asia. Chinese traders were followed by those from India. With them came Islam and soon the Melaka sultans ruled the largest empire in Malaysia's history. Successively the Portuguese, Dutch and British arrived in search of trading wealth. While the effects of recent economic growth are apparent, Melaka remains one of Malaysia's premier destinations. The streets of Chinatown are lined with Peranakan (Straits Chinese) shophouses offering their traditional cuisine, Nyonya. There are temples, churches and mosques, museums and forts to explore.
Our hotel is located in the heart of Melaka, close to the World Heritage sites. The rooms are comfortable twin and double share with air conditioning. There is free wifi at the hotel.
Approx travel times:
Public bus from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka: 3 hours
Transfer to hotel: 15 min
13 june DAYS 13 SINGAPORE
In the morning we take a public bus journey to the Straits of Johore and onto the island of Singapore. Tonight you could visit the world famous night safari, take in a harbour cruise around Boat Quay or sample some mouth watering local food at one of the many hawker street stands.
Whilst Singapore has few areas untouched by modernization, wandering the streets of Little India and Chinatown is a great way to see the old parts of the city.
Our hotel is located in the heart of Singapore. The rooms all come with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms. Computers and wifi are available in the hotel for an additional charge.
Approx travel times:
Hotel to bus station: 30 min
Public bus from Melaka to Singapore: 4-5 hours (not including border crossing)
Transfer to hotel in Singapore: 15 min
June 14 DAY 14 SINGAPORE 1B)
Our tour finishes today and you may depart at any time.
June 15 Fly to Yogyakarta Indonesia
2 weeks with Alaw in Indonesia - Java/Bali/Gili Islands
Fly to Nairobi ?1st July/2nd July
Absolute Africa Masai and Migration
3 July Day 1: Nairobi, Kenya to Arusha, Tanzania
We leave Nairobi on day one for the drive south to Tanzania through sweeping and often arid plains dotted with whistling thorn. We cross into Tanzania at Namanga where you are sure to be tempted by Maasai selling beaded jewellery and wooden carvings.
We have our Departure Meeting to go through the details of life on the truck, our rosters and relax over our first group meal.
4 july Day 2: Serengeti National Park
Leaving camp early this morning we head on safari traveling towards Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The drive takes us through rolling plains and traditional Maasai herdsmen can be seen throughout the region tending cattle and goats. We arrive at Naabi Gate, the entry to the Serengeti by mid afternoon.
The seemingly endless grasslands of the Serengeti are the stage for the famous wildebeest migration. On the annual migration 1.5 million wildebeest and other game, such as zebra, Thomson’s gazelle, impala and topi move on mass between the Mara, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti. The rains and the endless search for water and good grazing drive this movement. We game drive through the afternoon. Kopjes, small hills of rocks, are favourite vantage points for lion dozing in the sun from where they keep an eye out over the vast grassy plains.
We spend the night camped within the Serengeti with the sounds of the African bush around us. It is quite an experience to be in a tent with just the canvas between you and the wildlife out there.
5 July Day 3: Serengeti National Park to Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Game viewing is often at its best early in the day, so we rise early and head out to explore more of the Serengeti. Our game drives continue through the morning. This is Siringit – “the place where the land moves on forever” for the Maasai.
We leave the plains and enter more mountainous terrain on crossing back into the Conservation Area in the afternoon. A visit to a Maasai boma is arranged and we are entertained by the traditional jumping dance performed by Maasai warriors. We can also visit a local school. The Olduvai Gorge Museum is also a stop off point where you can find out about the work of the Leakey’s into the origins of Man.
Our overnight camp tonight is near the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. We are at altitude here, so wrap up warm tonight.
Optional excursions: Balloon safari, Olduvai Gorge Museum, Maasai Boma.
6 July Day 4: Ngorongoro Crater to Arusha
This morning we are up before sunrise to visit Ngorongoro Crater. The Crater is a perfectly intact volcanic caldera and known as the ‘Noah’s ark’ of game reserves. During our morning game drives we might view the ‘big 5’, lion leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, as well as plains game peacefully grazing including, zebra, gazelle, impala and wildebeest.
Hippopotamus can usually be found lolling in the pools and Lake Magadi can be rimmed with the pink of greater and lesser flamingo.
We stop off in the bustling village of Mto Wa Mbu with its extensive markets where we can wander and buy Maasai souvenirs. We enjoy a prepared barbeque tonight back in the Arusha campsite.
7/8 July Days 5 – 6: Arusha to Dar es Salaam
Dawn sees us on the road south. On a lucky day snow-clad Kilimanjaro might come into view. At 5,895 metres it is Africa’s highest mountain. As we travel our surrounds become increasingly lush. We arrive in Dar es Salaam to park up by the coast to camp for the night, listening to the waters of the Indian Ocean lapping nearby.
9-12 July Days 7 – 10: Optional stay on Zanzibar Island
The last few days of our safari gives you the option of spending four days on the exotic spice island of Zanzibar.
Day 7 We travel by ferry this morning to arrive in Stone Town, the ancient capital of Zanzibar Island. Arriving in early afternoon we check in to our hotel within the traditional capital.
Stone Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. With its classic Swahili architecture of towers, courtyards and narrow alleys fronting on to shops, houses and mosques the old town will catch your imagination. In the main built of coral stone in the 19th century, the buildings have large verandahs with wooden balustrades and elegantly decorated balconies, and distinctly ornate wooden doors often with brass studs.
A Spice Tour on the island allows you to test different spices and fruits as well as find out a little of the island’s history. You can enjoy sundowners at Africa House whilst watching the traditional dhows sail in the harbour against the sunset and wander the evening food markets for Zanzibar pizza and other seafood delicacies.
Day 8 sees us heading to the beach for a three-night stay in beach cottages at Kendwa. Here you can relax on the long white palm fringed beaches, and snorkel and swim in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. There is beach volleyball and fun beach bars.
There are also different excursions to enjoy. An hour away from Stone Town you can take a walk in the Jozani Forest, home of the red colobus monkeys or head south to swim with the dolphins off Kizimkazi Beach. There are also opportunities to visit Prison Island with its giant tortoise and to snorkel in crystal clear coral waters. Mnemba Atoll is a boat ride away just off the north east coast, and has superb corals and gorgeous schools of reef fish. Turtles who breed on the island, and dolphins can be seen with a little luck. Seasonal whale shark and humpback whales can be seen gliding past.
Further details as to arrangements for your optional time on Zanzibar Island: We make core arrangements well ahead of time so we are assured our groups are comfortable in popular beach cottages to the north of the island and for a night in the capital. The tour leader travels over to the island with the group to ensure that all runs smoothly. Other excursions available include snorkeling excursions to Prison Island famous for its giant tortoise, as well as Mnemba Atoll, dolphin boat trips, a trek in Jozani forest to see the red colobus monkeys and fishing. Scuba diving can be arranged from the Dive Centre near our beach cottages.
13 JulyDay 11: Zanzibar Island to Dar es Salaam
Today we travel back to Dar es Salaam for a last night by the Indian Ocean, and bid farewell to our fellow travelers.
Please note this itinerary is given as a guide only. A safari is a journey and true journeys unfold. They are of an adventurous nature. The unexpected can arise, so do allow for this. Feel free to give us a call about your safari plans. We look forward to your enquiries.
Same day fly back to Nairobi
Intrepid Kenya Wildlife Adventure
Day 1 Nairobi
Jambo! Welcome to Kenya.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Nairobi - which takes its name from a Maasai phrase meaning 'place of cool waters' - has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. There are plenty of good bars and restaurants, while markets and shops have most things you could want or need, as well as various arts and crafts from the region.
If you arrive early, you can head out and explore the National Museum of Kenya, the Karen Blixen Museum (author of Out of Africa) or Bomas of Kenya where traditional homesteads of several Kenyan tribes are displayed in an outdoor village.
- National Museum, Nairobi - USD10.00
- Karen Blixen museum, Nairobi - USD14.00
- Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi - USD10.00
- Langata Giraffe Sanctuary, Nairobi - KES1000.00
- Nairobi National Park safari walk, Nairobi - USD20.00
Hotel (1 nt)
14 july Day 2 Lake Nakuru
Drive north-west past great views of the Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha and Elementaita to Lake Nakuru National Park, situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley (170 km, approx 3-4 hrs).
Visit the New Hope Children's Centre - an orphanage that assists the less fortunate in society and gives them hope. The children here very much appreciate when they get reading and writing materials. You have a chance to give the children anything you've brought: toys, pens, pencils, story books etc. (of course these will be handed over to the proprietors).
Lake Nakuru National Park's small and compact area, based around a flamingo-filled lake, makes it a great location for spotting wildlife. Along with the other members of the Big Five, Lake Nakuru harbours many rhinos and will be the best chance to get a great picture of these magnificent beasts.
Our exclusive camp outside the park is well situated and has flush toilets and showers.
- Visit to New Hope Children's Centre
- Lake Nakuru - Game drive
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
15/16 july Days 3-4 Lake Naivasha
Head off to a nearby village where our guide will introduce us to local life. This is the best time and place to interact with the local villagers.
Drive from Lake Nakuru to our camp near Lake Naivasha (110 km, approx 3-4 hrs).
One of the few freshwater lakes in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Naivasha has floating islands of papyrus reeds and a border of flat-topped acacias. It's also home to a healthy population of hippos and a tremendous variety of birds.
Visit the Crater Lake Sanctuary, a former volcano. While here make sure to keep your eyes open for ibis, lovebirds, fish eagles and hippos as well as black and white colobus monkeys. Embark on a game walk to get up close to giraffes and many varieties of antelope - a perfect opportunity to flex your photo-snapping finger.
Our campsite is basic with showers and flush toilets.
- Lake Nakuru - Village walk
- Bike hire, Lake Naivasha - USD12.00
- Boat trip, Lake Naivasha - KES4000.00
- Walk in Crater Lake Game Sanctuary, Naivasha - USD20.00
- Hell's Gate National Park, Lake Naivasha - USD25.00
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
17 july Day 5 Loita Hills
We depart Lake Naivasha making a short stop in the town to do a spot of food shopping, taking our lunch break en route to our camp site at Loita Hills (220 km, approx. 5-6 hours).
Today's drive crosses the Great Rift Valley, Africa's immense and spectacular great divide, and takes us into the remote region of Loita Hills, home of the traditional Maasai people. Here we visit the Maasai, known for their vibrant red dress and elaborate jewellery, and gain an insight into the culture and ancient ways of this proud East African Community.
After setting up our tents, it is time to meet our Maasai hosts as we receive a fascinating talk offering insights into this remarkable and ancient culture from a local elder. Enjoy being shown around a traditional Maasai home and cattle enclosures, and we may even have the opportunity to participate in the milking of the precious cattle.
Tonight we stay in a bush camp with drop toilets and bush shower facilities.
- Loita Hills - Cultural talk and village visit
- Maasai warrior dance, Loita Hills - USD10.00
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
18/19 july Days 6-7 Masai Mara National Reserve
It is 70 km from Loita to Masai Mara, which will take us approximately 1-2 hours. The road is dusty when dry and could be slippery and soft when wet.
After setting up camp (outside the park) and having lunch, we jump back on board the truck.
Explore this diverse environment and view a multitude of wildlife. Spend an entire day on a wildlife spotting quest in the reserve and take brunch/lunch by the side of the Mara River - a great chance to spot crocs and hippos.
An optional balloon ride over the Masai Mara at sunrise is an unforgettable experience. If you have pre-booked this activity (please see 'Important Notes') you will be picked up and driven to the launch site, receive a safety briefing from your pilot and help inflate the balloon. You then glide through the dawn, sometimes at tree height, providing amazing wildlife photography opportunities; sometimes ascending to get an overview of the enormity of the Masai Mara plains and the early morning movements of the teeming herds. Upon landing you'll be treated to a bush breakfast before being returned to your vehicle. Please note if you are taking a balloon ride over the Mara you will be taken to the launch place from our campsite before dawn and returned to the group when you have finished your ride.
Please note that we offer this activity as a pre-booked service which will guarantee you a spot in a balloon. If you choose to wait and book this activity locally on the ground you may get a better price. However this is a popular activity and places are limited. It is at your own discretion if you wish to pre-book this service with us or try and book it locally while you are on your trip.
Our campground is located outside of the national reserve and has flush toilets and showers.
- Masai Mara - Game drive
- Balloon ride, Mara Leisure Camp - USD480.00
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
20 july Day 8 Nairobi
Leave the open expanses of the African bush behind and return to the urban environment of Nairobi (270 km, approx 6-7 hrs).
On arrival in Nairobi we'll be dropped at our finishing point hotel. No accommodation is provided for tonight, but we are able to book you additional accommodation in Nairobi. Please ask at time of booking.
21 July Fly Home!