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Luxury Travel

The Rafiki Thabo Big Challenge

Get involved with the Rafiki Relay!

Join us as we collectively take on Cairo to Cape Town! We will run, walk, cycle and swim a whopping 13,222 km between us in 6 weeks – a huge challenge and we are going to need lots of help! All ages and abilities – run, walk, swim and cycle – choose your distance – in teams of up to 5 or ‘solo’! Schools’ entry available too. With the support of two Olympic heroes an England International Footballer and The Blind Adventurer – you’ll be in inspiring company!

The Rafiki Relay is free to enter, registration opens 29th March, and you must be registered before we start from Cairo on the 26th April. Have fun fundraising!

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Make sure you’re signed up to leave from Cairo on the 26th April 2021. Plus, as you make your way across Africa virtually you’ll be inspired by the beautiful destinations you pass through, with facts and insights to the regions and what they offer. Let yourself be transported to Africa, and dream up your future trip as you embark on this journey. 

Remember, if you book your future African escape with Charitable Travel, 5% of your holiday price is donated to your choice of charity at no extra cost to you.

What you'll discover along the Rafiki Relay Route:

The Pyramids of Cairo, Egypt

Start your adventure in Giza, a district near Cairo where the famous necropolis of the 4th dynasty can be visited. Points of interest are of, the famous Sphinx and the pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinos.

 

The Pyramid of King Cheops is one of the most famous structures in the world. Built by King Cheops (4th dynasty) in about 2,650 BC and originally standing at 481 feet tall. To the south of King Cheop's Pyramid, a large wooden boat in a very good condition has been revealed and is now to be seen in a museum south to pyramid of King Cheops.

 

The Pyramid of Chephren was built by Chephren (son of Cheops), south-west of his father's pyramid and is very similar to it. Although lower in height, it looks higher as it was built on a higher plateau. On the north side it possesses two entrances leading down into a passage and then across a corridor to the burial chamber, which still contains the large granite sarcophagus of Chephren.

 

The Pyramid of Mycerinos is the smallest of the three pyramids, barely 66 metres high, and was originally covered with red granite stones from Aswan. All three pyramids of Giza are surrounded by several small pyramids and hundreds of mastaba tombs belonging to the members of the royal family, nobles and high ranking employees.

On the way down to the Valley Temple of King Chefren, the famous large statue of the Sphinx is located. This colossal statue represents a body of a lion with a human head measuring 70 metres in length and 20 metres in height. 

The Valley of the Kings, Egypt

The astonishing landscape of the Valley of the Kings with its sand dunes that stretch almost to the waters-edge of the Nile opposite Luxor to the high mountains is matched only by the treasures the area has hidden for centuries, and may still even hide. Many tombs have been discovered, such as those of Tutankhamun, Ramses I, Ramses II, Ramses III and Ramses VI, Amenhotep II, Seti I, Sipteh, Thutmose III and Horemheb, and their treasures displayed in museums such as the Egyptian Museum in Cairo or in the Luxor Museum.

 

The Valley of the Kings dates back to around the 16th to the 11th centuries BC as a necropolis of the Pharaonic Egypt’s New Kingdom dynasties. It is believed to have been used for around 500 years, and is the resting place of the kings and other nobles of the 18th through to the 21st dynasties. In 1979 it was made a World Heritage Site and remains one of the most important and famous archaeological sites in the world. In 2014, an exact replica of Tut-Ankh-Amount tomb what opened not far from where the original.

 

The Curse of the Pharaohs, a phenomenon said to be bestowed on anyone who disturbs an ancient Egyptian mummy, originated after many of Howard Carter’s archaeological team were said to have contracted lethal diseases and viruses when opening Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Khartoum and The Pyramids of Meroe, Sudan

Khartoum or Khartum is the capital of Sudan. With a population of 5,274,321, its metropolitan area is the largest in Sudan. Khartoum is located at the confluence of the White Nile, flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, flowing west from Lake Tana in Ethiopia.

 

Situated approximately 155 miles/250 kilometres northeast of Khartoum near the banks of the River Nile, the ancient city of Meroë is home to almost 200 pyramids. Sudan's Meroë Pyramids are relatively unknown; and yet, they are less crowded, more numerous and steeped in fascinating history. Constructed out of large blocks of sandstone in the Nubian style, the pyramids look quite different to their Egyptian counterparts, with smaller bases and more steeply sloped sides. However, they were built for the same purpose - to serve as a burial site and statement of power, in this case for the kings and queens of the ancient Meroitic Kingdom. 

The Blue Nile Falls, Ethiopia

Emanating from the nearby Lake Tana, the Blue Nile Falls cascades down a 42m-high drop to produce a dazzling spray of mist and rainbows. In the rainy season, when the falls are at their strongest, it's easy to see why the locals call it 'Tis Abay' meaning ‘the Great Smoke’ in Amharic. 

 

The paths that lead to the falls wind through beautiful, verdant countryside and across a 17th century bridge (the first bridge to span the Blue Nile). There are a few routes to choose from, and it's an hour or so each way.  The countryside around the falls is a great birding destination (make sure to pack a pair of binoculars!). There are a number of endemic species in the area, including the wattled ibis. 

 

Bahir Dar is a picturesque town on the shores of Lake Tana, and your base for exploring the Blue Nile Falls. Bahir Dar is often the first stop on Ethiopia's northern circuit. From here, you can take a boat trip out on to Lake Tana to explore the ancient island monasteries, before heading off to visit the falls in the afternoon. 

The Rift Valley and National Parks, Kenya

Originally named the ‘Great Rift Valley’ by British Explorer John Walter Gregory, the Rift Valley is a geographic stretch extending 6000km across the Middle East and Africa from Jordan to Mozambique. The valley encapsulates tremendous changes in topographic diversity with its scarps and volcanoes, lakes, ancient granitic hills, flat desert landscapes and coral reefs and islets.

 

The astounding view, as you approach from Nairobi, Kenya is quite unbelievable. Demonstrating how expansive the rift is, the ground unexpectedly disappears from under you, extending thousands of kilometres in either direction. An excellent starter to the Kenyan Rift Valley, it may appear, the most amazing part of this experience is sinking deeper to explore the Lake System of the Rift.

 

The wild roars and nature comes alive in Kenya! Spot the ‘Big 5’ at one of Kenya’s many National Parks; Nairobi National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Hell’s Gate National Park, the Masai Mara Game reserve and more! Kenya’s protected areas are home to different variety of flora and fauna species. Each wilderness area is specially branded because it has something unique to offer. From the ‘World’s only Wildlife Capital’ of Nairobi, ‘Bird Watchers Paradise’ of Lake Nakuru to the ‘Kilimanjaro’s Royal Court’ of Amboseli, Kenya’s wilderness areas are the face of the wild Africa.

 

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Above the gently rolling hills and plateaux of northern Tanzania rises the snowy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, it’s slopes and glaciers shimmering above the rising clouds. Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi and is a protected area, carefully regulated for climbers to enjoy without leaving a trace of their presence. The mountain’s ecosystems are as strikingly beautiful as they are varied and diverse.

 

Hiking on the ‘rooftop of Africa’ — the highest point on the continent at 5896 metres — is the adventure of a lifetime, especially because, if paced well, everyone from seasoned trekkers to first-time enthusiasts can scale the snowy peak.

 

Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. But, there is so much more to Kili than her summit. Even before you cross the national park boundary, the cultivated foot slopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias.

 

Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.

 

Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera.  Forming a spectacular bowl of about 265 square kilometres, with sides up to 600 metres deep; it is home to approximately 30,000 animals at any one time. 

 

The Crater rim is over 2,200 metres high and experiences its own climate.  From this high vantage point it is possible to make out the tiny shapes of animals making their way around the crater floor far below. Swathes of cloud hang around the rocky rim most days of the year and it’s one of the few places in Tanzania where it can get chilly at night.

 

The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania was established in 1952. It is home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth - the great migration of wildebeest and zebra. The resident population of lion, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, and birds is also impressive. The park covers 5,700 sq. miles, (14,763 sq. km) with at most a couple hundred vehicles driving around.

 

The Park can be divided into 3 sections. The popular southern/central part (Seronera Valley), is what the Maasai called the “serengit”, the land of endless plains. It’s classic savannah, dotted with acacias and filled with wildlife. The western corridor is marked by the Grumeti River, and has more forests and dense bush. The north, Lobo area, meets up with Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve, is the least visited section

Mountain Gorillas and Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Without doubt one of the world’s greatest wildlife experiences is the thrill of a close encounter with the reclusive mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Uganda has the best chance of viewing these delightful apes with the fact that it boasts two parks where they have been habituated for human visits that is; the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which harbour over half of the remaining world mountain gorillas.

Uganda is home to twelve habituated gorilla groups located in both Mgahinga and Bwindi National Parks, with Mgahinga gifted with one group, the Nyakagezi gorilla family while the remaining groups are spread around Bwindi National Park in 4 different sectors. Since eight permits are allocated to track each group daily, 96 Gorilla Tracking permits are guaranteed in Uganda.

Lake Bunyonyi is believed to be the second deepest lake in Africa with its deepest end approximately 900m. The lake is dotted with 29 islands, it is about 25 km long and 7 km wide covering an area of 61 square kilometers. The most prominent of these include the Akampene Island also known as the punishment island, Bushara, Kyahugye, Bwama and Njuyeera, and Bucuranuka. Also the deepest lake in Uganda, home of Otters, crayfish and a place of many little birds in South-western Uganda lies between Kisoro and Kabale districts close to the border with Rwanda.

 

Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe is an ancient city in the southeastern hills of Zimbabwe near Lake Mutirikwe and the town of Masvingo, close to the Chimanimani Mountains and the Chipinge District. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s Late Iron Age. Construction on the monument by ancestors of the Shona people began in the 11th century and continued until the 14th century, spanning an area of 722 hectares (1,780 acres) which, at its peak, could have housed up to 18,000 people. It is recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

 

Great Zimbabwe served as a royal palace for the Zimbabwean monarch and would have been used as the seat of political power. One of its most prominent features were the walls, some of which were over five metres high and which were constructed without mortar. Eventually the city was abandoned and fell into ruin.

 

The word “Great” distinguishes the site from the many hundreds of small ruins, now known as ‘zimbabwes’, spread across the Zimbabwe Highveld. There are 200 such sites in southern Africa, such as Bumbusi in Zimbabwe and Manyikeni in Mozambique, with monumental, mortarless walls; Great Zimbabwe is the largest.

 

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

One of the greatest attractions in Africa and one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River, the fourth largest river in Africa, which is also defining the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

 

The noise of Victoria Falls can be heard from a distance of 40 kilometres, while the spray and mist from the falling water is rising to a height of over 400 meters and can be seen from a distance of 50 kilometres.

 

Victoria Falls known as the “Smoke that thunders” in the local Tonga language, is the largest single curtain of falling water in the world and 70% of the exquisite views are seen from the Zimbabwe rain forest. The rain forest which has constant rain 24/7 from the never ending spray of the Falls, has unique ecosystem. It is a botanists dream and bird lovers’ paradise. There are species here that don’t occur anywhere else, and our recommendation is to look just a little beyond the pathway and the numerous viewpoints.

 

One of the beauties is that the area has not become over commercialized. Once you are standing by the Falls your view will not be much different to that of David Livingstone’s, who first saw the Falls in 1855.

 

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha National Park is unique in Africa. The park’s main characteristic is a salt pan so large it can be seen from space. Yet there is abundant wildlife that congregates around the waterholes, giving you almost guaranteed game sightings. At the same time Etosha National Park is one of the most accessible game reserves in Namibia and Southern Africa.

 

Namibia is a very diverse country with an array of habitats and vegetation. The country has a great mix of desert, semi- desert and savannahs. As you travel further north in Namibia towards Etosha National Park, you will find a place that offers visitors a complete contrast of wide open grasslands, a massive pan that covers 4731km² and large camel thorn trees mixed with Mopani trees. This diverse vegetation accounts for the abundance of wildlife that thrives in the park.

 

The abundance of game in Etosha National Park showcases some of the most common and rarest wildlife species. The areas with thicker vegetation are home to elephant, the endangered black rhino and even leopard. Lions are camouflaged in the pale-golden colour of the grasslands, while giraffes rise - high above most of the dry vegetation.

 

Birders will love the rainy season in Etosha. After good rains the salt pan fills with water attracting a cloud of flamingos. More than 340 bird species have been counted in Etosha National Park. The game reserve is also home to the world’s largest bird, the ostrich, and the heaviest flying bird, the kori bustard.

 

Cape Town and Table Mountain, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa's second-largest city, ranks among the most beautiful in the world. With its larger-than-life mountain overlooking the City Bowl, harbour, white beaches and Robben Island beyond, this is a tourists' playground. Two World Heritage Sites, the sprawling Winelands, nature reserves, botanic gardens and a buzzing waterfront are just the start of the adventure.

 

Cape Town is South Africa’s second most populous city, a quintessential melting pot of creativity, cuisine and colour. Its strategic geographic position at the tip of Africa has seen foreign visitors stopping off at the Cape since the 1400s, each contributing unique cultural influences that make up the fabric of modern-day Cape Town.

 

A top itinerary for the Mother City ought to include a trip up the aerial cableway to the top of Table Mountain. Gazing towards Antarctica as you stand on the high cliffs of Cape Point in Table Mountain National Park, buffeted by the cleanest air you’ve ever inhaled, it is easy to believe you are at the southernmost tip of Africa. 

 

It is an emotional and visual illusion – the southernmost tip of Africa lies a few hundred kilometres away to the south-east. You are simply standing on the long finger that is the Cape Peninsula. 

 

Did you know? Visit between June and November, you’ll be perfectly placed to see southern right whales on their annual break from the icy Antarctic.