A couple of years ago a friend revealed she and herhusband were planning a safari adventure in South Africa so naturally I asked (because I am always trying to convert people to the cause) why they didn't combine it with a cruise. She thought I was joking...
I really wasn’t. We were talking about Africa but there are all sorts of wildlife cruises - around the Galápagos Islands, in the Seychelles, in Costa Rica and even on Silversea’s remote cruises in the Russian Far East.
But back to South Africa. Our conversation coincidentally took place just after my own whistle-stop cruise-safari – a great trip if not without incident (the funniest of which had to be when the crew hit a water hydrant on the quay in Cape Town and all those of us expecting prime views during the sail away got soaked by a Geysir instead!) that opened up a whole new world for me.
I had a day in Cape Town, which was enough to see a little of the city and get a glimpse of Table Mountain and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.
^ Cape Town
In Port Elizabeth, I went to one of the townships and a local school to see what life is like and hear what they are trying to do to improve education for the children. Many of us found it an emotional experience. Others joined a tour to Addo Elephant Park and came back with wonderful stories of all the wildlife they had seen.
Next stop was Richards Bay, where we headed off to Hluhluwe Game Reserve in search of elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions and leopards. It was a brilliant excursion but sadly my last day on safari – and on the cruise - as I had to head to Durban for a flight back to London.
It was a sweet but all too short introduction to South Africa, which explains why I have been eyeing up Azamara Club Cruises’ new country intensive South Africa cruise-safaris. There are five 10-night voyages at the start and end of next year, all sailing from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Durban and East London, including two days on board back in Cape Town.
^ Hluhluwe Game Reserve
There are 4x4 jeep safaris looking out for lions, tigers, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, elephants and more in game reserves near Port Elizabeth and Durban. You can go cruising in search of hippos and crocodiles in the wetlands near Richards Bay, and even join two and threenight trips to Kruger National Park and Shamwari Private Game Reserve, where you’ll stay in lodges and tented camps and be hosted on jeep safaris every day.
Back in Cape Town, there’ll be plenty of time to see the city, take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, the ferry to Robben Island, taste local tipples in the Winelands and local food in the Stellenbosch. Azamara even offers an evening of jazz in musicians’ homes and local clubs, and if time allows, you can add five-night pre or post-cruise tours that include three nights in Kapama Game Reserve with game drives in search of the Big Five.
I met up with Azamara’s president and CEO Larry Pimentel when he was in London in January and he told me the South Africa cruises are flying off the shelves. I, for one, am not surprised. You have been warned!
- Blue Horizons
- Jane Archer