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A cruising guide to Africa

Destination Reviews

The second largest continent in the world is relatively underserved by the cruise industry, but if you are ready to explore further afield, there are some fascinating options, either on an ocean cruise, or exploring by river, on the Chobe and the Nile.

Western Africa and its islands

Sailing north from Cape Town, you travel the western coast of Africa, calling at the Namibian port of Walvis Bay where you can venture out into the Namib Desert. In Luanda in Angola, you have an extraordinary insight into a new economy, whilst in Ghana industrial activity stands alongside ancient fishing ports and rich bird life. On the Ivory Coast, Abidjan is bubbling with energy, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Grand Bassam is less than an hour away. In the Gambia riotous markets and laid-back fisherman stand side by side, whilst Senegal is a surfer's paradise, or indeed a golfer's.

Senegalese dugout canoes

Southern Africa

Round trip cruises from Cape Town go northwards to Walvis Bay in Namibia, and eastwards to Port Elizabeth, Durban and Richards Bay. A pre or post-cruise stay in vibrant Cape Town is always recommended, including a trip out of the city for wine tasting, a journey by cable car to Table Mountain, and a heartbreaking exploration of Robben Island. In Namibia, visit the Skeleton Coast or explore in the desert, and learn more about the indigenous community. From Mossel Bay go to the Garden Route and explore the Wilderness Lakes, and from Port Elizabeth you can visit Addo Elephant Park or cruise to Penguin Island, home to the largest breeding colony of African penguins on the planet. Richards Bay is the gateway to Zululand, and there is much history to be learnt. The game parks and nature reserves are phenomenal, so you will be spoilt for choice. The vibrant waterfront of Durban is the perfect place to explore and sample the local foods. Don't miss Little India - Durban has the largest Indian population outside India itself.

Kwazulu, South, Africa

Eastern Africa and its islands

Sailing eastward from Cape Town, the ports of Durban and Richards Bay serve as excellent gateways into the Southern African game reserves. Sailing onwards, you might visit the densely populated Mozambique island, or the remote land of Madagascar, rich in endemic flora and fauna. Mauritius and Reunion have their own magical appeal as well as the melting pot islands of the Comoros with their rich history and natural wonders, the coral atolls of the Outer Seychelles such as Assumption or Aldabra, and the lush national parks of the granitic inner Seychelles. Your journey might finish in Zanzibar or Mombasa, with the opportunity for safari add-ons.

For African explorations such as these, we recommend both Silversea and Silversea Expeditions, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Azamara and Oceania. To sail from the UK to Cape Town or back, there is sometimes an opportunity on a sector of a Cunard World Cruise. Itineraries operate in these regions between November and March.

Madagascar Baobab Trees

The Chobe River

AmaWaterways' Zambezi Queen operates a magical four night safari cruise through wondrous Chobe National Park, home to one of Africa's densest populations of wildlife. Combine with a stay in iconic Cape Town and a visit to the majestic Victoria Falls.

AmaWaterways - Zambezi Queen

The Nile

A 7 night Nile cruise along the stretch between Luxor and Aswan gives you the opportunity to explore the ancient temples and mystifying Valley of the Kings and Queens in Upper Egypt, combined with a stay in Cairo to visit the pyramids, sphinx, and the extraordinary Egyptian Museum. We recommend Uniworld and AmaWaterways with appealing inclusive tours.

Luxor Temple of Karnak
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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