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Our Six Best African Cruise Destinations

Our Six Best African Cruise Destinations

Africa is a vast, eclectic continent, home to richly diverse cultures and history, incredible wildlife and breathtaking scenery. A cruise holiday can be an excellent way to see some of its highlights, but deciding where to go can still be a challenge when there’s so much choice. To help, we’ve put together our six best African cruise destinations.

For this blog, we have decided to focus on the southern half of Africa and the continent’s islands. Although ports in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco are a part of Africa, they’re often included in Mediterranean cruises or, in the case of Egypt, can be explored via inland river cruises.

1) Cape Town, South Africa

With stunning coastal views, a captivating history, exceptional food and wine and incredible wildlife, Cape Town is a must-visit when cruising around Africa. Take a cable car up the notorious Table Mountain to take in the impressive vista or get adventurous with surfing, hiking or paragliding.

Foodies will love the outstanding cuisine on offer and, of course, the infamous wine growing regions, including Stellenbosch, Constantia and Paarl. Meanwhile, history fans will discover a raw and compelling history in Cape Town centred around Nelson Mandela and the apartheid.

Cape Town is also a great place to set out and find the ‘Big 5’: the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. And many cruise lines offer escorted tour options as an add-on at the start or end of your cruise.

2) Mombasa, Kenya

Mombasa is a cosmopolitan island city connected to mainland Kenya by bridges and ferries. Its white-sand beaches that edge the warm tropical waters of the Indian Ocean make for a perfect place to relax or perhaps scuba dive to discover the multicoloured coral below.

The historical UNESCO World Heritage site, Fort Jesus, is worth a visit while exploring the city’s churches, mosques, and Hindu temples reveal the diversity of this fascinating city. 

3) Nosy Be, Madagascar

Located off the northwest coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be translates as ‘big island’ in reference to the smaller islands that surround it. Swim, snorkel, sail and surf; Nosy Be is regarded as having Madagascar’s best and most beautiful beach destinations to enjoy it all.

Inland, the landscape is dotted with waterfalls and crater lakes, home to the island’s unique inhabitants, such as the endangered black lemur, chameleons, camouflage geckos, snakes and frogs. Meanwhile, the fragrant ylang-ylang and vanilla plantations add to the serene ambience of this laid-back island.

4) Victoria Mahé, Seychelles

On the lush tropical islands of the Seychelles, between the spectacular beaches, is the small yet intriguing capital city, Victoria. It’s the island’s only city. However, with only 25,000 inhabitants, two dozen streets and majestic mountains rising in the background, Victoria’s quiet charm reflects that of the Seychellois and Creole cultures. Wander around its old colonial buildings, take in the lively atmosphere at Sir Selwyn Clarke Market or visit the eye-catching Hindu temple, Sri Navasakthi Vinayagar Temple.

5) Walvis Bay, Namibia

Day-to-day Walvis Bay is a busy fishing harbour. However, it attracts visitors from all around the globe thanks to its magnificent natural lagoon and remarkable birdlife. Among the 100,000 birds, you can see flamingos, pelicans, and many other migratory birds.

Walvis Bay is also the starting place for an extraordinary adventure into one of the world’s oldest deserts. Cruise lines that stop here often offer excursions to the Namib Desert, where you’ll find Moon Landscape – rock formations eroded by the wind to carve out a lunar-like landscape – and brightly coloured shifting sand dunes recorded to be some of the world’s highest.

6) Durban, South Africa

Durban is a popular stop for cruise itineraries, a captivating city surrounded by fabulous beaches and a characterful mountain backdrop. The Golden Mile (actually three and a half miles in length) offers glorious stretches of sandy beaches, interspersed by amusement parks, shops, restaurants and high-end hotels.

Visit KwaZulu and learn more about the Zulu way of life or take a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Drakensberg Park, known for its spectacular mountain habitat that includes basaltic buttresses and golden sandstone ramparts.

A note on itineraries

Many African cruises begin in South Africa, either from Cape Town or Durban, although you can also sail from the UK and Europe as part of a more extended cruise. Whichever you choose, the distances covered are extensive, and many itineraries last for 14 days or more, so allow for this period to make the most of your time here.

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