Cotonu, Benin

An African Odyssey Awaits in 2012

Nadia Eckhardt|December 30, 2010|Blog Post

Nadia is a native South African. She has not only served as one of Zegrahm’s much-loved Cruise Directors since 1995, but she also helps us plan our land and ship itineraries in southern Africa.

What a pleasure it is for me to share some of the highlights of expedition ship travel around Africa with Zegrahm Expeditions! The continent of Africa is perfect for expedition cruising with over 18,000 miles of coastline, inlets, bays, and rivers leading to inland odysseys—expansive sand dunes, dense forests, and vibrant cultures. I was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa and bring a very personal viewpoint to the exploration of Africa; it’s home and I can never get enough of the beauty and wonder of this magical place. Best of all, starting in spring 2012, Zegrahm is undertaking the monumental journey of cruising Africa’s coastline—beginning in Tanzania, East Africa and ending thousands of miles later in Senegal, West Africa—aboard the Clipper Odyssey, capturing all the marvels of this continent en route.

Our first expedition, Mozambique Odyssey (March 4 - 21, 2012), begins in Tanzania’s romantic Zanzibar Archipelago and sails to Durban, South Africa. From the Spice Islands with idyllic beaches and swaying palms, we head south to ‘undiscovered’ Mozambique and an aquatic playground where we take advantage of the Clipper Odyssey’s fleet of Zodiacs to dive, snorkel, and swim among colorful tropical fish. This region was a trading hub for Arab merchants and sailors as early as the 11th century. It now seems to hover between eras—often forgotten by the world, thus making it the perfect time to explore. From the Quirimbas Archipelago, we sail south to Ilha de Mozambique, Bazaruto, and Inhaca Islands before arriving at Maputo, with its wide avenues, Portuguese colonial architecture, and busy markets. For the finale, spend time on safari in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve and in The Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park region, before docking in Durban.

Then, our South Africa & Namibia by Sea (March 18 - April 4, 2012) expedition will continue south around the Cape of Good Hope to Walvis Bay, Namibia. How exciting to be exploring South Africa with Zegrahm Expeditions! Rarely visited by expedition vessels, we fill our days birding, and going out in search of unique South African culture and wildlife. From Durban we travel along the rugged, untouched Wild Coast, peppered with deep tidal estuaries and riparian forests. In Port Elizabeth, we head out on a photographic safari, both cruising and hiking along the Sundays River. Tour the famous Garden Route and, while aboard the Clipper Odyssey, keep an eye out for seals, whales, dolphins, and sharks. Explore Hermanus and the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, and venture inland to the Cape Winelands region. View Cape Town’s magnificent Table Mountain, African penguins, and historic Robben Island. Tour Cape Point and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. This region is home to fynbos, the smallest floral kingdom in the world, boasting over 9,000 plant species, 70 percent of which are endemic. Bid farewell to Cape Town and cruise up the coast to Namibia—a dramatic, scenic land where we visit Kolmanskop, a ghost town in the Namib dessert, and explore Swakopmund and the Walvis Bay lagoon.

The final leg of our African odyssey, Tracing the Coast of West Africa (April 7 - 24, 2012), sails from Douala, Cameroon to Dakar, Senegal experiencing the rich cultures and vibrant markets of West Africa en route. Take in nine countries from the comfort and convenience of the Clipper Odyssey as we cruise at night and explore during the day. Follow your Zegrahm leaders into the lush forests; tranquil bays; and colorful cities filled with traditional art, rhythmic music, and bright textiles. Visit the remote ocean jewels of São Tome and Príncipe. From the 15th century through the 1970s, the islands were under Portuguese possession and it often seems that little has changed since colonial times. Continue on to Benin, a fascinating country that was home to a prosperous ancient kingdom. Here we will visit Ganvi, a fishing village built on stilts. One of the most vibrant of West Africa’s cities, Lome is famed for its handicraft markets, traditional sculptures, batiks, and Voodoo ceremonies. Takoradi, Ghana, is home to the Cape Coast and the Elmina Castle, as well as the Kakum Forest. Freetown, Sierra Leone greets us with the historic St. George’s Cathedral, lively markets, and picturesque beaches. Continue on to The Gambia where stunning waterways and tropical riverine forests offer exceptional birding. Finally, we enter the port of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, and savor the city’s rich history, culture, arts, and music.

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