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African Cruise Adventure on the Silversea Silver Wind Cruise Ship

Small Luxury Silversea Silver Wind Sails Along the Southern Coast of Africa


Although Africa is often not considered a major cruise destination, a great way to see some of the major cities of Africa and experience amazing wildlife adventures is from a cruise ship. Cruise passengers can book one-day shore excursions to some of the best game reserves in Africa or extend their cruise vacation and travel inland to enjoy the magnificent natural wonders and African wildlife.

I cruised for 14 days from Cape Town, South Africa east and northward along the coast of Africa to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on the small luxury ship the Silversea Silver Wind. Join me on an amazing Africa cruise adventure.

Cape Town - Three Days in Cape Town Before Embarking on the Silver Wind

A view of The Victoria and Alfred harbour in Cape Town, South Africa. Red, white and blue boats visible with buildings behind and Table Top mountain in the distance. Clouds hanging over the mountains.
Steve Stringer Photography/Moment/Getty Images
South Africa is over 8000 miles from the USA, so we flew into Cape Town three days before embarking on the Silver Wind. Cape Town is a fantastic vacation city. It is clean, cosmopolitan, and flanked by spectacular Table Mountain on one side and the brilliant blue Atlantic Ocean on the other.

With three days in Cape Town you can visit: Our time in Cape Town was limited, but we saw a lot of the city and surrounding area. The only good thing about saying good-bye to Cape Town was we knew we had an amazing adventure ahead of us on the Silver Wind.

At Sea on the Silver Wind

Sailing away from Cape Town on the Silver Wind
Cape Town from the Silver Wind (c) Linda Garrison
The Silver Wind docked overnight at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town. We sailed from Cape Town in the late afternoon the next day, and the views of the city from the ship were remarkable.

Our first night at sea we dined at La Terrazza and had rough, windy seas until we made the turn around the Cape of Good Hope and headed east during the night. Although many think the Cape of Good Hope is the southernmost point of South Africa and the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, that honor actually goes to Cape Agulhas, which is about 100 miles southeast of Cape Town.

We spent our first day at sea exploring the refurbished ship, enjoyed lobster for formal night, and admired how nice everyone looked in their finery.

Port Elizabeth and the Addo Elephant National Park

Lioness at Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Young lioness at Addo Elephant Park (c) Linda Garrison
The ship arrived at Port Elizabeth, a city of about 1.6 million, on our third morning. We had booked a half-day tour to the large Addo Elephant National Park, which was 1.5 hours away.

As we approached the park, I began to get excited about seeing wildlife. South Africa established the Addo Park in 1931 to protect the elephants and increase the herd. Today, there are over 400 elephants in the 164,000 hectacre park, along with many other types of wildlife.

We rode in 4x4 open vans on a paved road to explore the park. Both sides of the road were covered by tall, thick brush. As thick as it was, I was afraid we would not see anything. However, we soon saw wart hogs of all sizes and many tortoises, which were a preview of more wildlife to come.

Addo Elephant National Park

Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Addo Elephant Park (c) Linda Garrison
Before long, we approached a watering hole, with dozens of large shapes around it. Elephants everywhere, with no bushes to block our view.

We sat there on the van for about 30 minutes watching the elephants cavorting in the water and mud. A dozen or so wart hogs also shared the watering hole, although the younger elephants seemed to love chasing them away. I felt like I was in a National Geographic TV special.

Soon it was time to leave. We continued on the loop and suddenly saw a half dozen private cars blocking the road. We impatiently waited our turn to see what was ahead, and finally our driver maneuvered the van to the viewing spot. There they were! A young female lion and a young male lion lying in the shade only 10 feet from the road.

Durban, South Africa

African musical troop in Durban, South Africa
Durban, South Africa (c) Linda Garrison
An African musical troupe greeted the Silver Wind the next afternoon as we arrived in Durban. We had a shore excursion to the Tala Game Reserve, which is on about 7500 acres just an hour from Durban.

Durban is a major city, with the largest Indian population outside of India. We drove through Durban with our guide, marveling at the contrast between the modern buildings and the tiny township matchbox houses.

It was very hilly on the drive to Tala, and everything was very green. One passenger commented that it looked much like England, and she could see why so many settlers didn't mind moving here. We saw acres and acres of sugar cane growing and dozens of huge chicken houses that were much nicer than the ones back home in Georgia.

Tala Game Reserve near Durban, South Africa

Rhinoceros at the Tala Game Reserve near Durban, South Africa
Rhinoceros (c) Linda Garrison
We arrived at Tala Game Reserve in the late afternoon. This private reserve was a little different than the Addo Park. The roads were dirt, and the reserve animals were much more concentrated. Even though it seemed a little like an animal park at times, we loved riding in the small covered 4x4s and searching for wildlife in the woods and on the plains.

We saw wart hogs, impalas, gnus (blue wildebeast), black boks, red boks, white rhinos, Egyptian geese, blue herons (and many other birds), hippos in the pond, giant kingfisher, giraffe, zebra, kudu, monkeys, nyala and other types of antelope/deer.

We returned to the ship, arriving at about 7:30 pm. Mom and I had a drink in the bar and ordered the Silver Wind's room service dinner. Very yummy!

Greater St. Lucia Wetlands near Richards Bay, South Africa

Hippopotamus at the St. Lucia or iSimangaliso Wetland Park near Richards Bay, South Africa
Hippopotamus (c) Linda Garrison
We stayed at Richards Bay overnight, and some passengers did an optional overnight trip to one of the famous nearby luxury game ranches. We had an afternoon tour to the St. Lucia Wetlands, a large area on the northeastern cost of KwaZulu-Natal, which is officially named iSimangaliso Wetland Park. In 1999, St. Lucia was the first site in South Africa to earn UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Before taking a small boat on the waterway, we stopped at a local market for shopping.

We cruised along the waterway for two hours, taking photos of hippos, birds, and crocodiles. We never saw a hippo out of the water, but we certainly saw all sizes of them--from babies to big guys.

That evening we dined in La Terraza, enjoying superb Italian food.

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve near Richards Bay, South Africa

Zebras at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve
Zebras (c) Linda Garrison
It was still dark when the bus left the ship, and we drove 1.5 hours through the countryside to the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, passing by many eucalyptus forests, pineapple fields, and Zulu villages along the way.

We arrived at the game reserve and were in the 8-passenger 4x4s before 6:30 am.

Driving along the dirt trails in this hilly area was great fun! We saw many animals, including zebras, rhinos, cape buffaloes, giraffes, and hyenas. The surprise of the day was a leopard, which is normally a nocturnal animal. That leopard completed our viewing of the traditional "big five" of Africa - lion, elephant, cape buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard.

In true Silversea style, we enjoyed mimosas along with our snacks at the mid-morning break.

Maputo, Mozambique

Maputo Railway Station in Maputo, Mozambique
Maputo Railway Station (c) Linda Garrison
We arrived in Maputo, Mozambique in the morning, did a little souvenir shopping and sightseeing, and were back on the ship by lunch. Silversea provides a free shuttle in each port of call, making informal exploring much easier.

We were supposed to sail in the late afternoon for Madagascar, but a strong cyclone kept us in Mozambique for an extra day.

We took naps in the afternoon and went to the theater at 6:00 pm (11:00 am in Washington, D.C.), where they were showing the USA Presidential inaugural festivities on the big screen. Isn't technology amazing? Here we were in Maputo, Mozambique, drinking martinis and bellinis and enjoying appetizers while watching the inaugural live on a big screen TV on a luxury cruise ship.

Day 2 in Maputo - 15 Minutes in Swaziland

On the road to Swaziland
What a great sense of balance! (c) Linda Garrison
Sometimes a memorable travel experience can be unplanned and unexpected. When I heard that the Silver Wind would be in Maputo a second day due to a cyclone in the Madagascar Strait, I went along with two fellow passengers on a somewhat-adventurous day trip to the nearby kingdom of Swaziland.

The purpose of the trip was to see some of the African countryside and to collect another country on my quest to eventually join the Travelers' Century Club. Despite a few inconveniences such as a late start, a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, and having to pay twice at the border - to both leave and return to Mozambique, we had a a laugh-filled day. Unfortunately, we only drove about 1.5 miles into Swaziland, but I can say I've been there!

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