Cape Town to Accra (Tema)
19 days with Silversea Rating:
Day 1 Cape Town
Departure 6:00 pm
If you visit only one place in South Africa, make it Cape Town. Whether you're partaking of the Capetonian inclination for alfresco fine dining (the so-called "Mother City" is home to many of the country's best restaurants) or sipping wine atop Table Mountain, you sense—correctly—that this is South Africa's most urbane, civilized city. Here elegant Cape Dutch buildings abut ornate Victorian architecture and imposing British monuments. In the Bo-Kaap neighborhood, the call to prayer echoes through cobbled streets lined with houses painted in bright pastels, while the sweet tang of Malay curry wafts through the air. Flower sellers, newspapers hawkers, and numerous markets keep street life pulsing, and every lamppost advertises another festival, concert, or cultural happening. But as impressive as Cape Town's urban offerings are, what you'll ultimately recall about this city is the sheer grandeur of its setting—the mesmerizing beauty of Table Mountain rising above the city, the stunning drama of the mountains cascading into the sea, and the gorgeous hues of the two oceans. Francis Drake wasn't exaggerating when he said this was "the fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth," and he would have little cause to change his opinion today. A visit to Cape Town is often synonymous with a visit to the peninsula beneath the city, and for good reason. With pristine white-sand beaches, hundreds of mountain trails, and numerous activities from surfing to paragliding to mountain biking, the accessibility, variety, and pure beauty of the great outdoors will keep nature lovers and outdoor adventurers occupied for hours, if not days. You could spend a week exploring just the city and peninsula. Often likened to San Francisco, Cape Town has two things that the City by the Bay doesn't—Table Mountain and Africa. The mountain, or tabletop, is vital to Cape Town's identity. It dominates the city in a way that's difficult to comprehend until you visit. In the afternoon, when creeping fingers of clouds spill over Table Mountain and reach toward the city, the whole town seems to shiver and hold its breath. Meanwhile, for all of its bon-vivant European vibe, Cape Town also reflects the diversity, vitality, and spirit of the many African peoples who call this city home. Cape Town has grown as a city in a way that few others in the world have. Take a good look at the street names. Strand and Waterkant streets (meaning "beach" and "waterside," respectively) are now far from the sea. However, when they were named they were right on the beach. An enormous program of dumping rubble into the ocean extended the city by a good few square miles (thanks to the Dutch obsession with reclaiming land from the sea). Almost all the city on the seaward side of Strand and Waterkant is part of the reclaimed area of the city known as the Foreshore. If you look at old paintings of the city, you will see that originally waves lapped at the very walls of the castle, now more than half a mile from the ocean.
Day 2 Day at Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Day 3 Luderitz
The scorched desert that surrounds Luderitz means the city’s collection of German art nouveau architecture couldn't look more unusually placed along the Namibian coastline. This quirkiness is what gives the destination its charm, however, alongside undeniably fantastic wildlife spotting opportunities. See gangs of playful penguins skipping across the waves, pink flamingos wading by the coast, and dolphins leaping into the air, as you visit a city that boasts some of the most incredible wildlife in Africa. Take a boat tour across the waves, to drop in on Penguin Island and Seal Island – where friendly seals flop about, and bark out welcomes in your direction. A much more haunting location, with an incredibly dark past, is Shark Island - which witnessed the deaths of between 1,000 and 3,000 people when it was the location of a German concentration camp, between 1905 and 1907.
Days 4-5 Walvis Bay
One of Southern Africa's most important harbor towns, the once industrial Walvis Bay has recently developed into a seaside holiday destination with a number of pleasant lagoonfront guesthouses and several good restaurants—including one of Namibia's best, Lyon des Sables. The majority of water activities advertised in Swakopmund actually depart from Walvis's small waterfront area, and there's an amazing flamingo colony residing in the Bay's 3,000-year-old lagoon.
Day 6 Day at Sea
Day 7 Namibe
Namibe is a coastal city of baroque architecture and stately churches in southwestern Angola. The city was founded in 1840 by the colonial Portuguese administration. Namibe is perched between the edge of the expansive Namib Desert and the cold waters of the Benguela Current flowing to the north offshore. Thanks to the blend of cool water and proximity to the desert, Namibe has a cool dry climate and desert vegetation. The most famous of these desert plants is the Welwitschia mirabilis, a rare plant found only in the Namibe Provence of South Angola and the Namib Desert. This exceptional plant species is generally considered to be one of Earth’s older living plants and experts suggest that it can live up to 1,000 years. Close to Namibe is the Arch Lagoon, also known as “the lost oasis”. The lagoon is formed by a magnificent rock formation in a unique display of art in nature. Despite its name the lagoon is usually dry in Spring.
Day 8 Lobito (Benguela)
About equidistant from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia on Angola’s stunning coastline lies Lobito, a small town in the Benguala Province. Long under Portuguese colonisation, the city suffered somewhat — albeit it less than the country’s capital Luanda, during the long, drawn out civil war of 1975-2002. However, Lobito has begun the rehabilitation process (primarily through funding from both China – who are implementing a railway system throughout the country and Brazil) and the grass roots of restoration have very definitely started. The result is a city in search of a new identity, whose natural resources include unspoilt tropical Atlantic beaches, vast national parks and a chequered heritage of Portuguese rule and struggle for independence.
Day 9 Luanda
A study in contrasting economies, Luanda is a boisterous coastal city of haves and have-nots. As capital of Africa’s second-largest oil-producing country, it has been deemed the world’s most expensive city, and since independence in 2002, everyone seems to be gunning for a piece of the post-civil war economy. Its renaissance offers a range of experiences, from cushy hotels to a restaurant-lined oceanfront promenade to locals hawking handmade goods at crowded public markets.
Days 10-11 Days at Sea
Day 12 Sao Tome
São Tomé seems to embody a kind of lush tropical paradise usually associated with the South Pacific. The atmosphere here is palpably luxury and it is an intoxicating blend of sunlight, sea, air and fantastically abundant vegetation. São Tomé and Príncipe is a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Africa. It consists of two islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located about 87 miles (140 kilometres) apart and about 155 and 140 miles (250 and 225 kilometres), respectively, off the northwestern coast of Gabon. Both islands are part of an extinct volcanic mountain range. São Tomé, the sizable southern island, is situated just north of the equator. It was named in honour of Saint Thomas by Portuguese explorers who happened to arrive at the island on his feast day. São Toméan culture is a mixture of African and Portuguese influences. São Toméans are known for ússua and socopé rhythms, while Principe is home to the dêxa beat. Portuguese ballroom dancing may have played an integral part in the development of these rhythms and their associated dances. Tchiloli is a musical dance performance that tells a dramatic story. The danço-congo is similarly a combination of music, dance and theatre.
Day 13 Bom Bom Island
The two West African islands of São Tomé & Principe form the smallest nation in Africa and are probably the least known country in the world. Located in the Gulf of Guinea and straddling the equator, the islands cover an area of 386 square miles (1,000 km sq), roughly five times the size of Washington, D.C. Discovered and claimed by Portugal in the late 15th century, the islands’ sugar-based economy gave way to coffee and cocoa in the 19th century – all grown with plantation slave labor, a practice that continued into the 20th century. Although independence was achieved in 1975, democratic reforms were delayed until the late 1980s. Free elections were held in 1991, followed by frequent changes in leadership and some coup attempts. With the recent discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea, it is expected that this will greatly influence the country’s economy. The Bom Bom Island Resort is located on Principe Island, which is smaller and more rugged than São Tomé. Only 10 miles (16 km) long and four miles (about six and a half kilometers) wide, Principe features breathtaking scenery of beautiful beaches and green clad mountains. Bom Bom Island Resort is the only hotel facility on Principe Island. Pier Information The ship is scheduled to anchor off Bom Bom Island Resort. Tenders will bring guests directly to the resort’s jetty located at Bom Bom Island. The only venue located by the jetty is the resort’s restaurant and a bar. The resort is situated on two islands – Bom Bom Island and Principe Island. A 810-foot (250-metre) bridge connects the two islands. The crossing over the bridge is on foot. Other Sites On Principe Island - Swimming pool, two private beaches, a bar set up, two changing rooms each for gents and ladies and a duty free shop. While there is a limited number of beach chairs, the resort will try to have a reasonable number at each venue. IMPORTANT: Guests must bring towels from the ship. On Bom Bom Island – A beach, the restaurant with a deck and lawn adjacent to the bar, where additional chairs are available. Due to the limited infrastructure, private arrangements are not available in this port.
Day 14 Day at Sea
Day 15 Cotonou
Tucked between Nigeria and Togo in Benin is the busy trading port of Cotonou. Named a “market town” for its coastal placement and lucrative palm oil and textile trades, Cotonou is a sprawling amorphous city, swaddled between the Atlantic coast and Lake Nakoué. Because of its especial geographical situation, Cotonou is bursting with life — visitors disembarking here will find a colourful port, alive with economic activity and very much the capital (although not in name, the official capital is Porto-Novo to the east) of the trading industry.
Days 16-17 Lome
f you're sick of the usual beach resorts, then zesty Lomé will welcome you to a coastal destination that oozes with inimitable character. The former 'Jewel of West Africa' offers some wonderful beaches, and exports its delicious bounty of cocoa, coffee and pine kernels far and wide. A disorientating place, where stuttering engines and whizzing motorbikes add a chaotic essence to the city's streets, you’ll see vendors strolling with supplies balanced improbably on their heads, along with a healthy supply of intrigue, adventure and buzzing markets. Swarms of bikes and motorbikes dominate the coastal road, which borders the huge, palm tree lined Lomé beach – but the sand is wide enough for you to relax with the road merely a distant whisper. A treasure trove of traditional masks and statues wait for you to explore inside the National Museum, while the characterful Monument de l'Independance honours the country's sacrifices in its struggle for independence, and is a suitably defiant beacon of liberation.
Day 18 Takoradi
Ghana's fourth-largest city plays serene beaches against a bustling commercial centre. People from around the world visit the shore, both for its beauty and to enjoy the fresh seafood served right on the sands. Frantic city life awaits a short distance inland, where an economy fuelled by Ghana’s oil industry is most apparent in the maze of vendors at Market Circle.
Day 19 Accra (Tema)
Arrive 6:30 am
From a modest fishing port to the biggest in Ghana, Tema’s industrial activity has all but tarnished the charming, postcard scenery of the region. The neighbouring white-sanded beaches remain immaculate, still serving as a testimony of the rich variety of fishing birds that can be found in the area.In the way Mother Nature intended it, gannets, boobies and kingfishers amongst other species fish in and around the cerulean waters of the coast. A light breeze tickles the inflamed, iron-filled soil of the mainland on which the railway linking Tema to Accra lures hundreds of visitors each day. On board one of the carriages to Accra, distinctively noticeable by their painted coats of red, yellow and green that echo Ghana’s national flag, a peek out of the window will offer scenic views of the harbour and coast, as well as the large fields that separate Tema from the capital by 15 miles/25 kilometres of open space. Accra’s ambiance contrasts with the peaceful setting of Tema, but nevertheless has its own charm to be enjoyed. Through rich, contemporary monuments which recall Ghana’s 1957 independence, the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is an architectural jewel which also narrates the life and exploits of the eponymous president who fought for his country’s freedom. A more casual but perhaps interesting approach to the City’s culture and history is the visit to an artisanal studio, where primary materials such as wood and metal are transformed into stunning carvings of all sorts, illustrating a traditional African belief of a new life beyond death. And for a relaxing yet enriching experience, the hospitable restaurants are always eager to share their Banku, a local dish made out of corn and served with fish or stew.Craft markets are also worth a detour and are great for cherry-picking souvenirs. Demonstrating other fine Ghanaian traditions such as leather crafting and weaving, a popular favourite is the country’s hand-made Black Soap, which is renowned for its soothing virtues.
All This Included
Portuguese sailors called it the "Gates of Hell." Namibia's Bushmen speak of the land God made in anger. We call it the Skeleton Coast and believe that it is the most pristine stretch of coastline left on the planet. This seminal voyage is expedition cruising at its source — a unique blend of beauty, nature, culture and history that gives truly one-of-a-kind experiences and lifelong memories.
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Cloud
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