Cape Town to Lisbon (Silver Cloud)
37 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)
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.
Day 20 Takoradi
Day 21 Abijan
Three hours south of Yamoussoukro, nestled in between the canals and waterways, lies Abidjan the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. Considered the crossroads of West Africa both economically and culturally, Abidjan benefits from clement temperatures year round, reaching average highs of around 88° Fahrenheit, or 30° Celsius. Like much of West Africa, this city has cachet and soul, and enjoys a diversity of cultures, traditions and people, notably through the French influence, but also through the steady stream of tourists that make the city both vibrant and cosmopolitan. Although its reputation was tarnished during the civil war in 2011, Abidjan held firm and has blossomed into a stunning coastal city, ripe for exploration.
Day 22 Day at Sea
Day 23 Monrovia
On the shore of the Gulf of Guinea, and wedged in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mesurado River on the Mesurado Peninsula, Monrovia is Liberia’s capital. Originally started as a settlement for freed slaves repatriated from the United States to West Africa’s Pepper Coast, today Monrovia’s population is a conglomerate of the descendants of the freed slaves (Americo-Liberian) and the various ethnic groups that existed there before the 1822 repatriation or that have moved in since. Monrovia’s harbour is very important for Liberia’s timber and palm oil exports.
Day 24 Tokeh
Tokeh, or Tokeh Town as it is also known, is a coastal resort town that relies mainly on fishing and tourism. Only twenty miles outside Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, this town is nestled in an area of beautiful scenery, surrounded by mountains, forests and beaches. The Tokeh Beach is considered one of the largest and most attractive beaches in West Arica. This town was first founded by a Sherbo fisherman who settled along the river bank. Much later, in 1968, a prominent barrister from Sierra Leone purchased the land, and in partnership with a French company, developed the village. Today, it is a thriving town with the resort, a church, mosque, community center, school and about 6000 residents.
Day 25 Freetown
The bustling West African city of Freetown is the capital of Sierra Leone. The lush green coastlines, and the friendly people of Sierra Leone, welcome visitors upon arrival. In addition to long, white sand beaches by the coast, the uplands around Freetown are verdant and home to the Western Area Forest Reserve (accepted by UNESCO as a tentative World Heritage Site). In 1787, British philanthropists founded the ‘Province of Freedom’, which later became Freetown, a British crown colony and the principal base for the suppression of the slave trade. By 1792, over one thousand freed slaves from Nova Scotia had joined the original settlers, the Maroons. Another group of slaves rebelled in Jamaica and travelled to Freetown in 1800.
Day 26 Day at Sea
Day 27 Dakar
Big, crowded and chaotic, Dakar can seem like a dirty mess not worth the effort, but relax and dig in—this is emerging Africa. The city is progressing quickly as the country develops, and already Dakar is home to many worthy restaurants and thumping nightlife. Historic sights are here, as well as nice beaches.
Day 28 Day at Sea
Day 29 Fogo Island
Day 30 Porto Novo
Porto Novo, the second largest city on Santo Antão, is located in the dry southeast of the island. A dusty wind blows constantly here. You can explore the main street with its former mansions, a little church, markets that have local fish, grogue and fresh goat cheese for sale, shops and-of course-the harbour. At the back of the town is the 2,000m-high Topo de Coroa, which is a fairly easy climb and has magnificent 360-degree views. Around the town, family-owned farms grow fruit and vegetables which are sold at regular markets in the town. There are some old churches from the Portuguese era, as well as a couple of elegant squares with pleasant bars and cafés, from which to watch the world go by.
Days 31-32 Days at Sea
Day 33 Ad Dakhla
Dakhla is located at the end of a 40km narrow peninsula on the Atlantic Coast about 340 miles south of Laayoune. The area was inhabited by Berbers from North Africa since ancient times but it was Spanish settlers who founded Dakhla in 1884 during the expansion of their empire. The region was especially important not only because of the rich offshore fishing (e.g. cod) but also because of the abundant seals and whales available for hunting. Despite over harvesting that has resulted in severe depletion of the wildlife Dakhali is still a major fishing port. However the town has recently become a centre for aquatic sports such as kitesurfing windsurfing and surf casting and becoming a growing tourism destination.
Day 34 Day at Sea
Day 35 Agadir
Agadir is, above all else, a holiday resort, so don't hope for a medina, a souk, or a kasbah (although it does have all three, after a fashion). Think sun, sea, and sand. These are what it does best, as hundreds of thousands of visitors each year can testify.There's no reason to begrudge the city its tourist aspirations. Razed by an earthquake in 1960 that killed 15,000 people in 13 seconds, Agadir had to be entirely rebuilt. Today it's a thoroughly modern city where travelers don't think twice about showing considerable skin, and Moroccans benefit from the growing number of jobs.There's a reason why this popular European package vacation destination is overrun with enormous, characterless beachfront hotels. The beach, all 10 km (6 miles) of it, is dreamy. A 450-yard-wide strip, it bends in an elegant crescent along the bay, and is covered with fine-grain sand. The beach is sheltered and safe for swimming, making it perfect for families. Farther north, where small villages stand behind some of the best waves in the world, is a surfers' paradise.Even if you have no interest in surfing, diving, jet-skiing, golf, tennis, or horseback riding down the beach, you can treat Agadir as a modern bubble in which to kick back. It's equipped with familiar pleasurable pursuits—eating, drinking, and relaxing next to the ocean—and modern amenities such as car-rental agencies and ATMs. It isn't quite Europe, but neither is it quite Morocco.
Day 36 Day at Sea
Day 37 Lisbon
Arrive 7:00 am
Spread over a string of seven hills north of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) estuary, Lisbon presents an intriguing variety of faces to those who negotiate its switchback streets. In the oldest neighborhoods, stepped alleys whose street pattern dates back to Moorish times are lined with pastel-color houses decked with laundry; here and there, miradouros (vantage points) afford spectacular river or city views. In the grand 18th-century center, calçada à portuguesa (black-and-white mosaic cobblestone) sidewalks border wide boulevards. Elétricos (trams) clank through the streets, and blue-and-white azulejos (painted and glazed ceramic tiles) adorn churches, restaurants, and fountains. Of course, parts of Lisbon lack charm. Even some downtown areas have lost their classic Portuguese appearance as the city has become more cosmopolitan: shiny office blocks have replaced some 19th- and 20th-century art nouveau buildings. And centenarian trams share the streets with "fast trams" and noisy automobiles. Lisbon bears the mark of an incredible heritage with laid-back pride. In preparing to host the 1998 World Exposition, Lisbon spruced up public buildings, overhauled its subway system, and completed an impressive second bridge across the river. Today the former Expo site is an expansive riverfront development known as Parque das Nações, and the city is a popular port of call for cruises, whose passengers disembark onto a revitalized waterfront. Downtown, all the main squares have been overhauled one by one. In its heyday in the 16th century, Lisbon was a pioneer of the first wave of globalization. Now, the empire is striking back, with Brazilians and people from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa enriching the city’s ethnic mix. There are also more than a few people from other European countries who are rapidly becoming integrated. But Lisbon's intrinsic, slightly disorganized, one-of-a-kind charm hasn't vanished in the contemporary mix. Lisboetas (people from Lisbon) are at ease pulling up café chairs and perusing newspapers against any backdrop, whether it reflects the progress and commerce of today or the riches that once poured in from Asia, South America, and Africa. And quiet courtyards and sweeping viewpoints are never far away. Despite rising prosperity (and costs) since Portugal entered the European Community in 1986, and the more recent tourism boom, prices for most goods and services are still lower than most other European countries. You can still find affordable places to eat and stay, and with distances between major sights fairly small, taxis are astonishingly cheap. All this means that Lisbon is not only a treasure chest of historical monuments, but also a place where you won’t use up all your own hard-earned treasure. Though Baixa, or downtown, was Lisbon’s government and business center for two centuries until the mid-20th century, the most ancient part of the city lies on the slopes of a hill to its east. Most visitors start their exploration there, in Alfama. All but the very fittest ride the antique 28 eléctrico (streetcar) most of the way up to Saint George’s Castle (or take the 737 bus or a taxi all the way up). The views from its ramparts afford a crash course in the city’s topography. You can then wander downhill to absorb the atmosphere (and more views) in the winding streets below. There are several museums and other major sights in this area, so give yourself plenty of time. Baixa itself is interesting mostly for its imposing architecture and its bustling squares, as well as an unusual cast-iron elevator that affords yet more panoramic views. But a new design museum is what persuades most visitors to linger. On the slope to the west is the chic Chiado district, traditionally the city’s intellectual center, with theaters, galleries, and literary cafés. A little farther uphill is the Bairro Alto. Originally founded by the Jesuits (whose church is among Lisbon’s finest), it was long known for rather sinful pursuits and today is a great place for barhopping. Both neighborhoods are great places to shop. Modern Lisbon, meanwhile, begins just north of Baixa. The city’s tree-lined central axis, the Avenida da Liberdade, forges up to the Praça Marquês de Pombal roundabout, with a rather formal park beyond. Dotted around the area north of here are major museums and other sights. West of Baixa, along the river, former docklands such as Alcântara are now home to stylish restaurants and nightclubs, as well as the odd museum. Farther west is historic Belém, which boasts yet more museums—and some famous pastries. On the city’s eastern flank, the Parque das Nações has family-oriented attractions and green spaces.
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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