If you’ve ever dreamed of getting up close to the ‘big five’ – lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo – what better way to do so than to take a safari cruise? For these, you’ll glide through the jungle, stop over in remote lodges or travel to ports that offer easy access to world-class game parks and nature reserves.
If you’re seeking comfort, choose companies such as Silversea or Regent Seven Seas, which have larger ships featuring more facilities.
Wild on the river
If you wish to see wildlife up close, a river cruise – on vessels that are relatively quiet and can travel along narrow waterways – is ideal. To spot big cats as well as giraffe and Cape buffalo, choose a cruise along the Cuando River, which follows the northern border of Botswana’s Chobe National Park.
If you prefer to see lions, hippos and elephants, you should consider heading for the shores and waters of Lake Kariba, on the Zambia and Zimbabwe border.
Most cruises leave from Cape Town and call at Richards Bay, which offers easy access to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park – renowned as one of the country’s best reserves for spotting rhino – as well Port Elizabeth, which is close to Addo Elephant National Park. Some cruises also include Kenya’s Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary near Mombasa on their itineraries.
Who does it?
Regent Seven Seas (rssc.com) has a 15-night South African Cheer itinerary round trip from Cape Town, which includes safari excursions to world-renowned game reserves ranging from Addo Elephant Park to Mpongo Private Game Reserve.
This exciting cruise also includes a trip to see the unique wild horses of the vast Namib coastal desert and a stopover in Walvis Bay to see flamingos, pelicans and other rare birdlife.
Alternatively, Silversea’s breathtaking 14-day Mombasa to Cape Town itinerary (silversea.
com) takes in several of South Africa’s top game reserves, plus a trip to see the monkeys in Zanzibar’s Jozani Forest Reserve and the chance to snorkel out to explore Madagascar’s spectacular Nosy Tanikely marine reserve.
But for those seeking the ultimate bucket-list trip, you should take Cunard’s 24-night cruise from Hong Kong to Cape Town (cunard.
co.uk) on board the Queen Victoria.