The dynamic lands of Africa deserve just as dynamic modes of transportation to properly enjoy them. Africa’s cruise industry features styles of ships rarely seen in other parts of the world, like old ferries, flat bottom boats and old dhows, which make taking a cruise here an especially unique experience. Here are 10 African adventure cruises not to be missed.
Floating Luxury Safari on the Zambezi Queen
Duration: 2-3 days
This luxury cruise ship floats down the Chobe River, which stands as the border Nambia and Botswana. The region hosts a rich population of wildlife like elephant, buffalo, giraffe and lion, which can be spotted drinking from the river. Food and wine is included in the ticket price, and best enjoyed by the swimming pool on board.
Dhow Safari in Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago
Duration: 1 week
The Quirimbas Archipelago is the setting for some of the most gorgeous islands in the Indian Ocean. The vessel for this trip is a traditional dhow, and campsites are set up each night on different islands. The journey starts on Ibo Island, an island with a mixture of Portuguese, Arab and African influences.
Senegal River Cruise
Duration: 6 days
The Senegal River serves as the border between Senegal and Mauritania. A charming old ferry called the “Bou El Mogdad” has sailed these waters for over 50 years, running a route between Saint Louis, the old capital of French West Africa, and Podor at the edge of the Sahara desert. Passengers take in views of old French forts, Tukolor, Wolof and Maure villages, and the beautiful Le Parc national des oiseaux du Djoudi, home to a rich birdlife.
The Niger River to Timbuktu
Duration: 3 days
A Comanav ferry transports passengers between Koulikoro in Bamako to Timbuktu in Mali regularly. If you appreciate a truly rugged experience, you won’t mind that sometimes, when the water is low, the ferry stops service before reaching Timbuktu. The cabins are comfortable and the ferry schedule is flexible.
Nile Cruise on the Royal Cleopatra
Duration: Usually 5 days
There are more than 200 cruises running on the Nile, but most follow the same route so base your booking on your preference for accommodations. For those who can afford it, the Royal Cleopatra is a reputable cruise—it’s a traditional sailboat called a dahabeeya, originally used by Victorian travelers. The boat can be rented privately and comfortably accommodates eight people. Since the boat is smaller than most cruise ships, it’s allowed to dock at more sites.
The New Nile Route
Duration: 10 days
The route from Cairo to Aswan was recently reopened and the luxurious 32-cabin Sanctuary Nile Adventurer is accepting passengers. The ship takes passengers through sites related to Egyptian history, the ancient city of Abydos (a burial ground for early pharaohs), and the rock tombs of Beni Hassan. On board, passengers can enjoy educational perks like lectures on Egyptology and classes on hieroglyphics and Egyptian cooking.
Lake Malawi Cruise on the Ilala II
Duration: About one week
This freshwater lake covers about a third of Malawi in southern Africa. The Ilala, a large ferry that makes the 300-mile trip across the lake once a week, contains five double first-class cabins with exclusive access to the top deck, as well as the captain cabin (a highly sought-after room because of the air conditioning. The boat makes regular stops, including at the picturesque Likoma island, and you can get off whenever you’d like or ride it all the way back to its launch point at Monkey Bay.
Safari Blue Menai Bay Dhow tours, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Duration: day trip
The Safari Blue Menai Bay Dhow Tours organize day trips on fully equipped dhows around Menai Bay in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Trips launch from Fumba and the ticket price includes a seafood and fruit lunch, snorkeling equipment, and a relaxing stop at a sandbank. The company also makes their dhows available for private rentals.
Sail Away, Vilankulo, Mozambique
The Sail Away company offers several safari day trip as well as overnight sailing in the archipelago. Day trips include snorkeling around the islands of Magaruque or Benguera, lunch, refreshments, park entry fees and snorkeling equipment. Over night safaris range from two- to -four days and include everything the day trips do, as well as accommodations.
Jahazi Marine, Mombasa, Kenya
Duration: varies, one night
The large, luxurious Jahazi Marine dhow cruise boat specializes in sunset cruises. The trip includes a five-course meal, a walk through the Old Town and entry to Fort Jesus to watch the light show. For an extra fee passengers get access to a casino and the Bora Bora International Nightclub in Bamburi.