Travel: An enthralling African adventure that will live long in the memory

The first film I saw in cinemascope as a young boy was called Shaka.

Table Mountain and colourful houses.
Table Mountain and colourful houses.

It told of the rise of a boy warrior who became King of the legendary Zulu tribe, and ever since I’ve had an ambition to visit Africa.

That ambition was realised on board Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ ship Boudicca, which featured exciting shore tours to an authentic Zulu encampment, as well as the Ocean islands of Mauritius and Reunion.

Our first tour took us through lush countryside to Charmarel National Park, set in a valley. Here we gazed at the beauty of the Charmarel waterfall cascading from jagged mountains, accompanied by exotic birdsong.

The hippo cooling down.

It’s also the area of the seven coloured earth, a rainbow on the ground, a spectacular sight created through decomposing minerals over centuries – a unique legacy of nature.

In contrast, we meandered through Caudan waterfront, an atmospheric cultural area where we enjoyed a two-course lunch with local beer at the Arabia restaurant for just £7 pp.

Overnight sailing brought us into French Reunion Island. The highlight was a journey to Piton Maido over 2,000 metres high, through subtropical forests with hedgerows ablaze with fuchsia, hydrangeas and endemic bushes and plants.

We paused at La Petite France, observing how geranium leaves are turned into an essence used in perfume making.

The hippo cooling down.

At St.Denis, you absorb a little part of France but in the Indian Ocean.

Our African adventure started in Maputo Mozambique – top of our ‘must do’ list was to visit an African market.

We also visited the cfm railway station built in 1908, voted the third most beautiful in the world. We strolled around Independents Square, where we saw the Iron House, a unique architectural design by a friend of Gustave Eiffel and wandered round the botanical garden – our guide told us how roots and plants are used for alternative medicine.

My imagination was running high as we sailed into Richards Bay, South Africa, to visit the authentic Dumazulu encampment. On arrival, we were greeted by the Chief in full regalia. Our Zulu guide took us through a number of their cultures, including Zulu warriors’ combat, and pre-marital customs. Bone throwing is still practised to tell the future, and the medicine man, a hereditary position, is still revered as a healer.

Our fascinating Zulu experience concluded with a wedding ceremony, and the crescendo of songs was accompanied by robust dancing. Visiting the area where the legendary King Shaka lived, exceeding all expectations.

A relaxing day at sea gave us the opportunity to reflect and enjoy Boudicca’s amenities. Evenings were another highlight, choosing from a menu of mouthwatering options, then to the theatre to watch an enjoyable show. We berthed in Port Elizabeth, and journeyed to Pumba Private Game Reserve, boarding a 4x4 to begin our adventure.

First it was a herd of different species of antelopes and warthogs grazing together, then a dazzle of zebra. Climbing the terrain, we met Normathimba – a rare white lioness sleeping in the shade. She opened her eyes, raised her head, looked straight at me, yawned then went back to sleep – an extraordinary sight! But even more of a sight was witnessing a hippo taking a dip to cool down in the midday sun, while we also got up close and personal with none other than a white rhino!

Pumba was an African experience to savour.

Table Mountain stands imposing as it greets you into Cape Town. The city tour captures its highlights, including its diverse architecture from colonial times to modern designs. Bo Kaap is an area of multi-coloured houses, built when slavery was abolished, ending at the lively waterfront.

Our final tour destination was Cape of Good Hope.

Our coastal journey took us through quaint fishing villages, small townships and vineyards.

We were in awe at Africa’s most iconic landmark, an aquamarine sea with waves up to 20 metres high crashing onto the rocks and cliffs, creating a thunderous roar, releasing huge sprays of white surf. A captivating sight.

At Cape Peak, we boarded a funicular taking us to the summit, to view this breathtaking dramatic coast line.

Then on to the penguin colony where these delightful creatures greet you with chirping sounds.

Returning, we encountered a large family of baboons – the alpha male stood defiant in the centre of the road before allowing us to pass. It was a fitting end to an enthralling African experience. An ambition fulfilled!

Travel facts:

Boudicca’s ‘Indian Ocean Islands & Zanzibar’ fly-cruise (D1826) departs from Mauritius on December 14, 2018. Prices start from £2,999 per person – includes all food and entertainment on board, port taxes, return flights from London Gatwick / Manchester airports, airport taxes/transfers.