The Indian Ocean fits an intoxicating range of experiences and cultures into a relatively small geographic area. On this 7-day Durban to Maputo cruise, you’ll through the portion of the ocean along the east coast of southern Africa beginning in Durban, a lively that, South Africa’s third largest, that embodies the remarkable diversity of the nation. You’ll end in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, nicknamed the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Along the way you’ll visit some of Africa’s more intriguing off-the-beaten-path ports like Richards Bay and the Bazaruto archipelago, with their pristine sand dunes.
You’ll not only travel to little known and little visited islands and ports, but you’ll also do so in style—aboard the 120-passenger Silver Discoverer, one of the most elegant expedition ships. It features two restaurants, a lounge, a pool deck, ocean views from every spacious suite (some with private teak verandas), and a shallow draft that allows the ship to get close to shore.
You’ll start your journey in Durban, a city that has the pulse, the look, and the complex face of Africa. If you wander into the Indian District or drive through the Warwick Triangle—an area away from the sea around Julius Nyerere (Warwick) Avenue—Durban rises up to meet you. Traditional healers tout animal organs, vegetable and spice vendors crowd the sidewalks, and minibus taxis hoot incessantly as they trawl for business. It is by turns colorful, stimulating, and hypnotic. It’s also a place steeped in history and culture. Gandhi lived and practiced law here, and Winston Churchill visited as a young man.
Go for a stroll and get your big-city fix here before your 6 p.m. departure aboard Silver Discoverer. After a mandatory safety drill, you’ll meet the expedition team, including naturalists, historians, and other lecturers. Then take some time to familiarize yourself with the ship before cocktails, dinner with open seating at The Restaurant, and opportunities to meet your fellow travelers.
Founded in the 1880s, during the Anglo-Zulu colonial wars, Richards Bay was named after British Rear Admiral Sir Frederick William Richards, who landed a naval force here. An early claim to fame came in 1891, when colonial adventurer John Dunn killed a 22-foot crocodile in the estuary (still one of the largest ever documented) but the town remained a backwater with a population of less than 200 people until as recently as 1968. Today, Richards Bay is the major port in the region and is adjacent to significant mineral deposits, which have contributed to the town’s massive growth. For travelers, the town’s principal appeals are its beaches facing the Indian Ocean or opportunities to explore some of its nature reserves.
This afternoon you’ll arrive at Mozamibique’s Inhaca Island. Located some 25 miles from the country’s capital, Maputo, it’s a popular destination for day trippers from the big city. It is, however, far enough that you will feel like you have arrived in a distant corner of the Indian Ocean. The island is home to a major marine research center and it’s almost a major destination for birders. Bring your check list and binoculars, as 300 different species can be spotted here.