8 of the best safari cruises
By Claire Benktander | 14 Oct 2021
Safari cruises are set to be one of the hottest new travel trends for 2022. As we seek to connect more closely with the natural world, Nick Dalton selects some of the most enticing new itineraries for next year.
From tracking down the Big Five in South Africa to whale watching in Iceland, these cruise lines are following the call of the wild. If you’re planning an epic adventure on the high seas in the year ahead, why not make one of these wonderfully wild voyages at the top of your list?
8 of the Best Safari Cruises for 2022 & 2023
A Grand African Voyage
For many, a safari means Africa and the Big Five – lion, rhino, leopard, elephant and buffalo. One of the most spectacular Big Five safaris is the 71-day Grand Africa Voyage from Holland America Line, which is a safari cruise that circles the continent. Expect a day in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park with its red elephants, zebras, giraffes, buffalo, gazelles, impala and baboons as well as flights above Mount Kilimanjaro and its wildlife-filled landscapes, alongside a two-night safari lodge stay in South Africa’s Kruger National Park (as the ship sails from Mozambique to Durban), home to the Big Five and plenty more.
The Grand Africa Voyage departs from Fort Lauderdale on 10th October 2022. Prices from £15,549 including flights. To book call 034 433 88605 or visit hollandamerica.com.
Cape Town Safari Cruise
Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa’s third largest national reserve, is one of the world’s best places to spot elephants. Up to 600 of them gather at the Hapoor Dam alongside the rest of the Big Five in the dense valley of South Africa’s Sundays River, with the tree-covered Zuurberg mountains providing a stunning backdrop for game drives from dawn to dusk. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ 14-day Cape Town round trip offers a day trip from Port Elizabeth, as well as plenty of time to explore the rest of the region.
Departs 14 February 2022, from £7,479 for cruise only. Book on 040 3070 30 555 or visit hl-cruises.com.
Coral Expeditions Safari Cruise
Australian small-ship company Coral Expeditions is making its first trip to the islands of the Indian ocean with a wealth of wildlife. The 25-night leg from Singapore to the Seychelles calls in Sumatra and the Maldives as well as Sri Lanka, where a dusk safari in Yala National Park will see you spot elephants and leopards, alongside a Sri Lankan feast and a night spent at a wilderness resort. It’s all done from a base on board Coral Geographer, a boutique, 120-passenger vessel, including a curated wine cellar…
Coral Geographer departs on 8th January 2023, prices start at £12,983 for cruise only. Call 00 617 4040 9999 or visit http://coralexpeditions.com to book.
Icelands’s Majestic Landscapes
Leave behind the land for not one but two seafaring safaris on Viking Cruises’ 13-day Iceland’s Natural Beauty voyage. There’s the whale-watching safari from the port
of Akureyri with the chance of spotting minke, fin and blue whales, as well as spotting humpback whales; their huge fins easily visible as they emerge from the chilly waters. Then, a scenic fjord safari from Flåm in Norway sends you (armed with a waterproof suit) skimming across the water in an inflatable boat. You’ll explore stunning Nærøyfjord, hemmed in by 1,500ft peaks, and will see plenty of wildlife, from seals to gliding sea eagles.
Between Bergen and Reykjavík, there are regular trips from June to August 2023, from £2,790 including flights. Book by phone 0800 298 8700 or online at vikingcruises.co.uk.
Seal Coast Safari
Head Down Under on Oceania Cruises’ 14-day Fjords & Tasman Tales (Sydney to Sydney) with its Seal Coast Safari. The 4×4 adventure heads off-road and even on to
the beach on the rugged coast of Wellington, in New Zealand. At Tongue Point, you’ll explore a rocky spit with views of mountains and across the Cook Strait to South Island is a colony of once-endangered fur seals. In the Bay of Islands, you might come across dolphins, gannets and blue penguins. It’s all done on board sophisticated 684-passenger Regatta.
Departs 13 February 2023 from £5,449, including flights. Call 0345 505 1920 or visit oceaniacruises.com.
The Land That Time Forgot
Avalon Waterways’ 20-day Discover the Galápagos & Peru with the Amazon includes a four-day Galápagos cruise with giant tortoises, Galápagos fur sea lions and marine iguana, as well exotic fish, plus perhaps a penguin or shark. And, there’s plenty of time in Peru (and Ecuador) with two visits to Machu Picchu, way up in the Andean Highlands, a sanctuary for wildlife from llamas to hundreds of species of birds, not least the red, yellow and green of the versicoloured barbet. You’ll also enjoy three nights in the Amazon, with a boat trip followed by canoe to reach your lodge on the Napo River tributary. There’s a cruise and more canoeing as you watch for three-toed sloths, and capuchin and howler monkeys, as parrots and macaws sweep overhead.
Departs once monthly from 30 January 2022, from £6,559 for cruise only. Call 0330 058 8243 or head to avalonwaterways.co.uk.
Park Life: Cape Town to Accra
Silversea offers three-and four-night pre-cruise treats in Africa on various cruises, for instance, the 18-day Cape Town to Dakar voyage, which concentrates on the lesser-visited spots such as the islands of São Tomé and Principe. Then there’s the four-night trip (two nights in Johannesburg, two nights in a lodge) to Ngala Private Game Reserve, linked to Kruger National Park, with several game drives. Ngala means lion, so you know what to expect! You can also visit the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains in the Western Cape (one night in Cape Town, two in a tented camp in the wilderness). Expect the Big Five as well as cheetahs, hippos, giraffes, hyenas, black-backed jackals and springboks.
Departs April 13, 2023, from £10,530, including flights. Call 0844 251 0837 or visit silversea.com.
African Safari and Seychelles
Norwegian Cruise Line’s 21-day African Safari and Seychelles voyage, from Dubai to Cape Town, has varied safari options. At Nosy Be, an island off Madagascar, there’s Lokobe Strict Reserve, known for its black lemurs and colourful panther chameleon. During five days in South Africa, try Kragga Kamma Game Park, in the rich coastal forest and grassland near Port Elizabeth, for its white rhino, buffalo, cheetahs, giraffes and zebras. Umlalazi Nature Reserve, at Richards Bay, is a green coastal strip with a palm forest and swamp – home to the rare palm-nut vulture. While at Mossel Bay, you’ll find Botlierskop Private Game Reserve housing all the big names, plus honey badgers and porcupines.
Departs 2 December 2022 on Norwegian Dawn, from £4,942, including flights. Book on 0333 2412319 or at ncl.com.