Cruising and sailing are one kind of novelties that I feel have not been fully exploited in East Africa’s tourism frontiers. And while the traditional and mainstream numbers such as safari, beach and heritage keep hitting new lows, maybe it’s time the stakeholders shifted from the Big Fives of the land to the Biggies of Marine life. So, if you have been dreaming of a tropical trip straddled by blue waters by day and star lit skies by night, perhaps it’s time you considered some of the waterway hits listed by Jovago. Bon Voyage!
Sailing Under the Stars – Lake Malawi
Unless you are on a private yatch or taking a boat trip, you are most likely to watch the three day adventure unfold from the decks of the steamship- MV Ilala. The ship sails from the North-Nkhata Bay downward to the southern point of Monkey Bay. Bear in mind that this is a commercial courier used in transporting both people and goods. You might need to save your space by booking an early ticket to vantage position especially on first class for an exclusive use of the top deck.
Cruising the Wild Nile
Whether cruising down the Aswan in Egypt, through the unexplored jungles of South Sudan or sailing the cataracts and falls in Uganda, the mighty Nile never ceases to amaze! Hot on the list is the Egyptian cruise popularly spread between landmark sights in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. The banks are blissful and idyllic; marvel at the engineering feat behind the Aswan High Dam, ancient pre-Pharaoh temples, as well as other Pharaonic structures. You can chose between the budget felucca cruise, or sail in one of the luxury vessels. The Ugandan stretch does not disappoint either, from Jinja, commonly referred to as source of the Nile (from Lake Victoria) you can combine your cruise down Murchison National Park with wildlife spotting, bird sightings as well as other water activities. The Sudan fraction of the Nile divides into three sections that include the Lake plateau, the massive Sudd swamp and central Sudan area. The world has only began exploring this section of the Nile, so why not get yourself a ticket before it loses the virgin appeal?
Bird Watching Cruises on Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria offers an ideal destination for bird lovers as well as romantics seeking an escape from the usual safari and urban tourism. The lake is a haven for birdwatchers, with rare species such as blue swallow, fish eagles, shoebill stork and papyrus yellow warbler. You can kick off the cruise either from the Ugandan side or opt for a grand ending of a Mara Safari from the Kenyan waters. Either way, the experience on a Victorian cruise is superlative!
Dhow Safaris in Lamu Island and Diani
A sundowner dhow safari offers the best views of Lamu old town in untouched antiquecharm as well as the golden waters of Indian Ocean. The waters surrounding Lamu Island are plied by hundreds of dhows on touristic missions, others transporting goods between the small islands and villages and others laded with fishermen eking out a living from the waters; it’s an integral part of Lamu life for centuries. You can book a dhow safari from your hotel to the Wasini Island for Marine viewing (Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park) or jump aboard for a leisure cruise around the island. Diani too is a popular safari destination offering both short and long dhow safaris depending on one’s preference.
Lake Tanganyika Cruises
Stretching her splendor among nations, Lake Tanganyika is estimated to be the second largest fresh water in the world by volume as well as the second deepest. Her water is shared by Tanzania, Congo, Burundi and Zambia with the latter spotting the southern-most point of the lake. A cruise on the M/V Liemba kicks off in Tanzania and docks at Mbulu in Zambia on a three day journey. Apart from the whole sail experience, the ship, fondly referred to as Queen of Africa offers a sneak peek into history as it was used during the Second World War by German soldiers. The Queenplies the shores of mighty Lake Tanganyika stopping en-route (approximately 19 times) to supply many of the local villages that dot the shores along this great African voyage.