Cruising West Africa

21 May 2013


Immigration News

West Africa is not visited as much for tourism due the many civil wars, unrest and political turmoil that has ravaged these lands and its people. In recent times, however, tourism is being encouraged. So when Silversea Cruises put their vessel, The Silver Explorer, into the Atlantic Sea with West Africa, I booked the Owners Suite in a flash. A good thing, as the ship was full within a few hours once the bookings opened.

Indians need visas for South Africa and Namibia. The rest of the visas are obtained en masse by the ship. With so many countries, it is impossible to list all the delights of travelling to West Africa. The crew of the cruise had an expedition team that included learning for anthropologists, archeologists, a geologist, botanist, two ornithology and a fisheries expert. Here are 10 not-to-be-missed sights of West Africa...

Raw diamonds on the sand created a gold rush in the 19th century and the ghost town of Kolmanshok, near the port town of Luderitz, Namibia, is a surreal experience. Buildings and homes were left abandoned when the diamonds were depleted, leaving behind a town with the dunes entering schools, hospitals and homes.

Similarly, a visit to the fantasy coffin makers in Accara, Ghana, is amusing and creative. Want to be buried in the Concorde, Chicken, Mercedes Benz... You can order one for yourself. They ship worldwide.

Shopping lovers will find fabric and antiques in Lome, Togo’s main market. Bargaining is encouraged as friendly people banter for a good rate. Like me, plead that you are a poor Indian and not a wealthy American. And for shock and gore, visit the Fetish Voodoo market. Go with a stomach of steel!

At Walvis Bay, Namibia, take a plane ride over the wild desert of Namibia. Flamingoes and seals, myriad-coloured salt pans, dramatic sand dunes and a thrilling low ride make this a fabulous journey.

Luanda in Angola is West Africa’s most expensive city. See the Antonio Augusto Neto Memorial, the diplomatic quarter, the fort, the Anthropology Museum and the metal house designed by Gustav Eiffel.

Near Kribi port in Cameroon, marvel at one of nature’s wonders near Lobe. The wide river falls directly into the ocean creating rainbows and a majestic roar.

On the cruise, enjoy the days filled with enriching lectures, trivia or a good suntan by the jacuzzi.

Birding, hiking trails, village performances and wild life sanctuaries on islands like Sao Tome and Principe, Guinea Bissau or inland at Togo and Benin will leave you stunned.

West Africa was the gate of no return for many slaves who were shipped across to the Americas in a disgraceful manner. There are many ports where one can view the prisons.

The most beautiful is the Cape Coast Castle which is a UNESCO site. The stunning locale and imposing rooms could well be converted partially into a seven-star hotel in a flash.

Sierra Leone is visibly still affected by the war. If you get a chance, restore your hope in the human spirit by watching a football game on the beach by men who have lost their limbs, but not their fervour. As they race along in their crutches, you are assured this is the most emotional football game you will ever see.

Source: http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/1837249/report-cruising-west-africa


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