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Africa Cruise and Indian Ocean Cruise

Africa remains the fabled 'dark' continent. Once, the only way to go there was by sea. Today, that voyage remains the smart, elegant and sophisticated way to embark not just on a holiday, but a true odyssey, an elegant adventure.

Cairo and the mighty Pyramids form an indelible prelude to passage through Suez and the vast architectural theme park that is ancient Egypt. From the temples of Karnak to the soaring, sandstone Valley of the Kings, ancient Egypt is a mesmerising journey into the past. Tombs carved into sandstone are alive with brightly painted frescoes and hieroglyphics. Temples such as Kom Ombo and Philae are lasting monuments to ancient deities from time immemorial.

There is Kruger National Park, with vast swathes of land stirred into life by galloping herds of zebra, drinking gingerly at waterholes and watching for crouching tigers and prides of lions, ready to strike. Improbably graceful giraffes graze trees near waterholes, where crocodiles lurk patiently like half submerged submarines, waiting for their moment.

Almost heart-breaking in its beauty, Cape Town is a city that has to be approached from the sea to appreciate its full glory, with the spread of Table Top Mountain carpeted in billowing white cloud against a petrol blue sky. Stately Durban has endless, pristine beaches washed by constant Atlantic rollers that make it a surfer's paradise. Legendary for decades, the famous Blue Train makes the run between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Noisy and colourful, Zanzibar is a riot of eclectic scents and shades, dotted with poignant reminders of its role as a centre of the eighteenth century slave trade. The islands of the Maldives are several low slung slivers of paradise, blinding; almost milk white beaches dotted like gorgeous stepping stones in the sleepy azure hue of the Indian Ocean. Madagascar and Reunion still have the ghost of a Gallic air about them, albeit with a side order of stately, swaying palms holding sway above surf kissed sand.

Rounding the famous Cape Horn, resorts such as Walvis Bay display a smattering of their German colonial heritage, while Saint Helena remains a solitary presence out in the Atlantic, forever associated with Napoleon.

Morocco is where Africa almost meets Europe, and still wears its Moorish influences in teeming sea cities such as Tangier, with its bustling Kasbah and waterfront promenade. Casablanca boasts the vast Hassan II mosque, the second largest in the world while, inland, fabled Marrakech is achievable on several overland tours.

From dense jungles to vast expanses of grassland, unsurpassed wildlife to magnificent Egyptian relics, vibrant coastal resort cities to remoter, sun splashed idylls arranged across the sparkling carpet of the Indian Ocean, Africa and the islands that adjoin it offer up far more sights, sounds and incredible sensations than almost anywhere else on earth. A unique place, where a gorilla can prowl among mist shrouded valleys while space probes are catapulted into orbit, Africa has depth, diversity and a sheer richness of spirit and character that make it compelling on so many levels.

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