Commanding lion prides, leaps of leopards, herds of Cape buffalo, elephants and rhinos – each a marvel on their own, and together, a collective adventure that tops the wanderlust lists of even the most seasoned travelers. Africa’s “Big Five” have well earned their status as the most prominent residents of the South African plains and reserves. Nothing compares to the moment you lock eyes with one of these wild giants, and Crystal Symphony’s January 7, 2018 “Jewels of the Indian Ocean” sailing is filled with such moments.
The voyage is also filled with many other types of moments and adventures that will take your breath away, with nearly 100 Crystal Adventures designed to showcase the Five’s fellow wild residents; heart-pounding pursuits from the top of Table Mountain to the underwater world ruled by great white sharks; the rich customs of South Africa’s bustling towns and surrounding villages; and the wine and food that are almost as synonymous with the region as the Big Five themselves.
There are numerous opportunities to roam the African plains on game drives from private reserves, from four hours to four days; from early morning outings to sundowner festivities. On such adventures, each day presents new chances to meet and greet with the famous five, as well as wildebeest, giraffes, impalas, gazelles, primates of all kinds and a bevy of distinct bird species that cloak the skies.
However, the wild encounters are not constrained to the limits of the spectacular game reserves featured on the roster of Crystal Adventures. Here are a few other captivating creatures you can plan to meet on your journey to kick off the New Year.
Cheetah – Solitary animals with virtually unmatched stealth, the cheetah is a prize sighting of any game drive. They find safe havens at several reserves throughout the Savannah, and can reach speeds upwards of 70 miles per hour, making photo ops more of a blur of orange and black, but no less incredible.
Crocodiles and Snakes – This is an up-close wildlife experience that will make for epic travel stories, including a visit to Zulu Croc in the tropical Savannah. Deadly cobras, the quick-striking puff adder, and the snake with the longest fangs in the world – the Gaboon adder – all join the “man eater” Nile crocodiles and shyer West African dwarf crocodiles of this fascinating destination.
Great White Sharks – The aforementioned rulers of the deep teem in the waters off the coast of Cape Town, where you have the option of joining their menacing ranks in a protective underwater cage, or simply marveling at the power and beauty of the creatures from the safety of your boat above the water.
Raptors – Arguably as imposing as the oceans’ sharks or Savannah’s lionesses, the falcons, hawks, vultures, eagles, and other airborne predators at the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary are happy to demonstrate their immense speed and power, as the keepers of the sanctuary are eager to share the tremendous strides made in preserving and rehabilitating these animals.
Ostriches – Because ostrich farming is a finely nuanced science and the pros at Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo have it mastered. The Garden Route drive from Mossel Bay is green and lush, and pretty enough to fill your camera roll before you even arrive.
Penguins – Impossibly adorable and at home at Boulders Beach along the Indian Ocean coastline, the colonies of African penguins are a surprising sight in the warm climate of South Africa.
Of course, your journey through South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar and French territories is not all about animal life. Each destination featured on the 15-day itinerary is filled with rich culture and warm local people. And lions, leopards, crocs and sharks are a spectacular way to kick off the New Year.