West Coast of Africa April 2015

We drove to the airport, returned the car and got a taxi to the port where our Silver Explorer was awaiting us

Click on small photos to enlarge

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That's us in our wee black bag!

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Once aboard the Silver Explorer we found lots of old friends like Li Shun and made new ones like Nadiie & Eric, who all spoilt us rotten, especially at Easter
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Camilla had her own 'bear' and we had our scones sent up to Deck 6. Did not actually venture into the jacuzzi - reposing in the camarote was more our scene
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We crossed the Equator- but did not let on it was our first time and just emerged at the end! Wine tastings, dinners in the restaurant or at Hot Rocks - yummy!

africa-map

But we were told we also had to venture out into darkest Africa and absorb its culture. So, first stop was Luderitz in Namibia & a visit to the diamond ghost town of Kolmanskop

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A train for us to get around in - well . .had we been there back in the 1920s! The outsides crumbling, but lots of history inside. Then onto those wild horses
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Next day in Walvis Bay, Duncan got to the Dunes, we didn't - before a magical dinner in an isolated gorge with choir & orchestra of a Namibian youth group

And the following morning a trip out in a catamaran from Walvis Bay Harbour- seals, pelicans & even jackals

Then up north to Angola . At Namibe we first travelled with a police escort - felt like dictators! and we had a trip out to see those Witschwelia plants and the Arcos. At Lobito, our second stop in Angola, a big treat was to be aboard that famous Benguela Railway - and they even got the old carriages out for us. Then onto Luanda, its fort and a lunch on the beach - but we opted out of this trip: there is just so much us little fellows can do, and the stewards did spoil us 'home alone' in the camarote !

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We loved the black & white trousers of the staff on this vintage train, also the fixtures & fittings
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A warm welcome. Police escort stopped the traffic in the opposite direction for us to take a short cut. Had to admire Michelle's plants.& 'Welcome Home Bears'

The next country - getting better with our geography by the day! - was Congo, an old French colony. Here we disembarked at Pointe Noire and travelled to see a fascinating museum before visiting the Diossan Gorge- there was a nice guide on the coach who seemed to like us. .

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An old King's house - now a museum: Claire very happy! That nice local guide and Clouds & Marcel in yet another market

Then on to SaoTome & Principe after a day at sea, including that ridiculous ceremony for crossing the Equator - who wants plastered with foam, chocolate etc? Here we had a long day driving up to a - semi-abandoned- coffee plantation before proceeding to an old cocoa plantation for lunch, then exploring a fishing village and the old colonial capital, now a shadow of its former days of glory

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Production of coffee & cocoa fell by 90% after the Portuguese left ~1975. A sort of museum but unfriendly staff : 'No photos here!' - but we still managed it!!
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Posada was great for lunch and views. Michelle ever enthusiastic. A couple of waterfalls for Cue to enjoy. No money to be spent here after the Portuguese left!
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African Grey Parrot at Principe. Parents walked into town in the morning : we saved ourselves for photos around the resort in the afternnon

Another day of being molly coddled at sea before arriving - via a roundabout way, to avoid the pirates off Nigeria!1 - in Cotonou, Benin . Once ashore we journeyed, by bus and then boat, to Ganvie, a town built on stilts in Lake Nokue. There we saw a colourful display of dancing by the Egun people . We then set out to have lunch near 'The Gate of No Return': this said to be where the slaves left from nearby Ouidah for the Americas.

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We were very respectful & they seemed to like us - we were a bit in awe of them though !
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Typical lake transport. Fascinating houses on stilts. Thought we might miss out on lunch, but we made it with time to relax!
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Did they really set off from here? But now a Unesco site . The Sacred Forest where the 1st Voodoo Prince died - tigers Yes!

From Benin it was just overnight cruising to Togo - after the overwhelming day in Benin with all those strange chiefs and tigers, having seen the welcome dance provided for us on the quayside, we decided on a rest day here, but the parents took some photos on their jaunt ashore to keep us up to date. And there were more strange chiefs for us in the theatre on their return

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An impressive welcome for us bears. Endearing schoolchildren and then larger than life Voodoo practicants. A show put on back on board for us lads!

Then finally on to Ghana . Oh how we wished we had gone ashore here!, but we had to be ship shape and ready for a quick depart at 6pm and did not wish to risk being left behind as the ship sailed on to the Cape Verde Islands . So we dutifully stayed beside the backpacks in the camarote whilst the parents saw tiger coffins - their photos a poor second to the real thing! . But, the excursion having overstayed at the Cedi bead factory, they only returned with 5 minutes to clear the ship- so just as well we were all ready!

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Would have loved to have had a photo taken on these ,but would have skipped the bible coffin! Yet another one in the museum
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House from which slaves left.On to those bright glass beads, before the police escort brought the parents back-only just in time

A scary ride to the airport : were we being kidnapped?, but then great business class flights back to Alicante. And a lovely stewardess took a liking to us London to Madrid.

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How we are looking forward to our next stint aboard the Silver Explorer!

Life in 2015.

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