A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Anja Fourie

Cruise to Mozambique

"I'd like to spend some time in Mozambique, the sunny sky is aqua blue." ~ Bob Dylan (Mozambique)

sunny 30 °C
View Cruise to Mozambique on Anja Fourie's travel map.

All the videos from this trip can be viewed on Youtube: MSC Sinfonia Mozambique

On a humid day in Durban, South Africa, we arrive at Durban Harbour ready to board the MSC Sinfonia. The MSC Sinfonia was built in 2002, with 9 passengers decks (12 in total), and a length of 252 metres. She is one of the newest ships in the MSC fleet and cost approximately $245 million to complete and furnish.

As we arrive at the port, we can only see the ship peeking out from behind the waiting hall. The next few hours are made up of waiting and some more waiting. Passengers are sent to the waiting hall, a hell of people, heat and humidity, to wait for their numbers to be called out. As soon as your number is called, you can proceed to the next part where passport check and hotel check-in happens.

1. MSC Sinfonia and the Waiting Hall

As all food is included on this cruise, so the first thing we do as we hop onboard, is head down to lunch. The weather is a bit cloudy, but this does not make Durban lose any of its humid charm. After lunch, we head to the top deck to view the ship leaving Durban harbour. A crowd of people are already dancing on the deck as they introduce the so-called "Dream Team", the entertainment staff and take the crowd through music from the different countries onboard.

2. Leaving Durban Harbour

3. MSC Sinfonia Stern

As all food is included on this cruise, it should be no suprise that a massive amount of eating was done. With two buffet meals, a formal dinner at night and burger and pizza snacks between meals, no one will go hungry on this cruise.

4. Eating and drinking..that is all

5. The Kardashians?

The Christmas Cruise is a six night cruise from Durban Harbour up the east coast of South Africa towards Mozambique. Our first night onboard we had a formal dinner and introduction to the crew and captain. We all dressed up into our formal outfits and made our way to the ship's theater.

6. Formal Time

In the theater, champagne and snacks were served. The captain came down the stairs to a very Afrikaans song, called Kaptein by Kurt Darren. The song name means Captain in Afrikaans, and has apparently become Captain Ciro Pinto's favourite song.

7. The Captain and his Crew

The first port of call for the MSC Sinfonia on this cruise, was Inhambane. This is a city located about 470km northeast of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. As there is no harbour to speak of, the ship docks a distance away into the ocean. Boats are then taken to shore. You climb off into the waves and everyone and everything gets wet as you somehow fall off the boat and into deeper water than you expected. Inhambane is one of the oldest settlements on the East Coast of Mozambique as Muslim traders already inhabited this area as early as the 11th century.

The resort on the beach was called Barra Lodge and is situated on Barra Beach. Scuba diving is very popular in this area as Manta Rays, Whale Sharks and Turtles are plentiful in these waters. We opted for no exploring and rather chose a day of relaxing on the beach.

8. Inhambane / Barra Lodge Beach

The weather in Mozambique was boiling, with beaches so hot they gave you blisters under your feet. As a result I burned into a crisp and couldn't even stand being out in the sun. Me, deck chair, wet orange towels to make sure no sun gets to me, and lots of shade was how I spent my next day.

9. Orange Towel Baby

10. Christmas aboard the Sinfonia

At the end of the trip, all bags are to be placed in the hallways at a certain time. The baggage checkers will then proceed to remove your bags and take them down ready to be taken off the ship. All the hallways were crowded with bags as people scrambled to get them out by their specific times and also to have all the necessary clothes out for the next day. In the morning, we had our last breakfast and then proceded to wait yet again in for our numbers to be called out so we could leave the ship.

11. Waiting Bags and Just Waiting

Before leaving to go home, we had one day in Durban. We spent this day visiting Ushaka Marine World and seeing the Dolphin Show. Durban was wet, but unfortunately still humid and sticky.

12. Durban and Dolphin Show

13. Finally Home - Cape Town International

Posted by Anja Fourie 21:35 Archived in Mozambique Tagged ocean ship cruise summer heat white_sand maputo mozambique sinfonia inhambane portuegese_islands Comments (1)

Karoo Christmas

"I could see for miles, miles, miles." ~ Bon Iver (Halocene)

sunny 30 °C

Beautiful nature, delicious food and family all around describes our Karoo Christmas perfectly.
I'm keeping the words to a minimum and letting the photos tell the story.

11:00 am

18:00 pm













Posted by Anja Fourie 01:56 Archived in South Africa Tagged mountains food rain drink scenery christmas farm swimming tan eat karoo touwsriver Comments (0)

The little town of Wagon-House-Cliff

Arniston, South Africa

semi-overcast 25 °C

The first half of our Saturday we spent at Agulhas, before returning to Arniston. At Arniston we went to the hotel to warm up with Hot Chocolate with a beautiful view of this dangerous ocean in front of us. Arniston is a tiny coastal village.

1. The hotel and beach view

2. Me, being extremely excited about something

Arniston derives its name from the Arniston ship that sank there in 1815. She was part of the British East Indian fleet and was rounding the Cape to return wounded soldiers home to England from Ceylon. A chronometer was a very expensive instrument at that time. The Arniston didn’t have one, so her Captain had to rely on the other ships in the fleet to know where he was. When a storm separated him from the other ships, he had to rely on his own intuition to navigate himself home. When the captain rounded Waenhuiskrans, he thought that is was the Cape of Good Hope and started to steer the ship north. This meant that he ran the ship ashore onto the rocks at Waenhuiskrans. Of the 378 people on board, only six managed to swim ashore. They started to make their way to Cape Town when they realised their mistake. They were found on the beach by a farmer’s son. A memorial was erected on the beach by the wife of Colonel Giels. Their four children died on that fateful day.

3. Arniston memorial

The inscription on the memorial reads: Erected by their disconsolate parents to the memory of Thomas, aged 13 years, William Noble, aged 10, Andrew, aged 8 and Alexander McGregor Murray, aged 7 (the four eldest sons of Lieut. Colonel Andrew Giels of H.M. 73rd Regiment) who, with Lord and Lady Molesworth unfortunately perished in the Arniston Transport, wrecked on this shore on 3rd May, 1815.

4. At Arniston you can also do some whale watching

While at the hotel we decided to take a walk to the nearby cave. Arniston’s other name is Waenhuiskrans. This is an Afrikaans name which literally means “Wagon House Cliff”. The reason the town was given this name is because the cave that can be found here is big enough to house an entire wagon and its oxen. This is a limestone cave and can be found to the right of Roman Beach, which is about 2km south of Arniston. The cave can only be accessed at low tide as the cave is under water during high tide and thus very dangerous.

5. On our way to the cave

6. Steps down to the cave

According to the pamphlet we got at the hotel, it is best to plan your trip to the cave at sunset. The reason for this is that the darkness of the cave makes the colours outside even more spectacular which means that sunsets seen from inside the cave must be amazing. When the last ray of sun sinks below the horison, a green flash can be seen. This 2 second flash is caused by the dispersion of the blue light. Unfortunately we weren’t there are sunset, but the cave was still pretty spectacular. It really is as big as described with the prettiest rock formations inside. The roof is spectacularly grooved as a result of the water erosion. At the far side of the cave, the rocks and sand are still wet. Kelp was also lying here and this is proof that the ocean does completely fill this cave at high tide.

7. Almost there

8. The Cave

That night we made dinner back at the house and then decided to go out for a drink. Arniston has no pumping nightlife and this we found out on the Saturday night. We wanted to go out for a drink, but finding the hotel closed for a private function, we had no choice but to go home. There are no other bars or restaurants open in this little town that time of the night and it was only nine o’clock!

9. Dinner time

The next day we decided to explore the white washed and thatched roof houses of Kassiesbaai. This is a 200 year old fishing village and it has been declared a National Heritage site and South African Monument. At some of the houses you can enjoy a traditional meal consisting mainly of fish. An arts and crafts shop is also set up. Most of the residents here still make their living from the sea.

10. On our way

11. Welcome to Kassiesbaai

12. Arniston harbour

13. Cute cousin playing on the anchor outside the hotel

After that we headed back to Roman’s Beach again for some ice-cream. At this ice-cream stand you can only choose between strawberry and vanilla or a strawberry/vanilla mix. If you don’t like any one of these flavours, then you’ll just have to do without ice-cream.

14. Roman’s beach: path to The Cave can be seen at the far right

15. Ice-cream on the beach

16. Soft lime stone at the beach makes for interesting sand art

After that our weekend at Arniston was finished. After lunch and some careful packing, with me still managing to forget things, we headed back home.

17. A Goodbye sunset

Posted by Anja Fourie 15:22 Archived in South Africa Tagged food beach memorial ship cave south_africa ice-cream arniston Comments (0)

The Southernmost point of Africa

Agulhas, South Africa

semi-overcast 20 °C

On the South coast of South Africa, about 280 kilometers from Cape Town, two oceans meet at the little town of Agulhas. It is this collision of two very different oceans that creates one of the most dangerous stretches of coast in the world. Divers, explorers and researchers also know this stretch of coast from the Cape of Good Hope to the Eastern Cape as Shipwreck Coast. This weekend we stayed in Arniston which is approximately 40 kilometers and a 30 minute drive away from Agulhas. There are about 4000 permanent residents in this area between Agulhas and Arniston.

Little towns install a different feeling in people. The sky is clearer and bluer and the air cleaner. Life moves at a slower pace than in the city and people practice Il Dolce far niente without ever having heard of it. Il Dolce far niente is an Italian saying which can be translated as “the sweetness of doing nothing”. It describes a pleasant idleness which can only be found when you know the value of doing nothing.


Driving away from Cape Town, snow can be spotted on the mountains in the distance which could be a sign that we are in for a cold weekend. As we progress through the countryside, the air becomes blue and clear and after a little rain a beautiful rainbow can even be seen.

1. Pre-rain skies

2. Countryside

3. Double rainbow outside Caledon

4. The rainbow seen from the house

5. The house in Arniston that we stayed in

On the first night we didn’t do anything, but relax inside the house under blankets in front of the fire. On Saturday we drove to Agulhas. This area was named Cabo das Agulhas by the Portuguese in the 1500’s. It means Cape of Needles, because the Portuguese navigators noticed that Magnetic North coincided with True North in this region. The name can also refer to the jagged edges of the coast. Until the 20th century the area was known as Cape L’Agullas. Today the town is known as L’Agulhas with the area known simply as Cape Agulhas. The name change is a result of French influence in the Cape. To get to the point you drive through L’Agulhas and park close to the lighthouse. The last few meters to the official meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic oceans has to be walked. This official point has been chosen by the International Hydrographic Organization.

6. Walking to the most Southern point

7. The official meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans

After having a quick snack on the benches by the point, we headed back to the lighthouse. The coastline of this area is so dangerous that a lighthouse just had to be built. Numerous wrecks can be found along the coast. Dangerous winter storms and waves which can reach 30 meters high gave this piece of coast its reputation. The very shallow Agulhas bank and very strong winds, combined with the conflicting currents of the warm Agulhas current and the cold Benguela current creates a nightmare for any navigator. One of these ships was the Japanese Meisho Mauro which sank as recently as 16 November 1982. She was carrying 240 tons of tuna on that fatal day. Luckily all 17 crew members managed to swim to shore.

8. The Meisho Mauro on the spot where she ran ashore.

9. Climbing to see the actual ocean

10. This is where oceans meet

These types of waters can sink even large ships. For this reason, the Agulhas lighthouse was built in 1848. Michel Breda, mayor of the Cape at that time, gave a part of his farm, Zoetendalsvalleij, for the lighthouse to be built on. It is modeled after the Pharos of Alexandria. This is the second oldest lighthouse in the country and at the time of its completion it cost approximately £12 000. The lighthouse in Green Point, near Cape Town, is the oldest. L’Agulhas is also the only settlement in South Africa that developed around a lighthouse.

11.The lighthouse

There are 71 steps to the top of the lighthouse. They are in fact not steps, but straight-up ladders. Going to the top was easy. Coming back down, I was trembling a little. The lighthouse keeper’s house has been transformed into a small museum and coffee shop. The light of the lighthouse was first lit on the 1st of April 1847. They choose a very good day as this is also my birthday! A Frenchman, Le Paute, was the engineer of the optical apparatus for the lighthouse and this was where the French name L'Agulhas was attributed to.

12. Climbing to the top

13. View from the top

14. View from the bottom

15. Hyperventilation time

16. Fibre glass figurehead of the French ship, Marie Elise, that was wrecked on 6 November 1877P1040764.jpg

After all this stressful climbing, we had some lunch at a nearby restaurant. Next we headed to Struisbaai where there are more shops to buy some things for dinner that night.

17. The most Southern Cafe in Africa

18. Shopping for dinner

19. 11356 kilometers away from Tunis, the most Northern point in Africa

We then returned to Arniston to continue the rest of our exploration of this dangerous coast.

Posted by Anja Fourie 11:54 Archived in South Africa Tagged coast south shipwreck lighthouse storms blue_sky atlantic_ocean indian_ocean eat currents arniston Comments (1)

Gibraltar, United Kingdom

"I am now in Gibraltar. It is a large place and there does not seem to be room in this letter, in which to express my feelings about Moors in bare legs." - Richard H. Davis.

sunny 28 °C
View Mediterranean Cruise on Anja Fourie's travel map.


Gibraltar is a peninsula of mainland Spain and a small strip of land which is dominated by ‘the Rock’. You can see Morocco in the distance, but walking to Europoint, where the lighthouse and the furthest point of Africa is, is a bit of a long walk into the nature reserve and up ‘the Rock’. Instead I walk around town until I finally find the Main Street. This is where everything happens in Gibraltar it seems.

1. First look at the Rock

Gibraltar reminds me of a little beach town and there really isn’t much to see here. Walking down Main Street, I enter some shops and look at clothes, but there are no 3 Euro dresses can be seen here.

It is interesting to see how most of the price tags in clothing stores are shown in euros, pounds and dollars. The reason for this is that, although a physical part of Spain, Gibraltar is a British overseas territory and citizens are all British citizens. Some shops only indicate prices in pounds, but they accept the Euro as form of payment. Most items only have a price tag indicating the amount in British Pounds. The shopkeepers are either just really good at converting to Euro or they make up the prices as they go along, but they can immediately give you the Euro amount if you ask.

Gibraltar may be a British overseas territory, but its physical connection to Spain cannot be denied. The main currency in Gibraltar is pound, fish and chips shops are around every corner and men drink pints on street corners; but English still seems to fail the people here. Whoever I spoke to or asked for directions looked at me in a blank way and just spoke Spanish. Maybe I just unluckily spoke to the wrong people?

2. The square at the beginning of Main Street

3. Main Street

Gibraltar is also famous for the Barbary Apes. According to legend, if the Apes leave Gibraltar then Gibraltar will cease to remain a British colony. In the past this legend was taken so seriously that the British army used to feed the Apes. I didn't see one Ape.

4. Signs that the British were, are and will be here

5. The Irish part of town

You would think that the Gibraltarians would choose to be a part of Spain, but this is not the case. When the United Nations forced Britain to decolonise Gibraltar in the 1960’s, the people voted over-whelmingly to stay a part of Britain. Only 44 out of the 12 000 voters, voted against Britain. In 2002 they held another referendum and this time only 187 of the 20 000 voters voted against Britain. Apparently these Gibraltarians love Britain even though they are in no rush to learn English. In 2004 Gibraltar celebrated 300 years as a British territory.

John Galliano, who was the head designer of Givenchy and most recently Dior, is from Gibraltar. John Lennon and Joko Ono got married in Gibraltar on 20 March 1969 and the lyrics of the Ballad of John & Joko by The Beatles reflect this: "You can make it OK, you can get married in Gibraltar." Sean Connery married both his wives at Gibraltar. The Prince of Wales, Charles and Diana started their honeymoon in Gibraltar. Kaiane Aldorino, is also from Gibraltar and was Miss World 2009.

6. Miss World 2009 - A Gibraltar local

At the end of Main Street, there is not much left to do. I buy an ice-cream and make my way back to the ship.

7. Docked at Gibraltar

Next stop: Home

Posted by Anja Fourie 11:38 Archived in Gibraltar Tagged morocco pounds gibraltar john_lennon dollars marriage euros joko_ono barbary_apes princess_diana prince_charles john_galliano sean_connery united_nations referendum Comments (0)

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