St Helena and Cape Town
Round trip on the Royal Mail Ship from Cape Town
Tours 216, 220 & 222: London • Cape Town • St Helena • Cape Town • London
As with all our trips on the Royal Mail Ship, the focal point is the island of St Helena with her fascinating history, beautiful landscapes and welcoming people. These trips start and finish in Cape Town giving us the chance to see a little more of the wonderful country which is South Africa although not visiting Ascension Island (though this can be arranged for independent travellers).
Having flown to Cape Town from the UK and checked in to our hotel, we then have a full day to enjoy some of the surrounding areas - perhaps the famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden or Table Mountain. Embarkation to the RMS St Helena the next day as we start our five-night journey to the island during which we can indulge in quizzes and deck games and much more.
We'll have eight nights on St Helena itself. This fascinating island has much to capture the imagination including the house where Napoleon spent the last five years of his life. Its history as an important port of call along the trade routes is evident from its history and we'll enjoy all aspects of its natural history as well from the endemic Wirebird, wonderful endemic plants and a boat trip to enjoy the Pan-Tropical Spotted Dolphins which are resident just off shore (no guarantees, but we usually see them).
Upon return to Cape Town we indulge ourselves in a little luxury at the amazing Constantia Uitsig Hotel which is set in its own vineyard and internationally renowned for its restaurants. In stark contrast we visit one of the townships where the dignified and proud residents show us some of the projects which are helping them out of abject poverty. There are indeed many aspects to this fascinating country but, all too soon, it's time to fly back to the UK.
Your Tour Leader
Libby Weir-Breen set up Island Holidays in 1987 with Shetland naturalist, the late Bobby Tulloch MBE. Her own experience in the travel industry goes back to 1977 when she left her job on The Scotsman newspaper to become a resort representative in St Anton in the Austrian Tyrol. She has travelled widely both researching and leading tours. A passionate conservationist and campaigner for trade justice, Libby has a love for the natural world and feels herself privileged to be able to express this through her work and to share it with so many like-minded people.
More about travelling to St Helena
Day 1: Our British Airways flight leaves London Heathrow's excellent Terminal 5 in the late afternoon or evening (schedules to be confirmed).
Day 2: Upon arrival in Cape Town we will be met by our local guide and taken to our city centre hotel to check in. Having had a chance to freshen up, we head out to the famous Kirstenbosch Gardens where we'll have lunch in the African restaurant before taking a gentle walk with one of the Gardens' senior botanists. We return to our hotel in plenty of time to relax before dinner.
Day 3: Our plans today evolve around the time of the ship's arrival and the consequent embarkation time but, by the evening, we will probably be on our way to St Helena having first spent time on the city's vibrant Waterfront. Lunch today is at your own expense.
Days 4 - 7: Life on board the Royal Mail Ship is a real experience, especially if you get involved in the deck games, the quizzes and the other pastimes which are interspersed by regular intervals of feeding! With a maximum of 130 passengers, the ship is small and intimate and you will soon make new friends and hear interesting stories of life on St Helena.
Day 8: Our arrival time in Jamestown is a moveable feast and so we don't have anything particular planned for the day - it's likely that we'll not get there until late afternoon. When we arrive we'll find half the island will waiting to meet the ship - it's a wonderful atmosphere. Having gone through security, we pick up any bags which have been unloaded and give them to our driver, and then stroll up St Helena's main street to the Consulate Hotel* which will be our base for the next week. The rest of our luggage will find us in due course!
Days 9 - 15: The order of our day by day itineraries varies according to the weather and the availability of local experts and so we don't put it down on paper. However, during our stay on the island the following activities will be included:
- A guided walk of Jamestown
- A Napoleon day
- A boat trip around the coast to look for seabirds and hopefully link up with the resident pod of Pan-Tropical Spotted Dolphins
- A day in the Three Peaks National Park with a local botanist
- A visit to the Millennium Wood
- A morning at Flagstaff to look for the endangered Wirebird and with the opportunity for a good walk for those who so wish
- Scenic drives
- A visit to the George Benjamin arboretum
- A visit to Plantation House and the cathedral
Plus lots more. There'll also be some free time to pursue your own interests - and there's an excellent open-air swimming pool in Jamestown.
Day 16 Depending on the ship's schedule, we should have plenty of time for a last look around Jamestown, perhaps a swim and then lunch. In the afternoon we rejoin the Royal Mail Ship for our journey back to Cape Town.
Days 17 - 20: Life on the Royal Mail Ship is wonderful! It's totally relaxed with plenty of time for reading or simply staring out to sea - but, if you can only do so much of that, there's always plenty of entertainment and interesting people with whom to pass the time of day.
Day 21: Today's programme is dependent upon the ship's arrival time and the efficiency (or otherwise!) of the disembarkation procedure. Once we've cleared officialdom our guide will be waiting to whisk us off to the amazing Constantia Uitsig - a country house hotel in the shadow of the Constantia mountain, set in its own vineyards and with it's own cricket oval! This is the sort of place you simply want to spend time. Dinner tonight will be in one of Constantia's top class restaurants.
Day 22: While we're in Cape Town, both before and after the trip to St Helena, we'll be looking for any opportunity to get up Table Mountain – often it's too windy or the "Tablecloth" is down – that's cloud. Our itinerary is therefore by necessity flexible but the plan today is to go up the mountain if possible and also to take a scenic drive to Hout's Bay and the Chapman's Peak road. Alternatively we may head down to the Cape of Good Hope and call in at the African Penguin colony on the way back. Again we'll be dining at Constantia Uitsig tonight.
Day 23: For our last day we'll be heading out to the Winelands and enjoying a relaxed lunch at one of the many superb Wine Farms in the area, after which we'll visit the town of Stellenbosch where there'll be time to have a look round the shops or the museum or whatever takes your fancy. And then it's time to head to the airport for our late afternoon/early evening check in and the homeward flight which arrives at London Heathrow Terminal 5 in the morning.
Please note itineraries can be changed without notice and at the sole discretion of your tour leader.