Cruise The East African Coast In Vintage Style With A Bespoke Thanda Group Experience
Thanda offers bespoke cruises aboard the 1930-built Over the Rainbow of London along the East African coast, including Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar.
[Words Joe Lim, Photos Courtesy of Thanda Island] For those looking to enjoy East Africa’s coastline, Thanda Group offers a magical, old-world cruising experience on board the vintage 35m Over the Rainbow of London, whose esteemed guests over almost nine decades have included Winston Churchill. Now based in Tanzania, the yacht has a fascinating history that is a large part of its modern-day experience, offering guests a glimpse of how life was lived by some in the early 20th century, while island hopping on a similar latitude to the more remote Seychelles.
Cruising East Africa In Vintage Style
In 1929, WG Hetherington commissioned a Welsh shipyard to design and build a bespoke motor yacht for cruising around Scotland’s west coast. Built of teak on oak frames, the ship originally set sail in April 1930 as Janthea IV, the first of her many different names.
The yacht was sold four years later to Walter Melville Wills before being requisitioned at the outbreak of World War II for coastal patrol. In 1948, Count Raben-Levetzau of Copenhagen became her new owner and after a brief trip around the US, the yacht returned to the Mediterranean where she became a popular floating casino.
From 1952, successive owners moored her in Cyprus, Greece and elsewhere in the Mediterranean until she was purchased by UK owners who began commercially chartering the vessel in the 1990s in the Cote D’Azur.
In 2002, Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon fell in love with the vessel and commissioned a painstaking rebuild in Italy, including an extension of the upper aft deck to create an elegant shaded area. Now part of the luxury-focused Thanda Group’s portfolio, which also includes upscale residences and a private game reserve in South Africa, Over the Rainbow of London has a new home in Africa and operates as Thanda Classic Cruise, combining nostalgia and vintage aesthetics with modern luxuries and five-star experience.
As such, charter guests can cast aside all worries and anxiety because Thanda is an expert in satisfying demands and requests, and creating personalised experiences. Guests are whisked from the nearest international airport – typically Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital – by a charter flight, helicopter, land or boat transfer to their starting point and from there, the journey begins.
Whether it’s a cruise to the spice island of Zanzibar or a private dive charter to Chose Bay on the southeast coast of the delectably named Mafia Island, guests on this 115-footer have the freedom to roam a fascinating world of atolls and islands of all sizes off Tanzania and other countries on the East African Coast. The crew is always at hand to cater to your every whim, so whether you decide to snorkel, dive, island hop or just while away time gazing at the sunset, you basically steer your own experience.
Destinations aside, the yacht itself is a beautiful place to be. The interior has a warm, homely vibe due in large to its hardwood-clad surfaces, while white billowy curtains help to soften some of the hard furnishings.
On the sun deck or upper deck, the captain’s cabin and wheelhouse are among the finest rooms on the yacht, offering infinite views. Guests can also enjoy 360-degree vistas of the Indian Ocean on the rest of the sun deck, which is uncovered and has plenty of fixed seating and deck chairs for sunbathing and socialising, while a RIB is also kept up top.
Downstairs, there are four luxuriously appointed guest cabins that can house four double beds or up to 11 berths with a mix of single beds and luxe-style bunk beds, meaning the yacht can take two families with a total of seven children!
Aft, the owner’s stateroom has a large king-size bed, while a VIP cabin can have a double or two-three singles. Forward, the VIP cabin can feature a double or three-four singles, while one cabin suitable for children can feature a double or twin beds. There are even two extra beds in the second saloon, if required.
Cruise In East Africa In Vintage StyleThe Thanda Classic Cruise delivers exceptional cuisine, specialising in fresh seafood. The crew serves a delicious oceanic haul including lobsters, fish, prawns and shellfish, to name a few. They can cook up tasty prawn curry or grill you some line-caught squid. You won’t go hungry.
You can also tuck into beef or poultry while vegans and vegetarians can munch on vegetables and seasonal fruits. How do they know exactly what guests want? Prior to your trip, the head chef gets in touch to discuss dietary preferences, so all meals are thought out well in advance, with the flexibility to cook your ‘catch of the day’.
Action sports lovers can opt for windsurfing, water-skiing or sea kayaking. Families can choose to go for a leisurely swim, snorkel with the kids or simply enjoy a specially prepared picnic on peaceful beach.
For those with an adventurous spirit, take heart, as you’ll have plenty of activities to allow you to explore or trek as there are countless exciting destinations, both close and afar.
One possible starting point or destination is the exclusive Thanda Island, a private marine reserve billed as “one of the world’s most exclusive island getaways” for good reason – and an award-winning member of The Leading Hotels of the World.
A 45-minute helicopter ride from Dar es Salaam, Thanda Island is only 350m wide and encircled by a white-sand beach. A private retreat, it has just one five-bedroom villa and two beach chalets, plus a boathouse full of watersports equipment.
Situated in its own marine reserve named after the island’s original name, Shungimbili, the island offers stunningly clear water and colourful marine life, so guests can swim with a whale shark or watch sea turtles nesting. Or both.
The larger Mafia Island to the southeast also awaits those who admire and appreciate protected marine reserves, with blue waters fecund with oceanic animals. Island-hoppers can even explore Quirimbas Archipelago in northern Mozambique, south of Tanzania. Here, get ready to hop onto 32 islands which offer about 200km of beautiful coastal terrain. Quirimbas offers divers the chance to spot turtles, dolphins, whale sharks and dugongs.
Individuals who prefer something more educational can then head to Madagascar! Steeped in history, you can explore centuries-old Bantu, French and Malay influences.
There are Instagram-worthy moments: rusted shipwrecks, submerged cathedrals, palm-strewn pirate cemetery and many other ceremonies and rituals that its citizens maintain and respect. The yacht can also bring guests close enough to view humpback whales, too.
The Thanda Classic Cruise caters to a wide-range of guests – couples, families and adventurers – and promises unforgettable memories in and out of the water.