An Island Odyssey: Azores, Madeira, Canaries & Cape Verde

Azores Cruise

  • National Geographic Explorer
  • Luxury Expedition Ship
  • 148 Capacity
  • 16 Days
  • View Departure>
  • Price from
  • $999,999,999

Summary : On this ocean voyage you’ll have the rare chance to explore fascinating islands, isolated by expanses of ocean that are incredible oases of wildness and sites of intriguing histories. These dots of green developed in isolation until they were discovered, colonized, and used as stopping off points of early explorers and travelers making their way across the ocean by ship, the only means possible. They are fascinating for their rich marine and unique tropical wildlife, histories in the age of exploration and colonialism, and their rich modern cultures—all of which you'll explore.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography


Free Chronicle: Receive a free video chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!
Free Subscription: Complimentary 1-year subscription to National Geographic Magazine (one per booking).

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Day 1 – 2
U.S. / São Miguel, Azores, Portugal / Embark

Fly overnight to Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel in the Azores, where you embark National Geographic Explorer.

Day 3
Sao Miguel, Azores

At the heart of the Atlantic Ocean is a lush, mountainous archipelago that combines the breathtaking landscapes of Hawaii with the charm and culture of old-world Europe. Devote three days to the Azores. There is plenty to lure you. Rolling pastures to volcanic peaks. The villages are lovely, the museums intriguing. Today, explore the Furnas Valley and its famed hot springs, hiking the trails or perhaps visiting a tea plantation or the lovely garden of Terra Nostra. And you will have a tasting of Azorean cuisine. Savor a traditional cozido lunch, naturally cooked from the volcanic activity—underground!

Day 4
Faial, Azores

The Azores are a whale-watching mecca, where more than 20 different types of cetaceans can be spotted. Go in search of these gentle giants in the channel north of Pico and Horta islands. Once ashore on the island of Faial, head to Capelinhos, where you can see how dramatically the landscape changed when the volcano at the western end of the island erupted in 1957. Farms and villages were covered with ash, adding an extra two square kilometers of land to the island. Later, stroll along the marina, visit the excellent scrimshaw museum, and raise a glass at Peter’s Café Sport, a legendary pub where sea adventurers historically dropped off their mail. For those interested, scuba diving beneath startlingly clear water can be arranged. Or see some of the countryside on foot with a guided hike.

Day 5
Santa Maria, Azores

Like the Maasai trackers of East Africa, your local whale experts have centuries of ties to their surroundings and an instinct for scouting its wild inhabitants. They will guide you on your morning whale-watching. In the afternoon, go ashore at Santa Maria, historically significant as the first landfall of Christopher Columbus on his return from the Americas in 1493. For those interested, there are hiking trails that will allow you to experience the scenery and atmosphere of the island.

Day 6
At Sea

En route to Madeira, your expedition team will tell lively tales about the Golden Age of Exploration. These waters are full of marine creatures and seabirds; head up to the bridge and pick up a pair of binoculars. Take time to catch up on your reading in the library, have a massage or attend a wellness session.

Day 7 – 8
Madeira, Portugal

Often referred to as the ‘floating garden of the Atlantic,’ Madeira has beautiful scenery, with a delicious climate. Walk in the Laurisilva forest, endemic to Macaronesia and now a UNESCO Site. Wander along the levadas (former irrigation channels) that network the island or visit the Botanical Gardens. Sample Madeira’s seafood and hear a performance of authentic Fado singing. Have a tasting of the famed Madeira wines, and browse the exquisite embroidery and wicker crafted here. Zodiac cruise around the nearby islands of Desertas, a nature reserve, to see the multi-colored coastline geology and search for the rare endangered monk seal.

Day 9
At Sea/Canary Islands, Spain

After a morning at sea, arrive in the lush, European-flavored Canary Islands. All are of volcanic origin, reflected everywhere in the landscapes. The Canary Islands are known for their sunny climate and historical heritage. La Palma is known as Isla Bonita, the “pretty isle,” for its lush mountain slopes set against azure waters. Head up to the edge of a small crater for beautiful views and visit the church of Our Lady of the Snows, with its Spanish-Moorish architecture.

Day 10
El Hierro, Canary Islands

El Hierro is a hidden gem, an unspoiled paradise boasting lush vegetation, unique wildlife, breathtaking hiking trails and stunning lava formations, trees that are a thousand years old, and giant lizards on the verge of extinction. Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reverve, each corner of El Hierro reveals something spectacular, whether strolling through a small village or taking in the view atop the towering sea cliffs.

Day 11 – 12
At Sea

Keep a constant lookout for seabirds and marine creatures, stopping to observe them or perhaps film them with the ship’s underwater camera. During your days at sea, plan to engage in a variety of activities. Read in the ship’s library, enjoy a rejuvenating massage, work out in the gym, listen to talks from your staff, or simply relax.

Day 13 – 14
Cape Verde

The spectacular mountainous volcanic islands of Cape Verde comprise one of the world’s smallest independent nations. See impressive landscapes on Santo Antao: terraced hillsides, eucalyptus forests and deep valleys. Visit the island of Fogo, and add volcano-gazing to your life list. Drive 5,000 feet up the volcano to sample the local wine at its source: inside the caldera

Day 15 – 16
Praia, Santiago Island, Cape Verde / Disembark / U.S.

Disembark in Praia, the bustling capital of Cape Verde. The Old Town was founded by the Portuguese in 1460, and was once the most prosperous city of the Portuguese sea-borne empire, owing to the transatlantic slave trade. This morning, see the old fortress, cathedral and the pelourhino, a relic of the slave trade. Or you may want to hike the green and mountainous countryside. Dotted with small villages, it offers an insight into daily life on the island. In the late evening, transfer to the airport for your flight home.


This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Photo Expedition:
The photo team, a National Geographic Photographer and a Photo Specialist, will enhance your voyage by working with you on photo composition and exposure; helping you develop your own unique vision; showing you how professionals edit and store images while on the go; and sharing the stories behind some of their greatest images. Whether expert or interested beginner, you'll find added benefits such as walks ashore and Zodiac cruises dedicated to photography, presentations on the creative and technical aspects of photography, and one-on-one mentoring and coaching in the field.

Optional Atlantic Crossing: Continue to Salvador, Brazil on a leisurely six-day Atlantic Crossing. Contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

All accommodations aboard ship; all meals and non-alcoholic beverages aboard ship; meals on land as indicated; shore excursions; sightseeing and entrance fees; special access permits; transfers to and from group flights; use of kayaks; tips, except to ship’s crew; taxes and service charges; services of a ship physician on most voyages; services of your expedition staff.

Not Included:
Air transportation; extensions; passport, visa, immigration fees; meals not indicated; baggage/accident/travel insurance; items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages; email; laundry; gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion; fuel surcharge may apply.