Summary : Venture to remote, tranquil islands bathed in warm seas to find wildlife, plants, landscapes, and people different from any others on Earth. Along the way, you'll find extraordinary marine life at some of the world's most productive coral reefs and undersea sites that thrive with life. From the Swahili culture of Zanzibar, to the rare birds and giant tortoises of the Seychelles, to the postcard-perfect beaches, you'll see tropical nature at its most exuberant. Swim, snorkel and dive at the coral islands and powder-white beaches of the Seychelles, explore Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage site teeming with tropical fish, rare birds and giant tortoises, and explore the historic Stone Town on the storied island of Zanzibar.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling
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Free Subscription: Complimentary 1-year subscription to National Geographic Magazine (one per booking).
$999,999,999 to $0
Board an overnight flight to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Arrive in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital, situated along the Indian Ocean, and transfer to the Hyatt Regency Kilimanjaro for the night. Enjoy dinner at the hotel.
After a morning at leisure and lunch, tour Dar es Salaam, seeing its waterfront, the National Museum, which contains some of the Leakey family’s discoveries from Oldupai Gorge, and the craft center. Transfer to the pier and embark National Geographic Orion.
Experience a day on the storied “spice island” of Zanzibar, where cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon are still cultivated. Take a walking tour of the historic Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and learn about traditional Swahili culture and the island’s rich history, visiting Zanzibar’s museum, the Sultan’s Palace and Old Fort.
Enjoy a day at sea, taking in the beautiful seascapes from on board your state-of-the-art vessel.
Arrive in the Seychelles, anchoring off Assumption Island. Take a stroll ashore through coconut groves to see the remains of the guano mining that once took place here. Swim in the crystal-clear waters from the powder-white sand landing beach, or snorkel and, if you wish, scuba dive to observe the prolific undersea life, with over 100 species of fish including black lionfish, blue-ribbon eels, black-streak surgeonfish, and Indian Ocean steephead parrotfish.
Sail to remote Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest atolls on Earth. An expedition cruising paradise, your two days exploring Aldabra gives ample time to see the best of this incredible island. Plans will remain flexible to make the best of conditions. This afternoon you may have an opportunity to walk ashore, perhaps visiting the research station that houses the island’s only inhabitants—scientists and rangers who protect the wildlife. Walking through a shaded grove you find the Aldabra giant tortoise, emerging from the shade to feed. Aldabra’s lagoon is so large that the curvature of the earth hides the opposite shore. Zodiacs pass through narrow channels between fossilized coral islands to enter the lagoon. Through the clear water you see the rich marine life below—reef sharks, rays, and turtles—and cruise between mangrove-covered islands to observe large colonies of nesting boobies and great frigatebirds. There’s some of the most amazing snorkeling in the world. As the tides pump water in and out of the lagoon, massive numbers of fish come and go through channels to feed. Snorkel in these same channels, allowing the current to carry you along a magical scene. Scuba divers are also in for a thrill as they ride the current on an exciting drift dive.
Astove, also part of the Seychelles’ Outer Islands, offers remarkable snorkeling and diving along the outer wall of the coral reef. The wall plummets to huge depths and rises to within a few feet of the surface at the top. The reefs have enormous and colorful marine populations. Make a Zodiac landing on a sandy beach and look for nests of hawksbill and green turtles, and Abbott’s sunbird. Spend the afternoon at sea.
Enjoy this time at sea to relax and experience the amenities of the ship, from working out at the onboard gym to a massage at the spa.
Poivre consists of two sandy islets surrounded by outstanding coral reefs. The snorkeling and diving here are excellent, and you’ll have chances to see reef fish, rays and other marine life. Zodiacs will take you ashore, where you’ll look for birds that nest here and explore the coconut plantations. St. Joseph’s Atoll is surrounded by coral reefs, and you’ll explore here, going ashore to see the thousands of shearwaters that nest here.
Tiny Aride is one of the most important seabird breeding grounds in the Indian Ocean, with large populations of shearwaters, lesser noddies, white (or “fairy”) terns, roseate terns, sooty terns, tropicbirds, and a host of others. Make a Zodiac landing on the beach and hike up a trail for great views.
Praslin is famous for its unique palm forest, the Vallée de Mai, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to the rare coco-de-mer. This palm has mammoth fan-shaped fronds and a seed weighing up to 40 pounds—the largest leaf and seed in the tree kingdom. Some trees are over 900 years old. La Digue is a photogenic island with powdery white sand beaches and giant granite boulders, and you visit Anse Source d’Argent, the most famous beach in the Seychelles, for a swim. Explore the island by open vehicle or bicycle, and walk through the forest reserve to look for the rare Seychelles black parrot and paradise flycatcher.
Disembark on the island of Mahé in Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles, and transfer to the airport for overnight flights home or on to other adventures.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
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.
Scuba Diving Requirements: Scuba divers must be certified by an internationally recognized dive association prior to the voyage, and certification cards and logbooks must be shown on board. Divers must have logged 25 dives in total and made a dive within the 12 months preceding the voyage.
Accommodations; meals indicated and non-alcoholic beverages aboard the ship; all shore excursions and sightseeing; transfers to and from group flights; tips (except to ship's crew); all port charges and service taxes; services of expedition leader, naturalist staff and expert guides; use of kayaks.
Air transportation; passport and visa expenses; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, email, laundry, etc.; gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion; scuba diving surcharge; fuel surcharge may apply.