Summary : In the middle of the Indian Ocean, you'll find strings of tiny tropical islands which are home to pristine ecosystems. Explore the Seychelles, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka and discover idyllic islands rich in endemic plant and birdlife and surrounded by warm, crystalline seas that teem with vibrant life, including blue whales. visit the islands' colorful towns, explore their intriguing histories, and see an ancient seaport and 400-year old fort in Galle, Sri Lanka. Explore this spectacular corner of the world with a team of experts as you snorkel and dive clear warm waters with manta rays and hundreds of species of fish, see the endangered Seychelles giant tortoise in the wild, and discover the fascinating colonial and modern history of these islands.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling
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).
$999,999,999 to $0
Board an overnight flight to the Seychelles.
Arrive in Mahé, Seychelles. Check into your hotel for the night, Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove, with an opportunity to relax and enjoy the beach. This evening, there will be a dinner at the hotel.
The morning is at leisure. After lunch, you’ll have a brief tour of Mahé before transferring to the pier and embarking National Geographic Orion.
Idyllic Silhouette is a steep and forested island that offers a choice of walks and the chance to see the work of the Seychelles Giant Tortoise Conservation Project. The giant tortoise of the Seychelles was almost extinct because tortoises were taken for food by early sailors. Only a small number remain, and you’ll be able to see some up close. Hikers can opt for easy walks or more strenuous ones, before you return to the ship and sail to Curieuse. Here you’ll have time on the beach to enjoy the warm waters, with a chance to snorkel, kayak, or dive. This evening, plan to have a sunset barbecue dinner ashore, prepared by the crew of your ship.
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.
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, including the very rare and endangered Seychelles magpie-robin. It also has a couple of endemic plant species. Spend the morning here, making a Zodiac landing on the beach and hiking up a trail for great views. Mid-afternoon, set sail across the Indian Ocean for the Maldives.
Enjoy these days at sea and try out the many amenities your ship has to offer, from working out at the gym to a relaxing massage at the spa.
Make landfall at the southernmost atoll of this archipelago, with a visit to the WWII Royal Air Force outpost at Gan. Swim and snorkel in crystalline Maldive waters.
Enjoy this time at sea to keep an eye out for marine life and take in the beautiful seascapes.
Although this tiny island nation has a long and fascinating human history, it is perhaps most well known today for its clear turquoise waters and abundant marine life. Today we’ll experience both aspects, with a brief morning visit to the bustling capital of Malé, and an afternoon immersed in warm Indian Ocean waters at a nearby island.
These days are dedicated to exploring the more remote reaches of the northern islands, including the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll. More than 1,000 fish species, including manta rays and whale sharks, will delight snorkelers and scuba divers, while birdwatchers will be thrilled with Zodiac cruises sighting tropicbirds and frigatebirds. The Maldives are also known for a diversity of cetaceans, so we’ll search for dolphins and possibly even blue whales from the deck of the ship as we explore these crystalline waters.
Reflect on your adventures so far as you cross from the Maldives to Sri Lanka.
Dedicate this morning to searching out the marine mammals for which this part of the Indian Ocean is known, so bring your binoculars and join your fellow passengers and guides on deck. Later, you'll pass under the ramparts of the 400-year-old Galle Fort on approach to the harbor. On an afternoon tour of this fascinating city, see its Portuguese and Dutch colonial architecture and learn of a history that includes Persian, Arab, Greek, Roman, and Chinese influences. Return to your ship for the night.
Historically known as "Gimhathiththa," the ancient seaport of Galle is also thought to be the site from which ivory, peacocks and cinnamon were shipped to the court of King Solomon. Today it’s the base from which you explore a bit of southern Sri Lanka. Choose to learn about traditional Sri Lankan culture with visits to a folk museum and a Ceylon tea plantation, or spend your day searching for wildlife on a guided river safari.
Disembark and tour Colombo this morning before transferring to your hotel for the evening. Depart on flights home, arriving the following day.
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 as indicated; all meals 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.