Summary : This voyage from Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago to the Andaman Islands and Sri Lanka will take you to unspoiled islands with white sand beaches and colorful underwater life in the Mergui and Andaman Islands, as well as National Parks with rare mammals (including the possibility of seeing leopards) and birds in Sri Lanka. For culture lovers, several UNESCO World Heritage Sites beckon. See the unspoiled Mergui Archipelago. Swim and snorkel in clear waters teeming with colorful reef fish. Look for the Moken, a nomadic ethnic group living on and off the sea in Myanmar. Visit Sirigiya, Polonnaruwa and Galle Fort, UNESCO World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka, and look for leopards in Yala National Park
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark the ship and meet your Expedition Team. Enjoy time to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, and meet fellow travelers.
During the morning you will attend a mandatory Zodiac briefing, and your Expedition Team will present a lecture about the history and nature of the Mergui Archipelago preparing you for the next 3 days of exploration within this group of islands. More than 800 islands spread out over 36,000 km² make Mergui Archipelago a prime location for underwater activities.
Once Silver Discoverer has been cleared into Myanmar, you will have a look at this border town formerly known as Victoria Point. Interestingly enough it has a strong Muslim and Indian influence and a Buddhist monastery atop the hill to the north of the town. The monastery has impressive guardian dragons and will offer nice views of Kawthaung.
During your first day in the archipelago see Kyunn Tann Shey, located in the Lampi Group. The officially uninhabited Lampi, apart from having occasional fishing nomads stop over, is large enough to hold wild animals, including a small herd of elephants. With rainforest and a fringing coral reef, Lampi’s outstanding beauty is enhanced by spotting monkeys, hornbills and sea eagles. Lampi was established in 1995 as Myanmar’s first marine national park. It is rich in biodiversity, mangroves and coral reefs. Ashore you can witness some of the area’s exotic flora and fauna. The surrounding islands offer beaches regardless of tides. More than 50 white sand beaches and fringing reefs wait to be used for snorkeling, bird-watching or just relaxing.
Kyunn Phi Lar has many birds, animals, fishes and marine mammals including monkeys, turtles, shark and dolphins. The Salone people (known as Moken in Thailand and Malaysia and as Sea Gypsies in English) are traveling through this area, so there might be a chance meeting them and to see their unique boat designs.
In the afternoon visit one of the smaller islands, known as Frost Island. Apart from the white beaches that are perfect for relaxation or more exercises with your Wellness Team, the island has a range of interesting animals and birds to offer: not only are monitor lizards and Great Hornbills, kites, sea eagles and kingfishers found here, but one can also visit a cave in which swiftlets nest.
Snorkelers will look for hard and soft corals, anemones and gorgonian fans as well as nudibranches, cuttlefish, and octopuses, plus hundreds of colorful reef fish.
Clear out of Myanmar during breakfast and will be on our way to the Andaman Islands. The Wellness Team will have a Yoga session and your Expedition Team will be on the outer decks looking for wildlife or presenting interesting talks about India’s far-flung Andaman archipelago.
Enjoy the day at sea relaxing, attending a food or wine seminar, visit The Spa or work out at The Gym. There are many ways to keep you busy and entertained aboard Silver Discoverer.
During the morning you will be crossing the Andaman Sea and your lecturers would like to present interesting talks, while the wellness Team will be offering exercises or a seminar.
Your afternoon destination is Ross Island, which the British had selected as the capital of the islands between 1858 and 1941. This is where the authorities will clear Silver Discoverer into India.
Once the ship is cleared, visit the basically uninhabited island with its old buildings, the church, printing press, government offices, Chief Commissioner’s house, and cemetery in ruins and trees overgrowing many areas.
Today spend your time on beaches and in the water, looking for relaxation and colorful reef fishes. Your Wellness Team will select a good spot for yoga and exercises, while your Marine Biologist will be looking for the best places to snorkel. Located off the beach of Henry Lawrence is a wall reef that is considered the best reefs for snorkelers. The scenery is breathtaking and snorkelers can be surrounded by schools of cardinal fish. Lionfish, pipefish, ghost pipefish, and octopuses are present and humphead parrot fish feed noisily on the coral.
During lunch, Silver Discoverer will reposition a short distance to Inglis Island.
East of Lawrence Island, and much smaller, Inglis Island is covered in lush tropical rainforest and has extensive white powder beaches. While you relax on land a group of local musicians will entertain. Perhaps you want to then walk into the rainforest, or put on your snorkeling gear on the beach and take a short swim to be surrounded by colorful fishes. Huge parrot fishes are not uncommon here, and sometimes even dugongs (the few that still remain in the Andaman Islands) are found north of Inglis Island. Birders will be looking for White-bellied Sea Eagles, Brahminy Kites, kingfisher, hornbills, owls and parakeets.
During dinner Silver Discoverer will arrive at Haddo, Port Blair, for the outward clearance.
Two leisurely days at sea will give you a chance to exchange notes with fellow travelers and take advantage of amenities aboard Silver Discoverer. Help your birdwatchers spot some of the seabirds found far away from their nesting grounds, and let your experts prepare you for the visit to Sri Lanka through lectures about wildlife and culture.
Trincomalee has one of the largest natural harbors in the world. Because of this several European nations fought over Trincomalee, which was already one of the most visited places of Hindu worship.
The two options for full-day tours today are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the first option is to drive to Polonnaruwa, the former capital of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa. Dating back to the 12th century the ancient city is an excellent example of how irrigation systems were planned to be able to maximize the use of rain. Its ruins and statues are still today powerful remains. The excursion to Polonnaruwa will include a visit to the museum where by special arrangement the museum’s curator will be at hand to answer any questions. A special buffet lunch will be arranged in the wilderness, and while you have your meal a traditional Sri Lankan folk show will take place for you.
Alternatively travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sirigiya, the city of the Rock Fortress. Sirigiya is Asia’s best-preserved city center dating back to the first millennium. Its particular interest goes back to the 5th century, when parricidal King Kassapa unrightfully seized the throne and fled to the peak of reddish gneiss known as Lion’s Rock. This massive column of rock was used for the construction of his palace. It is known that the area had been in use for centuries and was used as a Buddhist monastery after Kassapa died.
A massive wall defends part of the lower city. Various features have been overgrown by the forests and while one part has not yet been fully excavated, the other part is known to have been the aristocratic quarter with terraced gardens, canals and fountains. Formerly the image of a lion had been constructed around the outcrop, but the head collapsed and today only the feet and claws can be seen.
On arrival in Sirigiya visit the museum to get a good overview of the fortress, its history, the objects found and those excavated. Here too the museum’s curator will be at your disposal to answer any questions that you might have regarding the legendary citadel.
To see the top one has to climb special staircases. At the summit of the rock is the fortified palace with its ruined buildings, its cisterns and its rock sculptures. Apart from the archaeological remains of the palace and city Sirigiya is famous for the “Mirror Wall”. The surface of the rock had been polished to such an extreme that one could see one’s reflection. Halfway up the rock, within an inaccessible rocky shelter in the vertical wall of the western face, are rock paintings known as ‘The Maidens of the Clouds’, 21 beautiful female figures. The climb is not easy and takes approximately 2 hours.
A sumptuous Sri Lankan lunch will be served at a nearby hotel before returning to Silver Discoverer.
Start from the fishing port of Kirinda for a visit to Yala National Park. Yala’s history as a wildlife sanctuary goes back more than 115 years and it was declared a National Park in 1938. Situated in the southeast of Sri Lanka, the park covers 979 square kilometers. A wide variety of wild animals live in the park, including one of the highest densities of leopards in the world. Of the 215 bird species known six are endemic. Its importance for birds is shown through the Kumana Bird Sanctuary. Another important factor of the park is the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants in it.
An early start permits you to visit the park before it gets too hot. Within the park use 4WD vehicles with local trackers and naturalists and will learn about the leopards, with information on the animal, its habitat, and the conservation work that has gone (and is going) on to protect it.
You will then have a Champagne brunch at a scenic spot in the forest. As a special treat, Professor Sarath Kotagama, head of the department of Zoology of the University of Colombo and Sri Lanka’s leading ornithologist, will talk about birding and conservation in Sri Lanka.
Today explore the ancient port of Galle and surrounding area.
First visit a working tea plantation near the small village of Akuressa. This privately owned property is the only organic tea factory in southern Sri Lanka. The head planter will introduce you to the fascinating process of tea production. You will walk the fields, see the picking of the tea leafs by the local women and partake in a tea tasting session.
Afterwards depart for Galle and its magnificent fort. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 as the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions, it is surrounded by the sea on three sides.
Along these same streets some of the colonial Dutch architecture has survived. The National Museum of Galle uses a building going back to 1656, the oldest remaining Dutch building in the fort, and has three galleries with collections not only going back to the Portuguese, Dutch and British periods, but also includes displays of the 15th century expeditions of Chinese Admiral Zheng He.
During the afternoon the Videographer/Photographer will show the voyage-DVD, permitting you to re-live the many extraordinary encounters and moments during your voyage.
After breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Suite accommodations; onboard meals and entertainment; snorkeling gear; butler service; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee); 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Explorer and View Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Vista, Veranda, and Medallion Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; government fees and taxes; passport and visa expenses; some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars; laundry or valet services; items of a personal nature such as boutique purchases, medical care, and spa services; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Bruno Cazarini (bird)