Summary : Experience disparate cultures while traveling the stark but beautiful west coast of Africa. Follow the trading routes of Henry the Navigator from the west coast of Africa into the Atlantic to see some of the least visited places on Earth. This is expedition cruising at its source — a unique blend of nature, culture and history that gives truly one-of-a-kind experiences and lifelong memories.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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$13,700 to $39,450
Embark Silver Cloud, settle in and attend a mandatory safety drill before leaving port. This evening, after settling in and setting sail, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team.
Your knowledgeable Lecture Staff members are experts in a variety of scientific fields. Gather in the Lecture Theatre to enjoy the first in a series of informative lectures presented by your onboard Expedition Team. Perhaps learn some tips and techniques for taking better photos during a photographic workshop offered by our resident Photographer. Tonight, attend a special Welcome Aboard cocktail party where the Captain will introduce his senior officers and various members of Silver Cloud’s crew.
Leaving the small town of Lüderitz, visit the abandoned diamond-mining town of Kolmanskop. In 1908, a sparkling diamond was found among the sand and the news spread like wildfire, causing fortune hunters to converge in droves on Kolmanskop. When the town reached its pinnacle Kolmanskop developed into a lively little haven of German culture. However, richer diamond deposits were discovered further south, and operations were moved. Today it is mostly a ghost town; the stately homes, eroded by the wind, are gradually becoming sand-covered. However, a museum has been established and a number of buildings restored. While in Kolmanskop enjoy oyster tasting and a glass of sparkling wine.
Continue with a visit of Lüderitz and its three most important landmarks: Goerke Haus, Felsenkirche and the Luderitz Museum.
Optional Scenic Flight (extra fee applies):
Take advantage of an unparalleled opportunity to see the famous Sossusvlei Dunes from the air, a site very difficult to access by land. Following the (normally dry) Kuiseb River, fly over Sesriem Canyon then along the Tsauchab river valley where the freestanding but static dunes tower up to 250 meters above the plain. The dune belt runs north to south for over 70 km between Sossusvlei and the Atlantic. Upon reaching the coast, head north over deserted mining camps and seal colonies to Conception Bay and the wreck of the Eduard Bohlen (run aground in the early 40s). This optional Silver Shore excursion will operate only if weather/fog conditions permit. Please contact Reservations to add this excursion to your booking.
Your destination is the Namib Naukluft Park in discovery of the treasures of the Namib. On the way you will pass by endless waves of sand dunes, and when you think of Africa and the desert, this is the scene that comes to mind. Entering the Namib Naukluft National Park and turning onto the Welwitschia Drive, the landscape becomes dotted with the extraordinary Welwitschia mirabilis plant. Unique to the Namibe Desert, these prehistoric plants have adapted to their harsh habitat. Welwitschias only produce two leaves in their lifetime and have a lifespan of over 500 years. After stopping to view and discuss these amazing and resilient desert plants in their dramatic landscape, the tour continues to the ‘lunar landscape’. In this vast area of eroded valleys, you can almost imagine you are on the moon. This is where different species of lichen grow. Enjoy the breathtaking views, before driving onwards to a local community where you will enjoy an orientation tour of a local school, having the opportunity to interact by giving some of your time to the children and community.
You will then drive to a pristine location where refreshments await you before returning to Walvis Bay to rejoin the Silver Cloud.
There will also be a full day shuttle service to Swakopmund, located 19 miles north of Walvis Bay at the mouth of the Swakop River. Upon arrival you can explore this quaint town on your own. Swakopmund is a beach resort area and a fine example of German colonial architecture. Founded in 1892 as the main harbor for German South-West Africa, a good part of the population still speaks German today. The Magistrate’s Court, or Kaiserliches Bezirksgericht, the Lutheran Church and the old Railway Station building, now the main reception area of the Swakopmund Hotel, will give an idea of the former splendor.
Begin your second day in Walvis Bay with an early morning boat cruise in the protected outer lagoon area where the water is calm and abundant with bird life. Enjoy wonderful photographic opportunities as playful Heaviside’s and bottlenose dolphins frolic in the boat’s bow wave and wake and pelicans fly low overhead. Atlantic cape fur seals may even come aboard for a fishy snack! Other birds will include flamingos and cormorants. If very lucky, you may even see leatherback turtles, whales, or the local ‘Mola Mola’ or sunfish. Pass fishing factories and foreign ships in the port and conclude your excursion with a taste of fresh Walvis Bay oysters and local ‘champagne’.
Binoculars and camera in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call and the adventures that lie ahead. Other onboard diversions include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Center, and, of course, exquisite dining experiences.
Today head out to the Namibe Desert. Apart from looking for Welwitschia mirabilis, an endemic plant found in the Namibe Provence of South Angola and the Namib Desert, the tour will continue through the desert landscape to The Arch Lagoon, also known as “the lost oasis”. The lagoon, locally known as “Lago do Arco do Carvalhao”, will only have water if Angola has had an excellent rainy season. It is formed by a magnificent rock formation, and is a unique display of art in nature. If it has rained it will be inhabited by an abundance of birdlife. Before returning to the ship, visit the little town of Namibe to visit the old city with its baroque architecture, old stadium and churches.
The city of Benguela was founded in 1617 around Sao Filipe Fortress and was one of the bases for Portuguese expansion in Africa. Visit the Ethnographic Museum before driving through the city to the most famous church in Benguela. The “Igreja do Populo” is over 100 years old, and was built by the Portuguese during the colonial era, being the first stone building in southern Angola. From there walk to the heart of Benguela City, where the courthouse surrounds the company gardens, the Department of Justice and the Town Hall. The gardens are lined with beautiful palm trees and flowers and offer a very picturesque setting.
En route back to Lobito stop at the city of Catumbela and will stop at Sao Pedro fort for some photos, and see the big Catumbela River and the 1905 steel bridge, from Eiffel’s engineering company, which was in use until 2010.
Once back at the pier there will be a festival with traditional dances and singing.
Luanda is the capital of Angola, and home to more than four million, making it the third-largest Portuguese speaking city in the world.
This bustling city presents you with many places to explore, including the 1575 Fortress of San Miguel de Luanda with its striking blue tiles and its Museum of the Armed Forces. Drive to Cidade Alta, or “Uptown” — a pleasant, airy and calm suburb with several pink colonial buildings and then head to the Baixa, or “Downtown”, to view the Houses of Parliament — both new and old. Afterwards drive to the Agostinho Neto Mausoleum before returning to the pier and ship.
Leaving the coast of Angola behind, Silver Cloud will head towards the mid-Atlantic Ridge and St Helena, one of the least-visited places on Earth. While the ship has to cover almost 1200 nautical miles, your lecturers will present interesting topics, seminars and workshops. You can also head out on deck to help the Ornithologist to watch for seabirds and the Marine Biologist looking for marine mammals. Other onboard diversions include the Spa and Gym, plus there are always moments to savor the different culinary specialties prepared by the Executive Chef and his team.
For over 500 years St Helena has been an important strategic point for European ventures into the southern hemisphere and the East India Company had the Plantation House built for the island’s governor in 1792. But St Helena is invariably linked with the French Emperor Napoleon. He was exiled on St Helena from 1815 until he died in 1821. The Napoleonic properties, Longwood House, the Briars Pavilion and Napoleon’s Tomb can all be visited. Other earlier illustrious visits were by astronomers Edmund Halley in 1673 and Dr. Neville Maskelyne in 1760. St James Church, the oldest Anglican church in the southern hemisphere dates from 1774. Superb views across the island can be had from High Knoll Fort, which was started in 1798 and improved in 1874.
For the adventurous and fit Jacobs Ladder could be of interest: the ladder actually is an inclined plane with 699 steps (and 600ft). For connoisseurs a visit to the St Helena Distillery is a must: names like White Lion Rum, Midnight Mist coffee liqueur and Juniper flavored gin entice to see how they are made, and perhaps taste them.
With your Expedition Team and local experts cover as many aspects of this remote island as possible.
The second long leg of your voyage follows the mid-Atlantic Ridge to reach another rarely visited island: Ascension. Your lecturers will present talks about the importance of this isolated island in modern history and the natural history of this part of the Atlantic.
700 nautical miles northwest of St Helena, Ascension was used as a garrison in 1815 to ensure that the French would not try to rescue Napoleon from his exile on St Helena. Today visit Georgetown, the island’s main settlement. Some 900 residents can be found on the island of 88 square kilometers. Although there are some beaches not all of them are suitable for swimming. Sea turtles do come to nest at this isolated outpost, and the lush highlands invite to do some hiking. Surprisingly this forest was introduced to the island in the mid-19th century as a means to improve gardening. It now is a national park. The island has served as a naval station and in the 20th century was first used by the American air force and is still being used by the British air force. The island and surrounding rocks are an Important Bird Area and Red-billed Tropicbirds, Ascension Frigatebirds, as well as Sooty Terns, White Terns, Brown Noddies and Black Noddies nest.
Having left Ascension behind, Silver Cloud will be on her way to once again reach the coast of Africa. 1000 nautical miles separate Ascension from Abidjan and this last sea leg will permit you to edit the photos you have taken so far, to attend talks by your experts, to relax at the pool and to enjoy the many culinary highlights prepared by your chefs.
Today drive to the village Songon Kassemblé located approximately 25 kilometers from Abidjan. Upon arrival, be received by the Ebrié traditional chief and his staff. After meeting with the Ebrié community, visiting their village and the camp Petit Zuenoula witness a Zaouli traditional Dance. See how the local food Attiéké is made from cassava.
Drive to the old Colonial capital city of Grand-Bassam (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) where you will have a buffet lunch by the sea before visiting the French colonial district, the costume museum; the craft center; the governor “Binger” Palace, and the Arianne Monument, and a bustling market.
This morning we set out to explore the Gold Coast area.
Drive to Elmina Village to tour Elmina Castle, which was built in 1482 and is said to be one of the oldest European-built structure south of the Sahara. Between the picturesque old town alleys and the numerous flat-bottomed pirogue boats in the harbor, enjoy one of West Africa’s greatest photo opportunities.
Continue to the notorious Cape Coast Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. First built in 1653 for the trade in timber and gold, the Castle was later used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Visit the museum and view the dungeons that once held hundreds of men and women as they awaited deportation across the Atlantic as slaves.
Alternatively, travel inland to visit the Kakum National Park, a 357-square-km park comprising undisturbed virgin rainforest. Join your natural history staff and local guides for a walking tour through the forest and on a canopy walkway, offering an opportunity to see much of Ghana’s indigenous plant life, as well as rare butterflies, birds and game. Following each morning tour, enjoy lunch at a nearby beach resort before returning to Takoradi and sailing to Tema.
Following breakfast, disembark the vessel.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Ship accommodation; most onboard meals (Le Champagne Restaurant excluded); butler service; most wines, champagnes and spirits on the ship; tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water and soda; onboard gratuities (except spa); port charges and handling fees; Vista and Veranda Suites receive one hour of included internet access per guest/per day; Medallion, Silver, Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive unlimited internet access; Royal, Grand, and Owner’s Suites receive laundry service throughout the voyage as well as dinner for two in Le Champagne (one evening per voyage) and two hours of worldwide phone use from your suite, per voyage segment. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; meals on board at Le Champagne Restaurant unless mentioned above as included; some alcoholic premium beverages; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; internet use not mentioned as included; gifts and items of a personal nature such as laundry (unless mentioned as included) and spa options; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: Pelican © James Godfrey, Desert © Denis Elterman, © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises