Azores to Morocco: Island Wonders and Fabled Shores

Azores Cruise

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  • National Geographic Explorer
  • Luxury Expedition Ship
  • 148 Capacity
  • 10 Days
  • 2015 View Departure>
    • 2015
    • Mar 27 Fri
  • Price from
  • $8,790

Summary : Step aboard National Geographic Explorer and sail to the heart of the Atlantic Ocean to discover the lush, mountainous archipelagos that combine the breathtaking landscapes of Hawaii with the charm and culture of old-world Europe. Explore the seafaring history and living cultures of the Portuguese archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, which served as starting points for the bold explorers heading west to the New World. You’ll drink in the islands’ ways, view the natural wonders and spectacular geology of these volcanic isles, and see their current volcanic activity. And while the islands are the expeditions’ focus, the seas surrounding them often yield exhilarating whale sightings, especially the Azores, known worldwide as a top destination for whale-watching. Then voyage to the coast of Morocco, where orange groves, waving palms and fragrant tajines underscore the vitality and flavor of this melting pot of Berbers, Arabs, Spaniards, Portuguese, and French.

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

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Prices from
$8,790 to $16,150

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

Fly overnight to Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel. After time to relax a bit, explore the Furnas Valley and its famed hot springs, hiking the trails, or perhaps visiting the lovely garden of Terra Nostra. And savor a traditional Azorean cozido lunch, naturally cooked from the volcanic activity—underground!

Day 3
Horta, Faial, Azores

The Azores are a whale-watching mecca and go in search of these gentle giants. On the island of Faial, see how dramatically the landscape changed when its volcano erupted in 1957. Stroll along the marina, visit the excellent scrimshaw museum, and raise a glass at legendary Peter’s Café Sport, where sea adventurers historically dropped off their mail. For those interested, scuba diving can be arranged.

Day 4
Santa Maria, Azores

Go ashore at Santa Maria, historically significant as the first landfall of Christopher Columbus on his return from the Americas. With your naturalists, hike the trails that will allow you to experience the scenery and atmosphere of the island. In the afternoon, your local whale experts, like the Maasai trackers of East Africa who have centuries of ties to their surroundings and an instinct for scouting its wild inhabitants, will guide you on your late afternoon whale-watching.

Day 5
At Sea

En route to Madeira your expedition team will tell lively tales about the Golden Age of Exploration. Keep a constant lookout for seabirds and marine creatures, stopping to observe them or perhaps film them with the ship’s underwater camera; head up to the bridge and pick up a pair of binoculars. Take time to catch up on your reading in the glass-enclosed library. Have a rejuvenating massage and sauna, attend a wellness session, work out in the gym, or simply relax.

Day 6
Madeira

Madeira has beautiful scenery, with a delicious climate. Walk in the endemic laurisilva (laurel forest), a UNESCO site. Wander along the tranquil levadas (former irrigation channels), visit the botanical gardens and the new Whale Museum. You’ll sample Madeira’s seafood, have a tasting of the famed Madeira wines, and hear a performance of authentic Fado singing. Be sure to browse the colorful public market and exquisite embroidery factory, as well as the excellent Madeira Story Museum. You may want to take a ride on the famous wicker toboggans down the steep streets of Monte, or take a long leg-stretching hike along the beautiful Ponta São Lourenço at the eastern tip of the island.

Day 7
At Sea

On yur way to Morocco, you'll have an ever-vigliant lookout for marine life, and also have presentations preparing for your time in Morocco.

Day 8
Safi, Morocco / Essaouira

Arrive in Morocco and travel from Safi to the stunning town of Essaouira, with white buildings accented by deep blue shutters and Portuguese-style doors enclosed by medieval-looking battlements. The medina (old town) is a UNESCO World Heritage site and an exceptional example of a late-18th-century fortified town. Enjoy a good view of the coast and fortifications from the scalas, or defense platforms, left by Spanish and Portuguese pirates, before exploring the souk (market). Here you see some of Morocco’s best marquetry craftsmen fashion sandalwood with ancestral precision.

Day 9
Casablanca

Casablanca personifies modern Morocco living in harmony with the rich heritage it has acquired over the centuries. Travel along the attractive waterfront boulevard, known as Ain Diab Corniche, lined with beaches, seaside resorts, and terraced restaurants. Visit the extraordinary Hassan II Mosque, boasting the world’s tallest minaret at 689 feet, topped by lasers that beam out towards Mecca once the sun has set. Stroll through the city’s Habous district and the mechouar, the ceremonial meeting place outside the Royal Palace, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, surrounded by picturesque orange groves and elaborate water features.

Day 10
Casablanca / Disembark / U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for homeward-bound flights.

Notes

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

Photo Expeditions:

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.

Included:
Accommodations aboard ship or in hotel per iterinary; all meals and non-alcoholic beverages aboard the ship, some meals ashore; all shore excursions and sightseeing; transfers to and from group flights; tips (except to ship's crew), taxes and service charges; services of a ship physician and expedition staff; use of kayaks.

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