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West Africa – Cape Town to Dakar

West Africa Cruise

Summary : Explore the vibrant coastline of West Africa on an extraordinary journey from South Africa to Senegal. There will be a delightful mix of activities and time at your leisure. The 27 days will feature opportunities to learn the history of voodoo and the slave trade, visit multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites, observe wildlife and birds up close, explore bustling local markets and colonial architecture in historic West African ports, and to gain insight into the region's modern history. Also, you’ll visit remote archipelagos via Zodiac cruises. Life onboard will as eventful or relaxing as you’d like: Enjoy South African wine tastings from a sommelier and enjoy daily lectures from experts while at sea. Relax on deck, in the well-stocked library or lounges, or meet up with new friends in the ship’s pub.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Photography


AARP Discount: Members of AARP save $100 per person. Not combinable with other discounts.

Prices from
$999,999,999 to $0

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Day 1
Cape Town, South Africa

Welcome to Cape Town, the most cosmopolitan city on the continent and one of the most stunning urban areas on Earth! Today is an arrival day, so there are no planned activities. Settle into the hotel.

Day 2
Cape Town

The tour today starts with a cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain. The plateau at 3 km wide has its highest point over 1,000 meters, and provides spectacular views of the surrounded landscape. Enjoy lunch at the Seaforth Restaurant before visiting Boulder Beach, a beautiful sandy beach dotted with massive granite boulders. Since 1982 it has been the home of over 3,000 tunnel-nesting African black-footed penguins. In the afternoon, board the Expedition to begin the journey up one of the most underexplored coastlines in the world.

Day 3
At Sea

Days at sea will be filled with a fascinating and entertaining educational program presented by your expert expedition team. Lectures and presentations on the history, anthropology, flora and fauna of the region will be interspersed with seminars on painting, photography and South African wine tastings. The Expedition has ample public space in the lounge and library, and you can always join new friends in the ship’s popular pub. Alternatively, spend time relaxing on the ship’s deck or scanning the horizon with binoculars and camera in search of seabirds and marine life. As always, high-end dining experiences will be enjoyed in the ship’s dining room.

Day 4
Luderitz, Namibia

Visit the small Namibian town of Luderitz and the ghost town of Kolmanskop. Because of their isolation and predominantly German population, these towns are typically German in their architecture and culture. Kolmanskop was abandoned soon after it was founded when new diamond prospects drew the population further south. Today, it is a ghost town and a fascinating place to explore.

Day 5
Walvis Bay, Namibia

Upon arrival in Walvis Bay, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the landscapes of the Namib Desert en route to a tour of the town of Swakopmund.

Day 6 – 7
At Sea

Enjoy the amenities of your expedition vessel—workout in the gym, read in the library, or relax in the pub with friends—during this time at sea.

Day 8
Lobito (Benguela), Angola

Enjoy a visit to the quaint town of Sao Felipe de Benguela in Angola. Benguela was founded by Portuguese in 1617, and has a big part in the history of the slave trade.

Day 9
At Sea

Continue the journey with a day at sea as the Expedition heads toward Pointe Noir.

Day 10
Pointe Noir, Congo

Today, visit the Congo’s Pointe Noire. On the agenda today are visits to the cliffs of Diosso Gorge, the museum and the city’s very lively market.

Day 11
At Sea

Journey toward São Tomé and Príncipe today and enjoy the delightful food and company onboard.

Day 12 – 13
São Tomé and Príncipe

This Portuguese colonial island nation is a tropical paradise of beaches, waterfalls, forests and friendly people. Visit the capital, São Tomé—once an important slave-trade post—and explore a nearby plantation. São Tomé is famous among birders, with over 140 species identified in the surrounding area. On a birding excursion, try to catch a glimpse of the islands’ endemic inhabitants. The next day, explore Príncipe via Zodiac boat to experience its beaches, waterfalls and rainforests. A swim in the tropical waters is a great way to relax. Birdlife, including many endemic species, is abundant here. Keep your eyes out for African grey parrots. There will be an option to visit the tiny town of Santo Antonio, the world’s smallest city.

Day 14
At Sea

Relax during the travels to Cotonou, Benin today.

Day 15
Cotonou, Benin

Disembark in Cotonou and head to the town of Ouidah, home to voodoo and an important embarkation point for the slave trade. Walk the “Route des Esclaves,” rich in reminders of a dark time in the region’s history. In the afternoon, cross Lake Nokoue on small boats and visit the fishing village of Ganvié, famous for its bamboo stilt houses perched above the water. The village offers an interesting look inside modern African village life and boasts a fascinating market tradition.

Day 16
Lome, Togo

Outside of Lomé, visit an Ewe village and interact with the locals to learn about their way of life and traditions. A visit to Lomé town includes a trip to the Centre Artisanal de Kpalime, a market famous for Batik.

Day 17
Accra, Ghana

Today's excursion takes you from the port at Tema to the busy capital of Accra. The first stop is at a casket-maker’s shop where caskets are carved to depict the beliefs, hobbies and life stories of the deceased. Later, visit a local school to interact with the children and staff before heading off to a local market, the national museum and the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. Wildlife enthusiasts may choose to visit the Shai Game Reserve instead to view baboons, green monkeys and antelope, as well as an abundance of birdlife: Senegal parrots, swallow-tailed bee-eaters and vieilot's barbet. After the reserve, witness local bead-making and give it a try yourselves.

Day 18
Takoradi, Ghana

From the dock at the Ghanaian town of Takoradi, explore a region steeped in the sad history of the slave trade. A visit to Elmira Castle and Cape Coast Castle brings you face-to-face with the horrible conditions of the dungeons and quarters slaves inhabited while awaiting their fate. A visit to the West African Historical Museum is included in a visit to Cape Coast Castle. Alternatively, travelers may visit Kakum National Park to witness its 100-foot-high Canopy Walkway. From high above the treetops, the Walkway gets you incredibly close to the flora and fauna of the region.

Day 19 – 20
At Sea

Continue the journey with a day at sea as your ship makes its way to Sierra Leone.

Day 21
Freetown, Sierra Leone

Disembark in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is recovering from a civil war that almost tore the country apart, but today it is a progressive African state with a great future. Tourism is part of the recovery process. Explore the city and the Tacagumu Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

Day 22
At Sea

Enjoy the amenities of your expedition vessel—workout in the gym, read in the library, or relax in the pub with friends—during this day at sea.

Day 23 – 24
Bijagos Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau

A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Bijagos Archipelago off the coast of Guinea-Bissau is one of the most unexplored places on Earth. The island’s inhabitants are descendants of an ancient culture that practices an animist religion. Tides will dictate the experience here, and the fleet of Zodiacs will be used to explore traditional villages, uninhabited islands and mangroves. Birders will delight in the variety of species to be found here. Two full days of exploration are warranted for this one-of-a-kind destination that is sure to be the highlight of the adventure for many passengers.

Day 25
Banjul, The Gambia

Today’s a special day for bird lovers! The Gambia is known for its abundant birdlife: Over 500 species! Visit the Abuko Nature Reserve for a walk with your guides. Birds, monkeys and crocodiles inhabit the area. Alternatively, travelers also have the option to visit the museum of a local artist. Before arriving at the museum, you’ll visit the Serrekunda market, one of Africa’s busiest. At the museum, the artist herself will give a guided tour of the space and its works while giving some insight into her life as an African artist. For lunch, participate in a cooking class with a local woman who will show you how to make traditional Gambian cuisine. Later, visit a fruit distillery to learn about local liqueurs and be treated to a tasting.

Day 26
Dakar, Senegal

Your final port of call is Dakar, Senegal; a bustling and energetic West African capital. Visit the infamous slave-trading post of Gorée Island and learn about the history of the region and its importance to the slave trade. The tour includes visits to the dungeons and slave quarters, the traders’ opulent homes, the House of Slaves and Le Castel, offering a fascinating look into this dark time. Also, visit the IFAN Historical Museum to learn more about the history of Senegal. After lunch, explore Dakar’s incredible markets, Great Mosque and colonial architecture before checking into a hotel for your final night on the continent.

Day 27
Dakar, Senegal

Depart for homeward bound flights.


Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on the Expedition, all passengers must purchase medical and emergency evacuation insurance with a minimum medical coverage of $200,000 USD and this insurance must cover personal injury, medical expenses, repatriation expenses, and evacuation expenses. Clients must be able to provide proof of insurance purchase and adequate coverage as per the required amounts above. We also strongly recommend that all passengers purchase comprehensive travel insurance which would include coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.

All meals onboard the ship and on land as per itinerary (excluding drinks other than coffee, tea and water); accommodation aboard the Expedition; two-nights’ hotel accommodation (Cape Town and Accra); shore excursions and Zodiac cruises; services of Expedition staff and naturalists; lecture and educational programs; and a waterproof jacket (beginning in Nov 2013).

Not Included:
Airfare; travel insurance (required); passport and visa fees; departure taxes; gratuities are at your discretion; items of a personal nature including laundry, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (except coffee, tea and water); optional excursions.

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