Summary : Never before has the vibrant tapestry of Southern Africa been so eloquently displayed. From the historic seat of sultans and UNESCO World Heritage Sites to the wildlife of Richards Bay, expect a spectrum of experience both on and off shore. Destinations include exclusive visiting rights and the legendary Baobab Avenue on this trip of a lifetime.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
$999,999,999 to $0
Embark Silver Discoverer and settle in and attend a mandatory safety drill before leaving port. During the afternoon you will be introduced to crew-members and your Expedition Team.
In the evening enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
This morning visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Kilwa Ruins. Zodiacs will take you ashore from the ship at anchor, to explore the ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani on foot. Divided into small groups look at the haunting ruins of Malindi Mosque and cemetery, Fort Gereza, the tombs of the sultans, several mosques, and the Great House. Highlights include a fourteenth century palace – no other structure of its size was built anywhere along the coast – and a fortified enclosure, very similar to structures found in Syria, Turkey and the Persian Gulf.
With new knowledge gained of this ancient site, head back to Silver Discoverer to enjoy lunch aboard and an afternoon at sea to begin the voyage’s lecture series. Your expedition team is comprised of experts in their fields who bring their subjects to life with the passion of their words and by sharing images and videos representing a wealth of experience.
Silver Discoverer is at anchor this morning off Ibo Island, situated in the Quirimbas Archipelago. With an entire day here to explore, the hope is to witness one of the largest mangrove forests in Africa, firmly rooted in front of Ibo Island and some of the fascinating culture aspects of the island.
Following breakfast, shuttle to the shore via Zodiac to meet up with local guides who walk you through streets that feel lost in time and were indeed almost forgotten to the outside world for nearly a century. Ibo Island is one of the most ancient settlements in Mozambique with a history dating back to early 600AD Arab merchant days. Forts once serving as military bastions and slave trading houses, line the shores. Some of the grand, majestic structures have been restored, while others have fallen into crumbling, marvelous ruins. Ibo is a melting pot of influences from around the world, creating a culture that is completely unique.
This evening will be back aboard, while the ship hauls up anchor for your next stop, enjoy a Recap and Briefing from the Expedition Team followed by another exquisitely creative dinner aboard.
Mozambique Island was named after a sultan in the times of the early Portuguese voyages of exploration. The island is small at only 3 km long and some 200 to 500 meters in width. The oldest European building of the southern hemisphere is found on Mozambique Island; the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte. As a result of its rich history and architectural remains, the Island of Mozambique is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Going ashore using the Zodiacs you will be enthralled by the historical buildings and the fascinating history of the island. Guided in small groups, your walking tours will immerse you into the fascinating mix of African, Arab and European culture and history that are displayed in the churches and mosques, beautiful colonial buildings with thick walls and small traditional houses. Highlights also include, the imposing fort, the old Portuguese houses (some dating back to the sixteenth century), the well-maintained, interesting museums and above all in the local population, and their incredibly varied cultural heritage.
Before heading back to the ship for the day, you will surely agree there is a colorful and vibrant feel to the island with all the hustle and bustle; yet the culture of days-gone-by still lingers.
Life on an expedition ship is packed with new experiences, explorations, and inspirational moments. A day at sea is no different, but the relaxed pace of sea time is a welcome balance to every voyage’s adventure. As the miles to Madagascar peel away in the ship's churning wake, you may choose to take advantage of the fascinating lecture series offered aboard. Your expedition team is comprised of experts in their fields who bring their subjects to life with the passion of their words and by sharing images and videos representing a wealth of experience. The choice of presentations on offer throughout the day will stimulate both thought and conversation aboard the ship.
After navigating by Zodiac into the small port of Mahajanga travel 110 kilometers (68 miles) to one of the largest and last remaining sections of dense dry deciduous forest in Madagascar in the Ampijoroa National Park. The last refuge of several lemur and bird species, the park is filled with critically endangered and endemic species. Home to eight lemur species, the Park is also one of Madagascar’s finest birdwatching venues with 129 species. Roughly 75 of the birds are endemic and found nowhere else, including as the Banded Kestrel, Rufous Vanga, Van Dam´s Vanga and Madagascar Fish Eagle. Up to ten frog and 45 reptile species are also found here, like Oustalett’s, dwarf, horned and rhinoceros chameleons.
Guided by the onboard Expedition Team and local experts, enjoy interpretive walks throughout the forest, as well as a simple lunch within the park.
The expedition team members are ever-vigilant during sea days and spend hours on the bridge and out on deck with binoculars and cameras in hand. They watch for seabirds, marine mammals, schools of feeding fish, and any other unexpected wildlife interactions to share with your guests on the outer decks at a moment’s notice. Take advantage of the fresh air and boundless vistas and spend time with the expert expedition team in search of breaching whales, dolphins or soaring seabirds.
Approximately 50 km northeast of the town of Morondava, lies Kirindy Reserve, a private forest managed by a Swiss company dedicated to a selective and sustainable logging (Center de Formation Professionelle Forestière). The Reserve is comprised of one of the most outstanding and threatened wildlife habitats in Madagascar known as the ‘dry deciduous forest.’ This habitat type has been reduced to roughly 3% of its original extent, making it highly prized and worthy of protection.
Kirindy is known to be the best place on the whole island to observe the fossa (a carnivorous mammal that is endemic to Madagascar). Sightings can be especially favorable during the cat-like animals’ mating season between October and December. Keep an eye out for this elusive predator during a morning walk.
After lunch ashore, visit the Avenue of the Baobabs, surely one of Madagascar’s highlights. It is likely one of the most accessible places to see the Baobab trees in Africa, and is said to be the most beautiful road in Madagascar. The experience of passing along this road is impressive as a row of imposing Baobab trees stretches along the roadside for close to one-third of a kilometer. The avenue has been a center of local conservation efforts and was granted protected status, which is the first step toward making it Madagascar’s first natural monument.
Evening will find you back aboard the Silver Discoverer to carry on to your next port of call in Madagascar.
A first for any expedition company, visit Belo sur Mer. This pleasant Vezo fishing village is located about 80 km south of Morondava. The Vezo are a semi-nomadic people who call southern Madagascar their home. Visitors who come here are greeted by a wonderful kilometer-long stretch of bright white sandy beach and amazing transparent, emerald waters. Enjoy the laidback atmosphere, the stunning red sunsets and the locals who keep the authenticity of their ancestral way of life intact.
You may see the launch of some of the fishing pirogues and large wooden boats that are built here. If lucky enough to see the initial launch of one of these boats, it promises to be a brilliant festival. The oversized canoes are propelled by paddles and some also deploy a rectangular sail to take advantage of any passing breeze. The Sakalava people are avid anglers who use outrigger canoes of the same design as those used by proto-Malagasy when they made their voyages across the Indian Ocean.
Visit the small fishing community of Andavadoaka. The village lies on the edge of a shallow lagoon protected from the open ocean by a series of fringing and submerged barrier reefs that support substantial coral growth. The reef provides a vital resource for a local artisan fishery. Owing to the remote setting and geographic isolation, these coral reefs are thought to possess a significantly higher abundance and diversity of species than other reefs in southwest Madagascar. Andavadoaka is also home to the Vezo fishing people, who are known for their dependence upon the ocean.
Learn more about community projects that assist and promote the sustainable management of marine resources. Biodiversity studies have identified many hundreds of marine species in the waters in the area. The reefs around Andavadoaka represent some of the most well-developed coral reef systems in the Indian Ocean.
In the afternoon, visit tiny Nosy Hao for a leisurely afternoon of swimming, snorkeling and relaxing on sandy white beaches.
From Tulear drive 226 kilometers (140 miles) to the Isalo National Park in the Ihorombe Region of Madagascar. Exquisitely gorgeous, the park is known for its wide variety of terrains, including sandstone formations, deep canyons, palm-lined oases, and grassland. En route to Isalo visit the Zombitse National Park where you can see more baobab trees and perhaps the White Shifaka Lemur.
The scenic road will slowly climb roughly 800 meters (2600 feet) and pass through different types of vegetation before arriving at the park and your hotel for the night. Both Hotel Relais de la Reine and Hotel Jardin du Roy have been reserved for your exclusive use as your base for the one night and two days you will spend exploring the area.
After lunch, explore Isalo National Park enjoying various hikes and a special sunset cocktail. Dinner will be served at the Hotel Relais de la Reine and Hotel Jardin du Roy.
On the morning of ‘Day 12’ of your explorations, plan to investigate even more of Isalo National Park by undertaking a variety of natural history walks. After a late checkout, enjoy lunch at the hotel before driving back to Tulear. From the port, board the Silver Discoverer in the evening and say farewell to the beautiful island of Madagascar.
While expedition travel is primarily about the excitement and delight to be found in exploring remote and infrequently visited corners of the world, it remains that you travel with a company renowned for its attention to detail and offering some of the most exemplary service available at sea today. Perhaps a sea day is your opportunity to enjoy a late breakfast served in the privacy and comfort of your suite. Later, you may choose to join new friends for a sunset cocktail on the aft deck as the sun slips below the horizon. Sea days also present a perfect opportunity to enjoy a workout in the gym, indulge in a massage, or visit the salon.
Arriving on the African continent this morning, clear back into Mozambique in Maputo, the capital of the country hub of East African culture. During your half-day tours explore this vibrant city and its rich history. A highlight of the day will certainly be a visit to Fundacao Fernando Leite Couto for a talk with a famous Mozambican artist in a relaxed environment with a chance to enjoy the Mozambican cultural talent or browse through the library. Before returning to the Silver Discoverer visit the Museum of Natural History as well as the vibrant FEIMA curio market.
Enjoy some time on deck as the Silver Discoverer departs during lunch time and sets course for your final country of this expedition – South Africa.
Depart from the quayside in Richard’s Bay and journey to an authentic Zulu cultural village located around the St Lucia Wetlands. On arrival at Khula Village be met at a traditional Zulu “Kraal” (Central meeting place) to begin a journey that weaves an enthralling lesson in Zulu culture and tradition. Gain insight into the life of a Zulu as you are taken through customs and rites of passage, from the charm of the Zulu love letter, to the solemnity of gender roles. Marriage rites, courting rituals, lobola (bartering for the bride’s hand in marriage), the family structure and Zulu spirituality make for a fascinating introduction to the culture.
The mysticism of the Sangoma (witch doctor) is unveiled with a visit to her “hut” where an introduction to her herbal and magical medicine takes place. A tour of the surrounding area also portrays modern Zulu life, as several of the local people will open their homes to us. It is here that they will show off their beautiful beadwork, various crafts and the looms that produce the much sought-after mats that often form the basis of their livelihood.
The day ends on a high note, literally, when guests are privileged to see the rare Umakweyane and other musical instruments played by traditional musicians. With the African bushveld as a stage, Zulu dancers will delight the audience, their bodies pulsating to drums with a characteristic energy. Following this performance, you will have the chance to taste traditional Zulu beer and some time for independent exploration of the village and the handicrafts stalls.
Board the coach to continue your journey to Hluhluwe Game Reserve. Enjoy a scrumptious light snack on arrival followed by an open vehicle game drive in the Hluhluwe Reserve. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is the oldest game reserve in all of Africa. Set in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal, the park offers an array of waterholes that are dotted all over the camp for guaranteed wildlife spotting at close range. The park extends itself over 96,000 ha, has an immense variety of flora and fauna and is hugely popular not only for its “Big Five,” but for the vast bird life with more than 300 species documented within the reserve.
Following the game drive transfer back to the quayside in Richards Bay, and once again join the ship for one last evening aboard.
Following 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 onboard ship; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee). 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 (lemur, chameleon)