Learn the history of voodoo and the slave trade, visit multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites, explore bustling local markets and colonial architecture in historic West African ports, gain insight into the region's modern history, interact with our expert expedition team, wine-taste while enjoying the comfort and cuisine of the MS Expedition
People have been exchanging customs and ideas in Western Africa as long as there have been people. Now, it’s your turn. From the MS Expedition, you’ll get the chance to explore one of Africa’s most vibrant (and curiously underexplored) regions from a hotel that goes wherever you do. A solid combination of activity and leisure, you’ll have ample time to spot rare birds and endemic wildlife with skilled naturalists, mingle in local markets, and learn about the region from our experienced expedition staff, including naturalists, historians, anthropologists, and ornithologists. While at sea, we’ll also enjoy South African wine tastings from our very own sommelier and enjoy daily lectures from experts before wrapping it all up in enchanting Marrakech. Africa by sea? We didn’t believe it was possible either.
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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. Your arrival transfer is included.
Our tour today starts with the cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain. The plateau, at 3km (1.9 mi) wide has its highest point over 1,000m (3,280 ft), and provides spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. 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.
Days at sea will be filled with a fascinating and entertaining educational program presented by our expert expedition team. Lectures and presentations on the history, anthropology, flora, and fauna of the region will be interspersed with seminars on painting, photography, music, 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.
Today, we 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.
Morning at sea may provide an opportunity to see fur seals and Cape gannets. Upon arrival in Walvis Bay, we’ll have the opportunity to explore the landscapes of the Namib Desert en route to a tour of the town of Swakopmund and possibly a chance to learn more about the wildlife of the estuary ecosystem.
Today, we'll enjoy a visit to the quaint town of Sao Felipe de Benguela in Angola. Benguela, founded by the Portuguese in 1617, played a big part in the history of the slave trade.
Today, we 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.
This Portuguese colonial island nation is a tropical paradise of beaches, waterfalls, forests, and friendly people. We’ll 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 we 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 and we’ll keep our eyes out for African grey parrots.
Today, we disembark in Cotonou and head to the town of Ouidah, home to voodoo and an important embarkation point for the slave trade. We’ll walk the “Route des Esclaves,” rich in reminders of a dark time in the region’s history. In the afternoon, we’ll 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.
Outside of Lomé, we’ll 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.
Today's excursion takes us from the port at Tema to the busy capital of Accra. Enroute, we will visit a casket-maker’s shop where caskets are carved to depict the beliefs, hobbies, and life stories of the deceased. Later, we’ll 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, we'll witness local bead-making and give it a try ourselves.
From the dock at the Ghanaian town of Takoradi, we’ll explore a region steeped in the sad history of the slave trade. A visit to Elmira Castle and Cape Coast Castle brings us 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 our visit to Cape Coast Castle. Alternatively, travellers may visit Kakum National Park to witness its 31m (100 ft) high Canopy Walkway. From high above the treetops, the Walkway gets us incredibly close to the flora and fauna of the region.
Today, we disembark in Freetown, Sierra Leone and spend two days exploring. 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. We’ll explore the city, the Tacagumu Chimpanzee Sanctuary and visit one of least visited beaches in the world.
Today’s a special day for the bird lovers among us! The Gambia is known for its abundant birdlife: Over 500 species! Today, we’ll visit the Abuko Nature Reserve for a walk with our guides. Birds, monkeys and crocodiles inhabit the area. Alternatively, travellers also have the option to visit the museum of a local artist. Before arriving at the museum, we’ll visit the Serrekunda market, one of Africa’s busiest. At the museum, the artist herself will give us a guided tour of the space and its works while giving us some insight into her life as an African artist. For lunch, we’ll participate in a cooking class with a local woman who will show us how to make traditional Gambian cuisine. Later, we’ll visit a fruit distillery to learn about local liqueurs and be treated to a tasting.
Today we explore Dakar, Senegal; a bustling and energetic West African capital. Today we will have either the option to tour Bandia Park and explore the Senegal countryside. This will include viewing the Baobab forest in Sandia. Or, We’ll 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. Lunch will be had on land for this day, after which we’ll explore Dakar’s incredible markets, Great Mosque and colonial architecture before returning to the ship.
Dakhla in the country of West Sahara , although administered by Morocco, Is our opportunity to touch the western edge of the great Sahara Desert . The Western Sahara is a tropical desert! Hot and dry but cooled by the breeze off the Atlantic Ocean. This combination of cool and hot can often create a fog layer out at sea.
A pastoral nomadic life style is common here, as most make a living fishing and or mining. We are planning a full-day tour here to see this edge of the saraha and if possible some of the nomadic peoples who live there.
A day at sea brings us to Fuereventura Canary Islands. This particular island is part of the newly designated UNESCO bioreserve. It's believed that the first settlers came from North Africa, then followed by Spanish, Portuguese and French.
Today is a mecca for those escaping the winter cold up to the north. You will see evidence of this when we tour the island's beaches. Like the rest of the canaries, Fuereventura is an ancient volcanic island, that has eroded. The climate on Fuerteventura is pleasant throughout the year. The island is also often referred to as the island of eternal spring. The sea adjusts the temperature making the hot Sahara winds blow away from the island. It is also and island housing endemic insects and many bird species.
Disembark in the whitewashed Moroccan seaside city of Agadir before a drive to Marrakech and a spectacular end to our journey. Visit the extraordinary Djemaa el Fna square – a human carnival filled with magicians, snake charmers, acrobats, water sellers, and food stalls.
After breakfast, depart for the airport and flights homeward.
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