People have been exchanging customs and ideas in Western Africa as long as there have been people. Now, it’s your turn. From the M/S 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 on board sommelier and enjoy daily lectures from our experts. There will be time to relax on deck, in the well stocked library or lounges, or meet up with new friends to discuss the days events in the ship’s pub. Africa by sea? We didn’t believe it was possible either.
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
Our tour today starts with the 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. 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, we board the M/S Expedition to begin our 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 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 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
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.
Day 5 Walvis Bay, Namibia
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.
Day 6-7 At Sea
Day 8 Lobito (Benguela), Angola
Today we'll enjoy a visit to the quaint town of Sao Felipe de Benguela in Angola. Benguela was founded by Portuguese in 1617 has a big part in the history of the slave trade.
Day 9 At Sea
Day 10 Pointe Noir, Congo
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.
Day 11 At Sea
Day 12-13 São Tomé and Príncipe
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. Option to visit the tiny town of Santo Antonio, the world’s smallest city.
Day 14 At Sea
Day 15 Cotonou, Benin
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.
Day 16 Lome, Togo
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.
Day 17 Accra, Ghana
Today's excursion takes us from the port at Tema to the busy capital of Accra. Our 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, 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.
Day 18 Takoradi, Ghana
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 100-foot-high Canopy Walkway. From high above the treetops, the Walkway gets us incredibly close to the flora and fauna of the region.
Day 19-20 At Sea
Day 21 Freetown, Sierra Leone
Today, we 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. We’ll explore the city, the Tacagumu Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Day 22 At Sea
Day 23-24 Bijagos Archipelego, Guinea-Bissau
A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Bijagos Archipelego 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 our experience here, and we’ll utilize our fleet of Zodiacs 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 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.
Day 26 Dakar, Senegal
Our final port of call is Dakar, Senegal; a bustling and energetic West African capital. 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. We’ll also visit the IFAN Historical Museum to learn more about the history of Senegal. After lunch, we’ll explore Dakar’s incredible markets, Great Mosque and colonial architecture before checking into a hotel for our final night on the continent.
Day 27 Dakar, Senegal
Depart at any time. Passengers with flights on Day 26 can leave anytime after lunch should their flight schedule dictate.