Ocean Cruise Expeditions

The Bijagos Archipelago and Cape Verde

  • Duration 12 Days | Praia to Dakar
  • From $13,330 AUD
Call 1800 889 088

Trip Overview

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Board Le Dumont-d’Urville for a fabulous expedition cruise between Praia and Dakar. This brand-new 12-day adventure will enable you to discover two exceptional archipelagos including wild nature, cultural heritage and encounters with the local populations.

In Cape Verde, you will call at the island of São Nicolau, which will delight you with its pristine mountain landscapes, its picturesque capital, Ribeira Brava, its friendly inhabitants and its lively traditions.

Further west, you will visit Mindelo, the cultural capital of Cape Verde, where the famous morna singer Cesaria Evora was born.

A gigantic volcanic cone emerging from the Ocean, Fogo or “volcano island” is the most unusual in the Cape Verde archipelago. With scenery of savannah and fields of sugar cane, scattered with peaceful hamlets, Fogo offers you extraordinary panoramas.

The second part of your cruise will take place in the Bijagos Islands. Located off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, this archipelago is one of the most preserved and protected on the planet. Classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it is made up of 88 islands, most of which are uninhabited and nestling in the heart of an environment which often remains untouched by humans.

During your Zodiac® excursions, you will get as close as possible to nature, between pale-sand beaches, mangrove stretching as far as the eye can see, savannah, palm trees and baobabs.

The encounters with the wildlife described above illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.

Trip Highlights

  • Outings and shore visits in Zodiac® inflatables with a team of experienced naturalist guides.
  • Cidade Velha, the historic centre of Ribeira Grande (island of Santiago), listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The city of Mindelo and its elegant buildings with British and Portuguese colonial influences.
  • The sugar cane plantations and savannah on Fogo, the volcano island.
  • The diversity of the fauna in the Bissagos: saltwater hippos, crocodiles, sea turtle, rays, sawfish, otters, manatees, dolphins, birds of prey, pelicans, large wading birds, snakes, gazelles, monkeys.
  • Visit of traditional villages and encounters with the Bidyogo people who have ancestral traditions.
  • The mangrove swamp, covering more than a third of the emerged part of the Bissagos archipelago.
  • The possibility of visiting Dakar, in Senegal, and Gorée Island, a major site in the history of slavery.

Itinerary - 12 Days

Day 1 PRAIA

Embarkation from 4pm to 5pm. Depature at 6pm. The capital of Cape Verde, Praia, is located on the southern tip of Santiago island. You can dally in the districts planted with Tamarind and Albizia trees. . Above the harbour, the statue of Diogo Gomes pays homage to the man who discovered Cape Verde in 1460. A few streets away, in the old centre, the Ethnographic Museum presents the diversity of the archipelago’s cultural origins. Its historical building with transom windows is one of the city’s more unusual curiosities.

Day 2 SÃO NICOLAU

Located south-west of São Vicente, the island of São Nicolau is a dramatic sight with steep, richly forested mountains that reach their peak at ᅠMt Gordo. Near the summit, the islandメs attractive capital, Ribeira Brava, nestles in a deep green valley. Not far off, you can hike along the mountain paths of Fajã, where youメll see rare and extremely old dragon trees growing naturally on the high plateaux. Coastal landmarks include the Blue Hole, ᅠpeaceful Tarrafal beach and the picturesque fishing village of Preguiça.

Day 3 MINDELO

Set on the shores of the Porto Grande bay on the north-west coast of São Vicente, Mindelo is considered to be Cape Verde's cultural capital. Here in singer Cesaria Evora's homeland, you can listen to real morna in the bars of the old town, where you can also sip the local grog, a Cape Verdian sugarcane spirit. A few streets from the elegant floating resort of Pont d'água you'll see the pastel-coloured houses and colonial buildings of the historical district. Other landmarks are the facades of the old Governor's Palace and the busy municipal market.

Day 4 PORTO NOVO

The coastal town of Porto Novo is located on the south-east coast of Santo Antão Island. Near the jetty, colourfully painted boats lie on the sand and the waterfront boasts beautiful vantage points overlooking the Atlantic and the nearby island of São Vicente. In the town centre, built at the foot of steep escarpments, youメll discover the low-profile, painted buildings that are typical of traditional Cape Verde architecture. And youメll definitely be tempted to sample one of the many desserts made from locally grown fruit, such as a banana tart or pawpaw flan.

Day 5 FOGO

Lying west of Praia, the volcanic island of Fogo is Cape Verde's highest landmark. The foothills of Pico de Fogo are ideal for hiking, with an immense caldera surrounding the active crater. Trails start at the little town of Chã das Caldeiras and you can see recent lava flows and older ones sprouting with new growth. Along the rocky coastline you'll come across picturesque Mosteiros and the historic town of São Filipe, where elegant colonial houses overlook the Atlantic.

Day 6 AT SEA

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observer marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 7 MAIO ISLAND, BIJAGOS

Some 20 kilometres off the coast of west Africa, the Bissau-Guinean archipelago of Bissagos is famous for its abundant biodiversity. The richness of its marine animal and plant life afforded it the status of Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Of the 88 islets and islands in the archipelago, only 23 are inhabited. At Maio, still called Chediã, you can meet the Bissagos people and get to know their ancestral ways and customs. In this region, cut off from the rest of the world and secluded from Western influences, youメll discover how locals really live.

Day 8 CARAVELA ISLAND, BIJAGOS

Off the west African coast of Guinea-Bissau, the Bissagos archipelago rolls out its 88 islands and islets of black rock and white sand in the heart of the Atlantic. Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1996, this string of islets has exceptionally rich land and sea fauna. In the heart of luxuriant nature, you'll enjoy Caravela Island's wild charm and its Bijago inhabitants, fascinating men and women who have adapted to and melted in with their natural environment.

Day 9 AMPINCHA, BIJAGOS

Arrival and depature.

Day 10 BINTE, BIJAGOS

Arrival and depature.

Day 11 LATERITE BEACH, BIJAGOS

Arrival and depature.

Day 12 DAKAR

Disembarkation at 8am. On the tip of the African continent, the buzzing capital of Senegal stretches along the narrow peninsula of Cape Verde. You may be overwhelmed by its sheer size, but Dakar will win you over with its richly diverse districts, appealing cultural scene and rich natural surroundings. In the historic centre, you'll enjoy the pell-mell of colours and tasty delights in Kermel market. A visit to the island of Gorée is deeply moving; for several hundred years this island was the largest slave trading centre on the African coast. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you are looking for pristine, unspoilt nature, the wildlife in the heart of Madeleine Islands' national park will not disappoint.

 

EXTRAORDINARY PARTNERSHIPS

National Geographic Expeditions has carefully chosen world-leading travel partners to create extraordinary travel experiences. Each expedition offers guests our unique access, knowledge and the ability to give back by supporting the National Geographic Society.

Our Ocean Cruise Expeditions are offered in partnership with PONANT. To learn more about the itinerary, explore the PONANT ship or secure your spot, click here.

*Welcome Offer: A$800 saving is in Australian Dollars (AUD), per stateroom based on a double occupancy, A$400 per stateroom for single occupancy. Offer valid for guests travelling with PONANT for the first time. Offer is not redeemable for cash, not retroactive, and not combinable with any other offer, unless stated otherwise. Valid for bookings made before 15 July 2019. Conditions apply.

The Bijagos Archipelago and Cape Verde

From AUD $13,330 Call 1800 889 088

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