Discover the wonders of Cape Verde and the Canary Islands by expedition cruise, strolling through charming Portuguese villages and hiking in exotic landscapes like Timanfaya National Park. Spectacular wildlife abound here, and you'll enjoy wonderful opportunities to see a variety of birds and possibly pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins en route to Morocco. Experience the mystique of Morocco's enchanting casbahs, medieval medinas, and royal cities in Casablanca and Marrakesh as you round out your grand sea to sahara adventure.
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Day 1, Apr 7, 2018
Praia, São Tiago Island, Cape Verde / Embark Island Sky
Arrive on São Tiago, the largest of the Cape Verde Islands, crowned by Antonia Peak which rises 4,500 feet above fertile farmlands. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, then join a guided walk through Cidade Velha, the former capital and a World Heritage Site. After a traditional Batuco performance, return to Praia and embark the Island Sky this evening.
Day 2, Apr 8, 2018
Crowned by a massive volcano, which erupted as recently as 2014, Fogo (fire in Portuguese) is a fitting name for this dramatically beautiful island. Begin your explorations in colonial São Filipe and visit a wealthy merchant’s house that has been converted into a museum. Then take a drive through phenomenal volcanic landscape to the small town of Cha das Caldeiras, situated within the massive crater of Pico do Fogo. Enjoy a traditional lunch, sample local wines, and take an unforgettable walk over the lava fields created by the most recent eruption.
Day 3, Apr 9, 2018
Cape Verde’s “wild” island of Brava earns its moniker with an abundance of verdant hills and valleys, laced with colorful oleander, hibiscus, and bougainvillea. Take a drive inland, passing plantations of coconut palms and lush meadows dotted with herds of goats. Located high in the mountains, the town of Nova Sintra boasts a lovely historic center with well-preserved colonial architecture and a fantastic viewpoint overlooking the island. Continue to Faja d’Agua for a short hike, a picnic lunch, and the opportunity take a dip in a natural pool.
Day 4, Apr 10, 2018
Santa Antao Island
Cape Verde’s greenest island boasts a spectacular array of landscapes, from stark volcanic flats to lush green peaks and tropical valleys. Disembark in Puerto Novo for a scenic drive along the coast, and into the mountains to visit the Cova Crater to learn about local agriculture. Enjoy more spectacular views en route to Fontainhas, a picturesque village which clings to a rocky slope overlooking the beautiful coastline. After lunch in the small fishing village of Ponta do Sol, visit a distillery for a tasting of Grogue, the local spirit made from sugarcane. Continue through the lush Paul Valley, visiting small agricultural communities along the way.
Days 5-6, Apr 11-12, 2018
Join naturalists on deck to search for pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins, while lectures recap your experiences in the Cape Verde Islands and prepare you for what’s ahead.
Day 7, Apr 13, 2018
This morning, birders search for a wealth of migrant shorebirds at Laguna of Dakhla. Species commonly found here include greater flamingos, broad-billed sandpipers, pelicans, terns, and oystercatchers. Or, venture into the shifting sand dunes to visit with the nomadic Sahraoui people. Participate in a traditional tea ceremony and trek to the top of White Dune for fantastic views over the desert. Return to the ship in time for lunch and set sail for El Marsa.
Day 8, Apr 14, 2018
El Marsa / Laayoune
Disembark in El Marsa this afternoon and board 4x4 vehicles for a ride through the Sahara Desert. Make a stop en route for Moroccan tea and amazing vistas of the undulating dunes. In Laayoune, visit the busy dromedary souk; the Place El Mechouar, a large public square; the Moulay Abdelaziz Mosque; and browse a collection of artisanal workshops where you will find fine silver jewelry and local art. Take a walk through the old town for a look at the Spanish cathedral, then drive to a scenic viewpoint overlooking the dam on the Saquia El Hamra River, before returning to the ship in El Marsa.
Day 9, Apr 15, 2018
La Gomera, Canary Islands
Take a hike through the spectacular laurel forest of Garajonay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Often shrouded in a magical mist, this area is known locally as “the witch’s forest.” Keep an eye out for the endemic white-tailed and dark-tailed laurel pigeons, as you stroll through the lush vegetation. After lunch at a local restaurant, drive through the Valle Gran Rey where you’ll discover terraced farms and tiny towns clinging to the steep walls of the valley.
Day 10, Apr 16, 2018
Venture high into the hills for a hike through La Caldera de Taburiente, a national park whose centerpiece is a five-mile-wide crater caused by erosion. Enjoy stunning, top-of-the-world scenery and take a walk through stands of indigenous Canary pine trees. After working up a good appetite, stop for a snack of cheese and macaroons, accompanied by local wines.
Or, choose to explore Los Tilos, an enchanting subtropical rainforest that is home to hundreds of plant species, many unique to the Canary Islands. Cool off at Charco Azul (Blue Pool), a natural seaside pool created by ancient lava flows. Then make a stop at a rum distillery to learn about the production of this beloved liquor, with a chance to sample the delightful results.
Day 11, Apr 17, 2018
Explore Timanfaya National Park and its stunning volcanic landscape, a legacy of the 1824 eruption. Search for some of the 177 species of rare plants, many of them unique to the Canaries, while birders keep a keen eye out for houbara bustards, Berthelot’s pipits, and other species. On the nearby coast, view natural geologic formations where water rushes dramatically into a sea-eroded volcanic cave at Los Hervideros.
Then soak in fantastic views as you drive along the rugged coast to Mirador del Rio, the island’s most famous viewpoint. Then immerse yourself in the world of famed local artist César Manrique, with a stroll through the unique Cactus Garden, which displays over 1,000 species of cactus from all over the world, and the Jameos del Agua, a spectacular lava-tube cave transformed into a delightful series of pools, gardens, and a natural amphitheater.
Day 12, Apr 18, 2018
The lecture series continues during a relaxing day at sea.
Day 13, Apr 19, 2018
Casablanca, Morocco / Disembark / Marrakesh
This morning, disembark in lovely Casablanca. Begin your exploration with an excursion to the colorful Central Market, followed by a stop at the Hassan II Mosque, the second largest religious structure in the world after Mecca. Its 700-foot-high minaret is visible for miles. Continuing on, pass through the elegant Corniche district which spreads along the Atlantic coast; the Anfa Quarters, where Roosevelt met with Churchill during World War II; the impressive Law Courts; and the Habbous Quarters, built by the French in the early 20th century. Then depart overland to magical Marrakesh; this romantic rose-red city perches on the edge of the pre-Saharan Plains along ancient Berber trade routes. Explore sites such as the opulent 19th-century Bahia Palace, the medina—a World Heritage Site—the Koutoubia Mosque, the imperial Saadian tombs, and Djemaa El Fna Square. Check in to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 14 , Apr 20, 2018
Today explore the Majorelle Gardens; the Palmeraie, a vast area of date palms; and the bustling souk. Or join a full-day birding excursion in the Atlas Mountains. Winding up into the mountains, make several stops to search for a variety of birds including the scarce and localized Barbary falcon, black wheatear, Atlas chaffinch, and flocks of aerobatic red-billed chough. With a great deal of luck, you may also encounter one of the great raptors of the world, the massive lammergeier. Tonight, enjoy a special farewell dinner.
Day 15, Apr 21, 2018
Marrakesh / USA
Transfer to the airport for your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day.