Trip Details at-a-Glance
|Depart:||Dar es Salaam, Tanzania|
|Lodging:||1 night hotel, 12 nights aboard 114-passenger expedition vessel|
|Meals:||All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore|
|Activity:||Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Small Ship Cruising|
12-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours, snorkeling
Choosing the Right Trip
We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.
We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.
Often referred to as a Garden of Eden, our Seychelles journey—with a focus on the Aldabra Island Group, including Aldabra, one of the largest atolls in the world—offers an outstanding opportunity to witness a place where nature still reigns supreme. Whether you’re a photographer, naturalist, birder, or snorkeler, you’ll find yourself enraptured by the astonishing richness of the region’s terrestrial and marine environments. Zodiacs bring us ashore for nature walks in search of numerous native and endemic species of flora and fauna, while the protected waters create a haven for coral reefs and fish that we discover on frequent snorkel excursions throughout our voyage.
Victoria, Mahé Seychelles
Fly to Mahé, Seychelles. Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel for brunch, with the afternoon at leisure. In the evening we gather for a Welcome Dinner and trip briefing.
Sainte Anne Marine Reserve / Embark Island Sky
This morning we enjoy the first of many snorkeling excursions with a visit to Sainte Anne Marine National Park—a wonderful introduction to the Seychelles. This group of six islands, off the coast of Mahé, was the first marine park to be founded in the Indian Ocean, more than 30 years ago. We enjoy a traditional Creole lunch in the park before returning to Victoria to embark on the Island Sky.
Cousin / La Digue
Cousin is a small granitic island protected by Seychelles law as a nature reserve. It provides a safe haven for a number of endangered bird species, notably the Seychelles fody, Seychelles warbler, Seychelles magpie robin, and Seychelles blue-pigeon. A number of seabirds breed on Cousin’s wild interior and rocky shores, and their dense concentrations show no fear, allowing for fabulous photo opportunities. We may also encounter the resident group of giant tortoises.
Famed biologist Sir Julian Huxley once described the Seychelles as akin to Hawaii and Tahiti in the 1700s, an untouched Garden of Eden, and no island could be more deserving of this description than La Digue, where giant granite boulders and swaying palms offset postcard-perfect white beaches. We explore this tranquil island like a local and bike or stroll along picturesque, sandy roads, passing quaint balconied houses and shops, a vanilla plantation, and a copra factory to reach the small Veuve Nature Reserve, where we may observe the endangered Seychelles paradise-flycatcher in its native habitat. Other common sights include the yellow bittern, Seychelles swiftlet, and common waxbill. We also spend time on one of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful beaches, Anse La Source d’Argent, to beachcomb, swim, or simply soak in our surroundings.
Amirante Island Group
The Amirante Islands are named in honor of Portuguese admiral Vasco da Gama’s 1501 visit. We take Zodiacs to Poivre Island for beachcombing, nature walks, birding, and a visit to the copra plantation. We also snorkel over coral gardens inhabited by brilliantly-hued tropical fish as manta rays glide through the waters below and black-naped terns soar in the skies above.
We enjoy a relaxing day at sea and attend lectures on the natural history of these fascinating islands.
Assumption Island is famous for its clear surrounding waters, populated by a profusion of marine life. These qualities led Jacques Cousteau to film much of his documentary The Silent World at Assumption here. We snorkel among corals that teem with more than a hundred species of fish, including black lionfish, blue-ribbon eels, black-streak surgeonfish, and Indian Ocean steephead parrotfish. Assumption is also home to about a hundred giant tortoises introduced to the island from Aldabra.
Boarding Zodiacs, we land on this deserted island’s sandy beach. Part of the Aldabra Group, Astove was formerly inhabited by African slaves who escaped a Portuguese ship in 1760. More recently, Astove was the site of a copra plantation—its houses, drying sheds, and other buildings are in various states of disrepair since being abandoned in the 1980s. Mature casuarina and Indian almond trees host the finely woven pendant nests of Abbott’s sunbird, and snorkelers will delight in the crystal-clear waters of the large lagoon, frequented by turtles, groupers, and clouds of tropical fish.
We have four full days at magnificent Aldabra, a World Heritage Site, and a highlight of our adventure. With a perimeter of 70 miles, Aldabra is one of the largest atolls in the world, comprising four major islands separated by channels. Because of the atoll’s extreme isolation, many of Aldabra’s species are endemics. Giant Aldabra tortoises—estimated to number over 100,000—roam wild over the islands. Tide permitting, we cruise by Zodiac through the narrow passes to drift through a landscape of fascinating eroded limestone topography. The tides have sculpted small islets into fantastical formations known as champignons, or “mushrooms.” Hundreds of lesser and great frigatebirds soar overhead while on land, we search for the rare Aldabra white-throated rail, the only flightless bird found on any Indian Ocean island. Robber crabs, whose claws are strong enough to crack coconuts, scamper across the turf. We enjoy an exhilarating drift snorkel as the incoming tide whisks us through the pass and into a lagoon populated by turtles and eagle rays. We also visit the small scientific research station on Picard Island and photograph the mighty tortoises of this magical, isolated island that few travelers ever have the privilege to see.
As we sail to Zanzibar, we search for dolphins and other marine mammals and attend lectures recapping our experiences in the Seychelles.
Zanzibar lives up to its storied Arabian Nights reputation—a lush palm-fringed island, often referred to as the Bali of East Africa. Our choice of excursions includes a hike along the nature trails of Jozani Natural Forest Reserve to spot red colobus and Skye's monkeys, a tour of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with an architectural mélange reflecting a unique mix of Moorish, Arab, Persian, Indian, and European influences, or an excursion that brings us past the house of Dr. David Livingstone, visits the ruins of Maruhubi Palace, then proceeds to the countryside where we have the chance to observe the cultivation of fragrant spices and seasonal fruits, as well as plants used for medicinal purposes. In the afternoon, we transfer to the airport for departing flights, arriving home the next day.
What the Trip is Like
The trip is rated Level 1, Easiest, and is appropriate for anyone in good health who is physically active. Zodiac landing crafts are used to explore the coastline and transport passengers ashore for walks to wildlife sanctuaries, scenic nature areas, and local towns and villages. There are also ample opportunities for swimming and snorkeling. Some agility is required for getting in and out of the Zodiac landing crafts.
Nov 16-Dec 2, 2014 Island Sky
Prices are for 2014
Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy
Sole occupancy Category 3 from: $19,470
Additional singles may be available in other categories at 1.6 times the share rate.
- All cabins feature ocean views and have two twin beds that can be reconfigured into one queen, a sitting area, en suite bathroom, large wardrobes, vanity table, small refrigerator, television, personal safe, hairdryer, assorted toiletries, individually controlled air-conditioning and heating, and American-style outlets (two flat prongs) at 110 volts
- Magellan Deck cabins are 230 square feet and have two to four portholes
- Columbus Deck cabins are 240 square feet with large picture windows
- Marco Polo Deck cabins range between 225 to 240 square feet and feature large picture windows
- Erikson Deck cabins are 270 square feet including private balconies
- Explorer Deck cabins are 325 square feet including private balconies
Trip Cost Includes:
- Accommodations in our hotels and on board Island Sky as outlined in the itinerary
- All meals onboard the ship and group meals on land
- Arrival and departure transfers on group dates
- Services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows
- All group activities and excursions
- Landing and port fees
- All gratuities
Trip Cost Does Not Include:All air transportation; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.
Trip Payment Schedule*
At time of reservation: 25%
130 days prior to departure: Balance
*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.
One of the finest small ships in the world, the Island Sky features 53 spacious, outside-facing suites with marble-appointed bathrooms. Each suite includes a flat-screen TV with DVD player, hairdryer, individually controlled air-conditioning, and mini-fridge. High quality service and attention to detail are the order of the day aboard the Island Sky, with an on-board atmosphere more similar to a yacht than a cruise ship. Having undergone significant refurbishment in 2010, she features a large lounge, a library and bar, and an elegant dining room as well as spacious outside decks. The ship’s relatively small size lets her drop anchor in remote areas and in small ports where larger ships can’t go, and the fleet of inflatable zodiacs offers access in wonderfully remote places. Island Sky has a staff and crew of 75.