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West African Odyssey

From Luanda to Tema aboard the Vega

Overview

Experience the myriad cultures and fascinating wildlife reserves of Africa’s West Coast. Embarking in Angola’s capital of Luanda, sail to the Republic of the Congo to visit Tchimpounga Sanctuary, founded by the Jane Goodall Institute. Call at Gabon to explore the biodiversity of lagoons around Cape Lopez, and visit picturesque São Tomé, capital of São Tomé and Principe. Visit Cameroon’s Limbe Wildlife Centre, and in Benin, explore by boat in the stilt village of Ganvié. Explore traditional villages on Lake Togo, then head to Accra, Ghana, to disembark.

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.

Itinerary

Day 1, Apr 2, 2023
Luanda, Angola

Arrive in Luanda and transfer to your hotel for overnight.

Day 2, Apr 3, 2023
Luanda / Embarkation

Your tour of Luanda, Angola's capital, includes the Museum of Anthropology, with interesting exhibits on traditional folklore; the Church of Remedios, built in 1628; and the 16th-century Fortaleza de Sao Miguel that guards the port where you will embark Vega in the late afternoon and sail.

Days 3-4, Apr 4- 5, 2023
Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo / At Sea

As Congo’s main port, Pointe-Noire is a relatively prosperous city of nearly a million inhabitants whose wealth is generated primarily by the offshore oil industry. Travel about 25 miles north of Pointe-Noire to the Tchimpounga Sanctuary, founded in 1992 by the Jane Goodall Institute. Now expanded to include three small islands on the Kouilou River within the large nationally run Tchimpounga Reserve, the Goodall Institute's sanctuary is the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa. The animals here—nearly 200 of them—are all orphans, victims of the illegal bushmeat or pet animal trading. Day 4 is at sea. During days at sea, you may treat yourself to the amenities aboard and attend informative lectures and briefings from expedition staff and guest lecturers. You may also simply relax and enjoy cruising along the African coastline with vast horizons under open skies.

Days 5-6, Apr 6- 7, 2023
Port-Gentil, Gabon

During your time in and around Port-Gentil, explore the rich biodiversity of the network of lagoons and wetlands that abound along the coast from the tip of Cape Lopez, where the port is situated, to Gabon's border with Congo some 300 miles to the south. The environment here is a fascinating mix of mangrove, savanna, and rainforest that creates habitat for hippos and elephants as well as a haven for all sorts of birdlife. Travel inland to visit the town of Lambarene on the Ogooue River, known for the large numbers of herons and pelicans that populate the nearby lakes, and which is probably best known as the site of the hospital built by Albert Schweitzer in the early 20th century. The original hospital still stands and displays photographs and paintings that belonged to the Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Day 7, Apr 8, 2023
São Tomé, São Tomé & Principe 

São Tomé was a prized possession of the Portuguese, who ruled it from the 15th century until 1975, when São Tomé and the nearby island of Principe gained independence and formed the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Principe. Call at the island’s capital and main port, also called São Tomé, a picturesque and friendly town featuring colonial architecture. Also explore the island’s lush interior and rich biodiversity, and visit an active coffee plantation, where you will witness a lifestyle largely unchanged since the colonial era and where you will be invited to sample some of what the locals claim is the world’s best chocolate.

Day 8, Apr 9, 2023
Libreville, Gabon

Libreville's wealth is based largely on the offshore oil that was discovered in the Gulf of Guinea in the 1990s, but also on the local timber industry, which ships ebony, walnut, and mahogany around the world. Libreville is also the political, administrative, and educational capital of Gabon. Tour the major sights of the city, including the enormous Presidential Palace that dominates the seafront, before visiting the forested area of Akanda National Park, where orchids abound and migrating birds of many species can be seen.

Day 9, Apr 10, 2023
Bom Bom Island, São Tomé & Principe 

Bom Bom Island Resort sits at the northern tip of Principe, the smaller of the two-island nation of São Tomé and Principe. Here you will encounter an impressive landscape of soaring volcanic peaks covered with dense forest and beautiful clear-water beaches that line the shore of this tropical paradise. Wander in the charming colonial town of Santo Antonio, walk through the abandoned plantation of Porto Real, watch villagers make palm oil, and hike through the pristine rainforest.

Day 10, Apr 11, 2023
Kribi, Cameroon

The port town of Kribi is well known to surfers for its long stretches of golden-sand beaches and lively waterfront. It is also the site of the Lobe Waterfalls that flow from a height of 75 feet directly into the Atlantic Ocean. Explore both the town and its beaches during a day devoted to discovery.

Days 11-12, Apr 12-13, 2023
Limbe / At Sea

Known for its black-sand beaches, Limbe is a popular Cameroonian resort town at the foot of Mount Cameroon, an active volcano and the highest peak in sub-Sharan Africa. During your time here, you will visit Limbe Wildlife Centre, dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife, especially the gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons, and other primates that are favorite targets of illegal trade. And you will enjoy some time in the peaceful confines of Limbe Botanic Garden, strolling along well-tended paths designed to showcase the exotic and endemic flora and fauna carefully of the region. Day 12 is at sea.

Day 13, Apr 14, 2023
Cotonou, Benin

The small country of Benin, home to an ancient and sophisticated culture, is emerging as a popular travel destination. From the port of Cotonou, drive to the nearby capital, Porto-Novo, set on green hills surrounding a large lagoon. Formerly the center of a prosperous African kingdom, it later became the capital of the French colony of Dahomey. Explore this pleasant city, including visits to the Ethnography Museum, the restored palace of King Toffa, and the Handicraft Center. After lunch, board local motorboats for a ride across Lake Nokou to the picturesque fishing village of Ganvie.

Day 14, Apr 15, 2023
Lome, Togo

For centuries Togo was claimed by successive African empires, later becoming part of the French and German colonial empires. Today, Togo’s capital of Lome, famous for its palm-lined waterfront, is among West Africa’s most exciting and friendly cities. From Lome, drive a few miles up the coast to Agbodrafo, set on the shores of Lake Togo, from where you will explore the lake’s traditional villages aboard local pirogues. Returning to Lome proper, visit its bustling handicraft markets selling traditional goods from all over West Africa, and noted especially for sculpture and batiks.

Day 15, Apr 16, 2023
Tema, Ghana / Disembark / Accra

After breakfast, disembark and transfer to the airport in Accra for flights homeward.

Highlights

Highlights

Visit the Tchimpounga Sanctuary, the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in Africa
Explore the rich biodiversity of lagoons and wetlands along the coast of Gabon
Tour the two-island nation of São Tomé and Principe, with their soaring volcanic peaks and beautiful beaches
Visit Cameroon's Limbe Wildlife Centre, dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife
Call at picturesque and traditional villages aboard local pirogues

Details

Length: 15 days
Cost From: $12,490  
Arrive: Luanda, Angola
Depart: Tema, Ghana
Lodging: 13 nights aboard a 152-passenger vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship, including wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Walking, Special Interest, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

13-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours, wildlife viewing