africa senegal coast three women traditional boats

West African Odyssey

From Luanda to Tema aboard the Vega


Experience the myriad cultures and fascinating wildlife reserves of Africa’s West Coast. Call at Gabon to explore the biodiversity of lagoons around Cape Lopez, and visit picturesque São Tomé, capital of São Tomé and Principe. 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.


Day 1
Luanda, Angola

Arrive in Luanda and transfer to your hotel. This evening, gather for a welcome dinner and meet your fellow travelers.

Day 2
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.

Day 3
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.

Day 4
Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo / Tchimpounga Sanctuary

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. You will 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.

Days 5-6
Conkouati Reserve

Spend two days exploring this protected area of rainforest, mangrove, and sandy beaches, habitats for a wide range of fauna, from elephants, gorillas, and chimpanzees in the forest to hippos, manatees, and leatherback turtles on the beaches and in the mangroves. The ship remains anchored just offshore and serves as the base for excursions that include guided walks along the beach, kayaking in the Tchitembo Lagoon, a visit to a local fishing village, a cruise aboard local boats on the Noumbi River, and time with researchers at the chimpanzee sanctuary at Camp Help, where you will learn about conservation efforts in the Conkouati Park and beyond.

Days 7-9
Sette Cama, Gabon / South Loango National Park

During your time in Gabon, Vega will anchor offshore at the tiny village of Sette Cama on a peninsula between the Atlantic and the Ndogo Lagoon. Once a major center for trade in timber and ivory, Sette Cama serves today as the entry point to South Loango National Park. As in the visit to Conkouati, a variety of excursions will allow you to sample the incredibly rich biodiversity of this region, often referred to as "Africa's last Eden." The beach here is among the few places in the world where elephants still go down to the sea, and Ndogo Lagoon is world famous for its incredible bird life. On walks in the jungle and along the beach, 4X4 drives through the mangrove and forest, and cruises on local boats, you are very likely to see buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, manatees, elephants, chimpanzees, and gorillas. And sightings of rare birds like quail finch, rosy bee-eaters, and Congo River martins are common. Day 9 is at sea.

Day 10
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. You will 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 11
Bom Bom Island

Bom Bom Island Resort sits at the northern tip of 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 12
At Sea

Sea days are rarely dull. Take the time to sit back and let the world go by. The ship's observation decks provide stunning views of the passing ocean. A day at sea gives you the opportunity to mingle with other passengers and share your experiences of this incredible trip or head to the library that is stocked full of reference books. Get an expert's view in one of the on-board lectures or perhaps perfect your photography skills with invaluable advice from the onboard professional photographers.

Day 13
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
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
Disembark / Accra

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

2024 Itinerary-in-Brief

Day 1 Overnight Luanda
Day 2 Tour Kissama National Park. Transfer to ship.
Day 3 at sea
Day 4 Pointe-Noire, Congo
Day 5-6 Explore Congo’s Conkuati Reserve
Day 7-8 Explore Gabon’s South Loango National Park
Day 9 at sea
Day 8 Cotonou, Benin
Day 9 Lome, Togo
Day 10 Disembark Tema, Ghana. Transfer to Accra airport for departure



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
Call at picturesque and traditional villages aboard local pirogues


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