Tracing the West Coast of Africa

From Gabon to Senegal aboard the Caledonian Sky

Overview

Discover the captivating west coast of Africa from Libreville, Gabon, with its lively street markets and palm-fringed beaches, to vibrant Dakar in Senegal. Birders will love spotting endemic species on the idyllic two-island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, and nature-lovers can marvel at cascading waterfalls, treetop canopies, and the unique habitats in pristine national parks and forests. Witness gripping historical landmarks and fortresses including the Cape Coast Castle, and search for rare, saltwater-adapted hippos, crocodiles, and manatees in the semitropical Bissagos Archipelago. Visit cosmopolitan Abidjan on the Ivory Coast, the National Museum in Liberia, and the beautiful beaches of Aberdeen in Sierra Leone. Your incredible Expedition Team includes an anthropologist, archaeologist, biologists, ornithologists, and a historian—all chosen especially for this journey to bring you an insightful, informative, and exciting adventure. This journey truly has it all!

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

Days 1-2
Fly to Libreville, Gabon

Board your independent flight to Gabon. Upon arrival in Libreville, transfer to the Radisson Blu Okoumé Palace Hotel for overnight.

Day 3
Libreville, Gabon / Embark

This morning, join a tour of Gabon’s capital, Libreville. Visit the local market, explore the parks and sculptures along the seafront boulevard, and head to the stylish Louis Quarter known for its fashionable restaurants, bars, and nightlife. Enjoy lunch at a seaside café before embarking the Caledonian Sky in the early afternoon.

Day 4
Santo Antonio, Príncipe / São Tomé and Príncipe

Today, the ship will be anchored off idyllic Bom Bom Resort on Príncipe’s northern tip. If you are a birder or hiker, set off for the lush interior to search for several species of endemic birds, including the Príncipe kingfisher, Príncipe sunbird, and endangered Príncipe speirops. The rest of the group will enjoy a tour of photogenic Santo Antonio, home to 1,500 welcoming residents, lovely Portuguese architecture, and colorful produce markets. This afternoon, join a Zodiac excursion to Banana Beach for a swim in the warm waters with the option to snorkel among the ancient volcanic rocks.

Day 5
São Tomé

Set out by Zodiac for the city of São Tomé in this remote island paradise. Drive into the interior for a short walk through a lush forest to the stunning Sao Nicolau waterfall. Continue on to the Monte Café Coffee Plantation for a guided tour and tasting of what some consider to be the world’s best coffee. Afterwards, enjoy lunch at the Bombaim plantation, witness another cascading waterfall, and visit the small village of Trinidade. Or, you may choose to have lunch in São Tomé and take a tour of the cathedral, the National Museum, and the local artisan’s gallery, and watch a folkloric dance performance.

Days 6-7
At Sea

Enjoy educational lectures over the next couple of days at sea, recapping your experiences in Gabon, São Tomé, and Príncipe.

Day 8
Takoradi, Ghana

Ancient castles and forts are spread out along the coast of Ghana. The Cape Coast Castle is a World Heritage Site built by the Swedes in 1653, later conquered by the Danes, the Dutch, the local Fanti tribe, and finally the British until 1877. On a guided tour, you’ll witness the slave dungeons as well as a collection of art, cultural objects, shackles from the slave trade, and ancient pottery. Or, you may choose instead to travel into Kakum National Park for a walk through the rainforest canopy, including over one of the longest and highest suspended rope bridges in the world. Both groups will enjoy lunch at a nearby resort before setting off to visit the 15th century Portuguese Elmina Fort—Africa’s oldest permanent building.

Day 9
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Cosmopolitan Abidjan is the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast). Embark on a tour of the city that will take you through the business district of Le Plateau, filled with gleaming skyscrapers, chic boutiques, and outdoor cafes. You’ll see interesting colonial architecture and colorful markets as you continue on to Abodo, Africa’s largest outdoor laundry area where hundreds of fanicos (washers) crowd together in a stream to wash their clients’ clothes.

Day 10
At Sea

Spend a day at sea attending informative lectures on Western Africa and relaxing in the ship’s lounge or outside on the deck.

Day 11
Monrovia, Liberia

Liberia’s capital and most populous city boasts beautiful beaches, a thriving culinary scene, and a fascinating history. Visit the National Museum that traces Liberia’s tumultuous history, and browse the bustling waterside market, where you can find colorful textiles, leather goods, and pottery.

Day 12
Aberdeen, Sierra Leone

Today you’ll arrive in Aberdeen, a suburb of Freetown, with beautiful white-sand beaches and lively shops and restaurants. Permission pending, visit the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, set in a spectacular rainforest habitat.

Days 13-14
Orango Island / Bissagos Island, Guinea-Bissau

Just off the coast of Guinea Bissau, the Bissagos Archipelago is protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Today, join naturalists to explore Joao Viera and Poilao Marine National Park, an important nesting site for green, hawksbill, and olive ridley turtles, as well as several species of terns.

The next day, visit Parque Nacional do Grupo de Ilhas de Orango. Spend the day exploring this unique habitat that is home to rare, saltwater-adapted hippos, crocodiles, five species of marine turtles, and the African manatee. In the afternoon, meet with the lovely Bijagos people to learn about their traditional matriarchal system.

Day 15
Banjul, the Gambia

Set out this morning for the Abuko Nature Reserve where more than 290 bird species can be seen—including African paradise flycatchers, violet turacos, little greenbuls, and Abyssinian rollers. Or, you may opt instead for a tour of the Makasutu Culture Forest showcasing the five ecosystems protected here. Traditional Joal tribal dancing, a pirogue ride, and palm wine tasting are highlights. While enjoying lunch on the ship, sail upriver to Albreda Village and Kunta Kinteh Island, a World Heritage Site, where The Gambia’s slave history began.

Days 16-17
Dakar, Senegal / Disembark / Depart

Visit the infamous slave-trading center, Gorée Island, including the moving 18th-century House of Slaves, the Women’s Museum, and the fortified Le Castel. An afternoon tour of Dakar includes the Great Mosque, French colonial buildings, the President’s Palace, and the impressive new African Renaissance Monument. Check in to the Radisson Blu Dakar Hotel where you can enjoy dinner and a chance to relax before your independent late evening flight.

Highlights

Highlights

Discover endemic island birds on São Tomé and Príncipe such as the Príncipe kingfisher and the São Tomé green pigeon
Walk among the treetops on one of the world’s highest and longest suspending rope walkways in Ghana’s Kakum National Park
Visit the Bissagos Archipelago, home to rare, saltwater-adapted hippos, African manatees, crocodiles, and five species of marine turtles
Learn about the unique matriarchal traditions of the Bijagos people
Search for more than 290 species of birds in the Abuko Nature Reserve—including African paradise flycatchers, palm nut vultures, hammerkops, and pygmy kingfishers
Tour Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, Kunta Kinteh Island, The Gambia; and Gorée Island, Senegal—all three UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Details

Length: 17 days
Cost From: $14,990  
Arrive: Libreville, Gabon
Depart: Dakar, Senegal
Lodging: 1 night hotel, 12 nights aboard an expedition vessel
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Snorkeling, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Special Interest, Photography, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

Cultural explorations and walking tours, optional snorkeling