Cape Town, South Africa / EmbarkArrive in Cape Town and embark the Silver Explorer. Once on board, meet some of your fellow travelers as you become acquainted with the ship’s luxurious amenities. This evening, after settling in and setting sail, you will be introduced to the ship's Expedition Team.
Day at Sea
Gather in The Theater to enjoy the first in a series of informative lectures presented by the on board Expedition Team. Learn some tips and techniques for taking better photos during an optional photographic workshop offered by our resident photographer.
In the evening, attend a special Welcome Aboard cocktail party. Here the Captain will introduce his senior officers and various members of the Silver Explorer crew.
Wedged between the Namib Desert dunes and the wild Atlantic seaboard resides the small town Luderitz. On land, visit the abandoned diamond-mining town of Kolmanskop, where a sparkling diamond was found among the sand in 1908 causing fortune hunters to converge in droves. Today it is mostly a ghost town of crumbling ruins, however a museum has been established and a number of buildings restored. The excursion continues with a tour of the Wild Horses of the Namib. View the Namib Desert Feral Horses in this quintessential getaway location; it is a highlight for many travelers. Observe the extraordinary animals from a roofed observation stand. Keep an eye out for other indigenous wildlife like the elusive gemsbok; springbok and ostriches sometimes seen here. After this eventful day in the Namib Desert, head back to the Silver Explorer in Ludertiz.
As an alternate excursion, take a hike at the Namib Rand. The Schanzen Trail provides a scenic walk among mountains that will take your breath away. After some welcoming refreshments, make a quick stop at the Garub waterhole to view the wild horses of the area before returning to Silver Explorer.
Walvis Bay, Namibia
Head ashore for an unforgettable off-road adventure. Traveling by Land Rover, first observe the many flamingos that visit the Walvis Bay Lagoon, and then continue past the Walvis Bay Saltpans towards the Kuiseb Delta. The Sandwich Harbour Lagoon is a large natural tidal lagoon completely surrounded by giant sand dunes, and accessible only by 4x4. Access relies largely on the tides.
Scenic Dunes Flight
Take advantage of an optional excursion that will provide an unparalleled opportunity to see the famous Sossusvlei Dunes from the air, a site very difficult to access by land. Following the (normally dry) Kuiseb River, fly over Sesriem Canyon then along the Tsauchab river valley where the freestanding but static dunes tower up to 250 metres above the plain. The dune belt runs north to south for over 70 km between Sossusvlei and the Atlantic. Upon reaching the coast, head north over deserted mining camps and seal colonies to Conception Bay and the wreck of the Eduard Bohlen. This optional Silver Shore excursion will operate only if weather/fog conditions permit.
In the evening, gather together again for a three-course meal in a spectacular desert location. Away from all habitation, there is virtually no ambient light in the coastal dunes and the stars often put on an amazing show. Soft lights, candles, crisp white tablecloths, sparking chinaware and glasses enhance the special ambiance of our unforgettable evening.
Begin your second day in Walvis Bay with an early morning boat cruise in the protected outer lagoon area where the water is calm and abundant with bird life. Enjoy photographic opportunities as playful Haviside’s and bottlenose dolphins frolic in the boat’s wake and pelicans fly low overhead. Pass fishing factories and foreign ships in the port and conclude your excursion with a taste of fresh Walvis Bay oysters and local "champagne."
Day at SeaBinoculars and camera in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call and the adventures that lie ahead. Other on board diversions include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Center, and exquisite dining experiences.
Join an optional excursion on land to see the untouched Welwitschia mirabilis, a rare plant found in the Namibe Provence of South Angola and the Namib Desert and generally considered to be one of Earth’s oldest living plants. Some of the Welwitschia plants found in Namibe are estimated to be older than 2,000 years. The tour continues through the desert landscape to The Arch Lagoon, also known as "the lost oasis," which is located in the Namibe desert. The lagoon is formed by a magnificent rock formation, and is inhabited by an abundance of beautiful and elegant flamingos.
Before returning to the ship, visit the "old city" in the little town of Namibe, to see its baroque architecture, old stadium and churches.
Lobito, AngolaEnjoy a train ride on the original British 1930’s Victorian cars to Benguela city after disembarking. Founded in 1902, Benguela Railway crosses Angola territory from Lobito to the eastern border, traversing 1,350 km. Drive through Benguela to the city's most famous church - "Igreja do Populo." At over 100 years old,the church was the first stone building in southern Angola. From there, walk to the heart of Benguela city. On route back to Lobito stop at the city of Catumbela and visit S. Pedro Fort.
Luanda, AngolaLuanda is the capital of Angola, and home to four million people. This bustling city presents many places to explore, including the 1575 Fortress of San Miguel de Luanda and the anthropology museum that houses an array of traditional masks along with art, sculptures, tools, weaponry, jewelery, clothing and musical instruments. Drive to Cidade Alta, a pleasant, airy and calm suburb with several pink colonial buildings. Then head to the Baixa to view both new and old Houses of Parliament. Afterwards drive past Maianga en route back to the ship.
Pointe Noire, CongoAfter sailing north along Angola's coast, dock in Ponte Noire. This seldom-visited outpost is your base for exploring this region's attractive countryside. Visit the Diosso Gorge, where erosion has created a series of red rock cliffs and ridges as well as the nearby Ma-Loango Regional Museum. Explore a superb handicraft market and other sites in the town of Pointe Noire.
Day at SeaParticipate in on board activities, relax in one of the lounges, or peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library. Before turning in for the night, take a stroll on deck and enjoy the solitude and splendor of the vast sea and sky.
Sao Tome, Sao Tome & Principe
The Portuguese-speaking island nation of Sao Tome and Principe is located in the Gulf of Guinea, and is a virtually undiscovered paradise. Palm fringed beaches, crystal clear water and barely explored jungles are surely the reason for the pervasive national mood that translates to "slowly slowly" and loosely translates to "it's all good, take it easy." The Portuguese-Creole flavor and unspoiled beauty of this tropical paradise is ours to savor.
During an optional full-day tour, experience coffee culture at Sao Tome's highest plantation estate and learn how coffee is still processed in the traditional manner. Travel along the east coast to enjoy the view of Ilheu de Santana. In Agua Ize we will stop at the Miradouro d'Agua Ize viewpoint and visit the cocoa plantation to meet with a local historian. On our way, pass by Rio Io Grande before continuing to Boca do Inferno, which is a natural blowhole. Before continuing your exploration, stop to enjoy a Creole-fusion lunch and traditional performance at a local restaurant or plantation house.
Sao Tome is also an ornithologist’s paradise. As an alternate choice, guests may join a birding tour led by our onboard ornithologist. During this outing we hope to see some of Sao Tome’s native flora (700 species including a hundred orchids) as we search for the 143 bird species that have been identified here including rare endemic species like the Sao Tome short tail, Sao Tome giant sun bird, and Sao Tome fiscal shrike.
Cameroon has the oldest rainforest on the continent and some of the most diverse populations to be found in any African country. This anchor off Kribi in the southern region of Cameroon. Embark on an exploration of the Lobe River using traditional dug-out canoes; our guides and boatmen row upriver to Baguieli Village, where you can meet forest-dwelling pygmy people of the region.
Before enjoying lunch ashore at a local beach resort, visit Lobe Falls, one of the few waterfalls in the world that falls straight into the ocean. Birders often delight in our afternoon birding excursion on the Lobe River before heading back to the Silver Explorer just after sunset.
Limbe (Victoria), Cameroon
For our second full day in this amazing country we will Zodiac ashore to visit Limbe in the northern region at the foot of Mt. Cameroon. Our first stop for the day is the Limbe Botanical Gardens, said to be one of the most important tropical botanic gardens in the world in its heyday.
In the late morning gather at the "Jungle Village" for a cultural presentation of various dances from all over Cameroon. Cameroonians are famed for their skilled wooden carvings including masks, and Silversea has arranged for various craftsmen to come to display and sell their goods today. This is a great opportunity to purchase some fantastic souvenirs.
Before lunch on board, also visit the Limbe Wildlife Center. This is home to a variety of critically endangered wildlife species and your visit offers an opportunity to see a variety of primate species including ellioti chimpanzee, drill monkey, western lowland and Cross River gorillas, plus several species of long-tailed monkeys such as the locally endemic Preuss’s guenon. During a short lecture, learn more about the center’s wonderful work as well as their struggles and successes in educating the local population on the importance of conservation. After lunch visit the remains of the 1999 Mt. Cameroon volcanic eruption via shuttle bus service.
Day at SeaThis leisurely day at sea is yours to enjoy. Participate in discussions and on board activities led by the Expedition Team, relax in one of the lounges with that book you’ve been meaning to read, and meet up with new friends for cocktails.
Dock in Cotonou, Benin - referred to by many as the "Latin Quarter of Africa." After receiving clearance from the local authorities, tour Ouidah, a town known as the religious capital of the country due to the numerous festivals with singing, chanting, drumming and dances that take place here.
Historically, Ouidah was one of the busiest of the West African slave embarkation points. Along with Goree Island in Senegal and the village of Juffure in the Gambia River, Ouidah is an important reminder of the slave trade that occurred along the West Africa shores. On your visit, walk along the "Route des Esclaves" down to the shoreline where there is an imposing arch with bas-relief sculpture to memorialize the people who were shipped out from here.
After lunch at a local beach resort, travel on small motorboats to visit a fishing village built on stilts on Lake Nokoue. Ganvie village is made up of bamboo houses resting on teak stilts, perched above the water. The village is scattered and all travel between homes is done in wooden boats on the waterways that separate them. During your visit, see the floating market and boatloads of chattering children heading to and from school. The welcoming Tofinu people like to show off their fishing skills.
Dock early in the morning and head out to explore the lush Plateaux Region north of Lome. Our destination is Kpalime, situated nearby Mount Agou, the highest point in Togo. Here meet a local etymologist and his team for an educational walk in the Kloto Forest, during which the team helps to identify endemic birds and butterflies and discuss local usage of plants.
During lunch in the forest, our friends from Kouma Village will introduce us to the local Ewa culture with a performance of traditional song and dance. On our return journey, we will stop is at a bush school in a traditional Ewa village where we will meet the teacher and school children. We will learn about the difficulties and importance of education in these rural areas. Once back in Lome, we will enjoy local entertainment by traditional dancers later this evening on board Silver Explorer.
Day at SeaHow will you spend your day today? A photography workshop or martini tasting seminar? Learning of Africa’s fascinating cultures or simply finding a sunny spot on the open deck to take in the fresh sea air? Your choices are as diverse as your interests.
Akwaaba! Welcome to Ghana, the Land of Sunshine.
This morning set out to explore the Gold Coast area on a drive to Elmina Village and a tour of Elmina Castle, which was built in 1482 and is said to be the oldest European-built structure outside of Europe.
Continue to the notorious Cape Coast Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the castle was the seat of the British Colonial administration until 1877 and is known for its role in the ancient slave trade. Visit the museum, view the dungeons that once held hundreds of men and women in unspeakable conditions as they awaited deportation across the Atlantic as slaves, and see how a tunnel that once led male prisoners from the dungeon to the beach and the waiting slave ships has been converted into a fresh water cistern.
Alternatively, travel inland to visit the Kakum National Park, a 357-square-km park comprising undisturbed virgin rainforest. Join our natural history staff and local guides for a walking tour through the forest and on a canopy walkway, offering an opportunity to see much of Ghana’s indigenous plant life, as well as rare butterflies, birds and game.
Following each morning tour, enjoy lunch at a nearby beach resort before returning to Takoradi and sailing to Sierra Leone.
At SeaBinoculars and camera in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call and the adventures that lie ahead. Other on board diversions include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Center, and, of course, exquisite dining experiences.
Freetown, Sierra Leone
We arrive late morning in the bustling West African city of Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone. In 1787, British philanthropists founded the "Province of Freedom," which later became Freetown, a British crown colony and the principal base for the suppression of the slave trade.
During an afternoon tour you may be able to visit a local community clinic where you can see the work of volunteers and the Greatest Goal Ministries, a US non-profit organization. In addition, you might even catch a soccer match played on the beach near Lumley. Team members were affected by the horrible civil war and have lost one or both of their legs and form part of an amazing amputee soccer club! We also hope to visit the Tacaguma Chimpanzee Sanctuary to learn more about these primates and their struggle to survive in a country where the bush meat trade is still a very serious problem.
Day at SeaTake this opportunity to enjoy a fine cigar and cognac at the Connoisseur’s Corner or to indulge in any of the other special amenities offered aboard ship that you have not yet had the chance to experience. Enjoy a variety of on board activities and attend a final series of lectures. All accommodations feature an interactive television system allowing you to watch your choice of movies or documentary films and even lectures broadcast from The Theater in the comfort and privacy of your suite or stateroom.
Dakar, SenegalFollowing breakfast on board, disembark in Dakar. Transport to airport to continue your travels.