Arrive in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital, situated along the Indian Ocean, and transfer to the Hyatt Regency Kilimanjaro for the night. Have dinner at the hotel and get to know your fellow passengers.
After a morning at leisure and lunch, tour Dar es Salaam, seeing its waterfront, the National Museum, which contains some of the Leakey family’s discoveries from Oldupai Gorge, and the craft center. Transfer to the pier and embark National Geographic Orion.
You have the day on the storied “spice island” of Zanzibar, where cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon are still cultivated. Take a walking tour of the historic Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and learn about traditional Swahili culture and the island’s rich history, visiting Zanzibar’s museum, the Sultan’s Palace and Old Fort.
Spend the day familiarizing yourself with the ship and her amenities as you cruise the open ocean.
Arrive in the Seychelles, anchoring off Assumption Island. Take a stroll ashore through coconut groves to see the remains of the guano mining that once took place here. Swim in the crystal-clear waters from the powder-white sand landing beach, or snorkel and if you wish scuba dive to observe the prolific undersea life, with over 100 species of fish including black lionfish, blue-ribbon eels, black-streak surgeonfish, and Indian Ocean steephead parrotfish.
Today sail to remote Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest atolls on Earth. An expedition cruising paradise, two days exploring Aldabra allows ample time to see the best of this incredible island. Plans remain flexible to make the best of conditions. This afternoon you may have an opportunity to walk ashore, perhaps visiting the research station that houses the island’s only inhabitants — scientists and rangers who protect the wildlife. Zodiacs pass through narrow channels between fossilized coral islands to enter the lagoon where you can see the rich marine life below and cruise between mangrove-covered islands to observe large colonies of nesting boobies and great frigatebirds. As the tides pump water in and out of the lagoon, massive numbers of fish come and go through channels to feed. Snorkel in these same channels, allowing the current to carry us along a magical scene. Scuba divers are also in for a thrill as they ride the current on an exciting drift dive.
Astove, also part of the Seychelles’ Outer Islands, offers remarkable snorkeling and diving along the outer wall of the coral reef. The wall plummets to huge depths and rises to within a few feet of the surface at the top. The reefs have enormous and colorful marine populations. Make a Zodiac landing on a sandy beach and look for nests of hawksbill and green turtles, and Abbott’s sunbird. Spend the afternoon at sea.
As your ship cruises on to the next locale, relax on board and enjoy the view!
Poivre consists of two sandy islets surrounded by outstanding coral reefs. The snorkeling and diving here are excellent, and offer chances to see reef fish, rays and other marine life. Zodiacs take you ashore, where you can look for birds that nest here and then explore the local coconut plantations.
St. Joseph’s Atoll is surrounded by coral reefs which there is time to explore before going ashore to see the thousands of shearwaters that nest here.
Tiny Aride is one of the most important seabird breeding grounds in the Indian Ocean, with large populations of shearwaters, lesser noddies, white (or “fairy”) terns, roseate terns, sooty terns, tropicbirds, and a host of others. Make a Zodiac landing on the beach and hike up a trail for great views.
Praslin is famous for its unique palm forest, the Vallée de Mai, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to the rare coco-de-mer. This palm has mammoth fan-shaped fronds and a seed weighing up to 40 pounds — the largest leaf and seed in the tree kingdom. Some trees are over 900 years old.
La Digue is a photogenic island with powdery white sand beaches and giant granite boulders, and visit Anse Source d’Argent, the most famous beach in the Seychelles, for a swim. Explore the island by open vehicle or bicycle, and walk through the forest reserve to look for the rare Seychelles black parrot and paradise flycatcher.
Disembark on the island of Mahé in Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles. Tour Mahé in the morning, seeing the Botanical Gardens and the town of Victoria, including its lively market. After lunch, check in to the Savoy Resort and Spa, with a free afternoon to enjoy the beach. In the evening, transfer to the airport for overnight flights home — or stay on in the Seychelles if you wish.