Arrive in Mahé, Seychelles. Check into your hotel for the night, Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove, with an opportunity to relax and enjoy the beach. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner at the hotel.
The morning is yours to spend at your leisure. After lunch, take a brief tour of Mahé before transferring to the pier and embarking National Geographic Orion.
Idyllic Silhouette is a steep and forested island that offers a choice of walks and the chance to see the work of the Seychelles Giant Tortoise Conservation Project. The giant tortoise of the Seychelles was almost extinct because tortoises were taken for food by early sailors. Only a small number remain, and you are able to see some up close. Hikers can opt for easy walks or more strenuous ones, before we return to our ship and sail to Curieuse. Here there is time on the beach to enjoy the warm waters, with a chance to snorkel, kayak, or dive. This evening, plan for a sunset barbecue dinner ashore, prepared by your ship's crew.
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. 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.
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, including the very rare and endangered Seychelles magpie-robin. It also has a couple of endemic plant species. Spend the morning here, making a Zodiac landing on the beach and hiking up a trail for great views. Mid-afternoon, set sail across the Indian Ocean for the Maldives.
If you haven't already, spend these days familiarizing yourself with the ship and her amenities as you cruise the open ocean.
Make landfall at the southernmost atoll of this archipelago, with a visit to the WWII Royal Air Force outpost at Gan. Swim and snorkel in crystalline Maldive waters.
As your ship cruises on to the next locale, relax on board and enjoy the view!
Although this tiny island nation has a long and fascinating human history, it is perhaps most well known today for its clear turquoise waters and abundant marine life. Today experience both aspects, with a brief morning visit to the bustling capital of Malé, and an afternoon immersed in warm Indian Ocean waters at a nearby island.
These days are dedicated to exploring the more remote reaches of the northern islands, including the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll. More than 1,000 fish species, including manta rays and whale sharks, are sure to delight snorkelers and scuba divers, while birdwatchers experience thrills on Zodiac cruises to sight tropicbirds and frigatebirds. The Maldives are also known for a diversity of cetaceans, so you can search for dolphins and possibly even blue whales from the deck of the ship as you explore these crystalline waters.
Your last day on the open water is a chance to reflect on all you’ve seen and done, to look at photographs your shipmates have taken, and to rest up for the final leg of your journey.
Dedicate this morning to searching out the marine mammals for which this part of the Indian Ocean is known, so bring your binoculars and join us on deck. Later, your ship passes under the ramparts of the 400-year-old Galle Fort on approach to the harbor. On an afternoon tour of this fascinating city, take in its Portuguese and Dutch colonial architecture and learn of a history that includes Persian, Arab, Greek, Roman, and Chinese influences. Return to your ship for the night.
Historically known as Gimhathiththa, the ancient seaport of Galle is also thought to be the site from which ivory, peacocks and cinnamon were shipped to the court of King Solomon. Today it’s the base from which we explore a bit of southern Sri Lanka. Choose to learn about traditional Sri Lankan culture with visits to a folk museum and a Ceylon tea plantation, or spend your day searching for wildlife on a guided river safari.
Disembark and tour Colombo this morning before transferring to your hotel for the evening.
Depart on your homeward flight.