Join MS Spitsbergen on this 14-day cruise Roundtrip Dakar to the West Africa Archipelago aboard MS Spitsbergen. Your adventure begins on the colorful streets of Dakar. Next, visit two island archipelagos, home to historical sites, contrasting cultures, and varied landscapes. Explore the volcanic landscapes of Cape Verde as you cruise to Santiago, Fogo, Santo Antão, and Boa Vista. Watch different bird species, rare saltwater hippos, manatees, and more in the Bissagos UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Then meet the Bijagós people, who retain their nature-based spiritual beliefs and traditional culture. Your final stop before returning to Dakar is Banjul, Africa’s smallest capital city.
See landscapes of lava on Fogo, an island dominated by an active volcano.
Dakar is colorful and captivating—the perfect place to start your West Africa expedition. The capital of Senegal is an exciting and diverse mix of cultures. It is also a showcase for stable African democracy. Take some time to adjust to a new culture and get ready for the exciting voyage ahead.
If you want to explore more the area before your expedition cruise, you can book a Pre-Program excursion to visit the Bandia Nature Reserve. Ride an open vehicle safari through the African savanna for some exciting wildlife spotting. Keep an eye out for giraffes, buffalo, monkeys, gazelles, ostriches, rhinos, and more.
After breakfast you’ll visit the historical UNESCO site of Île de Gorée. This island was once the largest slave trading center on the African coast. It is now filled with forts and museums and is a memorial to the suffering of the countless enslaved peoples who passed through this tragic place.
Learn more on a visit to the Maison des Esclaves (Slave House) Museum. Also tour the baobab-shaded streets of the town, where local artisans sell their crafts.
MS Spitsbergen is waiting for you back on the mainland to depart to Cape Verde in the late evening.
Today you continue the voyage west toward the Cape Verde Islands. There are be plenty of time to get acquainted with your fellow passengers and Expedition Team.
Enjoy the onboard comforts, from delicious meals and drinks in the Explorer Lounge &Bar to relaxing in the panoramic sauna or a hot tub on deck.
To learn more about what’s ahead, join the Expedition Team for fascinating lectures in the Science Center and pick up pointers from the professional photographer as you watch for marine life and seabirds.
Santiago embodies the spirit of the Cape Verde archipelago. Here, you can enjoy a little of everything, from historical sites and bustling markets to lush valleys and jagged mountains.
The capital of Praia is a dynamic city that attracts immigrants from the rest of Cape Verde and the African continent.
Explore Praia’s vibrant culture on a city tour. Visit the museums and buildings around the Plateau, which displays artifacts recovered from the islands’ shipwrecks. Stop by viewpoints, the local market, and more.
Today's expedition day takes you to Fogo, an island dominated by a cone-shaped active volcano. Centuries of eruptions, the last in 2014, have left an incredible landscape for you to explore.
Enjoy a tour of São Filipe’s cobbled streets and charming historic center. Don’t miss the stunning lava fields of Chã das Caldeiras.
Fogo doesn’t have any natural harbors, you only land if conditions allow you to launch the small boats (RIBs).
Santo Antão’s landscapes of peaks, gorges, and canyons have benefited from their unsuitability for agriculture. Largely untouched, this wilderness sanctuary is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.
You land in Porto Novo, the island’s main port, which has spectacular views across to São Vicente. Enjoy a ride around the island, which takes you on a nature tour through the island’s ribeiras. These are deep, narrow canyons with near vertical walls.
Or you could take a nature walk and admire the beauty of these local spots up close. Walk along trails through mango and almond groves, punctuated by the delicious aroma of roasting coffee wafting through the villages.
You've now reached Cape Verde’s easternmost island, Boa Vista.
You’ll be awed by the rugged beauty of the Sahara-like desert formations and landscapes of this volcanic island. The sand dunes and oases found here are in stark contrast to the other islands you visit on this cruise.
Stroll the streets of the island’s capital, Sal Rei, where you can explore its history and traditions, and visit Santa Isabel Church. The Ponta do Sol nature reserve is within hiking distance of the town and a great way to enjoy the scenery.
You say goodbye to Cape Verde as your expedition cruise continues to Guinea-Bissau. As you sail, your Expedition Team is going brief you on what lies ahead.
Learn about the extraordinary biodiversity of this tropical region, the traditional culture of the Bijagós people, and the historical impact of Portuguese exploration and the slave trade.
You can also participate in the Citizen Science projects and contribute data to important ongoing research projects. You could also brush up your photography skills with your onboard photographer to prepare for the sights to come.
Over the next four days, you’ll explore a maze of islands and channels, seeking out mangroves, tropical forests, savannah woodlands, and coastal lagoons. The small boats (RIBs) can take you down the smaller channels and on-shore landings with the Expedition Team. You may also launch the kayaks.
You’ll meet and learn more about the local Bijagós people, a tribal society organized in clans. Practicing a life that is in balance with nature, they hold the world around them as sacred and have retained their ancestral traditions.
Local conditions determine when and where you can land and explore, but whatever you do you can be sure you’ll experience the rich diversity of the archipelago up close.
Today, you reach The Gambia and Banjul, its tiny capital. It may be a small city, but its location at the mouth of the Gambia River means it is an important trading hub.
Banjul played a role in ending the slave trade, as its garrison was used by the British Navy to uphold abolition laws. Close by is the birthplace of Kunta Kinte, the protagonist of Alex Haley’s famous book, Roots.
This city is easy to explore on foot. Visit the lively Royal Albert Market and the National Museum, which contains historical documents and displays about the country’s history. Back on board, you’ll enjoy a cultural performance, introducing you to The Gambia’s music and traditions.
Day 14: Return to Dakar | Disembark
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
End your expedition in Senegal’s colorful capital. Your expedition cruise ends in Senegal’s kaleidoscopic capital, Dakar. After you disembark MS Spitsbergen, you are going take an included city tour to explore this fascinating city.
Listen out for the many languages of West Africa, such as Wolof, Pular, and Serer. Undoubtedly, seeing the diversity of local cultures here is a wonderful way to round off your trip.
With the tour complete, you’ll be taken to a hotel for lunch and spend the rest of the day relaxing in comfort at the hotel, before transferring to the airport for your return journey home.
Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.