Join MS Spitsbergen on this 14-day Christmas expedition cruise roundtrip Dakar and discover Banjul, Cape Verde, and the Bissagos Islands. Travel to two island archipelagos filled with historic sites, contrasting cultures, and stunning landscapes. Get to explore the volcanic landscapes of Cape Verde as you cruise to Santiago, Fogo, Santo Antão, and Boa Vista. Watch different bird species, 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.
Your West Africa expedition begins with an overnight stay in colourful Dakar. Feel free to relax and use the amenities of your centrally located hotel or take in the sights and sounds of Senegal’s vibrant capital.
If you want to explore more of the area before your expedition cruise, you can book an optional Pre-Programme 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. The largest slave trading center on the African coast, this island of forts and museums 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 museum – the Slave House. Tour the baobab-shaded streets of the town, where local artisans sell their crafts.
MS Spitsbergen is waiting for you back on the mainland.
Today you head west to 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 out 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 our 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 craggy 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. Or why not discover the stunning lava fields of Chã das Caldeiras.
Fogo doesn’t have any natural harbours, so you only land if conditions allow to launch the smaller expedition boats. Otherwise, you’ll take in the spectacular volcanic scenery as you cruise around the island.
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 why not go on a nature walk and take in the local beauty 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 our expedition cruise continues to Guinea-Bissau. As you sail, your Expedition Team is going to 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 our Citizen Science Programme and contribute data to important ongoing research projects. Or why not brush up your photography skills with our onboard photographer in readiness for the sights to come.
Today you reach The Gambia and its tiny capital Banjul. 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
Your expedition cruise ends back in Senegal’s kaleidoscopic capital, Dakar. After you disembark MS Spitsbergen, you are taken on 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.
Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.