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Goree Island Dakar Senegal

West Africa and Cape Verde Christmas Expedition Cruise

Roundtrip Dakar - Example 14 Day Cruise aboard MS Spitsbergen
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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.
DakarVolcanic FogoAfrican Renaissance MonumentÎle de GoréeSanto AntãoSanto AntaoSalt Water HipposGoree Island Dakar Senegal
Highlights
  • See landscapes of lava on Fogo, an island dominated by an active volcano.
  • Explore Santo Antão largely untouched wilderness sanctuary.
  • Visit Boa Vista and see the rugged beauty of the Sahara-like desert.
  • Meet the Bijagós people, a tribal society organized in clans.
Places Visited
  • Africa
  • West Africa
  • Gambia
  • Senegal
  • Banjul
  • Boa Vista
  • Cape Verde Islands
  • Dakar
  • Fogo
  • Guinea-Bissau
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Dakar, Senegal

  • 1 Lunch
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.

Day 2: Visiting Île de Gorée | Embark

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 3: Bound for Cape Verde

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 4: Diverse Santiago

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 5: Volcanic Fogo

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 6: Rugged Santo Antão

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 7: Boa Vista

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 8: Bound for Guinea-Bissau

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Day 9-12: Bissagos Expedition

  • Ship
  • 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
Over the next four days, you'll get to know Bissagos's maze of islands and channels. Renowned for diverse ecosystems, explore mangroves, tropical forests, savannah woodlands and coastal lagoons.  

You'll meet the local Bijagós people. A traditional society practicing a mostly subsistence lifestyle, they hold the natural world sacred; a belief that has helped protect this area from exploitation.  

Local conditions can 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. 

A special celebration can be held on board the ship to celebrate the festive season in style!

Day 13: The Gambia and Banjul

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

Ship/Hotel

MS Spitsbergen

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
Rates are dynamic and fluctuate based on capacity. Contact us for a specific quote.
Rates are subject to change without notice. Book early to get the best rate.
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Polar Inside - B
Outside cabin, 193 sq ft. With limited/ no view, queen bed, kettle, TV, bathroom with shower. Accessible to guests with limited mobility
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Polar Inside - I
Most cabins have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, some have a double bed or upper and lower berths, shower/wc
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Polar Inside - K
Some cabins have a double bed, some have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, shower/wc
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Polar Outside - AJ
Upper and lower berths, shower/wc, limited/no view
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Polar Outside - J
Some cabins have a double bed, some have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, or upper or lower berths, shower/wc, limited/no view
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Polar Outside - A
Upper and lower berths, shower/wc
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Polar Outside - N
Some cabins have a double bed, some have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, or upper or lower berths, shower/wc
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Polar Outside - O
Some cabins have a double bed, some have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, or upper or lower berths, shower/wc
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Arctic Superior - P
Some cabins have a double bed, some have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, kettle, coffee/tea, shower/wc
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Arctic Superior - U
Some cabins have a double bed, some have 3 or 4 beds, some have a seating area, kettle, coffee/tea, TV, mini bar, shower/wc, limited/no view
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Arctic Superior - QJ
Some cabins have a double bed, some have separate beds, where one can be turned into a sofa, kettle, coffee/tea, shower/wc
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Expedition Suite - Q
One room with a double bed, some with seating area, some with 3-4 beds that can be upper beds, TV, mini bar, kettle, coffee/tea, shower/wc, view
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Expedition Suite - MG
One or two rooms with seating area, double bed, TV, stereo, mini bar, kettle, tea/coffee, shower/wc, some with bathtub, most with private balcony or bay window
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Expedition Suite - MX
Two rooms with a double bed, seating area, dining table, TV, mini bar, kettle, coffee/tea, stereo, shower, w/c, private balcony
Included
  • 13 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 12 Dinners
  • 13 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Gratuities
  • Complimentary Reusable Water Bottle 
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with very limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Loan of Boots, Trekking Poles, & All Equipment for Activities
  • Use of the Ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • In-depth lectures and discussions hosted by experts on the Expedition Team
  • Citizen Science Program where you can assist with ongoing scientific research
  • Professional onboard photographer gives tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Escorted landings with small expedition boats
  • Overnight at a hotel in Dakar, including lunch and breakfast 
  • Dakar City Tour, day room at a hotel in Dakar, including lunch
  • Full-day tour to Gorée Island, including lunch
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Luggage Handling 
  • Mandatory medical evacuation insurance
  • Optional shore excursions with local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with the Expedition Team

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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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.
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