Africa & the Indian Ocean: Lisbon to Dakar - Silver Cloud
Escape on a luxury expedition ship to lush green islands, rich cultures and warm smiles as you explore the beauty of the Indian Ocean.
Azores: Drink It In
Lost in the Atlantic Ocean, the lovely Azores Islands fly low under the radar of tourism. As authentic as they come, this little group of nine islands are laden with history dating back to the 15th century, not to mention verdant volcanic contrasts, vast panoramas and hot springs. Follow on with an overnight in Madeira for in-depth exploration, before the coasts of The Canaries and Morocco, Cape Verde and Senegal hove into view. Return each evening to the stylish Silver Cloud with a full heart and a peaceful mind, still basking in the wild sea, warm people and vivid landscapes you've immersed yourself in.
Travel Curator’s Insights:
- • Venture to these lush, remote islands where your expedition leader offers up fantastic activities like rum tasting with locals, hiking volcanic craters, and taking a plant discovery walk.
• All activities are optional and there are excursions for every interest and activity level.
• This operator is known for designing outstanding itineraries which you can enjoy along with Relais & Chateaux fine dining and stunning ship accommodations.
Trip Sustainability Awards
Fantastic advances in minimizing carbon footprints at locations.
On the East African Energy Renewal Board
Runs local educational facilities for children.
Day 1 - Lisbon, Portugal
A glorious mosaic of beauty, freedom and authenticity, Portugal’s capital is a stirring artwork of a city. Known for the seven hills it spreads across, and its stirring fado music, Lisbon is a pastel-coloured blend of houses and beautiful tile artworks - and this creative city strikes a perfect harmony between natural and manmade beauty. Stroll along Alfama's steep, cobbled streets as you explore one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods - where each house and door could be its own photograph. Look for the decorative tiles, with the distinctive blues and whites of Azulejo ceramics, and visit the dedicated museum to learn more.
Afterwards, wind up to São Jorge Castle, where views out across Lisbon’s red rooftops unravel. Just one of many majestic viewpoints, you can also seek out Miradouro da Graça for perhaps Lisbon's finest panorama, with the copper-coloured suspension bridge stretching over sparkling water beyond the sea of buildings. The elegant Tower of Belém rises in the Tagus estuary and is a historic defender of these shores. The grand, carved cloisters of Jerónimos Monastery spread out close by, and there's another UNESCO recognised location close by at Sintra, where a colourful town is set amid thick gardens and towering mountains - capped by the royal Pena Palace. Later, relax and take a quick break to drink Ginjinha, a cherry liqueur made from chocolate cups instead of coffee. Lisboetas have a sweet tooth, and the famous Pastel de Nata's crumbling pastry and caramelised-custard topping is the essential accompaniment to any coffee stop.
Day 2 - At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Day 3 & 4 - Ponta Delgada (Sao Miguel Island), Portugal
Providing a gorgeous green welcome to sailors venturing on the long journey across the Atlantic, Ponta Delgada’s shoreline is a reassuring sight, as it emerges into view. Sat on São Miguel Island, the largest of Portugal’s Azores islands - which wait on an outpost of western Europe, some 1,100 miles from the mainland. Ponta Delgada is the island’s largest city, and a place of spectacular volcanic vistas, steaming hot springs and impressive landscaped gardens. The city’s signature trio of arches welcomes you to Ponta Delgada, and its island of verdant volcanic contrasts. Wander between monochrome churches like the Gothic Church of St. Sebastian, and up to the Convent and Chapel of Our Lady of Hope – which houses the revered icon of Christ that is paraded through the streets annually, and believed to have miraculous powers by locals. Or, head for beaches offering sanctuary on charcoal-coloured sands, or the tropical António Borges Botanical Gardens, where tropical plants add extra shades to the Green Island's scenery.
Now extinct, the mighty Caldeira das Sete Cidades is a truly awe-inspiring sight - and the colossal collapsed volcanic caldera blooms with lush greenery and scattered wildflowers. The vast crater has been taken over by a glowing, picturesque lake, which reflects the blue sky above. A full three miles wide - and with a circumference of eight miles - it’s a vast panorama to take in. The Lagoa de Fogo – or Lake of Fire – is another of the island’s calderas – rise up to see the crumpled scenery encasing a beautiful lake. São Miguel Island’s geothermal activity has practical uses too, and you can harness the powers to unwind any tired muscles after a long day, by sinking into the hot springs of Poca Da Dona.
Included Shore Excursions: (All days in port have included excursions like these.)
• Furnas Valley, Hot Springs & Botanical Garden
• Whale Watching
• Ponta Delgada Food Tour
• Swimming with Dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean
• Sete Cidades Hike
Day 5 - Horta, Azores, Portugal
Far adrift, in the Atlantic's vast sweep, Horta serves as a welcoming island respite for some truly epic ocean voyages. One of the most westerly parts of Europe, these Portuguese islands lie a full 1,100 miles from the coast of the mainland. The bustling marina here serves as the perfect stopover and a welcome respite for tired sailors and yachts embarking on transatlantic crossings. The colourful harbour is decorated with a multicoloured patchwork of their stories and flags, and adding to this massive, ever-growing mural is said to offer sailors protection while out on the seas.
While Horta's clientele may come and go with the waves, there's nothing transient about the stunning volcanic cones and soaring wildflower-splashed hills that make up this beautiful Atlantic island pit-stop. Horta is the main city, and a charming welcome to dry land, as you step onto the pentagon-shaped island of Faial. On the frontier of continents, the violent meeting of the European and North American tectonic plates forged this beautiful archipelago - and the rich volcanic scenery here is ripe for exploration and adventure.
The busy harbor lies before the dramatic backdrop of the neighboring Pico Island's cloud-wisped peak - head up to Espalamaca Lookout for the best view of Horta's busy harbor and islands emerging nearby. Horta has a grand volcanic caldera of its own, and you can journey up through threads of cloud, to look down into the island's immense, bowl-shaped crater. The Lighthouse of Ponta dos Capelinhos is an island icon, having survived 1957's dramatic eruption. It now occupies a scenic location on a headland, surrounded by vast swathes of charred new land, which were churned out from the depths.
Day 6 - Ilha do Corvo, Azores, Portugal
The smallest of the nine Azores islands, Corvo emerged as a volcanic cone from the sea depths 730,000 years ago. It later collapsed to form a caldera with several cinder and spatter cones and small lakes, with peat bogs and islets. The sheer western cliffs rise 700 metres (2,300 ft) above sea level while to the south, ancient lava flows reach the sea. The warm Gulf Stream gives the island mild temperatures and high humidity with an almost permanent fog on the mountain top. These are great conditions for a lush vegetation. At times, Corvo both supported and was a victim to pirates. One recorded battle at the island’s settlement occurred in 1632 when attacking Barbary Coast pirates were met by shepherds throwing rocks from the cliffs. The Corvo people repelled the pirates and victory was put down to the local vicar carrying a small statue of the Virgin Mary into the battle. Today, the statue is in the local church.
Corvo and nearby Flores are renowned amongst ornithologists for spotting birds rarely seen in Europe. In autumn, migrating North American birds are sometimes blown off course to the islands. After a rest and a feed, they continue on their way. Corvo means crow and Azore means goshawk. Neither bird was ever here, so explorers needed better binoculars. But there are resident birds, including Azores Grey Wagtail, Azores Blackbird and Azores Chaffinch. Look for the Atlantic Canary, wild ancestor of the domestic yellow canary. At the Azores they sing the same but look better in the wild.
Day 7 - Angra Do Heroismo, Azores, Portugal
Sailing vessels needed a place to re-supply and repair on voyages between Europe and ports in Africa, the West Indies and the East Indies. Angra do Heroísmo (Angra) on Terceira Island in the Azores was the ideal port of call. But only if you were the correct nationality at the time. Angra has had shaky times both politically and literally. The Azores sit on the Azores Triple Junction, the spot where the North American, Eurasian and African tectonic plates are slowly pulling apart. This makes them vulnerable to tremors and volcanic eruptions. A severe earthquake hit the islands of Terceira and São Jorge in 1980 leaving scores dead and thousands homeless. In Angra, many historic buildings were damaged. The town was so faithfully restored that the town centre became a World Heritage Site in 1983.
The town square and 400-year-old military fortifications are key historic features. Battles have been fought on Terceira twice. In the 1580s, the islanders fought against the Spanish occupation of the Azores, before eventually losing control to Spain. The Sao Joao Baptista do Monte Brasil Fortress was built by the Spanish, who defended it until the Portugal restoration in 1642. The fortifications are now protected in Monte Brasil Natural Park. During the Liberal Wars (civil war) of the 1820s, Angra served as the capital of Portugal for a government in exile. Angra’s citizens won a battle in 1829 which lead to Angra earning the honorary title of do Heroísmo "the Heroic”. Not a bad title to brag about.
Day 8 - At Sea
Day 9 & 10 - Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Bedecked with dramatic cliffs, fertile mountains and sun-gorged beaches, Madeira is a lush, colourful island of plants, paradise and Portuguese-flavoured pleasures. Bathing in year-round sunshine, Funchal - the lowkey capital of Madeira - is perfect for slowing the pace, and toasting the thrilling scenery with a bottle of the island's famous wine. Narrow, cobblestone streets line the old town, where whitewash buildings, iron-wrought balconies, and tiled patterns carry echoes of Lisbon. Rua de Santa Maria is the city's oldest street, and the doors have been vividly painted by local artists. Sit for a drink, to sample your choice of Madeira's renowned wines - Boal is the ideal option for those with a sweeter tooth. You'll also find Corpo Santo Chapel here, one of the few remaining buildings to have survived from the 15th century.
Blossoming parks and gardens splash colour around, and the sweet smell of pollen lingers in Parque de Santa Catarina. Look out over Funchal harbour between the fountains and blooming flower beds, as ducks and swans enjoy leisurely days on the lake. Madeira Botanical Garden waits in the hills over the city, along with Palhero Garden – a sophisticated and elegantly landscaped English garden, 500 meters above sea level. For an even more dramatic view of this gorgeous setting, head up to Cap Girao – a rusty-red cliff with a cable car strung up to its sheer drop. The cliff falls away vertically to the vivid blue waters below. Or head down to the sea, to enjoy Funchal's gorgeous pebble beaches rustling, framed by colossal, craggy cliffs.
Included Shore Excursions:
• Bird Watching the Raptors
• Bat & Barn Owl Watching at Night
• Geology of The Origins
• Star Gazing
• Reef Fish Watching
Day 11 - Santa Cruz de La Palma (Canary Islands), Spain
Volcanoes dominate the island of La Palma. The island sits over a hot spot in the Earth’s crust. Beginning on the seabed 4,000 metres below sea level, the volcanoes grew to emerge above the waves and through the clouds to form a mountainous island. The highest point is 2,423 metres (7,950 feet) above sea level. The peak flanks La Caldera de Taburiente, a giant collapsed volcanic crater with a canyon exiting it. The ridge extending south of the Caldera erupted as recently as 1971, when Teneguía volcano sent slow lava flows to the sea. Roads reach lookouts where further exploration on foot begins. The Spanish port town of Santa Cruz de la Palma began in 1493 and supported the sea route from Europe to the New World.
In the 16th century Santa Cruz was the third most important port in Europe, after Antwerp and Seville. But it attracted trouble. The pirate Françoise Le Clerc or ‘Peg Leg’, ransacked the town in 1553, leading to the construction of the forts Castillo de Santa Catalina and Castillo de la Virgen. History buffs should walk the cobbled town streets amongst colourful colonial buildings. Several vegetation zones are traversed if you travel up the mountains. Dry coastal scrub gives way to a woodland with large Canary Palms, a plant now grown worldwide. Higher slopes catch moisture from clouds, creating the lush laurel zone of semi-tropical forest. Next is a Canary Pine forest and finally an alpine zone of shrubs. The highlight here is the tall pink flowering spikes of the La Palma Bugloss.
Day 12 - San Sebastian (La Gomera)
Unspoiled, green and lush, this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has many secrets to reveal. A Canary Island capital like no other, life is lived at a refreshingly lackadaisical pace here. Wander between San Sebastian's faded pastel hues, which spill across the coastline, and bathe in this seaside city's warm sunshine, as waves splash onto sunny beaches. A sleepy capital city, travellers have been resting, relaxing and rejuvenating here for centuries – including Christopher Columbus, whose presence remains in museums dedicated to his visit. He called in to restock water supplies while voyaging to discover the new world. Silbo, an extraordinary whistling language, used to communicate over great distances, adds even more cultural fascination to this luscious island’s mountain scenery, crafts and traditions.
Head to beaches like Playa de San Sebastian to revel in the black volcanic sand that the Canaries are known for, and Playa de la Cueva, where you can look across to Tenerife’s soaring cone. Or explore this island's own natural wonders, at the verdant terraced landscapes of La Gomera’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Garajonay National Park. Trek through the trails of Laurisilva forests, laurel plants and heather trees. La Laguna Grande is another elegant location of colourful natural beauty, where island legends of witchcraft swirl. Discover ceramic traditions - handed down through generations - at El Cercado, where glazed jugs used to store chestnuts are moulded by hand. Squeeze more local charms into your bulging suitcase along San Sebastian’s pretty Calle Real street - where everything from palm honey to woven baskets and local snacks are up for grabs. Or settle into city squares, where life plays out in palm tree shade and café gatherings.
Day 13 - Ad Dakhla, Morocco
Dakhla is located at the end of a 40km narrow peninsula on the Atlantic Coast about 340 miles south of Laayoune, in Morocco’s Western Sahara. Unlike most of Morocco, this part of the Sahara was founded by Papal bull in 1502, and travellers to Dakhla will find a village that is closer to the Canary Island experience than North Africa. This is visible in the lovely white houses that line the labyrinthine streets, fascinating architecture that is a mix of Spanish colonialism and Berber history and – less tangible but no less important – the warm welcomes that are so familiar in North Africa. The city is fairly remote – over 1,300 km west from Essaouira. This remoteness, along with the abundantly rich waters made Dakhla covetable for takeover.
This came officially in 1884 when Spain formally founded the (then) fishing village and named it Villa Cisneros. Dakhla was declared the capital of one of the two Spanish Saharan regions, and a military fortress and a Catholic cathedral were built (both of which remain as tourist attractions to this day). The fortress was also home to a prison camp during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939, where politically active Republican writers including Pedro Garcia Cabrera were imprisoned. Home to the desert, ocean waves, diverse wildlife, Dakla is also home to a Sahraoui camp in the desert, which is exclusively nomadic and centred on dromedaries. In recent years, the city has restyled itself as a mecca for kitsesurfers, in order to attract a younger demographic.
Day 14 - At Sea
Day 15 - Porto Novo, Cape Verde
Porto Novo is found on Sao Antonio, the northwesternmost of the Cape Verde Islands, and is the island’s largest town with approximately 17,400 inhabitants. Located on Sao Antonio’s southeastern and arid side, Porto Novo began as a fishing village and only in 2005 it was recognized as a city. Since the island has no airport and Porto Novo faces the town of Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente, this harbor is the main link to the other islands in Cape Verde and the outside world. A monument above the port shows a woman waving goodbye to those emigrating from the Cape Verde Islands. Roads leading out of Porto Novo have to either go along the impressive northeast coast or cross the island’s mountains through a rugged and even more spectacular landscape. The third highest peak of the Cape Verde islands at 1,979 meters is the Tope de Coroa to the west of Porto Novo.
Day 16 - Fogo, Cape Verde
Fogo and neighboring Ilha Brava are the southernmost islands of Cape Verde and at the western end of the Sotavento group. Unlike some of the other islands in the archipelago which were named after saints, Fogo’s name goes back to the volcanic activity of its dominant feature Pico do Fogo, at 2,829 meters the highest elevation of Cape Verde and also its largest volcano. The third Cape Verde island to be settled by Portuguese –there is no indication of human activity before the Portuguese voyages of exploration - the discovery of Fogo is celebrated with horse races and the “Festas do São Filipe” on May 1. Sao Filipe is Fogo’s largest city with 20,000 inhabitants and the fourth-largest of Cape Verde. Sao Filipe lies on the western flank of a giant volcano which in his 9 kilometer wide caldera has the Pico do Fogo, an active stratovolcano which last erupted in 2014-15 and still today emits sulphur vapor through its fumaroles.
Day 17 - At Sea
Day 18 - Dakar, Senegal, Disembark
Capital of Senegal, and a major gateway to Western Africa, the former colonial trading post of Dakar stamps the Cap-Vert peninsular with glorious surf-fringed beaches. Enjoy the thrum of markets - where colourful textiles are exchanged - and wander streets where jazz, sambar and mbalax spill from every ajar door. Offering tropical island-style beaches in an incongruous urban setting, Dakar is a wild and urgent experience for the senses. Watch on as surfers revel in consistent rollers on this, the most westerly peninsula of continental Africa. Scuba divers can explore worlds below the surface in Dakar's diving areas, or you can head to sandy beaches like Plage des Mamelles' cove, which provide endless options for cooling off.
Looking for a little more activity, loosen up and play on golf courses that unroll along the sun-kissed Senegalese coastline, or visit startling natural sites like the vivid pink water of the salty pink Lake Retba. Cultural relevance abounds in Dakar - those wanting to delve a little deeper into the dark history of Senegal should visit the House of Slaves on the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Goree Island, or duck into the Theodore Monod Museum to pour over an incredible collection of masks, artefacts, and treasures. Sandaga Market is a full-on experience of choreographed chaos, sound and flavours. Tear into fish fresh off the boat, and don't be afraid to get your hands a little greasy while handling Dibi - the national street food - soft mutton, simmered with onions and zesty orange spice.
Please Note: When travelling in remote regions tide, wind, ice and weather conditions determine the details of our itinerary. While we will do our best to maintain all suggested activities, some of these may be subject to change. Come with an open mind and a great sense of adventure, together we can turn any voyage into a wonderful Expedition.
The Azores and other islands of the Indian Ocean are special places that have attracted adventurers for centuries. The designer of this itinerary is offering some breathtaking sights and exciting activities, all from a luxury platform. Heaven!
Joy Martinello, Founder
What’s Included & Cancellation Policy: