Day 1 — Accra, Ghana
Embark Silver Cloud for your 16-day Silversea Expedition. Once on board, become acquainted with the ship’s luxurious amenities. A mandatory safety drill will take place before we leave port. During sail away meet some of your fellow explorers. This evening, after settling in and having set sail, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team.
Day 2 — Takoradi, Ghana
This morning we set out to explore the Gold Coast area. We drive to Elmina Village where we will tour Elmina Castle, which was built in 1482 and is one of the oldest European-built structures outside of Europe. Between the picturesque old town alleys and the numerous flat-bottomed pirogue boats in the harbour, we enjoy one of West Africa’s greatest photo opportunities.
We continue to the notorious Cape Coast Castle which was built in 1653 for the trade in timber and gold. The Castle was later used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today. We will visit the museum and view the dungeons that once held hundreds of men and women as they awaited deportation across the Atlantic as slaves.
Alternatively, travel inland to visit the Kakum National Park, a 357-square-km park comprising undisturbed virgin rainforest. Join our natural history staff and local guides for a walking tour through the forest and on a canopy walkway, offering an opportunity to see much of Ghana’s indigenous plant life, as well as rare butterflies, birds and game.
Day 3 — Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Despite the fact that Yamoussoukro is Ivory Coast’s capital, the city of Abidjan with its port still is the commercial centre of the country. Our morning excursion will take us to see some of Abidjan’s highlights. We will also drive to the historic town of Grand-Bassam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the first capital of the country and was chosen by UNESCO as an example of a late 19th- and early 20th-century colonial town planned for Europeans and Africans.
Day 4 — At Sea
Our knowledgeable Lecture Staff members are experts in a variety of scientific fields and will keep you informed with entertaining and fascinating lectures about the European exploration and native cultures and wildlife. Attend a photography workshop and let the Executive Chef show you how special delicacies are prepared on board.
Day 5 — Tokeh, Sierra Leone
While we spend the morning at sea, our lecturers will be able to present topics relevant to Sierra Leone and other small West African countries.
Our first glimpse of Sierra Leone will be the area south of Freetown. Once the ship has been cleared into the country, we will be able to go ashore by special permission and spend the afternoon at the foot of the Western Area National Park and the private beach of Tokeh. The use is exclusively for Silversea guests and we will have a cultural performance to welcome us into the country.
Day 6 — Aberdeen, Sierra Leone
We arrive early in the morning in Aberdeen, part of the bustling West African city of Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone. In 1787, British philanthropists founded the ‘Province of Freedom’, which later became Freetown, a British crown colony and the principal base for the suppression of the slave trade. By 1792, 1,200 freed slaves from Nova Scotia had joined the original settlers, the Maroons. Another group of slaves rebelled in Jamaica and travelled to Freetown in 1800.
During our tour we will see some of Freetown’s interesting landmarks. We might also visit the Western Area Forest Reserve (accepted by UNESCO as a tentative World Heritage Site) to see the Tacaguma Chimpanzee Sanctuary, south of Freetown and close to the Congo Dam, to learn more about these primates and their struggle to survive in a country where the bush meat trade is still a very serious problem.
Day 7 — At Sea
Binoculars and camera in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for our visit to The Gambia. Peruse an array of titles and topics in the well-stocked Library, enjoy the finest cigars and cognacs at the Connoisseur’s Corner or indulge in any of the other special amenities offered aboard ship.
Day 8 — Banjul, The Gambia
The Gambia is quite a unique country: the English-speaking country is surrounded by French-speaking Senegal and runs parallel to the Gambia River on both sides. The European history started with a Baltic German intent of colonization in the mid-17th century.
Our drive through Banjul will take us to the National Museum where we will see displays of historical and cultural artefacts, including musical instruments. A visit to Banjul’s main urban market –Royal Albert Market- will show the typical hustle and bustle of a lively market offering a large selection of nearly everything you expect, including wooden masks. Another interesting stop will be in Serrekuda to see the design, waxing and boiling of batik fabrics.
If you prefer to be off the beaten track and see the southern part of Gambia in a 4×4 monster truck, you will get to see the villages Sukuta, Yuna and Sanyang for some interaction with the locals in a market, a school and a museum workshop.
Ornithologists all over the world consider The Gambia to be a birdwatchers’ paradise where over 500 species can be seen. This morning we can head to the Abuko Nature Reserve. Before we get there, we board local boats for a scenic cruise along creeks and mangroves with a possibility to spot birds and monkeys in their natural habitats. At Abuko our guides lead us on a forest walk. The reserve is an important stop for European migrants and more than 250 bird species live in the reserve along with crocodiles and a variety of monkeys.
Alternatively, visit the Makasutu cultural forest situated on the banks of a beautiful meandering tributary of the River Gambia, and encompassing many different ecosystems including dense forest, savannah and mangrove regions. The forest is home to hundreds of varieties of birds, three species of monkeys, monitor lizards, pygmy deer, and mongoose. You will take a boat trip on canoes drifting down the river with an opportunity for a bush walk. After a buffet lunch the Tanji Bird Reserve will be visited.
Day 9 — Dakar, Senegal
Entering the harbour of Dakar Silver Cloud will pass later Goree Island. Located just off the coast of Dakar it will be one of our next destinations.
During the morning there is the choice to either see Dakar’s highlights, to visit the village of Soumbedioune and to see how the famous sand drawings are made or to explore the small group Îles de la Madeleine just off Dakar’s western shore. Not only is this group a National Park, it has also been placed on the Tentative List as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We have to use local canoes to reach the islands to see dolphins, sea turtles, and the only colony of Red-billed Tropicbirds known in Africa. We will land for some hikes.
During the afternoon we want to visit Goree Island. This small island Goree is notable in history as a major centre in the slave trade and has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our primary focus will be the Maison des Esclaves (House of Slaves) built by the Dutch in 1776 as a holding point for slaves. Now a museum, we will tour through the dungeons where slaves were held, and hear of how they were sold and shipped. Goree also houses the IFAN Historical Museum to learn more about the history of Senegal, the Musee de la Femme (The Women’s Museum) which is currently closed for restoration, and the Maritime Museum to better understand Senegal’s seafaring history.
A special highlight of the visit will be a lantern lit Senegalese dinner on Goree Island with traditional music as entertainment.
Day 10 – Joal-Fadiouth and Saly, Senegal
Silver Cloud will have headed south during the night to reach Joal-Fadiouth. Joal was once an important trading post in Senegal, today it is Senegal’s most important fishing port. Joal and Fadiouth are connected by a bridge and the specialty of Fadiouth is the use of sea shells in art and construction. Surrounded by an estuary with many small islets and mangroves, some islands are man-made using shells. Even the cemetery is located on one of these sea shell islands and surprisingly has both Muslim and Christian burials close together.
Saly is a well-known resort area with nice beaches –just the right place to relax before heading to Morocco and its desert.
Day 11 – At Sea
Let our lecturers prepare you for a different aspect and face of Africa: the desert and the surprising variety of Morocco. You can also head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals or attend a seminar.
Day 12 —Dakhla, Morocco
Dakhla is located at the tip of a thin peninsula and we will head ashore this afternoon to explore and to capture a sense of this area with our cameras. Historically, this was once a Spanish colony named Villa Cisneros and an Old Spanish lighthouse still stands on the outskirts of town.
Disembark the ship and depart on 4×4 vehicles across the modern part of Dakhla toward the mainland. We will drive along the Laguna of Dakhla, a paradise for migratory birds, especially flamingos. We will venture into incredible scenery until we reach a Sahraoui camp set up overlooking the Laguna and a beautiful white sand dune.
Discover for a few hours the Sahraoui culture, exclusively nomadic and centred on dromedaries, with a tea ceremony, visiting the replica of a Sahraoui family encampment and discovering the breathtaking view from the top of the White Dune. 4x4s will be available to go birding from the campsite with the onboard Ornithologist (depending on the tide and bird presence in the area). There will also be the opportunity to swim in the Laguna.
Return to Silver Cloud with a new appreciation of the remoteness of this region and the nomadic nature of the local culture.
Day 13 – Laayoune, Morocco
Leaving the Silver Cloud in El Marsa we will drive into the desert to reach the city of Laayoune. Once there, we will start with the dromedary souk and the El Mechouar Square. After viewing the Moulay Abdelaziz mosque from the outside we continue to the artisanal complex known for its silver work. Laayoune started as a Spanish town and still has the Cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi and a Spanish school. As our final stop in Laayoune we will drive to a lookout point overlooking the dam on the Saquia El Hamra River. During our return we will stop in the desert at a camp exclusively set up for Silversea and will be able to relax with refreshments and a special dinner.
Day 14 – At Sea
Let our lecturers entertain you with topics related to North Africa and the Sahara. Other onboard diversions include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Centre, and, of course, exquisite dining experiences.
Day 15 —Safi, Morocco
Our destination today is exotic Marrakech. The drive from Safi towards the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains will be quite long, so we intend to visit a Bedouin camp set up almost in the middle of nowhere on our way. Coffee, tea, juices and canapés will break up your journey.
Once we reach Marrakech our local hosts will lead us to a village of tents set up especially for us. The whole surrounding, the delicious food and the music, in short the atmosphere, will have you believe Rudolph Valentino might just be around the corner.
After lunch we will visit the tranquil Majorelle Gardens, designed by the French artist Louis Majorelle with lush greenery, palm trees, cacti, still pools and shady nooks. We will visit the Dar Si Said Museum, a large palatial house built in the second half of the 19th century. Most of the collections of this regional museum come from Marrakech and the south. We will also discover the labyrinth of souks. You can browse through the antique, spices, textile and carpet shops. The many colourful souks have local and Berber handicrafts in leather, brass, copper, silver, and gold for you. Not only souvenir hunters will have a wonderful time experiencing local life. Our guided tour ends with a visit to the famous Djemâa el Fna Square, where we will find a permanent theatre of musicians, acrobats, snake charmers, food stalls and storytellers -truly out of “1001 Arabian Nights”.
After an exciting and eventful day we return to Safi.
Day 16 – At Sea
During our last day of the voyage make use of the Gym or Spa – you will also have time to edit your photos, to attend a lecture or seminar, and to relax.
Today the onboard Videographer will show his/her “Voyage-DVD”, reminding you of the many varied impressions you will have had during the last two weeks.
The Captain will invite to his Farewell Cocktail and the Executive Chef will want to surprise you with a special Farewell Dinner.
Day 17 — Lisbon, Portugal
Following breakfast on board, disembark Silver Cloud.
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