• Look for lemurs and endemic bird species near Tulear and in the Kirindy Forest
• See the “Avenue of the Baobabs”
• Visit Zanzibar’s Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
• Be one of the few to explore Aldabra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
• Look for the Indian Ocean’s largest Red-footed Booby colony on Cosmoledo
Day 1 — Maputo, Mozambique
Embark Silver Discoverer this afternoon and depart on your exciting 17-day Silversea Expedition – Expedition Madagascar and Aldabra. After a mandatory safety drill, the Expedition Team and important crew members will be introduced.
Stay out on deck for a ‘Sail Away’ party leaving Maputo behind, before enjoying the first of many fine dining experiences in The Restaurant.
Days 2-3 — At Sea
Two sea days will be a good start to your voyage, as they will permit you to settle in comfortably, recover from your long journey to Maputo, meet some of your fellow travellers and make full use of our small, manoeuvrable ship while we start covering the western part of the Indian Ocean.
Our lecturers will offer talks preparing you for the visit to Madagascar, be it about its historical aspects or natural history. In addition you can unwind, relax, and make use of the gym or Spa, or any of the other amenities Silver Discoverer can offer.
Day 4 — Tulear and Nosy Ve, Madagascar
As soon as we have cleared into Madagascar at Tulear, we will drive within the northern limit of the Madagascar spiny thickets, an ecoregion with a high percentage of endemic plants, and will visit the Arboretum. Far from the prevailing northeastern rains, this ecoregion shows extreme adaptation to aridity -with the spiny thickets usually between 3 and 6 meters in height. Within this area the coastal mikea forest is quite unique. Apart from Burseraceae, baobabs, euphorbias, and members of the cashew family, several endemic lemurs and birds are found here. Birders will look for Banded Kestrels, Long-tailed Ground-Rollers, Sickle-billed Vanga and Subdesert Mesite, while apart from the endemic white-footed sportive and the grey mouse lemur, the large-eared and lesser hedgehog tenrecs and horned chameleon can be found in this ecoregion.
After lunch, Silver Discoverer will head over to small Nosy Ve, an island sacred to the Vezo people. It was used by the French in the 19th century, but today is uninhabited except for birds. While Red-tailed Tropicbirds nest here all year round, other birds to look for are Humblot’s Heron, Common and Lesser Crested Terns, Crab Plovers, Common Greenshanks and Souimanga Sunbirds.
The afternoon can be spend walking on or around this 0.5 square kilometre island, looking for birds, beachcombing or snorkelling and swimming from the beach.
Day 5 — Andavadoaka and Nosy Hao, Madagascar
Today we will visit the small fishing community of Andavadoaka. The village lies on the edge of a shallow lagoon protected from the open ocean by a series of fringing and submerged barrier reefs that support substantial coral growth. These coral reefs are thought to possess a significantly higher abundance and diversity of species than other reefs in southwest Madagascar. Andavadoaka is home to the Vezo people.
This morning we hope to learn more about community projects that assist and promote the sustainable management of marine resources. Biodiversity studies have identified many hundreds of marine species in the waters in the area. The reefs around Andavadoaka represent some of the most well-developed coral reef systems in the Indian Ocean.
In the afternoon, we plan to visit tiny Nosy Hao for a leisurely afternoon of swimming, snorkelling and relaxing on sandy white beaches.
Day 6 — Morondava, Madagascar
Approximately 50 km northeast of the town of Morondava lies Kirindy Reserve, a private forest managed by a Swiss company dedicated to a selective and sustainable logging. The Reserve has some 12,000 hectares and is comprised of one of the most outstanding and threatened wildlife habitats in Madagascar known as the ‘dry deciduous forest’.
Kirindy is known to be the best place on the whole island to observe Madagascar’s largest predator, the endemic fossa. Sightings can be especially favourable during December. We hope to have some good views of this elusive animal during our morning walks. Red-fronted brown lemurs, as well as other species of lemur, are present and seven species of chameleons. For birders quite a number of endemics can be found, including Sakalava Weavers, Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher, Madagascar Bee-eater, Madagascar Hoopoe, and Madagascar Blue Vanga.
After a lunch ashore, we will visit the Avenue of the Baobabs, surely one of Madagascar’s highlights. It is likely one of the most accessible places to see baobab trees in Africa, and is said to be the most beautiful road in Madagascar. The experience of passing along this road is impressive as a row of imposing baobab trees stretches along the roadside for close to one-third of a kilometre. The avenue has been a centre of local conservation efforts and was granted protected status.
Day 7 — At Sea
Silver Discoverer will sail in a northwesterly direction across the Mozambique Channel. Our lecturers will recap the special sightings and event in Madagascar and will talk about Mozambique, our next destination.
While out on deck, help our Marine Biologist spot southern right whales or humpback whales frequently seen in the channel. Relax on the Sun Deck and enjoy a refreshing drink at The Pool Bar.
Day 8 — Island of Mozambique, Mozambique
Mozambique Island was named after a sultan in the times of the early Portuguese voyages of exploration. The island is small at only 3 km long and some 200 to 500 metres in width. The oldest European building of the southern hemisphere is found on Mozambique Island; the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte. As a result of its rich history and architectural remains, the Island of Mozambique is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Going ashore using our Zodiacs we will be enthralled by the historical buildings and the fascinating history of the island. Guided in small groups, our walking tours will immerse us into the fascinating mix of African, Arab and European culture and history that is displayed in the churches and mosques, beautiful colonial buildings with thick walls and small traditional houses. Highlights also include the imposing fort, the old Portuguese houses (some dating back to the sixteenth century), the well-maintained, interesting museums, and above all the local population and their incredibly varied cultural heritage.
There is a colorful and vibrant feel to the island with all the hustle and bustle; yet the charm and culture of days gone by still lingers.
Day 9 — Ibo Island
Silver Discoverer will be at anchor this morning off Ibo Island, situated in the Quirimbas Archipelago. With an entire day here to explore, we hope to explore one of the largest mangrove forests in Africa, firmly rooted in front of Ibo Island, and witness some of the fascinating culture aspects of the island.
Following breakfast, we will shuttle to shore via Zodiac. After a long ride we will meet up with local guides who walk us through streets that feel lost in time and were indeed almost forgotten to the outside world for nearly a century. Ibo Island is one of the most ancient settlements in Mozambique with a history dating back to early 600AD Arab merchant days. Forts once serving as military bastions and slave trading houses line the shores. Some of the grand, majestic structures have been lovingly restored to former glory, while others have fallen into crumbling ruins. Ibo is a melting pot of influences from around the world, creating a culture that is completely unique.
Day 10 — Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania
A morning at sea will permit to continue the voyage’s lecture series. Our experts will bring their subjects to life with the passion of their words and by sharing images and videos representing a wealth of experience. Tanzania’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites we intend to visit will certainly feature in one of the presentations.
This afternoon, we visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Kilwa Ruins. Our Zodiacs will take us ashore to explore the ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani on foot. Divided into small groups we will look at the haunting ruins of Malindi Mosque and cemetery, Fort Gereza, the tombs of the sultans, several mosques, and the Great House. Highlights include a fourteenth century palace – no other structure of its size was built anywhere along the coast – and a fortified enclosure, very similar to structures found in Syria, Turkey and the Persian Gulf.
Day 11 — Zanzibar, Tanzania
Today we will visit another UNESCO World Heritage Site: Stone Town — a fine example of a Swahili coastal trading town. At the City Market we can see and smell the tropical fruits that are on offer and can see the freshly ground spices. Within walking distance is the Anglican Church, built over the old Great Slave Market. Slaves from all over East Africa had been brought here and had been kept in underground chambers.
Our destination will be a spice farm in the countryside. To get there we will drive past the Old Arab Fort and Dr. Livingstone’s house. At the spice farm you will have a guided tour and can taste some of the exotic spices and fruits grown here. The different plants are grown for food flavouring, for cosmetics, as dyes and for traditional medicine.
A visit to the Jozani Forest and a nearby mangrove area would give a glimpse of the botany of the central part of the island.
Alternatively you might only want to go swimming and snorkelling at a sand bank. To get there you will be taken by traditional dhows. The crystal clear waters invite you to explore the underwater world, looking for coral and fishes.
Day 12 — At Sea
Today Silver Discoverer has to sail in an east-southeasterly direction to reach Aldabra. Because of its isolation in the Indian Ocean and containing one of the most important natural habitats for studying evolutionary and ecological processes, the raised coral islands of this atoll show remarkable wildlife. Aldabra is not only home to the largest giant tortoise population in the world, but also has interesting marine fauna. Let our naturalists share insights into this unique group of islands that receives a limited amount of visitors and with special permits only per year.
Days 13-14 — Aldabra, Seychelles
For two days Silver Discoverer will anchor off Aldabra for the opportunity to visit this remote part of the Seychelles’ Outer Islands. Aldabra has been described as one of nature’s treasures and it will truly be a privilege to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to its extreme isolation, Aldabra is virtually untouched by humans and its distinctive island fauna includes the Aldabra giant tortoise. About two thirds of the world population of giant tortoises live on Aldabra. As Aldabra lacks freshwater and is difficult to access, the island has not been developed for tourism. Only a handful of smaller ships with special permits are allowed to call at this unique atoll.
We hope to enjoy a drift snorkel as the incoming tide moves us into a lagoon populated with eagle rays, turtles, and coral gardens teeming with marine life. Time and tides permitting, we may cruise via Zodiac past mangrove-covered islands to observe large colonies of nesting boobies and Great Frigatebirds soaring overhead. As the tides pump water in and out of the lagoon, massive numbers of fish come and go through channels to feed. We can snorkel in these same channels, allowing the current to carry us along in the magical scene. Conditions permitting, we will go ashore to visit the small research station on Picard Island and photograph the mighty tortoises living on this isolated spit of land.
Day 15 — Cosmoledo, Seychelles
Cosmoledo is an atoll about 85 miles east of Aldabra. The atoll has more than 20 small islands and islets and has been repeatedly used by humans for the harvesting of local resources including guano and fish. Abandoned in 1992, the islands have recovered naturally, assisted by a conservation organization that works to eradicate introduced species.
Cosmoledo is an Important Bird Area and we will see the Indian Ocean’s largest colony of Red-footed Boobies, the Seychelles’ largest colony of Sooty Terns, as well as Black-naped Terns, Crested Terns and Red-tailed Tropicbirds. If conditions cooperate, two narrow passes on the southern side will permit Zodiacs to enter the lagoon where several beaches wait to be explored. Here snorkelers should be able to find an interesting underwater world to occupy their time.
Day 16 — At Sea
Covering the distance of 440 nautical miles to our next destination, Silver Discoverer will sail on a northeasterly course.
Apart from the lectures given by our specialists, let the Chef and his team tempt you with special culinary treats. Our Spa Team is there to pamper you, and if you think you need a workout, the Gym is always available. You could also start to edit your photos or simply relax on the outer deck or in the comfort of your suite.
Day 17 — Desroches, Seychelles
Desroches is one of the Outer Islands and the main island of the Amirante group of the Seychelles. Located 230 km southwest of Mahé, it has a land area of only 3.24 km², but has a staggering 15 kilometers of fine sand beaches. The northern part of the island is a coconut plantation and farm, with a settlement on the far shore. The first coconut plantations were started in 1875 and copra is still processed on the island before being transported to Mahé for export.
After spending the morning exploring this beautiful beach, we plan to return to Silver Discoverer for a late lunch.
The onboard Photographer/Videographer will present the Voyage-DVD during the afternoon.
Day 18 — Mahé, Seychelles
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
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