Day 1 — Colombo, Sri Lanka
Arrive in Colombo and embark Silver Discoverer. Settle in and attend a mandatory safety drill before leaving port. During the afternoon you will be introduced to some of the important crew members and your Expedition Team. In the evening the Restaurant Manager and Executive Chef would like to invite you to enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
Day 2 — Galle, Sri Lanka
Today we plan to depart for an excursion to a nearby tea estate for a complete tea experience. The tour of the tea estate will introduce you to the fascinating process of tea production, starting from the picking tea leaves by local women to the weighing, processing and packaging at the factory. A tea tasting will follow to give you the opportunity to sample the varieties available.
For lunch we will drive to Unawatuna Beach Resort at one of Sri Lanka's best beaches for a distinctive local seafoof barbecue accompanied by Sri Lanka Baila musicians. The resort also offers you a chance to enjoy a dip in the ocean.
Then we will explore the ancient Muslim port of Galle. Different political influences from Europe are evident in Galle Fort, which was occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch and British up until the late 19th century. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, it is surrounded by the sea on three sides. Walking along the narrow streets one can best absorb the atmosphere of this living fort. Along these same narrow streets some of the colonial Dutch architecture has survived. The 18th century Dutch church has a splendid wooden memorial to one of the commanders of Galle, but we will also see the Arab quarter with its distinctly Moorish touch. A High Tea with Sri Lankan delicacies at the Rampart Hotel will be followed by a tuk tuk ride around the fort area.
Day 3 — Kirinda and Hambantota, Sri Lanka
Kirinda is located just south of the Yala (Ruhuna) National Park — our main point of interest for the day. Yala’s history as a wildlife sanctuary goes back more than 114 years and it was declared a National Park in 1938. Situated in the southeast of Sri Lanka, the park covers 979 square kilometres. A wide variety of wild animals live in the park, including one of the highest densities of leopards in the world. Of the 215 bird species known six are endemic. Yala has a variety of ecosystems — from moist monsoon forests to marine wetlands — so not only birders will want to visit this exceptional National Park, and home to Sri Lankan elephants.
While in the park, enjoy a Champagne forest brunch with a renowned Sri Lankan naturalist who will offer a brief lecture on the ornithological and ecological importance of Yala National Park. Following the day’s activities we return to the ship and carry on to Hambantota to clear out of the country.
Day 4 — At Sea, Cruising the Indian Ocean
Make full use of our small, manoeuvrable ship while we cover the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. Our lecturers will offer talks preparing you for our visit to the Maldives, be it about the historical aspects or natural history. In addition you can unwind, relax, and make use of the gym or Spa, and other amenities Silver Discoverer has on offer.
Day 5 — Uligamu Island, Maldives
Uligamu is one of the northernmost inhabited islands of Haa Alif Atoll and the Maldives. Because of its location, the island is visited by many yachts on their way into or out of the Arabian Sea. The island has been selected as the first in the Maldives to use a combination of renewable energies via wind turbines and solar panels in a micro grid, providing the island more efficient and non-polluting energy.
After Silver Discoverer is cleared into the Maldives in Uligamu, we will have an opportunity to look around this small community of some 300 inhabitants, to enjoy the beach for relaxation or snorkel from a Zodiac platform.
Day 6 — Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll, and Olhugiri, Baa Atoll, Maldives
The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve comprises 75 islands, 13 of which are inhabited by a population of approximately 12,000 people. Maldivian coral reefs support a high diversity of reef animals, including some 250 species of soft and hard corals and 1,200 reef and reef-associated fish species. Hawksbill and green turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and different species of seabirds use the reserve. Napoleon wrasses and tawny nurse sharks also frequent the area which was designated as a Marine Protected Area in 2009.
Using our resources in true expedition style, we will explore the shallow lagoon, which includes a small vegetated sand cay is on the western corner of the reef. This makes it a favorite site for turtles and seabirds that nest ashore. On the south-eastern side, a small bay attracts marine megafauna, and at certain times over 250 individual manta rays and several whale sharks have been recorded actively feeding in this area – obviously, such numbers are exceptional.
In the afternoon, we will visit tiny Olhugiri, an uninhabited island located at the southern end of Baa Atoll. The island, lagoon and the surrounding reef area is all protected by law.
Day 7 – Male and Kuda Bandos, Maldives
Male is one of the smallest capitals in the world in terms of its physical size, yet a third of the country’s population live in Male. Different from any other island in the country, Male is a city of high-rise buildings and paved roads. Government offices are centralized in one area and the main streets are lined with shops and offices. A stroll around the fish market and the local market at the northern waterfront offer an insight into the local trade of this area.
Male also houses a handful of architectural gems that you will have an opportunity to see on our tour of the city. The Grand Friday Mosque opened in 1984, is one of the largest in South Asia admitting over 5000 people. Today, buildings around the city reflect its heritage. For example, the Sultans Palace was built to house the Presidents of the Maldives and is still used. The Sultan’s Park and National Museum are also highlights. Built over the remains of the old Sultans palace; the park is one of the few green spots in Male. The National Museum lies inside the park and houses many cultural artefacts, ranging from stone objects to fragments of royal antiquities from the Buddhist era to the rule of Islamic monarchs.
During lunch, Silver Discoverer will relocate five miles and thereby leave civilization behind. By early afternoon we want to go ashore at Kuda Bandos, a small and peaceful little sandy island. The island has perfect beaches and the snorkeling is easy. Unwind on the beach or continue your underwater explorations.
Day 8 — Maalhaveli, Meemu Atoll, Maldives
Atolls are a geographical marvel, and Maldivian reefs are home to the richest biodiversity in the region. The Maldives account for 5% of the world’s reefs where thousands of fish swimming around the vivid corals can be just a few feet, sometimes just inches away from you.
Meemu Atoll has a population of 6500 inhabitants who are concentrated on nine of its 33 islands. Set like pearls on a necklace, the islands circle the lagoon. This morning we will visit a reef for our snorkelers who will want to inspect to the underwater realm.
Let our Marine Biologist(s) introduce and orient you to the wonders lying below the water.
Day 9 — Hithadhoo, Addu Atoll, Maldives
The Maldives are made up of 1190 islands, of which 200 are inhabited. Addu is the southernmost of the Maldives’ atolls and Addu City is one of only two cities in the Maldives. Since Addu is some 540 kilometres south of Male, there is even an international airport on Gan, one of Addu Atoll’s islands.
Hithadoo is the westernmost part of Addu City and we have the morning to explore both land and sea. The Expedition Team will accompany you on walks, while our marine biologist(s) will be there to show you some exceptional reefs and underwater creatures.
Days 10- 12 — At Sea
To cover the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean, we will be at sea for three days. Our lecturers will offer talks preparing you for our visit to the Seychelles. Attend seminars and workshops on offer, join discussions, relax on the outer decks, or make use of the Gym and Spa.
Our Executive Chef and his or her team may offer demonstrations of the preparation of special culinary highlights, while the bar team will likely entertain and educate you further about wines and spirits.
Day 13 — Praslin, Seychelles
Arriving in the late morning, Silver Discoverer will be cleared into the Seychelles before we can explore Praslin Island. This is the site of the fabulous Vallée de Mai, one of Seychelles’ two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We disembark via Zodiac to the picturesque Baie Ste Anne jetty. From here we drive up the scenic coastal road through a quaint fishing village and dense forest of contrasting shades of green to Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve.
With a population of 6,500 people, Praslin, Seychelles’ second largest island, measures only 10 km by 3.7 km. It has substantial tracts of tropical forests with over 6,000 coco-de-mer palms with enormous fan-shaped fronds. These trees can grow more than 100 feet tall, living 800-1,000 years, and are home to endemic birds, such as the Seychelles Bulbul and the Seychelles Black Parrot. During our walking tour, you will discover this mystical World Heritage Site famous for the coco-de-mer — the largest seed in the plant kingdom weighing up to 40 pounds. Capture the cathedral feel of this primeval forest and listen for the high pitched whistles of the Black Parrot.
Later, we depart Vallee de Mai headed for the Cote d’Or Beach Here we have time for a swim or stroll along this beautiful beach before returning to the ship for the evening.
Day 14 — Aride and Curieuse, Seychelles
Aride is the northernmost island of the granitic Seychelles and is largely covered in native woodland, including the endemic Wright's Gardenia, a shrub with beautifully scented flowers found nowhere else in the world. In addition, the island hosts one of the most important seabird populations in the Indian Ocean, with more breeding species than any other island in the Seychelles. Over one million individual seabirds can be found breeding on Aride. This includes the world's largest colonies of Lesser Noddy and Tropical Shearwater, the world’s only hilltop colony of Sooty Terns, and the western Indian Ocean’s largest colony of Roseate Tern. The island also has the only breeding colony of Red-tailed Tropicbird east of Aldabra and huge numbers of Brown Noddy, White Tern and Wedge-tailed Shearwater. Great Frigatebirds and Lesser Frigatebirds soar over the northern cliffs.
During lunch Silver Discoverer repositions to Curieuse Island with its checkered and tragic history. Curieuse was a leper colony until 1965 and the doctor’s residence, which dates from the 1870s, is a museum and educational center today. More than 500 tortoises walk around the island amidst eight different species of mangrove trees. Birders will look for the Seychelles Black Parrot in rare and protected coco-de-mer trees. Whatever you choose to do on Curieuse Island, be sure to make the most of your final outing of the voyage.
Day 15 — Mahe, Seychelles
After 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.
Not sure what to wear while onboard? Visit our shop and gear up. We've got layers to keep you dry and warm, breezy wear to keep you covered and cool, and accessories to keep everything packed up and ready to go. So, no matter the weather, you'll be better prepared for your expedition.
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