Day 1 – Port Louis, Mauritius
Embark the Silver Discoverer for this inspiring Silversea Expedition entitled, “Indian Ocean Expedition: From Rainforests to Reefs.” After getting settled in, join your Expedition Team to participate in a mandatory safety drill, followed by sail away cocktails out on deck. This evening, become acquainted with the ship and enjoy the first of many fabulous dining experiences in The Restaurant.
Days 2-3 – At Sea
The Silver Discoverer will ply the waters of the Indian Ocean for two full days to reach Madagascar.
Life on a Silversea expedition ship is packed with new experiences, explorations, and inspirational moments. A day at sea is no different, but the relaxed pace of sea time is a welcome balance to every voyage’s adventure. As the miles peel away in our churning wake, you may wish to take advantage of the fascinating lecture series offered aboard. Our expedition team is comprised of experts in their fields who bring their subjects to life by sharing images and videos representing a wealth of experience. More entertaining and relevant than most university lectures, the choice of presentations on offer through our sea days will stimulate both thought and conversation aboard the ship.
Day 4 – Antsiranana, Madagascar
Be out on deck early this morning as the Silver Discoverer enters the attractive Bay of Diego, and one of the largest natural bays in the world. Enjoy the views as we cruise the eight nautical miles towards Antsiranana, known as Diego Suarez until 1975 and still called Diego by many. Diego Suarez is actually named after the two Portuguese explorers who “discovered” Madagascar in 1506. In fact, their names were Diego Diaz and Fernando Suarez. In 1885, the beginning of the French protectorate, the French Navy built a military base here and urban growth followed. In 1942, the Allies launched Operation Ironclad and landed forces at Courrier Bay and Ambararata Bay, just west of Diego Suarez. Hundreds of British soldiers fell in the Battle of Madagascar, and most of them were buried in the special British cemetery in the center of town.
There will be different excursions available: A city tour with the choice to either walk to the Baobab Valley or a longer hike to a panoramic viewpoint or traveling to Montagne d'Ambre (Amber Mountain). This is an isolated patch of montane forest that rises from the surrounding dry region. The park is famous for its waterfalls, crater lakes, and wildlife, especially chameleons. At Joffreville, we visit the Domaine de Fontenay, and its 300 hectares of parkland. We will enjoy leisurely natural history walks in the private nature reserve, home to five species of lemur, leaf-tailed geckos and ring-tailed mongoose as well as 15 different waterfalls.
Day 5 — Nosy Be / Komba, Madagascar
Hell-Ville is Nosy Be’s administrative center and the close by Lokobe Reserve allows seeing black lemurs and endemic birds. Another special place is the traditional Ylang Ylang distillery. Lemuria Land with its Botanical Gardens and various animals in enclosures -such as lemurs, chameleons, tortoises and even crocodiles- and Mont Passot, the highest peak on Nosy Be, allow for special encounters and for views over the island.
Day 6 — Nosy Hara, Madagascar
During the morning Silver Discoverer will be in front of Nosy Hara within an archipelago off the northern tip of Madagascar which is made up of about 12 small islands surrounded by coral reefs. The island was recently declared a national park and the waters surrounding it a marine reserve. Although basically undeveloped, the island is a popular site for swimming and snorkelling. The beaches show evidence of marine turtle nesting activity, and tagged turtles regularly come up to nest -in the Nosy Hara region these are mostly hawksbill turtles.
All the islands are characterised by the unique rock formations of eroded limestone known as tsingy. On some, forest grows through and on the cliff faces. Endemic birds and reptiles inhabit the forest –among them a pair of the endemic and endangered Madagascar Fish Eagle, one of the rarest birds of prey in the world, and the world’s smallest chameleons.
During the afternoon Silver Discoverer will sail for the northeastern part of Madagascar and our knowledgeable expedition staff will continue with their lecture program.
Day 7 — Tampolo, Madagascar
Silver Discoverer will sail south along Madagascar’s East Coast before reaching the easternmost part of Madagascar and Tampolo where, weather depending, we will land by Zodiac to visit a part of the Masoala National Park in search of lemurs, chameleons and other local wildlife.
Day 8 — Nosy Mangabe and Farankaraina, Madagascar
Before breakfast, Silver Discoverer will be anchored in front of tiny Nosy Mangabe. Part of the larger Masoala National Park complex and formerly a Dutch basis for the slave trade, the island has been protected since 1965. The Nosy Mangabe Special Reserve is a tropical rainforest preserve and our forays ashore today will be primarily to see lemur species in the dense and hilly forests. We hope to spot mouse lemur, gray mouse lemur, Eastern woolly lemur, white-fronted brown lemur, and black-and-white ruffed lemur among others. There are also several fascinating birds such as the Madagascar Buzzard and Paradise Flycatchers to look out for, as well as reptiles and amphibians including leaf-tailed geckos, frogs, small snakes and even an endemic boa.
As part of our night exploration we visit the Farankaraina Private Reserve. The reserve is home to a healthy population of aye-ayes which can frequently be seen during night walks. Six other lemur species occur and other wildlife often seen includes mongoose, tenrecs, chameleons and endemic frogs.
Day 9 – Ambodifotatra and La Crique, Madagascar
This morning, we will embark on a walking tour of Ambodifotatra, the main town on Ile Ste Marie (Nosy Boraha) a narrow granitic island 57 km long and 8 km wide that is located off the east coast of Madagascar. An atmosphere of peace, tranquillity and pure natural splendour prevails on the island. Lush vegetation and sandy beaches shaded by coconut palms are interspersed by many small villages. Tranquil bays and coves protected by coral reefs all lend themselves to a dreamy feeling that is emphasized by the ‘joie de vivre’ of the Malagasy.
During lunch, Silver Discoverer will reposition north to La Crique, where we will go ashore on a tropical beach with fine white sand, coconut trees scattered along the shore, and a turquoise lagoon protected by coral reefs and inhabited by a variety of exotic marine life. Enjoy swimming and snorkelling in the warm waters, or go in search of the group of black and white lemurs which has been settled here. Perhaps you will be inclined to hunt for one of the rarest orchids worldwide (Eulophiella roempleriana), which blooms from November to January.
A full day of new encounters followed by a delicious dinner aboard Silver Discoverer is perfect way to wrap up our time in Madagascar!
Day 10 — Day at Sea
Most people alive today may never experience the exhilaration of being at sea and out of sight of land. Members of the Expedition Team are ever-vigilant during sea days and spend hours on the bridge and out on deck with binoculars and cameras in hand. They watch for seabirds, marine mammals, schools of feeding fish, and any other unexpected wildlife interactions to share with our guests on the outer decks at a moment’s notice. Take advantage of the fresh air and boundless vistas and spend time today with Silversea Expedition’s experts in search of breaching whales, dolphins or soaring seabirds.
Day 11 — La Possession, Reunion (French Overseas Department and European Outermost Region)
After breakfast, we will go alongside in La Possession, on the north western side of La Reunion. Two national parks have been created to protect the Island's nature and UNESCO has given World Heritage status to the "pitons, cirques and ramparts of Reunion Island." For birders the ‘La Roche Ecrite Nature Reserve’ is of prime interest as it was created on the slopes of the 2,276 meter Roche Ecrite to protect the endemic and endangered Reunion Cuckooshrike.
On a full-day tour we will visit the central highlands where spectacular and rugged volcanic peaks cradle huge amphitheatres known as cirques, and where mountains tower to over 10,000 feet as cascading waterfalls plummet hundreds of feet. On our excursion we will visit the active volcano "La Fournaise." One road, followed by a good track, leads up to Bellecombe Pass situated over the caldera’s cliffs and offers a good point of view over the northeast part of the caldera. From there a stairway path descends from the pass to the caldera floor. A number of footpaths ascending the lava shield inside the caldera are marked, but access depends on the volcanic activity.
This afternoon, enjoy a typical creole lunch ashore before exploring further with some time for independent exploration in St. Denis, a charming town with a wonderfully French atmosphere. This surely marks another highlight of our voyage and a fantastic way to cap the expedition.
In the evening we return to Silver Discoverer and will set sail for Mauritius.
Day 12 – Port Louis, Mauritius
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
Please Note: 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 and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
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