Day 1 – Zanzibar, Tanzania
Embark the Silver Discoverer for this inspiring Silversea Expedition entitled, “The Realms of Mozambique and Madagascar.” 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 well acquainted with the ship and enjoy the first of many fabulous dining experiences in The Restaurant.
Day 2 – Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania
This morning we visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Kilwa Ruins. Our Zodiacs will take us ashore from the ship at anchor, 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.
With new knowledge gained of this ancient site, we will head back to Silver Discoverer to enjoy lunch aboard and an afternoon at sea to begin the voyage’s lecture series. Our expedition team is comprised of experts in their fields who bring their subjects to life with the passion of their words and by sharing images and videos representing a wealth of experience.
Day 3 – Ibo Island, Mozambique
Silver Discoverer is at anchor this morning off Ibo Island, situated in the Quirimbas Archipelago. With an entire day here to explore, we hope to witness some of the fascinating culture aspects of the island.
Following breakfast, we will shuttle to the shore via Zodiac to 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, marvellous ruins. Ibo is a melting pot of influences from around the world, creating a culture that is completely unique.
This evening we will be back aboard, while the ship hauls up anchor for our next stop, to enjoy a Recap and Briefing from the Expedition Team followed by another exquisitely creative dinner aboard.
Day 4 – 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 in the local population, and their incredibly varied cultural heritage.
Before heading back to the ship for the day, you will surely agree there is a colorful and vibrant feel to the island with all the hustle and bustle; yet the charm, sophistication and culture of days-gone-by still lingers.
Day 5 – Day at Sea
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 to Madagascar peel away in our churning wake, you may choose to take advantage of the fascinating lecture series offered aboard. More entertaining and relevant than most university lectures, the choice of presentations on offer through the day will stimulate both thought and conversation aboard the ship.
Day 6 – Mahajanga, Madagascar
After navigating by Zodiac into the small port of Mahajanga we travel 110 kilometres (68 miles) to one of the largest and last remaining sections of dense dry deciduous forest in Madagascar in the Ampijoroa National Park. The last refuge of several lemur and bird species, the park is filled with critically endangered and endemic species. Home to eight lemur species, the Park is also one of Madagascar's finest birdwatching venues with 129 species. Roughly 75 of the birds are endemic and found nowhere else, including as the Banded Kestrel, Rufous Vanga, Van Dam´s Vanga and Madagascar Fish Eagle. Up to ten frog and 45 reptile species are also found here, like Oustalett's, dwarf, horned and rhinoceros chameleons.
Guided by the on board Expedition Team and local experts, we will enjoy interpretive walks throughout the forest, as well as a simple lunch within the park.
Day 7 — Day at Sea
The expedition team members 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 with Silversea’s expert expedition team in search of breaching whales, dolphins or soaring seabirds.
Day 8 — 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 (Centre de Formation Professionelle Forestière). The Reserve is comprised of one of the most outstanding and threatened wildlife habitats in Madagascar known as the ‘dry deciduous forest.’ This habitat type has been reduced to roughly 3% of its original extent, making it highly prized and worthy of protection.
Kirindy is known to be the best place on the whole island to observe the fossa (a carnivorous mammal that is endemic to Madagascar). Sightings can be especially favourable during the cat-like animals’ mating season between October and December. We hope to have views of this elusive nocturnal predator during our morning walks.
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 the 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 kilometer. The avenue has been a centre of local conservation efforts and was granted protected status, which is the first step toward making it Madagascar's first natural monument.
Evening will find us back aboard the Silver Discoverer to carry on to our next port of call in Madagascar.
Day 9 – Belo sur Mer, Madagascar
A first for any expedition company, today we visit Belo sur Mer. This pleasant Vezo fishing village is located about 80 km south of Morondava. The Vezo are a semi-nomadic people who call southern Madagascar their home. Visitors who come here are greeted by a wonderful kilometer-long stretch of bright white sandy beach and amazing transparent, emerald waters. Enjoy the laidback atmosphere and the locals who keep the authenticity of their ancestral way of life intact.
We hope to see the launch of some of the fishing pirogues and large wooden boats that are built here. If we are lucky enough to see the initial launch of one of these boats, it promises to be a brilliant festival. The oversized canoes are propelled by paddles and some also deploy a rectangular sail to take advantage of any passing breeze. The Sakalava people, to which the Vezo belong, are avid anglers who use outrigger canoes of the same design as those used by proto-Malagasy when they made their voyages across the Indian Ocean.
Day 10 — Andavadoaka and Nosy Hao, Madagascar
Another first on this voyage will be our visit to 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. The reef provides a vital resource for a local artisanal fishery. Owing to the remote setting and geographic isolation, these coral reefs are thought to possess a significantly higher abundance and diversity of species than other reefs in southwest Madagascar. Like Belo sur Mer, Andavadoaka is home to the Vezo fishing people, who are known for their dependence upon the ocean.
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.
Days 11-12 — Tulear, Madagascar
From Tulear we will drive 226 kilometres (140 miles) to the Isalo National Park in the Ihorombe Region of Madagascar. Exquisitely gorgeous, the park is known for its wide variety of terrains, including sandstone formations, deep canyons, palm-lined oases, and grassland. En route to Isalo we will visit the Zombitse National Park where we can see more baobab trees and perhaps the White Shifaka Lemur.
The scenic road will slowly climb roughly 800 meters (2600 feet) and we will pass through different types of vegetation before arriving at the park and our hotels for the night. Both Hotel Relais de la Reine and Hotel Jardin du Roy have been reserved as our base for the one night and two days we will spend exploring the area.
After lunch, we will explore Isalo National Park enjoying various hikes and a special sunset.
Dinner will be served at our overnight accommodations at the Hotel Relais de la Reine and Hotel Jardin du Roy.
On the morning of ‘Day 12’ of our explorations, we plan to investigate even more of Isalo National Park by undertaking a variety of natural history walks. After a late checkout (with perhaps another chance to shower), enjoy lunch at the hotel before driving back to Tulear. From the port, we will once again board the Silver Discoverer in the evening and say farewell to the beautiful island of Madagascar.
Days 13-14 – At Sea
While expedition travel with Silversea Expeditions is primarily about the excitement and delight to be found in exploring remote and infrequently visited corners of the world, it remains that you travel with a company renowned for its attention to detail and offering some of the most exemplary service available at sea today. Perhaps a sea day is your opportunity to enjoy a late breakfast served in the privacy and comfort of your suite. In the evening, you may choose to join new friends for a sunset cocktail on the aft deck as the sun slips below the horizon. Sea days also present a perfect opportunity to enjoy a workout in the Fitness Centre, indulge in a massage, or visit the Beauty Salon. In essence, time at sea is time to get spoiled with the service that only Silversea can offer.
Day 15 — Maputo, Mozambique
Arriving on the African continent this morning we clear back into Mozambique in Maputo, the capital of the country, hub of East African culture. During our half-day tours we will explore this vibrant city and its rich history. A highlight of the day will certainly be a visit to Fundacao Fernando Leite Couto for a talk with a famous Mozambican artist in a relaxed environment with a chance to enjoy the Mozambican cultural talent or browse through the library. Before returning to the Silver Discoverer we will also visit the Museum of Natural History as well as the vibrant FEIMA curio market.
Enjoy some time on deck as the Silver Discoverer departs during lunch time and sets course for our final country of this expedition – South Africa.
Day 16 — Richards Bay, South Africa
Depart from the quayside in Richards Bay and journey to an authentic Zulu cultural village located around the St Lucia Wetlands. On arrival at Khula Village we will be met at a traditional Zulu "Kraal" (Central meeting place) to begin a journey that weaves an enthralling lesson in Zulu culture and tradition. Gain insight into the life of a Zulu as you are taken through customs and rites of passage, from the charm of the Zulu love letter, to the solemnity of gender roles. Marriage rites, courting rituals, lobola (bartering for the bride’s hand in marriage), the family structure and Zulu spirituality make for a fascinating introduction to these people.
The mysticism of the Sangoma (witch doctor) is unveiled with a visit to her "hut" where an introduction to her herbal and magical medicine takes place. A tour of the surrounding area also portrays modern Zulu life, as several of the local people will open their homes to us. It is here that they will show off their beautiful beadwork, various crafts and the looms that produce the much sought-after mats that often form the basis of their livelihood.
The visit ends on a high note, literally, when guests are privileged to see the rare Umakweyane and other musical instruments played by traditional musicians. With the African bushveld as a stage, Zulu dancers will delight the audience, their bodies pulsating to drums with a characteristic energy. Following this performance, you will have the chance to taste traditional Zulu beer and some time for independent exploration of the village and the handicrafts stalls.
Board the coach to continue your journey to Hluhluwe Game Reserve. Enjoy a scrumptious light snack on arrival followed by an open vehicle game drive in the Hluhluwe Reserve. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is the oldest game reserve in all of Africa. Set in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal, the park offers an array of waterholes that are dotted all over for guaranteed wildlife spotting at close range. The park extends itself over 96,000 ha, has an immense variety of flora and fauna and is hugely popular not only for its "Big Five," but for the vast bird life with more than 300 species documented within the reserve.
Following the game drive we will transfer back to the quayside in Richards Bay, and once again join our little expedition ship for one last evening aboard.
Day 17 — Durban, South Africa
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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