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Dakar to Madeira
Join us aboard the MS Hebridean Sky for this unique island hopping itinerary visiting the diverse islands of the Atlantic with their mountainous landscapes, intriguing topography, lunar like landscapes, verdant pine forests and stunning national parks. Sailing from Dakar, we leave the bustle of this fascinating Senegalese capital behind and head to the remote and intriguing group of islands that lie off the coast, the Cape Verde archipelago. Through the ages these islands have been used by mariners as a staging post and there is no better way to explore their dramatic beauty and cultural vibrancy than by small ship. Each island is a little world of its own with a distinct culture and atmosphere; some are arid and flat with extraordinary beaches and sand dunes whilst others by contrast are more mountainous and lusher. After two days at sea we arrive in our next island group located some 700 miles off Saharan Africa: the Canary Islands. Our first call will be to Santa Cruz de Tenerife where there will be the opportunity to explore the beautiful gardens of the city and spectacular Mount Teide before we continue our exploration by visiting three of the lesser known islands: La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma where we can enjoy nature at its very best. These volcanic islands impress with their unique flora and fauna and boast rugged rocky landscapes, evergreen cloud forests, metre-high ferns and bizarre-looking dragon trees. Continue on to the delightful island of Madeira where we have a full day to explore this “floating garden in the Atlantic” visiting the island’s wonderful gardens and experiencing the breathtakingly beautiful scenery on offer. Every new day brings a different vista and our itinerary has been designed to offer a choice of excursion in many ports of call as this collection of islands has something to offer everyone whether your interests lie in gardens, geology, history or walking. On some islands the infrastructure is minimal but with our comfortable small ship and in the company of just 100 like-minded travel companions, we can explore places otherwise inaccessible to the larger ships.
Fly by scheduled indirect flight. On arrival transfer to the MS Hebridean Sky and enjoy welcome drinks and dinner as we moor overnight.
Dakar is one of West Africa’s most westernised capitals and has a strong French influence. Skyscrapers sit side-by-side with the old part of the city, where terracotta roofs and tree-lined avenues give it a sophisticated and elegant appearance. This morning on a city tour see Independence Square and the Presidential Palace with its Red Guards permanently on duty outside. Drive through the main shopping areas of Lamine Gueye Avenue, Sandaga and Tilene to see the hectic scenes at the Senegalese markets, before continuing past the Grand Mosque, one of the most beautiful monuments in Africa, inaugurated by the late Hassan II in 1964. Before returning to the ship for lunch, visit the craft market and the Sand Painting Art Galleries. Alternatively, we hope to offer the opportunity to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Goree Island which lies off the coast of Dakar. This tiny island, measuring only 900 metres long and 300 metres wide, was first discovered by the Portuguese explorer Dinis Diaz in 1444, since then it has been controlled by the Dutch, the French and English and as such has a rich and fascinating history. Enjoy a walking tour through the narrow streets and visit the castle fortifications and the IFAN Historical Museum in the Fort d’Estree. Our guide will narrate the history of the island and take you on a tour of the ancient slave depot that bears witness to the sad slave trade that thrived in colonial Africa. This afternoon will be at leisure to relax on board or explore independently.
Relax on board as we sail across to the Cape Verde Islands. Our lecture programme will commence or alternatively enjoy some time out on deck.
Arrive this morning in the Cape Verde Islands, a varied archipelago off the West African coast. Today we explore the historic capital of Praia on the island of Sao Tiago. Praia has a wonderful African feel and we visit Cidade Velha, the old Portuguese Fogo capital with a rich history which was once the centre of the slave trade. See the fort and cathedral which dominate the narrow cobbled lanes and stone houses. Enjoy a traditional performance of Batuco dance before we continue into the green interior, climbing the steep mountains and enjoying the colours as we climb to Rui Vaz where we enjoy a lunch of local produce in the shadow of Pico da Antonia. We will see local farms and drive past the only water dam in Cape Verde before returning to our ship and sailing this evening.
We have a full day on the most beautiful of the islands, Sao Antao. Driving up the old trading route, we pass the volcanic crater ‘Cova’ with its agricultural plantations and enjoy panoramic views of the island before arriving in the tiny picturesque mountain village of Fontainhas on the northern side of the island. After lunch in the seaside village of Ponta do Sol, we will take the coastal road towards the greenest valley in the archipelago, the valley of Paul. Here we will enjoy a coffee break whilst learning about the production of sugarcane on the island. Also discover ‘Grogue’, the national drink of the islands and have a taste of it at the oldest traditional Grogue distillery of the island. Drive back along the coast to the southern side of the island where our ship awaits. Moor overnight.
After breakfast depart the port and see how the scenery becomes more and more volcanic. Before approaching the driest part of the island, we will turn into the valley of Ribeira das Patas to see the bizarre rock formation volcanic eruptions have left behind. Enjoy the spectacular view over two valleys at Selada de Altomira. On our way back to the vessel we will visit a sociocultural tourism and agriculture project and enjoy some snacks organised by the project itself with local specialities. This afternoon we sail the short distance to Mindelo, the cultural capital of Cape Verde and one of the most attractive of all the Cape Verde towns with its colonial buildings, cobbled streets, cafes and lively restaurants. Depart on a discovery tour of the lively markets and the secret corners of the harbour town. After a coffee break in a typical Cape Verdean bar, learn about the life of the local artists and their works by visiting the national museum of handicraft. This evening, before we sail, we will be entertained by local music and capoeira on board.
The island of Sal was relatively undeveloped until the mid-nineteenth century when the salt export business was developed and this morning we will visit one of the original sites at Pedra de Lume. We will see the saltpans, learn of the salt extraction process and even have the chance to float in the waters. Alternatively, transfer to the town of Santa Maria for a relaxing morning swimming from the beaches or exploring the local shops for Cape Verdean crafts. Return to the MS Hebridean Sky for lunch and spend the afternoon at sea.
Spend two days relaxing at sea as we sail to the Canary Islands. Maybe join one of the onboard lectures, enjoy a book in the library or find a spot on deck.
This morning will be dedicated to gardens. We will start with a visit to the Jardin Botanico that was founded in 1788 by Charles III of Spain. The purpose of the gardens was to create an area where the plants, shrubs and flowers brought back from the New World could acclimatise to Spanish soil. Many of the plants are the original specimens brought back for the opening of the gardens including the centrepiece, an enormous South American fig tree. In contrast to the Botanical Gardens, we will then explore the Sitio Litre Garden which boasts a luscious orchid collection. After lunch on board we will drive inland, along the base of the mountain range through beautiful pine forests to the Parque Nacional del Teide. The area was declared a National Park in 1954 and includes 14 species of plant found nowhere else in the world. Geologically the park is fascinating; of the many different types of volcanic formations examples of more than 80% can be found here. Alternatively there will be a full day tour to Mount Teide on offer for those feeling active who may wish to enjoy a challenging hike, accompanied by a local guide, through this spectacular landscape.
La Gomera is a paradise of natural beauty with lush valley and awe-inspiring cliffs dotted with charming whitewashed villages and gives the impression of being lost in a time warp. On a full day tour we will explore the island including Garajonay National Park, home to the world’s only surviving laurel forest and visit the villages of Hermiqua, Agulo and Las Rosas before making our way to a local restaurant for lunch. Before returning to the ship experience a demonstration of Silbo Gomero, the island’s unique whistling language, and visit the magnificent rock formations of Agando. Alternatively, you may wish to join a guided morning trek through the Garajonay National Park commencing in the village of El Cedro which offers some interesting examples of Canarias architecture. Return to the ship for lunch and the afternoon will be at leisure for individual exploration.
Probably the least known of the Canary Islands, and once considered to be the end of the world, El Hierro is unique and utterly captivating. On our morning island tour it will be impossible not to be entranced by the island’s slow pace and simple style; by its craggy coast, where waves hurl themselves against lava sculpted rock faces; by the pretty farmland and flower meadows of the interior; by the eerily beautiful juniper groves; and by the desolate volcanic badlands that stretch out like moonscapes in the south. We will also have the opportunity to sample some of El Hierro’s excellent wine and visit the lizard house where the island’s unique giant lizards are bred; near extinction, they are protected by international law. Alternatively, opt for the La Llania hiking excursion which will take us through primaeval forests, along ancient cisterns and mythical witches dance floors to El Hierro’s top viewing point affording spectacular views of the western parts of the island. Return to the ship for lunch and the afternoon will be free to explore at leisure or relax on board.
La Palma is known by locals as the ‘Beautiful Island’, and it is easy to see why. It is a simply stunning, peaceful and most importantly an un-spoilt destination that has deservedly been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve. This morning drive inland to the beautiful village of El Paso and visit the Silk Museum. This is the only place in Europe where the 500-yearold tradition and processes have been preserved. From here we will continue onto the Caldera de Taburiente, a massive depression eight kilometres wide which scientists agree was a majestically tall volcanic mountain that collapsed on itself. Explore on foot and whilst all may seem stoic and still, the forces of erosion are hard at work and some geologists estimate that it will finally disappear in just 5000 years. Alternatively, for those who would prefer a more energetic excursion there will be a guided trek on offer through the El Pilar area; see remains of volcanic eruptions, the magnificent views of the Valley of Aridane and the crater wall that surrounds the Taburiente National Park. Return to the ship for lunch and set sail for Madeira.
During our day on Madeira we will offer a choice of excursions including a visit to Monte, a charming village high in the hills overlooking Funchal. We will reach Monte by cable car experiencing wonderful views along the way and visit the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens. This garden collection has been enriched with plants from all over the world and about 100,000 plant species have been planted. The garden also features a collection of cycads (encephalartos) which, because of their age, are considered living fossils. Alternatively, join a visit to the Botanical Gardens. Situated in the grounds of a former private house, the gardens are host to a profusion of plants and flowers, from all parts of the world, which thrive in the island’s temperate climate. Those feeling active may wish to enjoy a Levada walk. Levada are irrigation channels that were created by the Portuguese settlers in the 19th century, who painstakingly carved them out of the rock by hand. Designed to carry fresh water from the north to the drier southern regions of the island, they helped to create many of the lush landscapes that can be seen today. The walk will follow the course of ‘levadas’ for over three miles, seeing the verdant plants, mountain views and green farmland that cover Madeira. Return to the ship for lunch and the afternoon will be free to explore at leisure or relax on board.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London.
Itineraries are subject to change.
Vessel Type: Expedition Length: 90.6 metres Passenger Capacity: 118 Built / Refurbished: 1992 / 2016 The MS Hebridean Sky is one of our three flag ships and sister vessel to the MS Island Sky and MS Caledonian Sky. All three vessels were built in the same ship yard in Italy at similar times and share the same excellent attributes that make them three of the finest small ships in the world. Formerly known as the Sea Explorer, the vessel underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment in Sweden in Spring 2016 before being re-launched as the MS Hebridean Sky. Your Suite. On board there are 59 exceptionally spacious and well-designed suites. All feature a sitting area and fourteen suites have private balconies. The feeling of luxury is enhanced by the wood panelling and brass which predominates throughout the vessel conveying the atmosphere of a private yacht. The passenger accommodation is arranged over five decks and all suites have outside views with suites on the Scott and Shackleton Decks featuring private balconies. Each suite affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring vanity unit with sink and walk-in rainfall shower, large wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool and excellent storage. There is a minifridge, flat screen television and a telephone in each suite. Refillable water bottles, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort. Additional facilities include a programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted Molton Brown toiletries and individually controlled air-conditioning and heating. Soft hues and blended tones enhance the traditional maritime style making the passenger accommodation an inviting and relaxing place to be. The beds in each suite can be configured as twins or double with the exception of suite 601 and 602 which feature fixed double beds. The impressive Hebridean Suite, located on the Shackleton Deck consists of a separate bathroom and sitting room with extra large balcony stretching the length of the suite. Additional benefits of booking this marvellous suite include complimentary mini-bar stocked with your preferences and complimentary laundry. Your Space. The spacious and finely decorated public rooms on board the MS Hebridean Sky include a large lounge on the Byrd Deck featuring a selection of seating options from individual armchairs and sofas to side cushioned benches. Daily briefings given by the Cruise Director and talks from Guest Speakers and expedition staff take place in The Lounge which is fitted with the highest standard of presentation equipment including multiple screens. In addition to the Lounge, there is also The Club, located on the Mawson Deck which features the main bar where the onboard pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The Club also offers a 24-hour tea and coffee station. Towards the aft of the ship on the Mawson Deck is The Library which is well stocked with reference books pertaining to the destinations the vessel is visiting and a selection of essential reads. A collection of games and devices to access the internet via the ship’s satellite can also be found in the library. Access to the ship’s satellite Wi-Fi via your own device is complimentary on board (signal strength varies depending on location and demand). The Dining Room which can seat all guests at one sitting is located on the Amundsen Deck and is a bright and charming setting to enjoy the delicious meals on board. Outside there is a rear Lido Deck located on the Scott Deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade. Whilst heaters and blankets make dining al fresco comfortable in cooler climates. Further to this, on the top Shackleton Deck there is an observation area which offers a fantastic platform for spotting wildlife complete with deck furniture, ideal for relaxing with a book or catching up with fellow travellers. You will also find a clinic and Doctor on board and a lift that serves all decks. Additionally there is a small hairdressers with appointments made on request. Your Dining. It is quite a task to create a dining experience as that found on board our Sky vessels when you are cruising in far-flung corners of the globe, indeed it takes a team of highly talented chefs to deliver fresh, varied dishes no matter where you are at sea. Fortunately, our catering teams are well adapted to the world of small ship cruising where no two days are the same and the menus are often scheduled and tailored around the days’ excursions. With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the cuisine on board is of a consistent superior quality that befits such vessels. Where possible and when it meets their high standards, our accomplished chefs will obtain local produce in markets. Such purchases enhance the well-stocked larders and enable the chefs on board to exhibit their culinary skills and bring a local touch to the varied menus, emphasising the international expertise of the chefs on board. Afternoon tea and pre-dinner canapés take place every day in either the comfort of the Lounge or out on the Lido Deck when the weather is favourable. Tea and coffee are also available 24 hours a day. Special diets can be catered for with sufficient notice. In keeping with the informal atmosphere on board, when dining you are able to choose your seating arrangements at your leisure. Whether that be joining a table of four to six other passengers outside on the Lido Deck in the evening’s sunshine or whether you prefer to enjoy meals in the à la carte restaurant. For those travelling alone, our onboard friendly restaurant staff will take care to ensure you are seated with other like-minded travellers. In the main elegant dining room, breakfast is served buffet-style, with certain items cooked to order on request. Lunch and dinner are à la carte with an excellent choice of dishes, with the menu reflecting the daily catch or local delicacies. To enhance your dining experience even further a selection of wines are included with both meals and there is also a comprehensive wine list with a wide selection of new and old world wines from which to choose. The onboard catering and restaurant staff are experienced at sea and enthuse a passion for superb service. Whether it be ensuring you have an outdoor blanket as you enjoy the crisp sea breeze on the Lido Deck or sharing their knowledge of the characteristics of the days’ wine selections, you will experience a service on board like no other. You may also enjoy sumptuous barbeques on deck whilst at times, the chef will make your dish to order at special pasta or stir fry stations. For Your Comfort. The MS Hebridean Sky is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communications equipment along with roll stabilizers to minimize the ship’s motion. During your voyage we hope to offer the opportunity to visit the Captain and Officers on the Bridge to check the vessels progress by charts and learn more about your journey. There is also a dedicated channel on your television in your suite showing the routing of the vessel along with technical information and estimated times of arrival and departure from port. On board you will also find a clinic and Doctor and a lift that serves all decks. Smoking on board is restricted to a specific area on deck. Life Onboard. If large resort-style vessels accommodating many thousands of passengers are your ideal, then our ships are not for you as you will not find endless entertainment, round the clock buffets and the people management which is so much a part of today’s big ship on board style. However, if like us you prefer a more peaceful life at sea you will find our flagships the perfect vessels. When choosing your next voyage the choice of vessels is astounding. You can select a ship carrying in excess of 4000 passengers with impersonal service or join us aboard the MS Caledonian Sky, MS Island Sky or MS Hebridean Sky where peace, high quality service and attention to detail are the order of the day. We promise there will be no organised entertainment, fancy dress, deck games or any of the usual big ship experiences. Instead, the atmosphere is warm and convivial and more akin to a private yacht or country hotel in which you can learn more about the wonders of nature, culture and ancient civilisations in the company of like-minded people. A little music in the lounge or bar after dinner, Guest Speakers and informative port briefings from our Expedition Leader or Cruise Director and of course good food with wine included at lunch and dinner, all contribute to make any voyage aboard these wonderful vessels a memorable and joyful experience. After a day ashore you will return to the comfort and peace of an exceedingly comfortable ship. The daily programme on board is in the capable hands of our Cruise Director or Expedition Leader and staff who coordinate with the Captain and Officers to make the most of each day. Briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage together with a ‘Daily Programme’ that is distributed every evening to your suite outlining the next day’s activities. Dress on board is casual and relaxed and there will be no ‘black tie’ evenings.
• Discover Dakar. • Enjoy Cape Verde. • Travel to Canary Islands. • Explore Madeira.