Discover two exceptional archipelagos in this fabulous Expedition Cruise. Get closer to locals, learn more about local culture, and discover unique and wonderful wildlife as we explore Cape Verde and the Bijagós Islands.

In Cape Verde journey to São Nicolau and witness its unique mountain landscapes, explore Mindelo’s culture, and discover the most active volcano of the archipelago in Fogo, also known as “volcano island”, which offers extraordinary panoramas.

Discover the diverse flora and fauna of Bijagós Island, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Located off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, this archipelago is one of the most preserved and protected on the planet and PONANT is the only cruise line granted acces to this spectacular Archipelago.

Classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it is made up of 88 islands, most of which are uninhabited and nestling in the heart of an environment that is largely untouched by humans, allowing fauna and flora to thrive.

During your expedition, enjoy frequent landings via Zodiac® where you will be led by a team of expert naturalists and introduced to some of the region’s most spectacular landmarks and landscapes. You will be joined on board by a National Geographic Expert and Photographer who will enrich your trip with lectures and workshops.

Included – Flight Paris / Praia + transfer

Trip highlights

Enjoy exclusive access to Bijagos Archipelago, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of the most preserved and protected archipelagos on the planet. PONANT is the only cruise company with permissions to sail into this breath-taking region.

Visit some of the greatest cultural cities and towns in Cape Verde such as Ribeira Grande, Mindelo and Porto Novo.

Visit traditional villages and meet with local Bidyogo people in the Bijagós archipelago, who continue to practice ancestral traditions and protect the thriving fauna and flora on the islands.

Discover the rich biodiversity of the Bijagós Islands, including a great variety of birds, marine turtles and the rare saltwater hippopotamus.

Experience Cape Verde and the Bijagós Islands alongside a National Geographic Photographer and Expert, who are specialised in the destination.

You will have the chance to participate on a beach clean-up to help protect the pristine environment of the Bijagós Islands and its inhabitants.

Itinerary - 11 Days

1 Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde

Begin your Expedition Cruise in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde situated on the southern coast of Santiago island. Before embarkation, explore the islands rich history and lush landscapes gaining an insight into where Cape Verde history began. Visit the old centre where the Ethnographic Museum presents the diversity of the archipelago’s cultural origins as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and explore the cities unique historical buildings with transom windows. Wander along the districts planted with Tamarind and Albizia trees and for a truly authentic experience make your way to the colourful African market where locals come together to shop and socialise. Plus you don’t want to miss the rich live music scene that takes over the city when the sun goes down.

2 São Nicolau, Cape Verde

Situated south-west of São Vicente, São Nicolau is a peaceful, island that remains relatively untouched. Home to spectacular scenery including lush valleys, dramatic mountain landscapes and turquoise natural pools.

Near the summit of Mt Gordo is the islands attractive capital, Ribeira Brava, nestled in a deep green valley. Not far away, you can hike along the mountain paths of Fajã, where you may be lucky enough to spot rare and extremely old dragon trees growing naturally on the high plateaux. In the capital you’ll also be able to enjoy local music and dance performances.

Coastal landmarks include the Blue Hole, peaceful Tarrafal beach and the picturesque fishing village of Preguiça.

3 Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde

Your next stop will be Cape Verde’s cultural capital, Mindelo. Get along with the locals listening to the real morna in the bars of the old town and sipping the local drink, a sugarcane spirit. This island is also known by its British and Portuguese colonial architecture and pastel-coloured houses, the municipal market and the facades of the old Governor’s Palace. Just by the port, there’s one of the best beaches in the area, with turquoise waters and stunning views of the Santo Antão Island.

4 Santo Antão, Cape Verde

In Santo Antão Island, the greenest island of the archipelago, discover the coastal town of Porto Novo and its picturesque port, with colourful boats that lie on the sand. Head to the town’s centre for a foodie treat: you’ll taste some of the best deserts made with locally grown fruits. You’ll also have the chance to discover the charming painted buildings that characterize the Cape Verde architecture and enjoy the stunning green landscapes of the island.

5 Fogo, Cape Verde

The island of Fogo is fiery in name and nature. Situated in the south-west of the archipelago, Fogo is home to Cape Verde’s most active volcano. The foothills of Pico de Fogo are ideal for hiking and offer unmatched views from above with the surreal experience of wandering along the active crater’s caldera. Begin the trail in the small town of Chã das Caldeiras where you can see recent lava flows and older ones sprouting with new growth. Along the rocky coastline, you’ll come across picturesque Mosteiros and the historic town of São Filipe, where elegant colonial houses overlook the Atlantic Ocean.

6 At Sea

This day at sea will give you the chance to explore the ship and enjoy all the services and activities on board. Aboard Le Dumont-D’Urville, an innovative and environmentally-friendly ship, you’ll have a unique, intimate and comfortable experience. Join the onboard conferences by the National Geographic Experts and Photographers to learn more about the magic of the Bijagos before reaching this unique corner of our planet.

7 Maio Island, Bijagós

The Bijagós archipelago was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1996 thanks to its abundant biodiversity, and is marine animal and plant life. It consists of 88 islands, 23 of which are inhabited. At Maio, still called Chediã, and at Formosa, you can meet the Bissagos people and get to know their ancestral traditions, secluded from Western influences. In this region, cut off from the rest of the world, you'll discover how locals really live.

8 Caravela Island, Bijagós

The second stop of the Bijagós Islands is Caravela Island, where people has melted in with nature. This black rock and white sand island is characterized by its exuberant wild nature. You can also rest and relax in its sandy beaches.

9-11 Bijagós Islands, Bijagós

The Bijagos archipelago was declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve back in 1996 and it’s known for its rich fauna, including marine turtles and hippopotamus. The Bijagós Islands are the jewel in Guinea-Bissau's crown, an archipelago of 88 islands that is one of the most preserved and protected on the planet and PONANT is the only cruise line granted acces to this spectacular Archipelago. Home to an area of extraordinary biodiversity, the Bijagós are unspoilt, wild landscapes that are incredibly well protected by the local community.

During your expedition, meet with the local people of Caravela and Carache Islands who have adapted to and melted in with their natural environment. Witness their ceremonies and rituals and understand their way of life with further presentations onboard.

If we are lucky, and depending on the sea and weather conditions, we will also be able to visit Orango Island, the largest and most mysterious island in the archipelago, famed for its abundant biodiversity - including the rare saltwater hippopotamus - and its magnificent landscapes. During Zodiac® outings, we will set off to discover this preserved environment, look out for wildlife and learn more about the home of the Bijogo people, the true custodians of this sanctuary. Moreover, you will have the chance to participate on a beach clean-up to help this unique environment and its inhabitants.

Depending on the sandbanks position, we will be able to reach Bolama, the closest island to mainland. Bolama city which was created back in 1871 and became the capital city of the Portuguese Guinea from 1879 to 1941, when the capital was transferred to Bissau. This marvellous city keeps stunning colonial architecture and it’s a living representation of the time past.

12 Dakar, Senegal

Finalise this exotic adventure in Senegal’s vibrant capital, Dakar, which will keep on surprising you. Get lost in its richly diverse districts, treat yourself with the delights of the Kermel market, and enjoy the city’s appealing cultural scene. If you have the time, don’t miss a visit to the Gorée Island, the largest slave trading centre of the African coast for a long time. Nowadays, it’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage and its colonial architecture won’t disappoint you.

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