Tracing the West Coast of Africa

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Tour Description

Sail in the wake of explorers and traders on this West Africa adventure travel tour. Visit historic ports of call rich in local culture and colonial architecture, as well as pristine natural areas where we search for the abundant animal and bird life that call this region home. Highlights include the lush volcanic islands of Príncipe and São Tomé, the vibrant markets in Benin and Togo, and, during our Ghana tour, Africa’s only suspended walkway, in Kakum National Forest. Visit Abidjan in the Ivory Coast known as the “Paris of West Africa” and Sierra Leone’s beautiful beaches.

Tracing the West Coast of Africa adventure travel highlights include:

  • Visit three UNESCO World Heritage Sites—Cape Coast Castle, Ghana; James Island, The Gambia; and Gorée Island, Senegal—as part of this West Africa tour.
  • Search for island endemics on Príncipe and São Tomé such as the Príncipe sunbird and the São Tomé green pigeon.
  • Experience a traditional voodoo ceremony in Togo and browse the talismans and potions in the fascinating fetish market.
  • Photograph amazing fantasy coffins—fruit, animals, cars, and more—in Accra, a must-see on any Ghana expedition.
  • Explore Abuko Nature Reserve in The Gambia, where more than 290 bird species have been recorded.
  • Cruise through Ganvie, Africa’s largest lake village, built of wood and thatch houses on teak stilts.

With Zegrahm Expeditions, virtually everything is included in the cost of your trip. Here is what you can look forward to on this West Africa expedition:

  • All gratuities, from porters and ship’s crew to tour guides
  • All accommodations, including pre-voyage hotel nights
  • Welcome dinner and orientation briefing to get to know one another and get a good sense of what’s to come
  • Daily activity options, from visiting local markets to birding excursions
  • World-class lecture and expedition team
  • All meals onboard and with the group ashore
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and landing and port charges
  • All transfers on the group arrival and departure days
  • Gift certificates for recommended expedition gear and reading materials
  • Comprehensive pre-departure packet to prepare you for your West Africa tour, with everything from currency information and weather to shipboard amenities and a packing list
  • Medical and emergency evacuation insurance
  • Dedicated Zegrahm program manager and air coordinator to answer all your questions
  • Photographic journal upon returning home to relive your West Africa adventure travels

Itinerary

Day 1-2

Depart USA / Douala, Cameroon

Independent overnight flight from USA to Douala, Cameroon. Complimentary transfer to our hotel for overnight

Day 3

Douala / Embark Clipper Odyssey

After breakfast we set off to explore Douala, including the colorful, open-air market where a vast array of crafts illustrate the country’s rich artistic tradition. Continue to the port and embark the Clipper Odyssey, enjoy lunch on board, and settle in.

Day 4

Principe Island, São Tomé & Principe

We spend the day anchored off idyllic Bom Bom Resort on Príncipe’s northern tip. Birders and hikers set off for the interior to discover exotic endemic trees, orchids, and birds. The rest of us drive to supremely photogenic Santo Antonio, home to 1,500 welcoming residents, lovely Portuguese architecture, and fresh produce markets. We return to the ship for lunch on board. This afternoon Zodiacs take us to Banana Beach for a swim in the warm, crystal-clear waters with the option to snorkel among the ancient volcanic rocks.

Day 5

São Tomé

Set out by Zodiac for the town pier at São Tomé. We drive into the interior and take a short walk through the lush forest to the stunning Sao Nicolau Waterfall. From here continue to the Monte Café Coffee Plantation for a guided tour and tasting of what some consider the world’s best coffee. You may then choose to enjoy lunch at the Bombaim plantation, view and photograph another beautiful waterfall, and continue to tiny, picturesque Trinidade Village. Or, opt for lunch in São Tomé and a tour of the town; visit the Cathedral, the National Museum, the local artisans gallery, and enjoy a folkloric dance performance.

Day 6

At Sea

Spend a day at sea as lecturers enlighten us on what lies ahead.

Day 7

Cotonou, Benin

We arrive in Benin early this morning and disembark in Cotonou, the birthplace of voodoo. Board pirogues for a fascinating tour of Ganvie, said to be Africa’s largest lake village—made up of wood and thatch houses on teak stilts—and home to some 15,000 people. A traditional mask dance awaits us here; symbolizing the purification of the village and its people. After lunch ashore we visit Ouidah, one of the foremost slave-trading posts between Europe and the Dan-Homey Empire. Visit the Sacred Temple and the Ouidah Museum of History.

Day 8

Lome, Togo

Togo’s vibrant capital, Lome, was the only African town colonized by the Germans, the British, and the French. This morning we learn more about voodoo and enjoy a rare opportunity to take part in a traditional ceremony. We also tour the city where in and among the faded colonial architecture, kaleidoscopic marketplaces hum with activity. The famous Nana Benz, in the Grand Marché, create and sell some of the world’s finest batik cloth, while the nearby Fetish Market offers curative lotions and magical potions for every need imaginable.

Day 9

Accra, Ghana

A country of many contrasts, Ghana’s “Gold Coast” topography includes a sandy coastline, saline lagoons, and dense rain forest. Today we drive into the mountains to the Krobo region, where artists are famous for their magnificent beads made with colorful crushed glass. After watching the intricate process, we try our hand and create a bead of our own. A tour of Accra, Ghana’s capital, visits the National Museum and the Krumah Mausoleum, as well as a coffin builder, specializing in fantasy coffins whose shapes include animals, fish, automobiles, airplanes, and fruit.

Day 10

Takoradi

This morning choose a tour of the Cape Coast Castle, a World Heritage Site, built by the Swedes in 1653 and subsequently conquered by the Danes, the Dutch, the local Fanti tribe, and finally the British, who established the seat of the British administration of the Gold Coast here until 1877. Or, elect to travel into the Kakum National Park for a rain forest canopy walk that includes the longest and highest suspended rope bridge in the world. Both groups enjoy lunch at a nearby beach resort before setting off to visit the 15th-century Portuguese Elmina Fort—Africa’s oldest permanent building.

Day 11

Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Cosmopolitan Abidjan is the economic capital of the Ivory Coast and a city tour takes us through the business district of Le Plateau, filled with gleaming sky-scrapers, chic boutiques, and outdoor cafes. Observe interesting colonial architecture and colorful markets as we continue on to Abodo,
Africa’s largest outdoor laundry where hundreds of Fanicos (washers) crowd together in a stream to wash their clients’ clothes.

Day 12-13

At Sea

Our two days at sea offer the chance to relax and attend lectures on western Africa’s momentous history, diverse cultures, and natural wonders.

Day 14

Aberdeen, Sierra Leone

Today we arrive in Aberdeen, a suburb of Freetown, with beautiful white sand beaches lined with lively shops and restaurants. Permission pending, we visit the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. After lunch we continue on to the Greatest Goal Ministries, a volunteer organization started by a Seattle medical team who founded a soccer club in Sierra Leone to help amputee war victims. Here we enjoy a lively soccer match and meet with the team.

Day 15

At Sea

Our lecture series continues as we enjoy a relaxing day at sea.

Day 16

Banjul, The Gambia

Birders set out this morning for the Abuko Nature Reserve where more than 290 bird species can be seen—including African paradise flycatchers, violet turacos, little greenbuls, and Abyssinian rollers. A second group departs for a tour of the Makasutu Culture Forest showcasing the five ecosystems protected here. Traditional Joal tribal dancing, a pirogue ride, and palm wine tasting are highlights. During lunch we sail upriver and take Zodiacs to Albreda Village and James Island, a World Heritage Site, where The Gambia’s slave history began.

Day 17

Dakar, Senegal / Disembark

Our final day in Africa brings us to Senegal’s energetic, eclectic, and cosmopolitan capital. We visit the infamous slave-trading center, Gorée Island, a World Heritage Site. Witness the contrasts between the dungeon-like slave quarters and the elegant colonial mansions of the slave traders and explore the moving 18th-century House of Slaves, the Women’s Museum, and the fortified Le Castel. We return to the ship for lunch. This afternoon join a tour of Dakar which includes the Great Mosque, French colonial buildings, the President’s Palace, and the impressive new American-African monument. After dinner, disembark the Clipper Odyssey for your late evening flight.

Day 18

Arrive USA

Arrive in the USA early this morning.

Departures

Pricing Information

Clipper Odyssey

One of the finest adventure ships afloat, the Clipper Odyssey is a 110-passenger luxury expedition vessel, ideally suited for cruising in off-the-beaten-path locales. On all Clipper Odyssey expeditions, guests have access to a fleet of Zodiacs, which allows remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictates. All cabins on a Clipper Odyssey cruise have an ocean view, safe, minibar, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, in-room music system, and sitting area with sofa. Beds can be configured for twin or queen-size sleeping arrangements, and all cabins have an en suite bathroom complete with shower and small bathtub. In the comfort of their cabin, passengers can track the progress of their expedition on the Global Positioning System broadcast—a highlight of a Clipper Odyssey voyage for adventure-minded guests. Additional facilities include a gourmet kitchen featuring American and international cuisine, dining room, lounge, small library and gym, outdoor pool, and gift shop. An elevator services all passenger cabin decks. Ship registry: Bahamas.

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.