Africa Travel and Life

The West Africa cruise takes you through three countries – The Gambia, Senegal and Cabo Verde – where you explore seven amazing cities over 19 days aboard the beautiful Corinthian.

1. Dakar

Explore Dakar, Senegal’s vibrant capital City bustling open-air markets and streets where vestiges of French colonial influence can still be seen in the architecture. Dakar is a city of contrasts – holding on to its history and traditions while boldly looking forward to meet the future. Visit the Grand Mosque, Dakar’s most important religious building, and Independence Square, the central hub of the city. Then pay your respect at the African Renaissance Monument, built in 2010 to commemorate 50 years of Senegalese Independence from France. At more than 160 feet, the monument is taller than both the Statue of Liberty and Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. Cap off the morning with a stop for bissap, a tea made from hibiscus and sugar that’s a favorite amongst locals. Board a ferry ride to Gorée Island, major slave-trading center between the 15th and 19th centuries. This UNESCO World Heritage Site reminds visitors of the opulence and cruelty of the slave trade with its preserved colonial homes and slave quarters, where Africans were held before being shipped to the New World as slaves. Here, visit the Saint Charles Church, Fort d’Estrées and its museum documenting the history of this period, as well as the poignant House of Slaves and its Door of No Return, which marks the slaves’ final stop before leaving Africa. Sit down to a Captain’s Welcome Dinner where everyone enjoys a toast to the voyage ahead. The menu features appetizers, soup, entrée, and dessert and complimentary house beer, house wine, and soft drinks. As we sail towards the Cape Verde Islands, enjoy the ship’s amenities. Relax in one of two lounges, spend time on the Sun Deck, or perhaps take a soak in the hot tub. As the sun sets, you might choose to spend time with fellow travelers, or retire to the Sun Deck with a good book.

2. Boa Vista Island

Arriving at our first destination, Boa Vista Island in Cape Verde, step ashore one of the ten islands that make up Cape Verde. Ringed by golden sands and gently lapping azure waters, Boa Vista means “beautiful view” in Portuguese. The island is known for its excellent beaches and natural scenery.

Tour Sal Rei produce market; Rabil, Boa Vista’s capital city; and Povoacao Velha, the oldest settlement on the island. Then, we’ll make our way to Varandinha Beach, located on Boa Vista’s remote southwest corner. A series of limestone caves borders the beach, the product of wind and sea erosion over thousands of years. In the evening try stargazing from the Sun Deck—far from the African mainland, there is remarkably little light pollution.

3. Island of Sal

Next is the Island of Sal whose name means “salt.” Our first destination is Pedra de Lume salt mine, located in the crater of an extinct volcano. Here, you’ll have a chance to go for a swim in Lake Salinas, the second saltiest body of water (after the Dead Sea) in the world. The water’s high salinity allows you to float—and will leave your skin soft and supple from the salt’s scrubbing effect.

Buracona, a natural bay formed by the ocean and lava rocks has earned the nickname “The Blue Eye” because when the natural light hits its waters at just the right angle, the bay is transformed into a remarkable shade of blue. It is one of the most beautiful sights on Sal Island. After a chance to swim in the clear waters of the bay, we’ll head inland to the island’s desert interior for a view of Lion Mountain, ending our morning at Shark Bay, where you can spot small lemon sharks in in the shallow waters.

Capping off your Sal discoveries is a visit to a botanical garden and eco-park. As you stroll through the garden, you can admire local and exotic flora and fauna, including colorful parrots. The park also places an emphasis on recycling and environmental stewardship.

4. Santo Antão

Next on our cruise is Santo Antão in the westernmost island of Cape Verde. Known for its lush interior and verdant mountains, get an up-close look at local life.  We spend a day in the life of Ponta do Sol, a fishing village where the rhythms of life remain largely unchanged by modernity.  Explore the lush Cova Natural Park filled with rugged mountains, winding trails, a terraced irrigation system and perhaps the biggest draw, the largest volcanic crater in all of Cape Verde where you get a panoramic view from the crater’s edge.  Hike Pico da Cruz and admire the splendor of the island’s natural landscape.

5. São Vicente

São Vicente is a desert island known for its dramatic mountains.  Explore the preserved colonial city and cultural epicenter, Mindelo, with a walking tour to local markets, art galleries, while taking in musical performances along the way.  Hike the Island’s highest peak and greenest area, Monte Verde Natural Park for a dramatic view of Mindelo, the ocean, and Praia Grande, a beautiful beach known for the contrast between white sand and black lava rocks.

6. Fogo

A stroll of the volcanic island of Fogo, whose name means “fire” in Portuguese leads you through the colonial-era streets of São Filipe. Fogo was first discovered by Portuguese explorers during the 15th century.  Here you will see evidence of their continued legacy in the town’s architecture.  In Fogo, discover Chã das Caldeiras, a small community located inside the Pico de Fogo volcanic crater. While Pico de Fogo is technically considered an active volcano, its last eruption was more than 400 years ago. But the island is also home to another, more active volcano that erupted in 2014.  The tour also takes you to a local plantation that produces coffee beans and grapes for making wine. Get a true taste of the island during a wine and coffee sampling.

Continue exploring Fogo with a visit to Chã das Caldeiras National Park to explore its craters and spot small lava flows from the 2014 eruption.

7. Banjul

Next on our journey is Banjul, the capital city of The Gambia. The two-day cruise is a great time to enjoy the ship’s amenities and the company of fellow travelers, the hot tub, cocktails and some leisure time while viewing the West African coastline.

Our Banjul journey begins with a visit to the Tanji Fishing Center, where locals come to buy, sell, and smoke fish caught in the nearby waters. It’s thought that more than 2,000 people participate in fishing-related activities here each day.  Next is Kachikally, a crocodile-infested pool that’s traditionally used for sacred fertility rituals. More than 100 crocodiles make their home in Kachikally’s waters. While here, we’ll learn more about the native Bakau people and their spiritual belief system.

Remember the television show Roots?  Then the name Kunta Kinteh should come to mind. Take a ferry to Kunta Kinteh Island (sometimes called St. James Island), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and former base of the African slave trade. The island is named for Kunta Kinteh, the main character in Roots, whose ancestral home is nearby.

Another ferry ride takes us to nearby Albreda Island to the village of Juffureh, where Kunta Kinteh was born. Here, we’ll visit the thought-provoking Museum of Slavery for an in-depth look at the history of the slave trade in the Gambia, and meet with members of the Kinteh family, who continue to make their homes on Albreda. This is a fascinating opportunity to speak with those whose family was deeply affected by slavery.

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