Africa, Arabia & Indian Ocean Cruises
Spectacular scenery awaits throughout this Madagascar cruise expedition with Zanzibar, Comoros, Réunion and Mauritius. Your East Africa expedition combines the rugged Comoros Islands, the colorful chameleons and pristine coral reefs of Madagascar, and the volcanic peaks of Mauritius and Réunion. Spend six days on a Madagascar discovery as you search for multiple types of lemurs; 32 species of reptiles; and over 100 species of birds, among them rare endemics such as the Madagascar fish eagle and white-breasted mesite. At Nosy Hara, a World Wildlife Fund coral marine ecoregion, you’ll enjoy superb snorkeling.
Voyage to Madagascar expedition cruise highlights:
•Venture beyond the world famous white-sand beaches of Mauritius to explore stands of indigenous forest which provide refuge for a variety of endemic bird and plant species.
•Stroll through Réunion’s charming capital, St. Denis, graced with beautiful colonial architecture and a fascinating Creole heritage.
•The volcanic Comoros offering an interesting mélange of Arabic and French architecture and stunning natural beauty.
•Snorkel over some of East Africa’s healthiest reefs, teeming with colorful fish.
•In magical Zanzibar, wander a labyrinth of serpentine alleyways in Stone Town—a World Heritage Site—filled with the treasures to remind you of your East Africa adventure travels including cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla.
•End your Madagascar tour with an optional post-voyage Serengeti Safari.
Cruise Departure Dates (2014):
Join a group airport transfer to your hotel. Those arriving in the morning may choose to join a tour of Jozani Natural Forest Reserve for nature walks to search for the photogenic red colobus monkey, Skye’s monkey, duikers, and more than 40 species of birds.
Gather at the hotel this evening for a welcome reception and dinner.
The Sea Cliff Resort & Spa is located along an isolated routing near a local plantation. There are no other hotels or busy roads just open space and palm trees. The hotel contains traditional makuti roofs and Arabic towers that are lit by brass lights. It's a hotel built with the location in mind, a unique combination of modern facilities mixed with the original exotic architecture of historical Zanzibar. The hotel is situated on a cliff overlooking the Indian ocean and offers panoramic views from the lounge, restaurant, bar and even the recreation area. Enjoy breakfast overlooking the ocean or have dinner under the stars, or a sundowner on the jetty. 96 of the rooms offer panoramic ocean views from the bedrooms private balconies.
This morning tour one of Zanzibar’s many spice plantations, famous for their production of nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, and cloves. Continue to Stone Town to wander the labyrinthine alleyways lined with fascinating Moorish, Arab, Indian, and European architecture. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before embarking your ship in the early afternoon.
Welcome aboard!Take some time to get settled in to your stateroom, and to explore the length of your ship. You'll begin the voyage to Madagascar shortly.
The Island Sky, built in 1992 and recently refurbished, is a spacious, yet intimate, expedition vessel. Public spaces available include a large lounge, elegant bar with piano, library stocked with fiction and reference books along with a selection of games, and a single sitting dining room. Outside decks feature a bar, spa pool, and a rear sun deck where meals are served in pleasant weather. For excursions ashore, the Island Sky carries a fleet of Zodiacs, and bridge visits allow for the chance to see her expert officers and crew at work.
Spend a full day relaxingly at sea. Lecturers introduce the extraordinary natural history of this region. Be on deck to watch for the dolphins often seen cruising these waters.
Disembark in Iconi, one of the oldest settlements on the island, and take a short drive to view the ruins of an 18th-century palace. Continue through scenic countryside to a plantation to learn about the cultivation of ylang ylang and exotic spices. The tour ends in Moroni with a visit to the small museum, the medina, and the colorful market with a wide array of fruit, spices, and handicrafts. Or hike the trails of Karthala Volcano to search for island endemics like the Comoros blue-pigeon and bulbul.
Mayotte is an overseas territory of France, yet geographically it remains part of the Comoros group. A drive along the scenic southern coast brings you to a museum that unlocks the secrets of ylang ylang and vanilla, and a garden stroll reveals luxuriant tropical vegetation. Or board a local ferry to Petite Terre to explore the bustling market and charming colonial architecture of Dzaoudzi. A third option offers wonderful snorkeling in a large lagoon protected by a unique double barrier reef.
Go ashore at Nosy Komba, a peaceful fishing village that is close to a small reserve for dimorphic black lemurs. Here you can observe the engaging, semi-tame lemurs up-close for excellent photographic opportunities. With luck, you may spot a Parson’s chameleon, one of the world’s largest. Spend the afternoon snorkeling at nearby Nosy Tanikely, a marine island reserve whose healthy reefs are frequented by turtles, reef sharks, and large schools of colorful fish.
The archipelago of Nosy Hara consists of 12 limestone islands with white-sand beaches, karst rock cliffs, and pristine coral reefs. Board Zodiacs to explore the fascinating geology of this region and step ashore on secluded beaches for nature walks. Spend the afternoon snorkeling to discover the amazing diversity below the waves.
Disembark in Diego Suarez and board 4x4 vehicles for a scenic drive to Montagne d’Ambre National Park. Search for rare, localized crowned lemurs, as well as Sanford’s brown lemurs, striped mongoose, and a wealth of birds, including endemic Madagascar crested ibis and Amber Mountain rock-thrushes. After lunch on board, tour Diego Suarez, the capital of the French colony in the late 1800s, graced with wide streets and colonial architecture.
Depart overland for Ankarana National Park this morning, renowned for its dramatic landscapes: karst pinnacles, or tsingy, deep forest-filled canyons, a labyrinthine cave system, and a vast network of underground rivers. Wildlife is profuse in this park and you have excellent opportunities to encounter several lemur species, as well as birds typical of dry forest such as the white-breasted mesite and the Torotoroka scops-owl.
Nosy Mangabe is a haven for a variety of wildlife. Species commonly sighted include black and white ruffed and brown mouse lemurs, leaf-tailed geckos, tree frogs, and with luck, the world’s smallest vertebrate, the thumbnail-sized dwarf chameleon. Return to the ship for lunch then disembark in Maroantsetra to explore the bustling market, filled with vanilla pods, cloves, and other exotic spices as well as finely woven raffia hats and bags.
Masoala is the largest national park on the island. On hikes through pristine forest you are likely to encounter red-ruffed and white-headed lemurs, greater hedgehog tenrecs, and ring-tailed mongoose. The park is also home to various species of brightly colored mantella frogs, a variety of extraordinary chameleons of all sizes, and many endemic bird species including the endangered Madagascar red-owl and Madagascar serpent eagle.
Two tour options are available today. Those with an interest in natural history begin with a drive through lush vegetation, then board traditional dugout canoes for a leisurely cruise through a maze of mangroves, and enjoy a refreshing swim from a lovely white-sand beach. Or, choose a cultural tour that visits the Pirate Cemetery, the residence of the French colonial governor, the oldest Catholic church in Madagascar, built in 1837, and the main town Ambodifotatra.
Lush, volcanic Réunion is an overseas territory of France. Explore St. Denis, a small colonial town whose pervasive French and Creole ambiance is reflected in picturesque town squares. A breathtaking drive into the island’s dramatic mountains brings you to a volcanic crater for magnificent views. Enjoy a traditional Creole lunch, then continue on to a vanilla plantation to discover the history and the culture of this precious orchid. Birders hope to find the endemic Réunion paradise flycatcher, Réunion stonechat, and Réunion harrier.
This morning you'll disembark from your ship after breakfast.
Set out on a group tour of the island’s scenic highlights. A drive inland takes you up to, and around, the rim of an extinct volcanic crater and the Grand Bassin sacred lake. After lunch visit a magnificent waterfall which cascades over the geologically unique “seven-colored earths of Chamarel.” Birders search the indigenous forest for the endemic pink pigeon, echo parakeet, and Mauritius cuckoo-shrike.
A group transfer will bring you to the airport this afternoon.
Stay in the know: Subscribe to our newsletter to have our hand-picked trips & specials delivered to you!
Please enter a destination