Africa, Arabia & Indian Ocean
(West Africa Cruise)
Enjoy a harmonious balance between conventional cruising and private yachting, along with an exciting voyage of discovery, unravelling the wonders of West Africa and its river system. Cruise along the Senegal coast and up the rivers of The Gambia, as each day you will discover a new port of call, a hidden cove with crystal blue waters to cool you, a glimpse of ancient history to amaze you and rich cultural diversity to intrigue you.
Available Cruise Departures:
2014: Dec 20, 27
2015: Jan 3,10,17,24,31, Feb 7,14,21,28, Mar 7,14
Port transfer with private vehicle and guide.
Port charges are included in your itinerary.
Welcome aboard!Your late afternoon embarkation gives you time to get settled in to your stateroom and to explore the length of your ship, before gearing up for your first dinner on board.After dinner,you'll set sail southward toward the Saloun River Delta. You'll overnight at sea, heading south along the coast.
Shore excursions as detailed below are included in your itinerary pricing.
This morning you reach the Sine-Saloum Delta in Senegal, an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and also an Important Birding Area, as designated by Birdlife International and natural habitat for many bird species but also for aquatic animals such as marine turtles, dolphins, West African manatees and crocodiles.
You reach the Saloum River Delta and Djifer. Disembarkation takes place by local tenders, called motor pirogues. You'll then board a bus and drive to the village of Joal. During the 1.5 hours journey you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views, watch local every-day-life and might observe various species of birds.
After arriving in Joal, a quaint fishing village small pirogues are boarded for a 20 minutes row across the shallow bay to the granary huts on stilts; then on for another 10 minutes to the sea-shell cemetery. There we continue by foot over the wooden bridge to the small island respectively village of Fadiouth, also made out of sea-shells and have a look around there. After lunch (included) you take the same road back to Djifer, stop shortly at a giant Baobab tree and return to the ship by motor pirogues.
In the afternoon, you leave Senegal and the Saloun Delta and sail south to Gambia to reach Banjul, the capital of Gambia and gateway to the 700 mile Gambia River. Fishermen's Night on the ship with overnight at Banjul.
This morning, before leaving Banjul and driving to the village of Bakau, you'll make a photo-stop at Arch 22. It is a neoclassical-style triumphal arch commemorating the coup d’état from 1994. Arriving in Bakau, visit two main attractions: the most famous one is “Katchikally”, the sacred crocodile pool. It is home of approximately 70 crocodiles, but is also considered to be a sacred place for barren women, who either drink from or bath in the pool water to overcome their difficulties. There is even the chance of touching a friendly crocodile!
The second attraction in Bakau is the Botanic Garden; a small, peaceful park next to the residence of the British High Commissioner in the Gambia.
When returning to Banjul a refreshment drink is served at the Atlantic Hotel; one of the best hotels in Banjul located on a white sandy beach. From there it is a short drive to the National Museum, where you get a better insight into the history of The Gambia. Before returning to the ship, this half-day excursion ends with a visit of Albert Market, a colourful daily market. That’s the chance to shop for souvenirs in one of the many stalls selling handicrafts, T-shirts and much more!
The ship will stop at St. James island in the middle of the Gambia river. The first settlers on the island arrived in 1651 and under the british rule it became an important slave trading post in the Gambia. In 1976 James island became famous due to the author Alex Haley and its bestseller book "Roots" and the story of a slave, called Kunta Kinteh. The island was recently renamed Kunta Kinteh island and is now a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.After disembarking by local tenders, an excursion will have your local guide tell you more about the history of James Island, and afterwards, you will have some time to explore this island by yourself. Late in the afternoon, you'll leave "Kunta Kinteh" and sail upstream to reach Tendaba. Greek Night on board, with overnight at dock in Tendaba.
From the ship you'll take motor pirogues in order to reach Tendaba, located on the South Bank in the lower river division, the starting point of today's morning optional excursion. It is a small fishing village of mainly muslim faith with approximately 600 inhabitants whose main occupation is fishing. From there the group will walk through to Batelling, a small village at the entrance to Kiang West national park. The area boasts of over 250 species of birds, many of which are difficult to observe anywhere else. Other residents include Guinea baboons, bushbuck, warthogs, Senegal bushbaby and marsh mongoose.After a refreshing stop in Batelling, you will board an open safari truck which brings us back to Tendaba. On the way you pass again local villages where you get an impression of local life in the Gambia.Please be aware that you have to walk for approx. 5 km over uneven terrain.
In the afternoon, you are picked up from the ship by motor pirogues for another optional excursion to the Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve. This reserve, lying across from Kiang West National Park features six major bolongs (creeks) that provide great birding and boating opportunities. Numerous rare and migratory birds also reside here including the Pel’s fishing owl, African fin foot and brown necked parrot. Overnight docked in Tedaba.Please be aware that you are on the motor pirogue approx. 3 hours and there are no toilet facilities available.
Early morning you leave Tendaba and sail upstream on the Gambia river for the duration of the morning to reach Kuntaur.
Early afternoon arrival to the bustling Gambian port town of Kuntaur, the last inland stop along the river that is navigable for ocean going ships. Later in the afternoon you may board a large motor pirogue for a 3 hours optional excursion cruise on the Gambia river. First you head to the southernmost tip of Baboon Island, one of the five islands of the Gambia national park. There a local national park ranger joins you on board in order to give more information about the park and its fauna & flora.Then, the motor pirogue slows down and sails slowly back to Kuntaur following closely the shores of Baboon island. This island is home of the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project. If you are lucky, from your motor pirogue you can closely observe the chimps with minimal intrusion. There is also the possibility of seeing hippos, crocodiles, Red Colobus, Green Vervet monkeys and also The Gambia’s famous birdlife. You return to Kuntaur where you're met by the “Kankurang” and a local dance group on the pier. Believed to have spiritual powers, the “Kankurang” dispenses justice and wards off evil spirits. Overnight docked in Kuntaur.
This morning, an excursion by bus will bring you to the ferry station of Janjanbureh. There you board the local ferry for a short cruise over the Gambia river to Janjanbureh, where you visit one of the oldest towns of the Gambia, formerly called Georgetown. During the walk you get an impression of this laidback town and see the residence of the governor, the market and the Methodist church with its school. Afterwards, you take the ferry back and re-board the bus to reach Lamin Koto.
Later in the morning a stop is made at the mysterious stone circles in Wassu, a megalithic site believed to be a burial ground thousands of years ago. You will visit the little museum of this archaeological site, a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.
In the afternoon, after lunch, you sail downstream to Kaur, a small fishing village on the banks of the Gambia. You will have the opportunity to walk around this small community and see how Gambians live today. Overnight in Kaur.
You leave Kaur early in the morning and sail further downstream towards Banjul. Dolphins and other animal life will be spotted along the way. Arrival in Banjul around 4 pm.
Later in the evening, you will sail out of the Gambia estuary into the Atlantic Ocean northwards to Dakar. Gambian night with Kora instrument concert on board. Overnight at sea to Dakar.
This morning you'll disembark from your cruise vessel and bid farewell to your fellow cruisemates.
Airport transfer with private vehicle and guide.
The latest addition to the Variety Cruises fleet, the Harmony V, is a 183 ½ foot-wide Megayacht and was launched in July 2009. The 25 cabins are located on the Main deck (9 cabins) and on the Upper Deck (16 cabins). The boat complies with EUROSOLAS safety regulations, ISPS (International Ships Port Safety Code) ISM, (International Safety Management), while its powerful engines, generators and state of the art twin stabilizers will allow for safe and comfortable cruising. Enjoy a harmonious balance between conventional cruising and private yachting, along with an exciting voyage of discovery, unraveling the wonders of the Classical Greece. Each day you will discover a new port of call, a hidden cove with crystal blue waters to cool you, a glimpse of ancient history to amaze you and rich cultural diversity to intrigue you.
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