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Christmas Expedition Cruise To Cape Verde & The Bissagos Islands

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 Cruise Length
13 Days
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 Cruise Finishes
13 Day Christmas Expedition Cruise To Cape Verde & The Bissagos Islands Itinerary (Hurtigruten)
Countries Explored: Senegal Cape Verde Guinea-Bissau Gambia
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Join us on a Christmas cruise from Dakar, Senegal, and encounter fascinating cultural, geographical and biological wonders in the seas off Western Africa. Visit beautiful Cape Verde, home to many rare and endemic species, and the lush tropical Bissagos Islands, where the Bijagos people retain their ancient way of life.


Begin your festive adventure in Senegal's vibrant capital 

Your West Africa expedition begins with an overnight stay in colourful Dakar. Feel free to relax and use the amenities of your centrally located hotel or take in the sights and sounds of Senegal's vibrant capital.  

If you want to explore more of the area before your expedition cruise, you can book an optional Pre-Programme excursion to visit the Bandia Nature Reserve. Ride an open vehicle safari through the African savanna for some exciting wildlife spotting. Keep an eye out for giraffes, buffalo, monkeys, gazelles, ostriches, rhinos and more. 

Tragic history combined with natural beauty  

After breakfast you'll visit the historical UNESCO site of Île de Gorée. The largest slave trading center on the African coast, this island of forts and museums is a memorial to the suffering of the countless enslaved peoples who passed through this tragic place. 

Learn more on a visit to the Maison des Esclaves museum – the Slave House. We'll also tour the baobab-shaded streets of the town, where local artisans sell their crafts.  

MS Spitsbergen will be waiting for you back on the mainland. 

Get set for island adventures  

Today we head west to the Cape Verde Islands. There will be plenty of time to get acquainted with your fellow passengers and Expedition Team.   

Enjoy the onboard comforts – from delicious meals and drinks in the Explorer Lounge & Bar, to relaxing in the panoramic sauna or a hot tub out on deck. 

To learn more about what's ahead, join the Expedition Team for fascinating lectures in the Science Center and pick up pointers from our professional photographer as you watch for marine life and seabirds.  

See Santiago's eclectic mix of cultural influences 

Santiago embodies the spirit of the Cape Verde archipelago. Here you can enjoy a little of everything, from historical sites and bustling markets to lush valleys and craggy mountains.  

The capital of Praia is a dynamic city that attracts immigrants from the rest of Cape Verde and the African continent.  

Explore Praia's vibrant culture on a city tour. Visit the museums and buildings around the Plateau, which displays artifacts recovered from the islands' shipwrecks. Stop by viewpoints, the local market, and more. 

A landscape of lava, craters and calderas 

Today's expedition day takes you to Fogo, an island dominated by a cone-shaped active volcano. Centuries of eruptions, the last in 2014, have left an incredible landscape for us to explore. 

Enjoy a tour of São Filipe's cobbled streets and charming historic centre. Or why not discover the stunning lava fields of Chã das Caldeiras.  

Fogo doesn't have any natural harbours, so we'll only land if conditions allow us to launch our smaller expedition boats. Otherwise, you'll take in the spectacular volcanic scenery as we cruise around the island. 

 Island paradise made for adventure 

Santo Antão's landscapes of peaks, gorges and canyons have benefited from their unsuitability for agriculture. Largely untouched, this wilderness sanctuary is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.  

We'll land in Porto Novo, the island's main port, which has spectacular views across to São Vicente. Enjoy a ride around the island, which takes you on a nature tour through the island's ribeiras. These are deep, narrow canyons with near vertical walls. 

Or why not go on a nature walk and take in the local beauty spots up close. Walk along trails through mango and almond groves, punctuated by the delicious aroma of roasting coffee wafting through the villages. 

Explore an island gem  

You've now reached Cape Verde's easternmost island, Boa Vista.  

You'll be awed by the rugged beauty of the Sahara-like desert formations and landscapes of this volcanic island. The sand dunes and oases found here are in stark contrast to the other islands we visit on this cruise. 

Stroll the streets of the island's capital, Sal Rei, where you can explore its history and traditions, and visit Santa Isabel Church. The Ponta do Sol nature reserve is within hiking distance of the town, and a great way to enjoy the scenery. 

Prepare to experience the Bissagos Islands   

We say goodbye to Cape Verde as our expedition cruise continues to Guinea-Bissau. As we sail, your Expedition Team will brief you on what lies ahead.  

Learn about the extraordinary biodiversity of this tropical region, the traditional culture of the Bijagós people, and the historical impact of Portuguese exploration and the slave trade. 

You can also participate in our Citizen Science Programme and contribute data to important ongoing research projects. Or why not brush up your photography skills with our onboard photographer in readiness for the sights to come.  

A Christmas with a difference 

Over the next four days, you'll get to know Bissagos's maze of islands and channels. Renowned for diverse ecosystems, we'll explore mangroves, tropical forests, savannah woodlands and coastal lagoons.  

You'll meet the local Bijagós people. A traditional society practising a mostly subsistence lifestyle, they hold the natural world sacred; a belief that has helped protect this area from exploitation.  

Local conditions will determine when and where we can land and explore, but whatever we do you can be sure you'll experience the rich diversity of the archipelago up close. 

A special celebration will be held on board the ship to celebrate the festive season in style! 

Soak up the past and present in historic Banjul 

Today we reach The Gambia and its tiny capital Banjul. It may be a small city, but its location at the mouth of the Gambia River means it is an important trading hub.  

Banjul played a role in ending the slave trade, as its garrison was used by the British Navy to uphold abolition laws. Close by is the birthplace of Kunta Kinte, the protagonist of Alex Haley's famous book Roots. 

This city is easy to explore on foot. Visit the lively Royal Albert Market and the National Museum, which contains historical documents and displays about the country's history. Back on board, you'll enjoy a cultural performance, introducing you to The Gambia's music and traditions. 

End your expedition in Senegal's colourful capital 

Your expedition cruise ends back in Senegal's kaleidoscopic capital, Dakar. After you disembark MS Spitsbergen, we'll take you on an included city tour to explore this fascinating city.  

Listen out for the many languages of West Africa, such as Wolof, Pular and Serer. Undoubtedly, seeing the diversity of local cultures here is a wonderful way to round off your trip. 

With the tour complete, you'll be taken to a hotel for lunch, and spend the rest of the day relaxing in comfort at the hotel before transferring to the airport for your return journey home. 

Life Onboard MS Spitsbergen

MS Spitsbergen
MS Spitsbergen

Intimately scaled and perfectly designed to take the scenic route; enjoy open viewing spaces and Scandinavian touches. Read more

Knowledgeable Guides
Knowledgeable Guides

Destinations come to life with a Guide Team on classic coastal voyages and an Expedition Team on expedition sailings. Read more

Comfortable Cabins
Comfortable Cabins

From cosy inside cabins to luxurious suites, the perfect home away from home awaits for every cruiser. Read more

Delicious Dining
Delicious Dining

Enjoy a delightful menu crafted from fresh ingredients and locally sourced produce served up in the main restaurant. Read more

Relaxed Atmosphere
Relaxed Atmosphere

Enjoy Hurtigruten's famously relaxed atmosphere and cruise comfortably day and night, with no need to change for dinner. Read more

Wellness at Sea
Wellness at Sea

Make use of the wellness and recreation facilities on board, including a gym, sauna, and outdoor hot tubs. Read more

Availability Click on the cabin prices below to view upgrades and cabin details

Monday 16 Dec 2024
Saturday 28 Dec 2024
Ship MS Spitsbergen
$9,284View Cabins
$10,736View Cabins
$15,262View Cabins
Monday 16 Dec 2024
Saturday 28 Dec 2024
Ship MS Spitsbergen
$15,510View Cabins
$17,979View Cabins
$30,029View Cabins
Tour & cruises prices are per person. Prices shown have savings applied, are subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Prices and trip information are correct at the time at this point in time, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking and are subject to change by Hurtigruten.

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