Indian Ocean Expedition: Seychelles, Madagascar and Réunion

from £7431
including flights
15 nights Feb

Overview

This tropical voyage of discovery contrasts dazzling beaches, coral atolls and volcanic landscapes, home to weird and wonderful wildlife including the giant Aldabra tortoise, mongoose, aye-ayes and various lemur species.

Highlights

  • Meet giant tortoises on the world’s second largest coral atoll, the UNESCO-listed Aldabra Islands
  • Enjoy close encounters with lemurs, aye-ayes and mongoose in Masoala National Park, Madagascar
  • Marvel at Réunion’s dramatic volcanic scenery
  • View the iconic Tsingy formations at Ankarana National Park, Madagascar
  • Uncover the pirating history of Île Sainte-Marie, Madagascar
  • Learn about the flora and fauna of the Indian Ocean from the onboard expedition team

What's Included

  • Shipboard accommodation
  • All breakfasts, lunches & dinners on board
  • Selected alcoholic & non-alcholic beverages with meals
  • Shore landings and cruises by Xplorer expedition vessel & Zodiacs
  • Kayaking excursions
  • Experienced guides on board
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

Full description

Your journey begins with an exploration of the southern Seychelles and the remote Aldabra Atoll. This spectacular UNESCO world heritage site is the second largest coral atoll and the largest raised coral reef in the world, home to a diverse array of flora and fauna including an estimated 152,000 giant tortoise, as well as sea turtles and countless bird species. Incredible wildlife encounters await, both on land and in the crystal clear waters of the lagoon at the heart of the atoll.

Next stop is vibrant Madagascar, renowned for its diverse endemic wildlife: as many as 90% of the species here are found nowhere else on earth. Come face to face with the ubiquitous lemur as well as mongoose, chameleon and the adorably ugly aye-aye. Stretch your legs as you hike through mountainous national parks, snorkel with stingrays, turtles and tropical fish, and enjoy an assault on the senses as you explore ylang ylang, coffee and vanilla plantations. Colonial architecture, a fascinating history of piracy and a chance to view the caves of the indigenous Antankarana people provide an anthropological angle to these beautiful islands, but perhaps the highlight will be the chance to visit Ankarana National Park, where the other-worldly Tsingy formations create a distinctive limestone forest.

Finally cruise to the island of Réunion, known for its volcanoes both active and extinct, as well as its verdant rainforest and fringing coral reefs. Here you can enjoy hiking amongst mountains and volcanoes and uncover an ever-evolving Creole culture. Your journey will come to an end on arrival in Mauritius, where you will bid farewell to new-found friends and your informative expedition team.

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Prices & Dates

Offers

2021 Departures - Prices are per person, based on a twin cabin

Departure Duration Vessel Prices from (pp)
01 Feb 2021 16 days Coral Geographer £7,431 - limited availability

What's Included

  • Shipboard accommodation
  • All breakfasts, lunches & dinners on board
  • House beer and wine with lunch and dinner
  • Welcome and farewell drinks
  • Tea & coffee available around the clock
  • All excursions and transfers by Xplorer expedition vessel & Zodiacs
  • Kayaking excursions
  • Presentations by the Expedition Team and guest speakers
  • Entry fees to marine and national parks
  • Port fees and taxes
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection »

Itinerary & Accommodation

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: Embarkation in Mahe, Seychelles

Board your ship this afternoon and set sail overnight for Desroches.

Day 2: Amirante Group, Seychelles

Awake to the sight of the Amirante group of islands, considered to be some of the most pristine and untouched islands in the world. If conditions permit, spend time exploring Desroches Island, where you can observe giant tortoises and various bird species (frigatebirds, blue herons, and crested terns), as well as the unique plants that grow here. There may also be time for a snorkel.

Day 3: Alphonse Group, Seychelles

Continue to the Alphonse group: the islands of Alphonse, St. François and Bijoutier boast miles of spectacular beaches and lagoons brimming with marine life and brilliant coral. Swim and snorkel in crystal blue water and enjoy exploring the islands on foot.

Day 4: Farquhar Group, Seychelles

The remote Farquhar Atoll offers incredible bird-watching, while green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles nest around the edges of the lagoon. Spend time snorkelling or hiking in this pristine natural environment.

Days 5-6: Aldabra Group, Seychelles

Recognised as the second-largest coral atoll in the world, the UNESCO World Heritage protected Aldabra Atoll is home to an estimated 152,000 giant tortoises, and abounds with other marine and birdlife. With two days exploring the Aldabra Group there will be plenty of time to enjoy incredible wildlife encounters, nature walks, snorkelling, or simply relaxing on one of the many deserted beaches.

Day 7: Assumption Island, Seychelles

Assumption lies in the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. This coral island has a history of plantation and mining, leaving exposed rocks and caves, with low growing vegetation. The 5km long white sand beach is a lovely base for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Day 8: Nosy Be, Madagascar

Nosy Be means ‘Big Island’ in Malagasy, and offers a choice of activities. You may wish to visit the Ylang Ylang distillery, where essential oils are made from the star-shaped flowers of the Cananga odorata genuina plant. Nearby, a private park is home to lemurs, chameleons and tortoises, along with a plantation of tropical delights such as ylang ylang, coffee, pepper, and vanilla. You can also takes in the colonial buildings and colourful ‘bazary be’ market of Hell-ville, before enjoying a splendid view from Mount Passot over Nosy Be, Radama and the Mitsio Islands.

Alternatively you may prefer to visit Nosy Tanikely and Nosy Komba. Nosy Tanikely is famous for its marine reserves teeming with spotted stingrays, turtles, puffer fish, grouper, and angelfish, whilst the volcanic Nosy Komba is known for its ‘lemur’s garden’, where black lemurs congregate.

Day 9: Antisiranana (Diego Suarez), Madagascar

Antisiranana, the largest city in northern Madagascar, is a gateway to some of the main attractions of this region. The vibrant cultures of Antankarana and Skalava, Indians, Arabs, Creole, Chinese and French combine, surrounded by a beautiful and unusual landscape. A choice of adventures await; you may opt to take a tour to Montagne d’Ambre (Amber Mountain National Park), one of the most biodiverse places in Madagascar. Here you can enjoy a walk in the refreshingly cool mountain air and search for the resident chameleons.

Alternatively, you may choose a city tour in Antisiranana, gaining an insight into the fascinating history, colonial impacts, and local cultures that have shaped the city. Or perhaps embark on a more active journey to Ankarana. This National Park is known for its incredible Tsingy formations, made as limestone is eroded. Visit caves used by the Antankarana people (the people of the Tsingy) and learn about their fascinating culture. You may also have the opportunity to hike to a dramatic whirlpool, where the rivers of the region converge.

Day 10: At Sea

Enjoy lectures by the onboard expedition team, or simply relax on deck as you cruise towards Nosy Mangabe.

Day 11: Nosy Mangabe & Masoala National Park, Madagascar

Nosy Mangabe is a 520-hectare island reserve and home to one of the most diverse areas of virgin rainforest in Madagascar. This island has also been an important research centre since the 1960s, when several aye-ayes and lemurs were released into the forest. Embark on a series of nature walks looking at the varied trees, plants and ferns, and keep your eyes peeled for chameleon, lizard, and black-and-white ruffed lemur, as well as Madagascar buzzard, kingfisher and paradise flycatcher.

Masoala National Park, Madagascar’s largest protected area, is comprised of a combination of coastal rainforest, marshes and mangroves. This afternoon, be lured by the chance to spot red-ruffed lemur, red-fronted brown lemur, and ring-tailed mongoose, as well as a multitude of extraordinary chameleons. A refuge for endangered species such the Madagascar red owl and Madagascar serpent eagle, this region provides a variety of walks and hikes for all fitness levels. You may also have the opportunity to swim from the beach and visit the local village.

Day 12: Nosy Boraha (Île Sainte-Marie), Madagascar

Île Sainte-Marie, or Nosy Boraha, is an island off the east coast of Madagascar. Its lush vegetation is interspersed with many small villages and sandy beaches shaded by coconut palms, and its bays and coves are protected by coral reefs. Historically it was a popular home for pirates, providing a safe haven for more than a thousand pirates at one time. Maps from that era call it ‘the island of pirates’. Disembark at Ambodifotatra for a 3-hour walking tour, following the botanical trail to the Catholic church, before visiting the colourful fruit and vegetable market. Later cool off with a refreshing swim or snorkel.

Day 13: At Sea

Enjoy a day relaxing on deck or take in a cooking demonstration with the ship’s chef.

Day 14: Saint-Denis, Réunion Island

Known for its’ dramatic natural wonders, Réunion is formed by a massive submerged volcano. An overseas department of France, the Creole culture is a vibrant combination of French, African, Chinese, Malagasy, and Indian. The island was deserted until the 16th century, and is home to one of the world’s most active volcanos, Piton de la Fournaise. A collapsed dormant volcano, Piton des Neiges, creates spectacular canyons and gorges in the northwest of the island.

At Réunion take a full day tour to visit huge volcanic amphitheatres known as cirques, with mountains towering overhead and waterfalls plummeting hundreds of feet. All around are tropical plantations with spices, vanilla, and fruits – a visit to a vanilla plantation is included after a traditional Creole lunch. Later, enjoy some free time to explore St Denis.

Day 15: Saint-Denis, Réunion Island

Enjoy further exploration of Réunion today, or perhaps take an optional helicopter flight over the volcanic Piton des Neiges (additional cost). As the day ends set sail for Mauritius.

Day 16: Port Louis, Mauritius

Arrive in Port Louis this morning where you will disembark after breakfast.

Notes

All voyage itineraries are intended as a guideline only - embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy of expedition travel. Actual routes and landings will be dependent on wildlife sightings and weather/sea conditions. A degree of flexibility is essential!

Coral Geographer

Grade: Superior

Type: Expedition Ship

The Coral Geographer has been designed specifically for expedition-style cruising, getting closer to nature with a warm and professional Australian service.

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