The tapestry of Africa’s dramatic west coast is imbued with local hospitality and spellbinding serenity. Beautiful beaches and lost lagoons merge effortlessly with voodoo villages. Drummers and dancers, forest walks and diamond mines add an authentic accent to an African adventure that is far more than just a sum of its parts.
• Visit the Carmien Rooibos Tea Factory situated in the small town of Citrusdal. The narrow 60 000 hectare belt along the West Coast of South Africa is the only place in the world where Rooibos tea can be grown
• Visit the abandoned diamond-mining town of Kolmanskop
• Take advantage of an unparalleled opportunity to see the famous Sossusvlei Dunes from the air, a site very difficult to access by land
• Visit the capital of Angola and home to more than four million -making it the third-largest Portuguese speaking city in the world
• Explore São Tomé and Príncipe - virtually undiscovered paradise with palm fringed beaches, crystal clear water and barely explored jungles. Some of the world’s best coffee is produced on this island
• Learn about village life in Togo and maybe hand over your contribution of school supplies
Embark Silver Discoverer for your Expedition: “Skeleton Coast to Gold Coast”. Once onboard, meet some of your fellow explorers as you become acquainted with the ship’s amenities. Before we set sail a mandatory safety drill will take place. This evening, after settling in and setting sail, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team.
Saldanha Bay is a small seaside village which has the largest and deepest natural bay in South Africa. There are five islands and abundant sea life in the bay and it is a favourite amongst kite surfers. Today you will have to choose well, as we have three different interesting options for you:
You can visit the Carmien Rooibos Tea Factory situated in the small town of Citrusdal. The narrow 60 000 hectare belt along the West Coast of South Africa is the only place in the world where Rooibos tea can be grown. This area is also one of the world’s six Plant Kingdoms. The typical Mediterranean climate, ideal temperatures, rainfall and sunshine, the natural terroir needed for Rooibos to be cultivated in harmony with nature are all here. The sandy slopes and undulating valleys of the rugged Cedarberg Mountain Range provide the perfect habitat for Rooibos.
Carmien Tea has established itself as producer and supplier of quality Rooibos tea products in South Africa. Experience the whole rooibos process from crop to cup. At the factory you will be guided through the Rooibos Tea Pairing with a variety of different flavours and bites. In the community hall you can enjoy gourmet sandwiches, wraps and tacos, pies, samosas and baked goods. Salads and fruit, bakery, dessert and sweet treats will also be available, as well as wine and obviously Rooibos ice tea. All this will be professional done from locally sourced ingredients, highlighting the use of Rooibos Tea in various dishes.
If you prefer to sample typical dishes, make your way to Langebaan, just 20km from Saldanha Bay. The white sand beaches surrounding the clear waters of the Langebaan Lagoon are one of the main attractions of Langebaan. After a short orientation of Langebaan head over to “Die Strandloper” where gastronomical delights await.
“Die Strandloper” is an open air seafood restaurant on the beach that offers a ten course traditional West Coast seafood meal, from mussels to crayfish, on open fires for you to feast on! When each course is ready it will be displayed on a serving table and you come and help yourself. The whole extraordinary experience lasts about three hours! After the delicious lunch you will be served coffee which has a unique taste and flavour.
The third option is a visit to the charming little town Darling where you will meet the Olive Tasting Experience of a lifetime: through many trails and errors, experience has brought Darling Olives to not only producing olives but also their own olive jams, pastes, rubs, chocolate, extra virgin olive oil, flavoured olive oils and even olive soaps. Experience their passion of olives, before embarking on your next journey to “Evita se Perron”.
The name was inspired by its location as the former Darling Station. Perron in Afrikaans means ‘station platform’ and Evita refers to the name of South Africa’s most famous white woman: Mrs Evita Bezuidenhout. Here the local comedian and playwright Pieter Dirk Uys (aka ‘Evita Bezuidenhout’) performs his internationally acclaimed shows on stage with Evita or a cast of familiar political characters.
On arrival enjoy a traditional lunch before going to explore the art and fascinating presentation at the Perron.
Enjoy some free time before departing for Groote Post Wine Estate. The Groote Post Homestead was built in 1808 and the name is derived from its original status as the largest guarding post in the area, set up to protect cattle from marauding stock thieves. In 2001 the Pentz family decided to sell off their prize Holsten herd to concentrate solely on the production of world-class wine. End your day in the lovely green valley on the Kikuyu lawns watched over by the beautifully restored Cape Dutch Klawer Valley Homestead while enjoying a taste of their wonderful wines.
Return to Saldanha to Silver Discoverer.
Our knowledgeable Lecture Staff members are experts in a variety of scientific fields. Gather in the Explorer Lounge to enjoy the first in a series of informative lectures presented by our onboard Expedition Team. Perhaps learn some tips and techniques for taking better photos during a photographic workshop offered by our resident Photographer.
Leaving the small town of Lüderitz we will visit the abandoned diamond-mining town of Kolmanskop. In 1908, a sparkling diamond was found among the sand and the news spread like wildfire, causing fortune hunters to converge in droves on Kolmanskop. When the town reached its pinnacle Kolmanskop developed into a lively little haven of German culture. However, richer diamond deposits were discovered further south, and operations were moved. Today it is mostly a ghost town; the stately homes, eroded by the wind, are gradually becoming sand-covered. However, a museum has been established and a number of buildings restored. While in Kolmanskop enjoy refreshments before returning to the Silver Discoverer in Lüderitz.
SCENIC DUNES FLIGHT
Take advantage of an unparalleled opportunity to see the famous Sossusvlei Dunes from the air, a site very difficult to access by land. Following the (normally dry) Kuiseb River, fly over Sesriem Canyon then along the Tsauchab river valley where the freestanding but static dunes tower up to 250 metres above the plain. The dune belt runs north to south for over 70 km between Sossusvlei and the Atlantic. Upon reaching the coast, head north over deserted mining camps and seal colonies to Conception Bay and the wreck of the Eduard Bohlen (run aground in the early 40s). This optional Silver Shore excursion will operate only if weather/fog conditions permit. Please contact Reservations to add this excursion to your booking.
For the first afternoon we will depart the pier for the scenic drive along the coastal road to Swakopmund, located 19 miles north of Walvis Bay at the mouth of the Swakop River. En route, you will take in magnificent views of sand dunes on one side, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Upon arrival, you will have free time to discover Swakopmund on your own. There are fine examples of German colonial architecture. Founded in 1892 as the main harbour for German South-West Africa, a good part of the population still speaks German today. The Magistrate’s Court, or Kaiserliches Bezirksgericht, the Lutheran Church and the old Railway Station building -now the main reception area of the Swakopmund Hotel- will give an idea of the former splendour. There are quaint restaurants at the waterfront for a scenic coffee break location. Later we head east to the Namib-Naukluft Park. The Namib is one of the oldest deserts in the world, home to the world’s highest-shifting sand dunes and adorned with a kaleidoscope of vivid colours. A photo stop will be made at the ‘lunar landscape’ of this vast area of eroded valleys where you can almost imagine you are on the moon.
Next you will stop off at a special location to enjoy sundowners. A small choir will perform whilst you enjoy the time before the dramatic desert sunset. A selection of dry snacks and finger food will be served. Shortly before sunset we will head back to Silver Discoverer along the coastal road.
You can begin your second day in Walvis Bay with an early morning boat cruise in the protected outer lagoon area where the water is calm and abundant with bird life. Enjoy wonderful photographic opportunities as playful Heaviside’s and bottlenose dolphins come close the boat and frolic in the boat’s bow wave and wake while pelicans fly low overhead. Atlantic cape fur seals may even come aboard for a fishy snack! Other seabirds we will see include flamingos and cormorants. If we are very lucky, we may even see leatherback turtles, whales, or the local ‘Mola Mola’ or sunfish. We will pass fishing factories and foreign ships in the port and conclude our excursion with a taste of fresh Walvis Bay oysters and local sparkling wine.
If you would like to explore the desert a little further, depart the quayside and head into the Namib-Naukluft Park. We will first drive to Walvis Bay Lagoon to observe the flamingos (seasonal) and seabirds before heading towards the Kuiseb Delta via the Walvis Bay Saltpans.
Sandwich Harbour is a part of the Namib-Naukluft Park that very few have ever visited. Giant sand dunes run straight into the ocean, creating breathtaking sceneries and a unique off-road driving experience in Land Rovers. The Sandwich Harbour Lagoon is a large natural tidal lagoon completely surrounded by large sand dunes, and is only accessible by 4×4 – and even this relies largely on the tides. The lagoon area is fed with fresh water seeping through the sand dunes, and contributes to the beauty and natural diversity of the area. Depending on the tides and the swell, we will try to reach the Sandwich Harbour lagoon along the beach. Alternatively we will take an exciting dune ride to our lookout dune to get an aerial view of the Sandwich Harbour Lagoon where you can feel the isolation Namibia and the Skeleton Coast are so famous for!
We stop along the way to enjoy drinks & snacks. Depending on wind conditions, this will either be done on top of a high dune overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, on the beach, or amongst the dunes.
The route homewards will be done testing the power of the vehicles on the dunes, the highlight being the 65 m high roaring dune, giving you exceptional viewpoints on the return to Walvis Bay and the quayside.
Binoculars and camera in hand, head out on deck to watch for seabirds and marine mammals. Attend informative lectures that will prepare you for the upcoming ports-of-call and the adventures that lie ahead. Other onboard diversions include spa treatments, a workout in the Fitness Centre, and, of course, exquisite dining experiences.
This afternoon we will head out into the Namibe Desert. Apart from looking for Welwitschia mirabilis, an endemic plant found in the Namibe Provence of South Angola and the Namib Desert, the tour will continue through the desert landscape to The Arch Lagoon, also known as “the lost oasis”. The lagoon, locally known as “Lago do Arco do Carvalhao”, will only have water if Angola has had an excellent rainy season. It is formed by a magnificent rock formation, and is a unique display of art in nature. If it has rained it will be inhabited by an abundance of birdlife.
Before returning to the ship, we will visit the little town of Namibe to see the old city with its baroque architecture, old stadium and churches.
Located in front of the Namibe Desert and Iona National Park, Ilha dos Tigres is a unique place. Originally a peninsula belonging to Iona National Park the ocean cut through the narrow isthmus and separated the village of Tigres and the surrounding land from the rest of the coast. Overnight the isolated landmass became Angola’s largest island. Since there was no freshwater the village had to be abandoned.
During the morning we want to head ashore via Zodiac to have a look at this little ghost village and see what wildlife is able to survive on the island that still today is sometimes called the Bay of Tigres.
Lobito is the main port city situated in western Angola, just north of the Catumbela estuary. Its bay, one of Africa’s finest natural harbours, is protected by a 3-mile long sandpit called Restinga.
We will have a look at Restinga and later visit the Ethnological Museum. From Lobito we will drive to the city of Benguela. Founded in 1617 around Sao Filipe Fortress it was one of the bases for Portuguese expansion in Africa. We will visit the Ethnographic Museum before driving through the city to the most famous church in Benguela. The “Igreja do Populo” was built by the Portuguese during the colonial era, being the first stone building in southern Angola. From there we will walk to the heart of Benguela City, where the courthouse surrounds the company gardens, the Department of Justice and the Town Hall. The gardens are lined with beautiful palm trees and flowers and offer a very picturesque setting.
En route back to Lobito we will stop at the city of Catumbela and will stop at Sao Pedro fort for some photos, and will see the big Catumbela River and the 1905 steel bridge, from Eiffel’s engineering company, which was in use until 2010.
Once back at the pier there will be a festival with traditional dances and singing.
Continuing along the coast of Angola, our lecturers will take the opportunity to give lectures and to inform you about the different highlights Luanda has to offer.
In the afternoon Silver Discoverer will arrive in Angola’s capital and home to more than four million -making it the third-largest Portuguese speaking city in the world. We will take the time to drive along Marginal Bay, with the commercial part of the city on the one side, and views across the bay on the other. Driving past the Angola National Bank, a great example of colonial architecture, we will be passing Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré and eventually pass the Iron Palace and the Agostinho Neto Mausoleum, a huge stylized obelisk, for a photo stop.
We will then visit the San Miguel Fort with its striking blue tiles. Originally built in 1576, its purpose was to defend the port and the city from attack by the marauding French and Dutch. You will have time to walk around and take in the view, before enjoying a special dinner at the Fort.
We will be heading back to the quayside to re-join the Silver Discoverer after sunset.
During our second day in Angola we will continue to do more sightseeing. We will take local boats to Mussulo Island, a favourite beach spot for the residents of Luanda. On Mussulo we will have some time to relax on the beach or by the pool. From there we will head back to the mainland by boat and will be visiting Angola’s Slave Museum opposite Mussulo.
We will then drive north to Benfica and the market where you can try your bargaining skills for the many wooden artefacts and paintings on offer.
Continuing our drive back into Luanda, we will stop at the Nieto Mausoleum for a visit. Close by are Cidade Alta, or “Uptown” —a pleasant, airy and calm suburb with several pink colonial buildings- and Baixa, or “Downtown”, where we can view the Houses of Parliament — both new and old. If the entry is permitted on this day, we will visit the Parliament before returning to the pier and Silver Discoverer.
Leaving the coast of Angola behind, Silver Discoverer will head towards Sao Tome and Principe, not only one of the smaller African countries which few have heard of.
While Silver Discoverer has to cover almost 700 nautical miles, our lecturers will present interesting topic, seminars and workshops. You can also head out on deck helping our Ornithologist to watch for seabirds and our Marine Biologist looking for marine mammals. Other onboard diversions include the Spa and Gym, plus there are always moments to savour the different culinary specialities prepared by our Executive Chef and his (or her) team.
The Portuguese-speaking island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe is located in the Gulf of Guinea, and is a virtually undiscovered paradise. Palm fringed beaches, crystal clear water and barely explored jungles are surely the reason for the pervasive national mood. Some of the world’s best coffee is produced on the island, and one of today’s options is a full-day tour is to experience coffee culture at São Tomé’s Monte Café plantation and learn how coffee is still processed in the traditional manner. Then, continue the drive up the mountain to the Waterfall of Sâo Nicolâo, to have a cup of coffee. Afterwards, descend the mountain to the Plantation of Agostinho Neto, to see the colonial architecture of this grand estate and to visit the botanical garden. Continue to the beach of Conchas to relax and have a swim before lunch. On the way to the Plantation of Monteforte, where a traditional lunch is waiting, pass by the Blue Lagoon.
Another full day option would be to travel along the east coast to enjoy the view of Ilhéu de Santana. In Água Izé we will stop at the viewpoint, Miradouro d’Água Izé and visit the cocoa plantation to meet with a local historian. On our way, we pass by Rio Iô Grande before continuing to Boca do Inferno -a natural blowhole- and for some refreshing coconut water. We will take a break at the beach of Praia de 7 Ondas and might swim before lunch, weather permitting. Before continuing our exploration, we will stop at the plantation house of São João to enjoy a Creole-fusion lunch. After lunch, there will be time to discover the installations of the plantation estate that include an art gallery and installations for treatment of different products from the plantation such as jam and liquors, depending on the season and the harvest.
Alternatively for a half day tour, visit the Fortress of Sâo Sebastiâo for an introduction to the colonial history of Sao Tomé and Principe. Drive to the fishermen’s village of Pantufo to taste some smoked fish and hear about the traditional methods of fishing. The Cathedral is an important landmark in the history of Catholicism in Africa, while Independence Square -where independence was celebrated in 1975- would be for Sao Tome. Other sites include the Municipal Market, the most important commercial houses in the city centre and other buildings from colonial time.
If snorkelling is your main interest, two small groups can be taken for a half day excursion to the Blue Lagoon for swimming and snorkelling.
In the evening we will have a pre-dinner music presentation by a local group onboard Silver Discoverer.
Atop the northernmost point of Principe is Bom Bom, a small island that will welcome us this morning. Going ashore by Zodiac we will be greeted by local musicians providing entertainment for the duration of our visit. A 140 metre wooden bridge leads from the small islet to a resort well hidden in the local forest.
Ashore we will have guides for a long, medium and slow walk. Of these the long walk of 7-8 miles will lead into the forest, while the other walks are on the road leading to the next village or will explore the property and its plants.
You do not necessarily have to hike -the resort offers two splendid beaches for swimming and snorkelling and we will have rooms available to change into bathing costumes. Birders will be looking for the Principe Sunbird, Principe Speirops, Principe Golden Weaver, Principe Glossy Starling, Principe and Blue-breasted Flycatcher and will certainly notice the semi-habituated Grey Parrot next to the restaurant.
In the afternoon Silver Discoverer will leave Sao Tome and Principe for our next stop in Togo.
Having left Bom Bom Island, this last sea leg will permit you to edit the photos you have taken so far, to attend talks by our experts, to relax at the pool and to enjoy the many culinary highlights prepared by our chefs.
In the evening our onboard Videographer will present our voyage-DVD recounting the many different sites and encounters of our West African voyage “From the Skeleton Coast to the Gold Coast”..
Silver Discoverer will dock early in the morning and we will be greeted by local entertainment before we head out for a full-day tour of Togo’s hinterland.
We start our tour driving through the old colonial town with its modern-looking independence square before reaching Ewe village after a good hour. Here we will be welcomed by traditional dancers and the local school children. This will be one of the best opportunities to learn about village life in Togo and to hand over your contribution of school supplies. Fascinating fabrics are on sale and you will be able to see how they are prepared locally.
Heading further north we will reach Kloto forest at Kpalime and divide into smaller groups to learn about the medicinal and commercial plants found in and near the secondary forest.
During and after lunch and souvenirs will be on offer nearby.
On our return we will have the unique opportunity to partake in a Voodoo ceremony –or at least to have a look at how these ceremonies take place.
In the evening a dance performance by the Lome Dance Troup will take place on board Silver Discoverer just before departure
This morning, disembark Silver Discoverer after breakfast.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
Overall size of 186 SQ.FT. / 17.3 M2. Enjoy a sitting area to watch brilliant scenery through a view window. With preferred midship location, Deck 4 Explorer Suites accommodate three guests. As on Deck 4, the Explorer Suites on Deck 3 offer an ample view window and relaxing sitting area, with enough room for three guests. An enchanting retreat suitable for three guests, Deck 2 suites exude cozy opulence, with porthole window views and a cushy sitting area. Features: View window or portholes, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Writing desk, Personal safe, Hair dryer, Flat screen television
Overall size of 181 SQ. FT. / 16.8 M2. Welcoming and comfortable, the View Suite provides a relaxing haven for even the utmost adventure-seeking guests. Complete a day spent exploring onshore with an evening unwinding in the comfort of your sitting area. Capture passing ocean scenes through your view window. Freshen up in your beautiful marbled bathroom before enjoying an elegant onboard dinner. Or cozy up under fine bed linens to watch an on-demand movie on the flat-screen television. Fall asleep easily, dreaming of the incredible experiences that await you the following day. Features: View window, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Choice of bathroom amenities, Writing desk, Hair dryer, Personal safe, Flat screen television with DVD and satellite reception, Wifi available (fees apply)
Overall size of 269 SQ. FT. / 25 M2. A quiet sanctuary. The suite’s sitting area has plenty of room to relax while on your cruise. Large picture windows frame panoramic ocean views. The perfect backdrop for breakfast in bed. Some Vista Suites accommodate three guests. Features: Large view window(s), Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Choice of bathroom amenities, Personal safe, Hair dryer, Writing desk, Flat screen television with DVD and satellite reception, Wifi available (fees apply)
Overall size of 280 SQ. FT. / 26 M2 (including a private balcony 35.5 SQ. FT. / 3.2 M2 ). Veranda Suites 601, 602, 603 and 604 can accommodate three guests. A Silversea signature, complete with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto a private balcony with patio furniture. Veranda Suites lavishly accommodate three guests. Features: Veranda or balcony with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Personal safe, Hair dryer, Writing desk, Flat screen television
Overall size of 408 SQ. FT. / 38 M2 (including a private balcony 27 SQ. FT. / 2.5 M2). A mark of distinction. Sumptuous. Spacious. Rich textures and panoramic views surround you with distinguished luxury. The perfect summary of The Medallion Suite offered by the world’s best cruise line. Features: Large teak veranda with patio furniture and floor-to-ceiling glass doors, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom with shower, Personal safe, Hair dryer,Writing desk, Flat screen television(s) with DVD and satellite reception
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 338 Feet/102.9 Metres
Passenger Capacity: 120 passengers
Her small size and shallow draft allow close-up access to rugged coasts well beyond the reach of ordinary vessels. And she has been newly refurbished to help guests maximize their experience and build a genuine connection with the regions they visit.
Spacious decks and panoramic public rooms mean the drama of the unexpected is never far from view. A fleet of Zodiacs allows exploration from the water or remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictate. Since many of our expeditions sail to some of the world's most pristine coral reef systems, there's a glass-bottom boat for underwater viewing along with a full complement of snorkelling equipment and a dive programme for advanced divers.
We've also taken great care to assemble a truly outstanding Expedition Team, composed of experts in the culture, history and wild life of the destinations, to present informal talks, guide Zodiac outings and lead small-group explorations ashore. While back on board, every creature comfort awaits: an ocean-view suite, in-suite bar and the head-to-toe pampering of a butler; elegant lounges and open bar where fellow travellers gather to swap tales about their day's adventures; and cuisine that meets Silversea's standards of culinary excellence — which are lofty, indeed. Imaginative menus in The Restaurant feature both regional offerings and dishes inspired by Relais & Châteaux. Additional amenities include a sun-catching pool deck, an internet cafe, a fitness centre, and a beauty and massage centre — particularly alluring after an adventurous day ashore.