West Coast of Africa
onboard Silver Cloud
The people of Sierra Leone are known for their friendliness and hospitality. Music and dance are an essential part of their daily life. @ Pablo Bianco
Built in 1482, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Elmina Castle stands as a grim reminder of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade.
Common Dolphins travel in large groups of hundreds or even thousands. They are energetic and acrobatic, and can often be seen leaping out of the water. @ Jonathan Rossouw
The people of Ivory Coast honor their ancestors with traditional dance and the mask represents their loyalty to the past.
At 9,200 feet, the still-smoldering stratovolcano, Pico do Fogo, is the highest elevation of Cape Verde and also its largest volcano.
At Agadir, keep watch for the exceedingly endangered Northern Bald Ibis. It is believed that only 300 pairs still remain. @ Ignacio Yúfera
The 240-guest Silver Cloud is a spacious and comfortable expedition vessel with plenty of deck space for observing natural wonders and marine wildlife. @ Pablo Bianco
West Africa CruiseThe word “vibrant” may just be overused in descriptions of African allure. You see it in poetic nods to Ghana’s famously bright textiles; to the sounds of samba and mbalax wafting from every open Senegalese door; the buzzing of positive energy in even the most war-pocked Monrovian streets. It’s a too-oft-used adjective, maybe, but it is not wrong. Join Apex on this rare and wondrous West Africa cruise. Visit rural villages and UNESCO heritage sites to learn of regional cultures, from traditional healing practices to the difficult history of the slave trade. Search for a kaleidoscopic array of bird specials, including the incredibly rare Northern Bald Ibis. Visit orphaned Chimpanzees in Sierra Leone, and smoldering volcanoes in Cape Verde. It will be a feast for the senses, in every respect, for this part of the world is beautiful, unspoiled by tourism, and, yes, undeniably vibrant.
- Travel by Air
- Travel by Road
- Travel by Boat
- Travel by Bullet Train
- Travel by Rail
- Travel by Dog Sled
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3
- Day 4
- Day 5
- Day 6
- Day 7
- Day 8
- Day 9
- Day 10
- Day 11
- Day 12
- Day 13
- Days 14 & 15
- Day 16
- Day 17
- Day 18
- Day 19
- Day 20
Friday, April 16: Arrive Accra, Ghana
Arrive in Accra, the rapidly-modernizing, beating heart of Ghana, and transfer to your hotel. This evening, gather with your fellow travelers and expedition team for a welcome dinner and briefing. Dinner and overnight at Labadi Beach Hotel.
Saturday, April 17: Accra / Embark Silver Cloud
After breakfast, enjoy a city tour. Accra has held onto its unique identity, despite recent development. See the posh administrative area, punctuated with elegant nineteenth-century villas—a surviving relic of Ghana’s colonial past. Head to the beach, and the historic Jamestown neighborhood, whose storied past is visible in its architecture—with colonial remnants side-by-side with vibrant clapboard houses and corrugated iron shacks. Today, though impoverished, it is one of the city’s liveliest neighborhoods. Visit a workshop where Accra’s famous “fantasy coffins” are made and shipped out worldwide for museum display. This afternoon, board the Silver Cloud, your home away from home for the next 18 nights. Toast to the journey to come as you set out into the Gulf of Guinea. Dinner and overnight aboard the Silver Cloud.
Sunday, April 18: Takoradi
Once a sleepy fishing village until it was chosen as Ghana’s first deep-water seaport, Takoradi now grows larger by the day. It is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Elmina and Cape Coast Castle, which you may opt to visit today. Two of roughly 40 “slave castles” along the Gold Coast, they were the final stop for many enslaved Africans on the “Middle Passage” trading route to the Americas. For those who would prefer to see the wilder side of Ghana, join the trek to Kakum National Park. This coastal rainforest is home to endangered mammals like Forest Elephants, Diana Monkeys and Yellow-backed Duikers, and is a mecca for birders, with an incredible 350 bird species recorded. Hike the park’s forest trials, including the famous 1,000-foot-long Canopy Walkway, keeping watch for the many Upper Guinea forest endemics, from hornbills to waxbills, bee-eaters to plantaineaters. Enjoy a traditional dance performance over lunch before returning to the ship.
Monday, April 19: Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Set among canals and waterways, Abidjan is ultra-modern, and is considered one of the foremost African cities in terms of culture and standard of living. Nearby Grand-Bassam has all the faded glory of a beachside French colonial capital and is a beautiful drive from Abidjan. Join the cultural expedition to Grand-Bassam, stopping first in Banco National Park, a splendid example of primary hardwood tropical forest. Afterwards, drive past Abobo, Africa’s largest outdoor laundry, where hundreds of Fanicos (washer men) can be seen working in the stream to launder their clients’ clothes. At Azito Village, be received by the king and visit with village women to see how they smoke fish. Enjoy a Zaouli Dance performance and lunch, then head to Grand-Bassam. Visit the costume museum and handicraft center before returning to Abidjan. Alternatively, join another group for a longer hike in Banco National Park, followed by an afternoon visit to nearby Bingerville Botanical Gardens.
Tuesday, April 20: At Sea
Take the day to relax onboard as the ship rounds the southern tip of Liberia and heads north. Attend lectures recapping the history, culture and natural offerings of Ghana and Ivory Coast and introducing you to the upcoming countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Wednesday, April 21: Monrovia, Liberia
Monrovians have a proverb: “To the patient man will come all the riches of the world.” Well, after decades of turmoil and conflict, riches are finally beginning to arrive here in Africa’s first independent nation. Wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mesurado River, Monrovia brims with history and natural beauty. This morning, visit Ducor Hill, upon which sits the country’s first defensive fort, lighthouse and the remnants of an old luxury hotel, originally built by Pan Am Airlines, now a decayed but stunning colonial ruin. Tour Liberia’s oldest church, Providence Baptist, the site of the signing of the nation’s Declaration of Independence in 1847. After lunch, travel through the Liberian countryside to Bai T. Moore Culture Village, where you can get a taste of traditional Bomi country life and enjoy a dance and drum performance.
Thursday, April 22: Tokeh, Sierra Leone
Today, visit Tokeh, a coastal resort town on Sierra Leone’s western peninsula. While it has recently grown quite upscale as a resort destination, remnants of the original fishing village are plentiful. Visit the African smoked fish house and the stone bakery. Stop at the village market to do some shopping, or just watch locals go about their daily bargaining. See the old Africana Hotel, which attracted thousands of French tourists before the civil war. Feast your eyes on Tokeh Beach, considered one of the most beautiful in West Africa.
Friday, April 23: Freetown
Freetown may still be a diamond in the rough, but it is a true traveler’s gem. Lush rainforest and palm-fringed beaches surround the city, whose optimism and energy far outweigh the scars it bears from its tumultuous past. This morning, head outside the city, to the Western Area Forest Reserve, to look for sought-after bird species like Turati’s Boubou and Crimson Seedcracker. Visit the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary to see some of the approximately 100 orphaned Chimps being rehabilitated here. After lunch, visit a local medical clinic. Then, be amazed by feats of athleticism at a Salone Flying Stars soccer match. All of the players on the team are amputees. Spend the afternoon birding on the western side of the peninsula, looking for Yellow-billed Turaco and Dybowski’s Twinspot.
Saturday, April 24: At Sea
Watch for seabirds and dolphins today as the ship heads north. Attend lectures on upcoming Senegal, one of West Africa’s oldest and most stable countries.
Sunday, April 25: Dakar, Senegal
The former colonial trading post of Dakar stamps the Cap-Vert peninsula with a vertiginous urban energy. Here, sparkling beaches meet the thrum of textile markets. Birds such as Spur-winged Plovers, Rose-ringed Parakeets and Village Weavers abound in the heart of the city, and a stunning array of waterbirds frequent the Technopole, an exceptional urban wetland. Search for Black Herons, Senegal Thick-knees, and Audouin’s Gulls, amongst over 200 Afrotropical residents and Palaearctic migrants. Then, head to the traditional healing hospital in Malika Village, where you can learn about Senegal’s rich traditional medicine practices. Move on to Lake Retba, or the Pink Lake. Its color comes from Dunaliella salina bacteria, and its salt content matches that of the Dead Sea. Take a 4×4 ride over sand dunes, topped off with cocktails under a nearby Bedouin tent.
Monday, April 26: At Sea
Head due west to the islands of Cape Verde. Spend time on deck watching the impressive array of pelagic birds, notably Cape Verde and Boyd’s Shearwaters, and Cape Verde Storm-petrels.
Tuesday, April 27: Fogo Island, Cape Verde
Fogo is a majestic cone that juts out of the ocean, with the 9,200-foot still-smoldering stratovolcano, Pico do Fogo, at its center. Two options await you today: take a moderate 2-hour hike up the “vulcaozinho” (the small volcano, as the local population calls him) for a dizzyingly beautiful view over the island. Look down on the lava fields and clusters of traditional houses beyond. Hike to one of the crater villages, and enjoy lunch with locally produced wine before heading back down the mountain to the pier. Alternatively, take an “eruptions” tour with a local guide who will drive you up into the crater, pointing out the different eruption sites. Walk on the petrified lava fields and see the remains of destroyed houses. Head back through the colonial city of São Filipe. Tour its colorful streets, including the local history museum and the Coffee Museum, where you can taste coffee produced on the island.
Wednesday, April 28: Santo Antão
Explore Santo Antão, the northwestern-most of the Cape Verde Islands. The island is divided by a large mountain ridge, leaving its largest city, Porto Novo, on the dry side, while the Paúl Valley remains green and lush year-round. Enjoy a scenic coastal drive to the Paúl Valley, and hike through sugarcane plantations and tropical greenery, watching for endemic Cape Verde Buzzards, Alexander’s Swifts, and Iago Sparrows. Visit a traditional Grogue distillery, the local liquor made from sugarcane. Continue on to the picturesque mountain village of Fontainhas for coffee and snacks with locals. Head back to the coast for lunch in a local restaurant in the fishing village of Ponta do Sol. After lunch, head back to the harbor in Porto Novo. There is also the option of a stunning interior mountain road driving tour to the Paúl Valley, where you can taste Grogue and skip the hike.
Thursday & Friday, April 29 & 30: At Sea
Relax today as the ship continues north, passing Mauritania. Attend lectures on the upcoming Bay of Dakhla, a designated Ramsar site given its “high botanical diversity, hosting several species which are rare, vulnerable or Saharan endemics.”
Saturday, May 1: Ad Dakhla, Morocco
Inhabited by Berbers since ancient times, Dakhla was founded mainly for its fishing and its abundant seals and whales for hunting. Despite over-harvesting, Dakhla is still a major fishing port and renowned birding hotspot. Opt for the cultural tour, driving along the Bay of Dakhla to a Sahrawi camp overlooking the bay and a beautiful white sand dune. Learn of the nomadic Sahrawi peoples over a tea ceremony and climb the dune for breathtaking views. Wildlife enthusiasts may opt for a guided birding excursion. Start in La Sarga, famed for hosting vast numbers of migratory shorebirds, such as Dunlins, Red Knots and Sanderlings. Head up the coast, ending at the “core of the Ramsar site,” the Northeast Wetland, a long stretch of coast backed by desert cliffs. Look for Greater Flamingos, Eurasian Spoonbills, Western Marsh-Harriers, and, on the adjacent gravel plains, Cream-colored Coursers and Greater Hoopoe-Larks.
Sunday, May 2: At Sea
Spend the day at sea as you head north toward Agadir. Look out for Cory’s Shearwaters, Pomarine Jaegers, and Sabine’s Gulls, along with the rare Atlantic Humpback Dolphin.
Monday, May 3: Agadir
Agadir is, above all, a holiday resort. Though its inner quarters are rather sterile and nondescript, it comes alive at its beachfront, where Moroccan street life meets a refreshing sense of space. Head out of Agadir, hugging the coastline up to Tamri. Look for Great Cormorants, Audouin’s Gulls, and Black Wheatear, but particularly keep your eyes peeled for the show-stopping, and exceedingly endangered, Northern Bald Ibis. It is believed that only 300 pairs still remain, most of which breed on cliffs located near Tamri and in the nearby Souss-Massa National Park. After lunch, loop south of Agadir to Souss-Massa National Park, where diverse habitats ranging from endless dunes to dense Argania forests. Look for Booted Eagles, Maghreb Magpie, and the localized Moussier’s Redstart.
Tuesday, May 4: At Sea
Bid farewell to Africa today, as you sail north past the Strait of Gibraltar, toward Portugal. Recap the voyage over a farewell dinner aboard the ship.
Wednesday, May 5: Arrive Lisbon, Portugal / Disembark Silver Cloud
Early this morning, look out upon the stirring mosaic of green hills, pastel-colored houses and colorful tilework that is Lisbon, as the ship pulls into the harbor. Disembark the Silver Cloud and transfer to the airport for your international flights home.