Zanzibar & the Treasures of the Indian Ocean (Zanzibar - Mahe)
13 days with Ponant Rating:
DAY 1 ZANZIBAR
Once a mythical post along the legendary Indian Ocean trade route, today a certain whiff of adventure still pervades in Zanzibar. Located off the coast of Tanzania, this place often referred to as “spice island” is brimming with natural treasures, such as Jozani Forest, the last remains of the huge primeval forest that once covered the island, home to a unique ecosystem. This port of call will also be the moment to discover ”Stone Town”, the historical centre of Zanzibar, a UNESCO World Heritage site. A veritable labyrinth of narrow streets lined with houses made from coral stone, it is home to sumptuous buildings in a multitude of architectural styles, the result of the blending of African, European and Indian cultures.
DAY 2 MISALI ISLAND
Renowned for its underwater world, Misali became a protected conservation area in 1998. So, it’s possible to admire its sea beds and swim there, but not to fish. If conditions allow, you’ll perhaps have the chance to see varied underwater fauna. To the north-east of the island, a white sandy beach, bathed in stunningly transparent turquoise water, is an ideal place to relax.
DAYS 2-3 PEMBA ISLAND
The second-largest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago, edged with fine sand and bathed in a sea in infinite shades of turquoise, Pemba Island astounds with the whiteness of its shores and its abundant tropical forest. It is mountainous with hills full of fertile land and has the nickname “the Green Island.” You’ll fall in love with its quiet shores, full of authenticity. Banana trees, coconut trees, clove trees, nutmeg trees… its lush vegetation ensures the local production of spices that has made its reputation (essentially cloves but also nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, turmeric, pepper, etc.).
DAY 4 KILWA KISIWANI
Near the Tanzanian coast, around 300 km south of Dar es Salaam, the island of Kilwa Kisiwani is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Occupied from the 9th century to the 11th century, it reached its heights in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was described by the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battouta as “one of the most beautiful cities in the world.” A former Swahili trading city, the island prospered from the trade of gold and ivory from the inland regions. The remains of its former port city cover a large part of the island. Those of its superb Great Mosque, the oldest mosque remaining on the coast of East Africa, are well worth a visit.
DAY 5 AT SEA
During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.
DAY 6 COSMOLEDO ATOLL
The Cosmoledo Atoll owes its nickname, the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean, to the beauty of its underwater world, which attracts the most experienced divers: parrotfish, giant rays and clams inhabit the reefs of its crystal waters. The fascinating marine life comes alive as the multi-coloured fish, making the most of the protection of the extraordinary coral reef, come together to feed in the currents formed by the sweeping movements of the tides. Exploited in the past for coconut and agave, the atoll is now uninhabited, apart from an eco-resort in the heart of the nature reserve, which shelters green turtles and significant colonies of sooty terns and red-footed boobies.
DAY 7 GLORIEUSES, SCATTERED ISLANDS
The Scattered Islands are like minuscule confetti sprinkled around Madagascar of unrivalled beauty. Their geographical isolation, and their very limited human settlement make them a true geological sanctuary, classed as a nature reserve since 1975. Regularly used as the “zero point” in scientific studies, they offer their rare visitors almost pristine vegetation composed mainly of mangrove, as well as long beaches of shimmering sand stretching out behind turquoise lagoons, and coral reefs that are home to the world’s highest concentration of sea turtles.
DAY 8 ASSUMPTION ISLAND
Assumption Island is part of the Aldabra group (Outer Islands), situated in the south-west of the Seychelles. Discovered in the mid-18th century by the French captain Nicolas Morphey, this bean-shaped island covered in dunes and shrubs is relatively flat. A handful of people live there, in a small village in the island’s west. The island’s beaches are a major egg-laying and breeding site for sea turtles. The surrounding waters are ideal for scuba diving. This is where Jacques-Yves Cousteau filmed some of the scenes for his famous documentary film “The Silent World”, released in 1956.
DAY 9 ALDABRA ATOLL
Located in the very heart of this faraway archipelago, the Aldabra Atoll is considered to be one of the last virtually untouched sanctuaries on earth, where a large population of sea turtles has found refuge. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this vast tract of land is formed by 4 small coral reef islands separated by narrow passes and containing an emerald-water lagoon lined with mangrove and fine-sand beaches. As your ship slowly nears the clear, reflective waters along its shoreline, do not miss your chance to discover this natural wonder, which is considered to be the largest atoll in the world and once fired the imagination of many an explorer.
DAY 10 ASTOVE ISLAND
Closer to Madagascar than to Victoria, Astove is the southernmost island in the Seychelles. It is part of the Aldabra group, in the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. Now uninhabited, this coral island covered in coconut trees was once home to the employees that worked on the coconut plantations. Renowned for the richness of its seabeds, Astove Atoll is now a top destination for fishing enthusiasts. It also attracts experienced divers, who visit the atoll to explore the “Astove Wall”, where the sea floor drops to a depth of about 40 metres. The wall is covered in coral and many fish and green sea turtles can be found there.
DAY 11 ALPHONSE ISLAND
L’île Alphonse est située au large de l’archipel des Seychelles. Découverte en 1730 par le chevalier Alphonse de Pontevez, cette île, autrefois spécialisée dans la transformation de la noix de coco, est aujourd’hui une véritable réserve naturelle, abritant différentes espèces de mammifères marins, des tortues de mer et de nombreux oiseaux. L’île Alphonse est également réputée pour la richesse de ses fonds marins, et pour ses coraux, qui comptent parmi les mieux préservés de l’océan Indien. Un spectacle merveilleux qui se laisse admirer avec un simple masque !
DAY 12 LA DIGUE ISLAND
La Digue Island is a veritable concentration of all the beauty of the Seychelles. Located 6 km south-east of Praslin, this small piece of land that looks like paradise is the third-largest island in the Seychelles, despite its modest size (5 km by 3 km)! Turquoise waters just asking you to swim in them, lush vegetation sheltering giant tortoises, beaches of fine sand fringed with coconut trees and surrounded with those emblematic large granite rocks with their pink highlights like at the famous Anse Source d’Argent: the perfect picture postcard… Authentic and preserved, the island follows a peaceful rhythm, with the only means of transport along its little roads being bikes or traditional oxcarts.
DAYS 12-13 VICTORIA, MAHÉ
Discover Mahé, the main island of the Seychelles and also the largest of the archipelago, home to the capital, Victoria. Mahé has almost 70 beaches of fine sand, framed by the emblematic granite rocks, and whose crystal clear waters are renowned for their rich underwater life. The island is also famous for its splendid mountain panoramas accessible on hikes, such as the Morne Seychellois, which is 905 metres high and overlooks the Indian Ocean. Mahé is also an island full of history where fine colonial properties rub shoulders with Creole houses - and don’t forget the marvellous Botanical Gardens in Victoria.
All This Included
Embark with PONANT for a 13-day expedition cruise in the Indian Ocean. A chance to discover stunning natural environments, exceptional wildlife, and UNESCO World Heritage sites loaded with history.
From Zanzibar, a city with superb UNESCO-listed buildings, blending African, Arab, Indian and European influences over more than a millennium, you will sail to Pemba Island, its clove plantations and its fantastic scuba diving sites.
Your next ports of call will be an opportunity to discover the ruins of the 13th-century Swahili trading post of Kilwa Kisiwani.
After calling at the Glorioso Islands in the Scattered Islands, your ship will set a course for Aldabra Atoll, a largely untouched natural sanctuary listed as World Heritage by UNESCO.
Further on, the small islands of Assumption, Astove and Alphonse will be an opportunity to snorkel and dive among brightly-coloured sea life.
Before disembarking in Victoria on the island of Mahé, a veritable picture-postcard awaits you in La Digue: palm trees, granite rocks, white sand and crystal-clear waters.
The encounters with the wildlife described above illustrate possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed.
Cruising: Cabin onbard Le Bougainville
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.