Accra (Tema) to Lisbon (19 Day)
19 days with Silversea Rating:
Day 1 Accra (Tema)
Departure 5:00 pm
From a modest fishing port to the biggest in Ghana, Tema’s industrial activity has all but tarnished the charming, postcard scenery of the region. The neighbouring white-sanded beaches remain immaculate, still serving as a testimony of the rich variety of fishing birds that can be found in the area.In the way Mother Nature intended it, gannets, boobies and kingfishers amongst other species fish in and around the cerulean waters of the coast. A light breeze tickles the inflamed, iron-filled soil of the mainland on which the railway linking Tema to Accra lures hundreds of visitors each day. On board one of the carriages to Accra, distinctively noticeable by their painted coats of red, yellow and green that echo Ghana’s national flag, a peek out of the window will offer scenic views of the harbour and coast, as well as the large fields that separate Tema from the capital by 15 miles/25 kilometres of open space. Accra’s ambiance contrasts with the peaceful setting of Tema, but nevertheless has its own charm to be enjoyed. Through rich, contemporary monuments which recall Ghana’s 1957 independence, the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is an architectural jewel which also narrates the life and exploits of the eponymous president who fought for his country’s freedom. A more casual but perhaps interesting approach to the City’s culture and history is the visit to an artisanal studio, where primary materials such as wood and metal are transformed into stunning carvings of all sorts, illustrating a traditional African belief of a new life beyond death. And for a relaxing yet enriching experience, the hospitable restaurants are always eager to share their Banku, a local dish made out of corn and served with fish or stew.Craft markets are also worth a detour and are great for cherry-picking souvenirs. Demonstrating other fine Ghanaian traditions such as leather crafting and weaving, a popular favourite is the country’s hand-made Black Soap, which is renowned for its soothing virtues.
Day 2 Takoradi
Day 3 Abijan
Three hours south of Yamoussoukro, nestled in between the canals and waterways, lies Abidjan the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. Considered the crossroads of West Africa both economically and culturally, Abidjan benefits from clement temperatures year round, reaching average highs of around 88° Fahrenheit, or 30° Celsius. Like much of West Africa, this city has cachet and soul, and enjoys a diversity of cultures, traditions and people, notably through the French influence, but also through the steady stream of tourists that make the city both vibrant and cosmopolitan. Although its reputation was tarnished during the civil war in 2011, Abidjan held firm and has blossomed into a stunning coastal city, ripe for exploration.
Day 4 Day at Sea
Day 5 Monrovia
On the shore of the Gulf of Guinea, and wedged in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mesurado River on the Mesurado Peninsula, Monrovia is Liberia’s capital. Originally started as a settlement for freed slaves repatriated from the United States to West Africa’s Pepper Coast, today Monrovia’s population is a conglomerate of the descendants of the freed slaves (Americo-Liberian) and the various ethnic groups that existed there before the 1822 repatriation or that have moved in since. Monrovia’s harbour is very important for Liberia’s timber and palm oil exports.
Day 6 Tokeh
Tokeh, or Tokeh Town as it is also known, is a coastal resort town that relies mainly on fishing and tourism. Only twenty miles outside Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, this town is nestled in an area of beautiful scenery, surrounded by mountains, forests and beaches. The Tokeh Beach is considered one of the largest and most attractive beaches in West Arica. This town was first founded by a Sherbo fisherman who settled along the river bank. Much later, in 1968, a prominent barrister from Sierra Leone purchased the land, and in partnership with a French company, developed the village. Today, it is a thriving town with the resort, a church, mosque, community center, school and about 6000 residents.
Day 7 Freetown
The bustling West African city of Freetown is the capital of Sierra Leone. The lush green coastlines, and the friendly people of Sierra Leone, welcome visitors upon arrival. In addition to long, white sand beaches by the coast, the uplands around Freetown are verdant and home to the Western Area Forest Reserve (accepted by UNESCO as a tentative World Heritage Site). In 1787, British philanthropists founded the ‘Province of Freedom’, which later became Freetown, a British crown colony and the principal base for the suppression of the slave trade. By 1792, over one thousand freed slaves from Nova Scotia had joined the original settlers, the Maroons. Another group of slaves rebelled in Jamaica and travelled to Freetown in 1800.
Day 8 Day at Sea
Day 9 Dakar
Big, crowded and chaotic, Dakar can seem like a dirty mess not worth the effort, but relax and dig in—this is emerging Africa. The city is progressing quickly as the country develops, and already Dakar is home to many worthy restaurants and thumping nightlife. Historic sights are here, as well as nice beaches.
Day 10 Day at Sea
Day 11 Fogo Island
Day 12 Porto Novo
Porto Novo, the second largest city on Santo Antão, is located in the dry southeast of the island. A dusty wind blows constantly here. You can explore the main street with its former mansions, a little church, markets that have local fish, grogue and fresh goat cheese for sale, shops and-of course-the harbour. At the back of the town is the 2,000m-high Topo de Coroa, which is a fairly easy climb and has magnificent 360-degree views. Around the town, family-owned farms grow fruit and vegetables which are sold at regular markets in the town. There are some old churches from the Portuguese era, as well as a couple of elegant squares with pleasant bars and cafés, from which to watch the world go by.
Days 13-14 Days at Sea
Day 15 Ad Dakhla
Dakhla is located at the end of a 40km narrow peninsula on the Atlantic Coast about 340 miles south of Laayoune. The area was inhabited by Berbers from North Africa since ancient times but it was Spanish settlers who founded Dakhla in 1884 during the expansion of their empire. The region was especially important not only because of the rich offshore fishing (e.g. cod) but also because of the abundant seals and whales available for hunting. Despite over harvesting that has resulted in severe depletion of the wildlife Dakhali is still a major fishing port. However the town has recently become a centre for aquatic sports such as kitesurfing windsurfing and surf casting and becoming a growing tourism destination.
Day 16 Day at Sea
Day 17 Agadir
Agadir is, above all else, a holiday resort, so don't hope for a medina, a souk, or a kasbah (although it does have all three, after a fashion). Think sun, sea, and sand. These are what it does best, as hundreds of thousands of visitors each year can testify.There's no reason to begrudge the city its tourist aspirations. Razed by an earthquake in 1960 that killed 15,000 people in 13 seconds, Agadir had to be entirely rebuilt. Today it's a thoroughly modern city where travelers don't think twice about showing considerable skin, and Moroccans benefit from the growing number of jobs.There's a reason why this popular European package vacation destination is overrun with enormous, characterless beachfront hotels. The beach, all 10 km (6 miles) of it, is dreamy. A 450-yard-wide strip, it bends in an elegant crescent along the bay, and is covered with fine-grain sand. The beach is sheltered and safe for swimming, making it perfect for families. Farther north, where small villages stand behind some of the best waves in the world, is a surfers' paradise.Even if you have no interest in surfing, diving, jet-skiing, golf, tennis, or horseback riding down the beach, you can treat Agadir as a modern bubble in which to kick back. It's equipped with familiar pleasurable pursuits—eating, drinking, and relaxing next to the ocean—and modern amenities such as car-rental agencies and ATMs. It isn't quite Europe, but neither is it quite Morocco.
Day 18 Day at Sea
Day 19 Lisbon
Arrive 7:00 am
Spread over a string of seven hills north of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River) estuary, Lisbon presents an intriguing variety of faces to those who negotiate its switchback streets. In the oldest neighborhoods, stepped alleys whose street pattern dates back to Moorish times are lined with pastel-color houses decked with laundry; here and there, miradouros (vantage points) afford spectacular river or city views. In the grand 18th-century center, calçada à portuguesa (black-and-white mosaic cobblestone) sidewalks border wide boulevards. Elétricos (trams) clank through the streets, and blue-and-white azulejos (painted and glazed ceramic tiles) adorn churches, restaurants, and fountains. Of course, parts of Lisbon lack charm. Even some downtown areas have lost their classic Portuguese appearance as the city has become more cosmopolitan: shiny office blocks have replaced some 19th- and 20th-century art nouveau buildings. And centenarian trams share the streets with "fast trams" and noisy automobiles. Lisbon bears the mark of an incredible heritage with laid-back pride. In preparing to host the 1998 World Exposition, Lisbon spruced up public buildings, overhauled its subway system, and completed an impressive second bridge across the river. Today the former Expo site is an expansive riverfront development known as Parque das Nações, and the city is a popular port of call for cruises, whose passengers disembark onto a revitalized waterfront. Downtown, all the main squares have been overhauled one by one. In its heyday in the 16th century, Lisbon was a pioneer of the first wave of globalization. Now, the empire is striking back, with Brazilians and people from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa enriching the city’s ethnic mix. There are also more than a few people from other European countries who are rapidly becoming integrated. But Lisbon's intrinsic, slightly disorganized, one-of-a-kind charm hasn't vanished in the contemporary mix. Lisboetas (people from Lisbon) are at ease pulling up café chairs and perusing newspapers against any backdrop, whether it reflects the progress and commerce of today or the riches that once poured in from Asia, South America, and Africa. And quiet courtyards and sweeping viewpoints are never far away. Despite rising prosperity (and costs) since Portugal entered the European Community in 1986, and the more recent tourism boom, prices for most goods and services are still lower than most other European countries. You can still find affordable places to eat and stay, and with distances between major sights fairly small, taxis are astonishingly cheap. All this means that Lisbon is not only a treasure chest of historical monuments, but also a place where you won’t use up all your own hard-earned treasure. Though Baixa, or downtown, was Lisbon’s government and business center for two centuries until the mid-20th century, the most ancient part of the city lies on the slopes of a hill to its east. Most visitors start their exploration there, in Alfama. All but the very fittest ride the antique 28 eléctrico (streetcar) most of the way up to Saint George’s Castle (or take the 737 bus or a taxi all the way up). The views from its ramparts afford a crash course in the city’s topography. You can then wander downhill to absorb the atmosphere (and more views) in the winding streets below. There are several museums and other major sights in this area, so give yourself plenty of time. Baixa itself is interesting mostly for its imposing architecture and its bustling squares, as well as an unusual cast-iron elevator that affords yet more panoramic views. But a new design museum is what persuades most visitors to linger. On the slope to the west is the chic Chiado district, traditionally the city’s intellectual center, with theaters, galleries, and literary cafés. A little farther uphill is the Bairro Alto. Originally founded by the Jesuits (whose church is among Lisbon’s finest), it was long known for rather sinful pursuits and today is a great place for barhopping. Both neighborhoods are great places to shop. Modern Lisbon, meanwhile, begins just north of Baixa. The city’s tree-lined central axis, the Avenida da Liberdade, forges up to the Praça Marquês de Pombal roundabout, with a rather formal park beyond. Dotted around the area north of here are major museums and other sights. West of Baixa, along the river, former docklands such as Alcântara are now home to stylish restaurants and nightclubs, as well as the odd museum. Farther west is historic Belém, which boasts yet more museums—and some famous pastries. On the city’s eastern flank, the Parque das Nações has family-oriented attractions and green spaces.
All This Included
A world away from any other kind of voyage you may have taken in the past, travel the historically rich Ghanaian Gold Coast. Watch the sun set while at sea, visit medinas and markets, UNESCO World Heritage sites, local culture and see breathtaking desert landscapes. Throughout the voyage, learn the history, geology, wildlife and botany of this remarkable area from your knowledgeable onboard Expedition Team.
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Cloud
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