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 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 fields that separate Tema from the capital.
Day 2 Takoradi
Ghana's fourth-largest city plays serene beaches against a bustling commercial centre. People from around the world visit the shore, both for its beauty and to enjoy the fresh seafood served right on the sands. Frantic city life awaits a short distance inland, where an economy fuelled by Ghana’s oil industry is most apparent in the maze of vendors at Market Circle. Takoradi is also the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Elmina and Cape Coast Castle.
Day 3 Abidjan
Located on Africa’s Ivory Coast, Abidjan lies amid canals and waterways. It’s a modern African city, affectionately known as Babi by locals, or, more optimistically, Paris of West Africa. This last moniker could be due to two things: one, Abidjan is both the economic and cultural capital of West Africa and two: it truly is a city of lights. It is also the most populous French speaking country in the continent, so welcome, bienvenue to Abidjan! Looking at Abidjan’s towering skyscrapers, you would be surprised to think that the sprawling city was originally a small fishing village. The French established a protectorate in Abidjan in 1842, and eventually colonised the region in 1893. Under French rule Abidjan quickly became a major port terminus, exporting mainly timber and coffee to Europe. Cote d’Ivoire was granted independence in 1960 but Abidjan remained the country’s capital until 1983. Today it considered one of the foremost African cities in terms of fashion, culture and the standard of living. Like much of West Africa, Abidjan has cachet and soul in buckets. The civil war of 2007-2007 may have left some pock marked remnants, but that should and must be easily overlooked. The city is bubbling with energy, enjoying a diversity of cultures from the aforementioned French connection to the steady stream of travellers that come to Abidjan looking for a destination with a bit of authenticity. If travelling outside of the city, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grand Bassam is less than an hour away.
Day 4 Day At Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Day 5 Monrovia
Wedged in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mesurado River, Libera’s capital Monrovia has a lot to recommend it. Despite its reputation as being risky, if you can look beyond the scars two civil wars have left on the city, you’ll soon find that Monrovia is bursting with African excellence. Like many African nations, Monrovia has had its fair share of turmoil. Founded in 1824 by the freed slaves of the USA and Caribbean, Monrovia take its name from James Monroe, then President of America, and ardent supporter of the freedom movement. Thousands flocked to its shores with the promise of finding a better life in the early 20th century and by 1937 the population had reached 10,000 (for a police force of just 30). Oppression and civic unrest was bound to and did follow. A military coup in 1980 overthrew the government, which was later followed by 14 near-consecutive years of civil war. Certainly, the city is a bit rough around the edges. However, Monrovians have a proverb, that “To the patient man will come all the riches of the world.” And, as Monrovians have been more than patient, riches are most definitely beginning to arrive. African history has found its rightful place in the Liberian National Museum, while the rolling surf and glorious beaches have begun attracting holidaymakers in search of an authentic African experience. The city’s transformation is definitely a work in progress, but watch this space, and you might be one of the lucky ones to say that you were there in the beginning.
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
It may still be a bit of a rough diamond, but Sierra Leone’s capital is a true traveller’s gem. Lush rainforest and palm fringed beaches have been sadly overshadowed by Freetown’s turmoil, which has left its pock marked legacy on the city. Happily, this reputation is slowly receding. Expect to be greeted by warm welcomes and wide smiles. The city is slowly rebuilding after spats of fierce fighting in the 1990s. Today Freetown is a bustling metropolis, centred around the busy port. While there may be an undeniable element of poverty to the city, this is more than out balanced by the unfailingly optimistic vibrancy and intriguing history that Freetown offers. This joie de vivre makes Freetown one of West Africa’s most dynamic cities; think bustling streets and gentle sign-song sounds of local dialect Krio. British philanthropists founded the ‘Province of Freedom’, which later became Freetown in 1787.
Day 8 Day At Sea
Day 9 Dakar
Capital of Senegal, and a major gateway to Western Africa, the former colonial trading post of Dakar stamps the Cap-Vert peninsular with glorious surf-fringed beaches. Enjoy the thrum of markets - where colourful textiles are exchanged - and wander streets where jazz, sambar and mbalax spill from every ajar door. Offering tropical island-style beaches in an incongruous urban setting, Dakar is a wild and urgent experience for the senses. Watch on as surfers revel in consistent rollers on this, the most westerly peninsula of continental Africa. Scuba divers can explore worlds below the surface in Dakar's diving areas, or you can head to sandy beaches like Plage des Mamelles' cove, which provide endless options for cooling off. Looking for a little more activity, loosen up and play on golf courses that unroll along the sun-kissed Senegalese coastline, or visit startling natural sites like the vivid pink water of the salty pink Lake Retba. Cultural relevance abounds in Dakar - those wanting to delve a little deeper into the dark history of Senegal should visit the House of Slaves on the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Goree Island, or duck into the Theodore Monod Museum to pour over an incredible collection of masks, artefacts, and treasures. Sandaga Market is a full-on experience of choreographed chaos, sound and flavours. Tear into fish fresh off the boat, and don't be afraid to get your hands a little greasy while handling Dibi - the national street food - soft mutton, simmered with onions and zesty orange spice.
Day 10 Day At Sea
Day 11 Fogo Island
Fogo and neighboring Ilha Brava are the southernmost islands of Cape Verde and at the western end of the Sotavento group. Unlike some of the other islands in the archipelago which were named after saints, Fogo’s name goes back to the volcanic activity of its dominant feature Pico do Fogo, at 2,829 meters the highest elevation of Cape Verde and also its largest volcano. The third Cape Verde island to be settled by Portuguese –there is no indication of human activity before the Portuguese voyages of exploration - the discovery of Fogo is celebrated with horse races and the “Festas do São Filipe” on May 1. Sao Filipe is Fogo’s largest city with 20,000 inhabitants and the fourth-largest of Cape Verde. Sao Filipe lies on the western flank of a giant volcano which in his 9 kilometer wide caldera has the Pico do Fogo, an active stratovolcano which last erupted in 2014-15 and still today emits sulphur vapor through its fumaroles.
Day 12 Porto Novo
Porto Novo is found on Sao Antonio, the northwesternmost of the Cape Verde Islands, and is the island’s largest town with approximately 17,400 inhabitants. Located on Sao Antonio’s southeastern and arid side, Porto Novo began as a fishing village and only in 2005 it was recognized as a city. Since the island has no airport and Porto Novo faces the town of Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente, this harbor is the main link to the other islands in Cape Verde and the outside world. A monument above the port shows a woman waving goodbye to those emigrating from the Cape Verde Islands. Roads leading out of Porto Novo have to either go along the impressive northeast coast or cross the island’s mountains through a rugged and even more spectacular landscape. The third highest peak of the Cape Verde islands at 1,979 meters is the Tope de Coroa to the west of Porto Novo.
Days 13-14 Day 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, in Morocco’s Western Sahara. Unlike most of Morocco, this part of the Sahara was founded by Papal bull in 1502, and travellers to Dakhla will find a village that is closer to the Canary Island experience than North Africa. This is visible in the lovely white houses that line the labyrinthine streets, fascinating architecture that is a mix of Spanish colonialism and Berber history and – less tangible but no less important – the warm welcomes that are so familiar in North Africa. The city is fairly remote – over 1,300 km west from Essaouira. This remoteness, along with the abundantly rich waters made Dakhla covetable for takeover. This came officially in 1884 when Spain formally founded the (then) fishing village and named it Villa Cisneros. Dakhla was declared the capital of one of the two Spanish Saharan regions, and a military fortress and a Catholic cathedral were built (both of which remain as tourist attractions to this day). The fortress was also home to a prison camp during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939, where politically active Republican writers including Pedro Garcia Cabrera were imprisoned. Home to the desert, ocean waves, diverse wildlife, Dakla is also home to a Sahraoui camp in the desert, which is exclusively nomadic and centred on dromedaries. In recent years, the city has restyled itself as a mecca for kitsesurfers, in order to attract a younger demographic.
Day 16 Day At Sea
Day 17 Agadir
Boasting an impressive 300 days of sun per year, there is a reason why Agadir is Morocco’s premier holiday resort. Nicknamed the “Miami of Morocco”, the resort has sea and sand in abundance, along with a dreamy 10 km beach – perfect for travellers who want sheltered swimming or enjoy water-based fun in the sun. By contrast to the rest of the country, Agadir is thoroughly modern. An earthquake destroyed the city in 1960, killing 15,00 in 13 seconds and leaving another 35,000 homeless. In its place, and under the direction of Le Corbusier, a new city with a new direction was built. Instead of souks and medinas, think modern architecture, wide, tree-lined avenues, open squares and pedestrian precincts. Low rise hotels, boutiques and apartment blocks line the splendid waterfont. While all the original landmarks were destroyed (many not once, but twice, in the 1960 earthquake but also in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake), Agadir strove to rebuild as much as it could. Thus the fabled 1540 Oufla Fort, originally built in the mid-16th century by Saadian Sultan Mohammed ech Cheikh was painstakingly recreated with as much authenticity as possible. The ancient kasbah sits at an amazing vantage point (Oufla being the Amazigh word for ‘above’). The inscription “God, King, Country” over the entrance in both Dutch and Arabic is one of the few original elements and dates back to the middle of the 18th century, when the kasbah was initially restored. The Kasbah offer by far the best views of the city.
Day 18 Day At Sea
Day 19 Lisbon
A glorious mosaic of beauty, freedom and authenticity, Portugal’s capital is a stirring artwork of a city. Known for the seven hills it spreads across, and its stirring fado music, Lisbon is a pastel-coloured blend of houses and beautiful tile artworks - and this creative city strikes a perfect harmony between natural and manmade beauty. Stroll along Alfama's steep, cobbled streets as you explore one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods - where each house and door could be its own photograph. Look for the decorative tiles, with the distinctive blues and whites of Azulejo ceramics, and visit the dedicated museum to learn more. Afterwards, wind up to São Jorge Castle, where views out across Lisbon’s red rooftops unravel. Just one of many majestic viewpoints, you can also seek out Miradouro da Graça for perhaps Lisbon's finest panorama, with the copper-coloured suspension bridge stretching over sparkling water beyond the sea of buildings. The elegant Tower of Belém rises in the Tagus estuary and is a historic defender of these shores. The grand, carved cloisters of Jerónimos Monastery spread out close by, and there's another UNESCO recognised location close by at Sintra, where a colourful town is set amid thick gardens and towering mountains - capped by the royal Pena Palace. Later, relax and take a quick break to drink Ginjinha, a cherry liqueur made from chocolate cups instead of coffee. Lisboetas have a sweet tooth, and the famous Pastel de Nata's crumbling pastry and caramelised-custard topping is the essential accompaniment to any coffee stop.
All This Included
With nomadic desert camps, vibrant souks and the difficult yet important history of the African slave trade, the contrasts you will experience on this voyage are vast. Characteristic and noble, the countries visited are barely touched by tourism and offer a rare look at a complex continent. With stunning birdlife, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and even a trip to the butterfly-filled Kakum National Park, this African adventure is much more than it appears.
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Cloud
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