Lisbon to Dakar
18 days with Silversea Rating:
Day 1 Lisbon
Departure 6:00 PM
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.
Day 2 Portimão
Sprawl out and relax across thick wedges of glorious, golden sands, in Portugal’s sun-worshipping paradise. Portimão is a beachy heaven and a perfect encapsulation of the Algarve’s Atlantic appeals, offering easy access to the wonderful Praia da Rocha. Head straight for the long and wide expanse of this famous beach, where you can kick back and enjoy soft, honey-coloured sands and gentle waves rolling ashore. A spectacular and spacious sandy expanse – located at the point where the Arade River unloads into the Atlantic – relax, or wander the wooden boardwalk to a string of neighbouring beaches, as you explore among dramatic, tank-like rock formations. Taste juicy hauls of sardines, cooked over open fires, with glasses of wine pressed from the vineyards nearby - as you lavish under the sunshine of the Algarve’s prime holiday region. Surrounded by offbeat fishing villages, stunning coastline and quaintly tiled old towns, there is a rich medley of life, culture and flavours to indulge in. Attractive mosaics pattern the scenic Ribeirinha promenade, breathing new life into Portimão’s rugged old docks, and creating a charming riverside stroll that leads to the showpiece beach. Elsewhere, the arches and sea-eroded limestone stacks of the monumental Ponta da Piedade coastline are close by, or you can make for Silves, a historical former capital of the Kingdom of the Algarve, crowned with a soaring sandy castle. The Moorish trading outpost of Lagos is also within reach, where you can visit a coastline dotted with gaping sea caves, set below crumbling coastal fortresses.
Days 3-4 Seville
Whether you pronounce it Seville or Sevilla, this gorgeous Spanish town is most certainly the stuff of dreams. Over 2,200 years old, Seville has a mutli-layered personality; home to Flamenco, high temperatures and three UNESCO-World Heritage Sites, there is a noble ancestry to the southern Spanish town. Not forgetting that it is the birthplace of painter Diego Velazquez, the resting place of Christopher Columbus, the inspiration for Bizet’s Carmen and a location for Game of Thrones filming, Seville is truly more than just a sum of its parts. This city is a full on experience, a beguiling labyrinth of centuries old streets, tiny tapas restaurants serving possibly the best dishes you’ll taste south of Madrid and a paradise of Mudejar architecture and tranquil palm trees and fountain-filled gardens.
Day 5 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 6 Safi
Lying in a natural harbour to the west of Morocco, Safi (formerly Asafi) carries the weight of legend. As one of the oldest cities in Morocco, it is thought to have been founded by Hanno the Navigator in the 5th or 6th century BC. The etymology of the city’s name allegedly comes from a sailor who got lost and sighed as he passed Safi’s coastline (Safi meaning “oh my regret”). However, there could be another, more literal translation. In Berber, the word Asafi means to spill or flood, undoubtedly referring to the rich sea that makes Safi one of the biggest and safest seaports in the country. The city has been - and still is - a major player in Morocco’s trading industry. Its port has seen everything from gold in the 11th century to today’s principal export, sardines. Portuguese rule in the 1500s saw the Castelo do Mar be built, an imposing fortress that still presides over the city today. Under Portuguese rule, other Europeans came and by the mid-16th century, Safi was Morocco’s principal trading hub. This would all cease however under Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah in the mid-18th century, who would order that all foreign trade must take place in his newly built city of Mogador (Essaouira). Famous for its pottery of all shapes and sizes, Safi is one destination where you will want to support the local economy. The potter’s quarter, just out of the city walls, boasts the country’s oldest kilns and is a mecca for all those who love both ceramics and tradition.
Day 7 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 8 Day At Sea
Day 9 Funchal Madeira
Bedecked with dramatic cliffs, fertile mountains and sun-gorged beaches, Madeira is a lush, colourful island of plants, paradise and Portuguese-flavoured pleasures. Bathing in year-round sunshine, Funchal - the lowkey capital of Madeira - is perfect for slowing the pace, and toasting the thrilling scenery with a bottle of the island's famous wine. Narrow, cobblestone streets line the old town, where whitewash buildings, iron-wrought balconies, and tiled patterns carry echoes of Lisbon. Rua de Santa Maria is the city's oldest street, and the doors have been vividly painted by local artists. Sit for a drink, to sample your choice of Madeira's renowned wines - Boal is the ideal option for those with a sweeter tooth. You'll also find Corpo Santo Chapel here, one of the few remaining buildings to have survived from the 15th century. Blossoming parks and gardens splash colour around, and the sweet smell of pollen lingers in Parque de Santa Catarina. Look out over Funchal harbour between the fountains and blooming flower beds, as ducks and swans enjoy leisurely days on the lake. Madeira Botanical Garden waits in the hills over the city, along with Palhero Garden – a sophisticated and elegantly landscaped English garden, 500 meters above sea level. For an even more dramatic view of this gorgeous setting, head up to Cap Girao – a rusty-red cliff with a cable car strung up to its sheer drop. The cliff falls away vertically to the vivid blue waters below. Or head down to the sea, to enjoy Funchal's gorgeous pebble beaches rustling, framed by colossal, craggy cliffs.
Day 10 Santa Cruz De Tenerife (Canary Islands)
Although this busy port city is smaller, quieter and less attractive than Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, Santa Cruz has its own share of elegant monuments. Until 1837, the island's capital was La Laguna, not Santa Cruz, so there are only a few of the buildings in the city center that are any older than that. At the busy Plaza de España, there are several pedestrian streets leading north and to the area west of the port, where you'll find the city's stunning auditorium and maritime park. A real highlight of the city are its ramblas, long tree-lined boulevards that fall steeply from the north end of the city to the sea.
Day 11 San Sebastian (La Gomera)
Unspoiled, green and lush, this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has many secrets to reveal. A Canary Island capital like no other, life is lived at a refreshingly lackadaisical pace here. Wander between San Sebastian's faded pastel hues, which spill across the coastline, and bathe in this seaside city's warm sunshine, as waves splash onto sunny beaches. A sleepy capital city, travellers have been resting, relaxing and rejuvenating here for centuries – including Christopher Columbus, whose presence remains in museums dedicated to his visit. He called in to restock water supplies while voyaging to discover the new world. Silbo, an extraordinary whistling language, used to communicate over great distances, adds even more cultural fascination to this luscious island’s mountain scenery, crafts and traditions. Head to beaches like Playa de San Sebastian to revel in the black volcanic sand that the Canaries are known for, and Playa de la Cueva, where you can look across to Tenerife’s soaring cone. Or explore this island's own natural wonders, at the verdant terraced landscapes of La Gomera’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Garajonay National Park. Trek through the trails of Laurisilva forests, laurel plants and heather trees. La Laguna Grande is another elegant location of colourful natural beauty, where island legends of witchcraft swirl. Discover ceramic traditions - handed down through generations - at El Cercado, where glazed jugs used to store chestnuts are moulded by hand. Squeeze more local charms into your bulging suitcase along San Sebastian’s pretty Calle Real street - where everything from palm honey to woven baskets and local snacks are up for grabs. Or settle into city squares, where life plays out in palm tree shade and café gatherings.
Day 12 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.
Days 13-14 Day At Sea
Day 15 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.
Day 16 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 17 Day At Sea
Day 18 Dakar
Arrive 7:00 AM
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.
All This Included
The power of the Atlantic Ocean has played an enormous part in shaping the cultures of its coasts. Sailing from Lisbon to Dakar, this voyage harnesses the sea for a transformative experience that takes you back to the time of 1001 nights. Mixing Moorish heritage with nomadic tribes, islands bursting with birdlife with barren deserts, join us as we follow the paths of early explorers searching for the fabled Spice Islands.
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Wind
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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.