DATES / RATES
Rates are listed per person
|Start Date||End Date||From EUR||From USD|
|Dec 22, 2023||Jan 03, 2024||5,790
Rates are listed per person
|Start Date||End Date||From EUR||From USD|
|Dec 22, 2023||Jan 03, 2024||5,790
Welcome to Africa!
Your adventure starts in Senegal’s colorful and animated
capital, Dakar. Located at the tip of the Cape Verde Peninsula,
it’s the westernmost city in Africa. Dakar is a low-rise,
cosmopolitan city that is known today for its vibrant music and arts
scenes. The city’s atmosphere is laid back. You’ll
see suit-clad businessmen rubbing shoulders with barefoot market
traders in this swirling kaleidoscope of modern Africa.
The peninsula where Dakar lies projects westward into the ocean. It was
formed when offshore volcanic islands were joined to the continent by a
land bridge. The exposure to humid winds off the sea keeps the
vegetation greener than the desert-like landscape of northern Senegal,
hence its name, ‘Cape Verde’ (meaning
You’ll find the beating heart of the Dakar in the district of
Medina. Gaze in wonder at its maze of streets, the bustling market of
Marché Tilène, and the imposing Grand Mosque.
Independence Square is also worth checking out. It’s laid out
with gardens and fountains and is home to numerous grand Colonial
buildings that hint at the nation’s past.
The vibrant capital of Senegal
After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the harbor, where a
privately chartered ferry will make the short trip to Gorée
Gorée Island is the most interesting (and tragic) site in
Dakar. Colorful Colonial mansions sit alongside the infamous Maison des
Esclaves, where slaves were kept before transportation across the
Atlantic. Despite its sobering history, the island is filled with
beautiful sights. Examine the ancient baobab trees and see artisans
creating and selling their crafts.
During your day visit, you’ll learn the sobering history of
this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guide will take you to the Maison
des Esclaves and its museum. Lunch will be served in a local
restaurant. After this day packed with activities, the ferry will take
you back to the Dakar port.
Back on the mainland, our expedition ship MS Spitsbergen will be
waiting near the ferry port. You’ll be greeted by the crew
upon embarkation and given a complimentary wind and water-resistant
expedition jacket. After you’ve settled into your comfortable
cabin, you must attend a mandatory safety briefing. Then it’s
time to set sail and begin the adventure.
Bound for Cape Verde
We begin this expedition cruise sailing almost due west in the
direction of the Cape Verde Islands. This journey lasts around 360
nautical miles, giving you plenty of time to get to know our
comfortable expedition ship MS Spitsbergen and to prepare for upcoming
Get to know your fellow passengers and our Expedition Team members, a
friendly and knowledgeable group hand-picked for their expertise on our
destinations. Check out the Science Center, which is filled with a
range of high-tech equipment and often where the Expedition Team
members hang out. Ask about our Citizen Science projects, which
contribute to important research that help protect the natural places
we love to visit.
Get acquainted with new friends in the Explorer Lounge & Bar,
an informal place to meet and chat. Sample delicious dishes in our
onboard restaurant, Aune. It was named after a family of Norwegian
chandlers who equipped many ships back in the historic days of
exploration. For relaxation, you’ll love the hot tubs on deck
or the sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows.
As we sail, the Expedition Team will give talks that range from a
number of topics relevant to our travels. This important context will
help you to get the very most out of this exciting journey.
Next stop: the amazing Cape Verde Islands.
PRAIA, CAPE VERDE
The African soul of Cape Verde
Santiago is the largest island in the archipelago, where almost half of
all Cape Verdeans live. There’s a little bit of everything
here, making it the perfect introduction to Cape Verde. You have the
vibrant capital of Praia, the UNESCO-protected Cidade Velha, sandy
beaches, green valleys, and jagged mountains. This island is also
renowned for its African culture, with music woven into the fabric of
Settled in 1462 by the Portuguese, Santiago was the first Cape Verde
island to be settled, with Ribeira Grande (now called Cidade Velha)
being the first European city in the tropics. Humid enough to support
profitable agriculture, the island became a hub for settlers, and
around 150,000 people live here. The capital, Praia, is a modern and
dynamic city that attracts immigrants from the rest of Cape Verde and
the African continent.
Praia is built on several hills around Santa Maria Bay, at the
southeastern tip of Santiago. The historical center is located on a
natural platform known as Plateau. Almost everything of historical
interest can be found here. The focal point of is the main square,
known as Praça Alexandre Arburquerque. Here,
you’ll find the Old Palace of the Council, the Presidential
Palace, and the 19th-century church of Nossa Senhora da
Just north of the main square is the central market, one of the busiest
places in town and the best spot to enjoy Praia’s African
soul. Most museums are located around Plateau, including an ethnography
museum and an archeological museum featuring artifacts recovered from
shipwrecks around the islands.
Enjoy fantastic views of the city from Farol de Dona Maria Pia, a
lighthouse at the southern entrance of the bay. Take a walk there and
discover the beaches of Gamboa and Prainha along the way, along with
the popular Quebra Canela Beach.
SAL REI, CAPE VERDE
Christmas Eve on a Saharan island
Public holiday in Cape Verde
Enjoy Christmas Eve on a desert island. Cape Verde is a strongly Roman
Catholic country, due to its Portuguese colonial roots. That is
reflected in the way the islanders celebrate Christmas. Cape Verdeans
spend today with their families, feasting on traditional delicacies,
exchanging gifts, attending mass, and going Christmas
caroling—the same as Catholic Portuguese today.
Boa Vista is the easternmost island of Cape Verde and one of the most
sparsely populated. This flat, barren, and desert-like island is ringed
by reefs and covered with dunes. It lies closer to the African mainland
than any of its neighbors. The pristine beaches on this rugged
coastline are perfect for soaking up sun, but for centuries, it was a
deadly trap for ships searching for safe harbor, as the numerous wrecks
along the coast testify.
Nevertheless, the rugged beauty of this Sahara-like oasis, the miles of
empty beaches, the eastern wetlands, and the productivity of the
coastal waters have created a haven for biodiversity, with several
endemic species. Boa Vista and its surrounding waters are a vital
layover for many migratory birds. Between June and October, the beaches
are filled with thousands of nesting loggerhead turtles, while humpback
whales often come in winter to breed offshore.
The parched environment of Boa Vista made life hard for the first
permanent inhabitants. Most were African slaves. Even though they had
no easy way to escape from the rugged coast, they had a bit more
freedom here than elsewhere in the archipelago. Cattle farming came
first, followed by salt production in the 17th century. Fishing and
pottery became the mainstays of the island’s economy until
the advent of tourism in recent years.
The island capital of Sal Rei is built around the natural harbor
between Boa Vista and the small island of Ilhéu de Sal Rei.
It is dotted with low-rise buildings and palm tree–filled
After we set sail from Boa Vista and head for Santo Antão,
we’ll hold our own traditional Norwegian celebration on board
PORTO NOVO, CAPE VERDE
Christmas Day in an island paradise
Public holiday in Cape Verde
Christmas Day is also a public holiday in Cape Verde. People travel to
other islands to visit relatives and exchange gifts with their loved
ones. On this particular Christmas, visiting the spectacular landscapes
of Santo Antão will be a gift to yourself!
Many say Santo Antão is the most spectacular of the Cape
Verde isles. It’s difficult to forget the awe-inspiring
mountains found here. Some even say the island’s rugged
peaks, canyons, and gorges are among the world’s most
dramatic landscapes. Today, you’ll have the opportunity to
see for yourself.
The highest point on the island is Tope de Coroa, which at 6,492 feet
is the second-highest mountain in the archipelago. Santo
Antão is big and rugged, and its inhabitants are
concentrated in just a few scattered settlements. The topography
doesn’t lend itself to agriculture, so most of the island is
protected as a wilderness sanctuary. For hikers and nature lovers,
Santo Antão is Cape Verde at its best.
The main town, Porto Novo, is a pleasant place full of attractive new
buildings, small beaches, neatly tended gardens, and promenades with
beautiful views of the channel between Santo Antão and the
island of São Vicente. Most visitors come here because
it’s the main gateway to the island’s stunning
Some of the island’s most amazing natural features are its
ribeiras—deep, narrow canyons with almost vertical walls.
Join an optional culture and nature excursion and enjoy awe-inspiring
views as we drive along the ridges and along the ribeira floors. If you
feel like being more active, go on an optional nature walk to really
make the most of Cape Verde’s best island for walking.
Walk past groves of mangoes and almonds on island trails and pass
through small towns clinging to the hillsides. You may catch a whiff of
coffee as you pass through the villages here, as locals roast their own
SÃO FILIPE, CAPE VERDE
Adventure landing on an active volcano
Get ready for an exciting day of exploration. Fogo is dominated by a
huge, active volcano. At 9,281 feet, it’s the highest point
in the Cape Verde Archipelago. It’s also one of the most
challenging islands to land on. There are no natural harbors or
sheltered bays, just an exposed coast rising from the ocean, climbing
steeply from the sea up to the summit of the volcano.
Conical in shape, the whole island is in fact a giant, active volcano.
It last erupted in 2014, wiping out two villages in the Chã
das Caldeiras crater. Fortunately, there were no causalities. Centuries
of eruptions have left a landscape of dark lava flows, craters, ridges,
ash fields, and collapsed calderas. Fogo literally means
‘fire,’ an apt description of the island, as its
inhabitants can confirm!
São Filipe is a pleasant town of cobbled streets only a
short bus ride from the dock. Take a stroll around the charming
historic center once known as “Meia
Laranja”’ and today called “Largo Pedro
Cardoso”, and look out for the pastel church of Nossa Senhora
do Socorro, the lively Mercado Municipal, and the remains of Fort
But without doubt the main reason we’ll attempt to land at
Fogo is to explore the stunning volcanic landscapes. Our optional
excursion will take you to the spectacularly beautiful Chã
das Caldeiras, where we’ll see the lava fields and great
views of the Pico Novo vent formed during a 1680 eruption. Be warned:
Walking around Mt. Fogo is an excursion that requires good stamina.
Please note that Fogo has only one small artificial dock north of
São Filipe—too small even for our ship, MS
Spitsbergen. As this is an expedition cruise, we’ll do our
best to land safely on this spectacular island. If this isn’t
possible, however, we’ll seek out an alternative destination.
A lot will depend on the weather. If the captain deems conditions
unfavorable, we’ll cruise around the island and observe from
Bound for the Bissagos Islands
Today, we sail some 500 nautical miles to Guinea-Bissau and the
Bissagos Archipelago. This diverse archipelago is noteworthy for its
tropical wildlife and the fascinating traditional culture of the people
who live in the islands.
Prepare for your visit by listening to talks by the Expedition Team in
the Explorer Lounge. The subjects will include the biodiversity of the
islands, the history and culture of the Bijagós people and
their matriarchal society, and perhaps the wider historical context of
Portuguese exploration of West Africa and the impact of the slave trade
on the region.
There will be plenty of time to relax and enjoy the free sea air out on
deck as our expedition ship sails south toward the coast of West
Africa. Browse the photos you’ve taken so far, get up to date
with that travel blog you’ve been meaning to write, or delve
into your book or peruse the books in the onboard library.
Don’t forget about the professional onboard photographer who
is there to help you improve your picture-taking technique. With so
many wildlife highlights and scenic landscapes, now is a great time to
brush up on your skills.
BISSAGOS ISLANDS, GUINEA-BISSAU
Matriarchal societies in a biodiversity hotspot
Exploring the isolated Bissagos Islands is a great African adventure.
Located off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, the Bissagos Archipelago is a
hotspot of biodiversity and the ancestral homeland of the
Bijagós people. Nowhere in West Africa does such a
combination of unspoiled nature and traditional communities live in
such harmony as in these remote islands.
The Bissagos Archipelago consists of twenty main inhabited islands and
almost seventy smaller ones. Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in
1996, these tropical islands are renowned for their diversity, with
ecosystems including mangrove swamps, palm groves, rainforests, wooded
savannah woodlands, sandy beaches, and coastal lagoons.
With around 500 different kinds of birds, several species of sea
turtles, crocodiles, amazing snakes (including black and green mambas),
elusive manatees, and the unique saltwater hippos (which can best be
spotted in November and the beginning of December), wildlife abounds in
the Bissagos Islands.
This pristine environment has long been populated by the
Bijagós people, a matriarchal society organized in clans.
With a population of around 33,000, Bijagós society is ruled
by women and guided spiritually by female priests. The woman is the
owner of the home she lives in, and the women manage the religious,
political, and economic lives of their communities.
The Bijagós practice subsistence living, taking from nature
only what they consume each day. For them, their animistic belief
system is fundamental, which holds the natural world to be sacred. This
approach, in which the islands themselves are sacred and living, has
helped protect the archipelago from overdevelopment and exploitation.
The simplicity of the Bijagós’ lifestyle stands in
sharp contrast to the complexity of their beliefs. They move in a
heavily sacralized universe, wrapped in a mysterious and secret
knowledge that surrounds their understanding of the cosmos. Not
surprisingly, two of the most iconic animals of the Bissagos
Islands—the saltwater hippos and the West African
manatees—are also part of their rich spiritual world.
Our goal for the next four days is to explore the maze of islands and
narrow channels that make up the Bissagos Archipelago. Our small boats
(RIBs) allow us to weave through many of the smaller channels and we
may be able to do shore landings on remote beaches with the Expedition
Team. In sheltered waters, we might be able to explore using our sea
Local conditions will determine exactly when and where we can land and
explore. Rest assured that whatever we do, you’ll enjoy the
rich ecology of the islands, observe amazing wildlife, and meet the
local Bijagós people in their traditional communities.
BANJUL, THE GAMBIA
The smallest capital in Africa
Banjul is the island capital of The Gambia. Located in the mouth of the
Gambia River and almost completely surrounded by mangroves, the city
doesn’t have much room to expand. This limitation has
actually been positive for tiny Banjul, keeping the city far more
relaxed and easygoing than many of the bigger African capitals. Some
areas might be a bit hectic, but most of the city has a truly relaxed
In 1807, the British Abolition Act prohibited trading slaves within the
British Empire. The Royal Navy and the Army then sought to enforce that
prohibition within their colonies in Africa. Gambia had long been one
of the most important hubs for the slave trade in West Africa, so a
garrison was established at Banjul.
The grid pattern of streets laid down in 1807 has survived to this day.
Though the original settlement has grown in size, the island is easy to
explore by foot. Start with the grid streets of the Old Town and see
the Anglican Cathedral before visiting the small National Museum, which
houses the best archeological and ethnographical collections in Gambia.
The end of the expedition
The expedition comes to an end as we dock at Dakar. It is time to say
farewell to MS Spitsbergen and all the crew and staff aboard the ship,
and your new friends. The cruise may be at its end, but there is still
time to explore Dakar and see some things you may have missed before
Immediately after disembarking, you can join our Dakar City Tour, which
takes in the main sights of Senegal’s capital. This includes
Independence Square, the African Renaissance Monument, the cathedral,
and the neighborhoods of West and East Corniche.
After the tour, we’ll take you to a hotel, where lunch will
be waiting for you upon your arrival. You can relax here before your
journey home. After lunch you can relax in your day-room or take
advantage of the hotel’s amenities. Later that day,
you’ll start your return journey back to your home country
from the airport.
You can also stay longer in Dakar; feel free to book additional nights
at the hotel.
MS Spitsbergen (Expedition, 156-guests)
MS Spitsbergen joined the Hurtigruten fleet in 2016. The ship features high technical standards as well as comfortable, modern public areas and cabins. The vessel's fresh Scandinavian design reflects a colour palette derived from the sea. She is modern and environmentally progressive, and further improvements have been planned that will reduce emissions and fuel consumption even more. The new ship's maneuverability and optimal size make her quite suitable for exploring polar waters.
(Click image to view Ship details)
Included in Your
Pre-Program in Dakar
before the cruise
Post-Program in Dakar
after the cruise
- Overnight at a hotel in Dakar, including breakfast
- Full-day tour to Gorée Island, including lunch
- Transfer to the ship
- Dakar City Tour, day room at hotel in Dakar, including lunch
- Expedition Cruise
- Expedition cruise in the cabin of your choice
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages (house
beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in
remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
- Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard
water refill stations
- English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide
activities, both on board and ashore
- Range of included activities
Not Included In Your
- Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures
on a variety of topics
- Use of the ship’s Science Center, which has an
extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
- The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to
current scientific research projects
- The onboard professional photographer will give tips and
tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
- The ship has two hot tubs, a sun deck with lounge chairs, a
sauna, and an indoor gym
- Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as
daily recaps and the next day’s preparations
- Landing activities
- Escorted landings with small boats (RIBs)
- Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
- Expedition photographers help configure your camera settings
- Air travel
- Travel protection
- Baggage handling
- Optional shore excursions with our local partners
- Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
- All planned activities are subject to weather and sea
- Excursions and activities are subject to change
- Please ensure you can meet all entry and boarding
- Please make sure you meet all vaccination requirements
(global health insurance is recommended)
- No gratuities are expected