Madagascar & Beyond (Caledonian Sky)

Madagascar & Beyond (Caledonian Sky)

From GBP £10,995

Description

Start the New Year with an expedition aboard the MS Caledonian Sky that combines discovering beautiful, tropical islands, some of which are a mere dot in the Indian Ocean with the natural wonders of Madagascar. Our voyage begins with five days in the Seychelles including the magnificent Aldabra islands before we sail to the world’s ‘eighth continent’.

The term ‘unique’ is often an overused description in the travel world but certainly applies to the island of Madagascar. The animals, plants, landscapes and people that make up this thousand mile long island are unlike anywhere else in the world. This extraordinary country long remained obscure as a destination and is still relatively unknown amongst even the most serious of travellers. There is minimal infrastructure in many parts of the island and for those wishing to explore the island in some depth, doing so by small ship, especially one as wellsuited as the MS Caledonian Sky is far more preferable than by any other means. After a day exploring, often along untarred roads with basic transportation you can return to the comfort of the MS Caledonian Sky to recharge before the next adventure. With the vessel’s fleet of Zodiacs for forays ashore, allowing access to the wonderful places denied to larger ships and, accompanied by our onboard experts you can learn and enjoy encounters with fabulous endemic wildlife in this immensely rich and timeless corner of the Indian Ocean.

In addition to the breathtaking scenery, the region abounds with strange and wonderful plants and trees, countless varieties of birds and abundant wildlife including the iconic lemur. The long separation from the African mainland has given rise to its amazing number of endemic species of flora and fauna and its people are also unique having descended from Malay – Polynesian mariners who sailed from South East Asia between 1500 to 2000 years ago. Later arrivals included slaves from Africa, traders from Arabia, India and Portugal and more latterly French colonials.

Trip Name
Madagascar & Beyond (Caledonian Sky)
Days
19
Overview
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition Length: 90 metres Passenger Capacity: 114 (in 57 suites) Built: 1991 / refurbished 2012 The MS Caledonian Sky accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in 57 spacious outside suites. Many have walk-in wardrobes and some feature tub baths. There will be seven categories of suites and sixteen suites will have private balconies. For those familiar with the MS Island Sky she will feel like a second home, although there are some differences. The dining room, lounge, Lido Deck and bar are all similar. However, the ‘Club’ on the MS Caledonian Sky has been transported to the very top deck. Here, there is a library and bar which leads out on to a lovely forward deck. The ‘Club’ has wonderful views with ceiling to floor windows. If you like the MS Island Sky, we are sure you will also approve of her sister. And, of course it is important that we offer the very best of facilities. However, equally as important are the staff on board whether they are the vessel’s crew or our own expedition staff. Noble Caledonia’s reputation has been built on providing the very best in all areas. Their crew of 74 not only offer an excellent service they are also noted for their kindness and attention to detail. A well run ship with a warm atmosphere is what we are known for, and it is because most of our crew have been with us for many years that we are able to engender such an atmosphere. Your Suite Onboard there are 57 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. The passenger accommodation is arranged over four decks and all suites have outside views. All feature a sitting room area and some have private balconies. Each affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring a country style wash basin, hot towel rack and vanity unit with sink and walk-in shower and/or bath tub. Facilities in the suites also include walk-in or spacious wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool or desk, mini-fridge, flat screen television, telephone, programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted toiletries, air-conditioning and heating. Bottled water, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort. Your space The spacious and finely decorated public rooms include a large lounge where daily briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage and an elegant bar where a pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The bar also features a 24-hour tea and coffee station. In addition there is the Club Lounge on the Panoramic Deck which features a bar. The onboard travel library is the perfect place to relax with a book and is stocked with reference books pertaining to the places the vessel is visiting along with a selection of games and two computers with internet access. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability. Outside there is a rear Lido deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade. On the top deck there is a further observation and sun deck with bar service and comfortable deck furniture for sun bathing or relaxing with a book. There is also a small gymnasium onboard and hairdressers with appointments made on request. Your dining With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the quality of cuisine will be of a consistent superior quality. Where possible and when it meets his high standards, our accomplished chef will obtain local produce in markets or buy the catch of the day from a passing fishing boat. Such purchases enhance the well stocked larders and bring a local touch to the varied menus. In the main elegant dining room, breakfast is served buffet-style, with certain items cooked to order and lunch and dinner is à la carte. When weather permits, breakfast, a buffet-style lunch and dinner are also served on deck. To enhance your dining experience even further a selection of wines are included with lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea is served in the lounge and tea and coffee are available 24 hours. With sufficient notice, most diets can be catered for on board. For your comfort, safety and security The vessel is equipped with the latest safety, navigation and communications equipment along with roll stabilisers to minimise the ship’s motion. The Captain and officers operate an open-bridge policy that allows passengers onto the bridge at most times with the exception of arrival and departure from port and during times of complicated navigation. Here you can check the ship’s progress by charts and learn more from the officers about your journey. There is also a dedicated channel on your television in your suite showing the routing of the vessel along with technical information and estimated times of arrival and departure from port. On board you will also find a clinic and doctor and a lift that serves all decks. Smoking on board is restricted to outside decks only. Gratuities Unlike many other cruise vessels, onboard the MS Caledonian Sky you do not need to worry about tipping staff as we have included them in your holiday price. In addition we tip all their guides and drivers along the way, thereby taking away the hassle of always having to remember to have some small change with you.

Itinerary



Day 1 - Day 1 London to Mahe, Seychelles.
Fly by scheduled indirect flight.
Day 2 - Day 2 Mahe.
Arrive this morning and transfer to the MS Caledonian Sky moored in Victoria. Enjoy welcome drinks and dinner as we sail this evening to Praslin and anchor overnight.
Day 3 - Day 3 Praslin & Grande Soeur.
This morning we will use the Zodiacs to land on Praslin to explore the ‘Vallee de Mai’, the last remnant of the original high canopied Seychelles palm forest and home to the coco de mer. We will walk its paths looking out for the rare black parrot and enjoying its natural beauty. Return to the ship for lunch as we sail the short distance to Grande Soeur an idyllic uninhabited island. Spend the afternoon walking the islands trails which link the island's white sand beaches and maybe catch sight of some of the islands giant Aldabra tortoises, enjoy a swim or join our first snorkelling opportunity in the turquoise waters.
Day 4 - Day 4 Alphonse Islands.
There are three islands in the Alphonse group which is located directly south of the Amirantes. As we approach the islands over lunch you will understand why they are regarded by many to be the most beautiful of the 115 islands in the Seychelles archipelago. On the main island the circular lagoon offers good snorkelling and there are several tracks across the island to enjoy island walks. Spend the afternoon exploring before returning to the ship for dinner.
Day 5 - Day 5 At Sea.
Take the chance to sit on deck or join a lecture as we sail to the Outer Seychelles.
Day 6 - Days 6 & 7 Aldabra Islands.
We have two days at the Aldabra group of islands. Our itinerary will be in the hands of our Expedition Leader and Captain who will monitor the local conditions to ensure we maximise our time here. Whilst our itinerary is flexible, we will hope to reach Cosmoledo where a huge ring of twelve islands circle a lagoon. Many of the atolls are still to be surveyed and we will explore some of them by Zodiac. This is an important bird area with all three species of booby found in the Seychelles including the last breeding site for the brown booby. Also spot sooty terns and great frigate birds. We will also spend time on Aldabra, the island referred to by Sir Julian Huxley as “One of nature’s treasures and should belong to the whole world”. Aldabra is unique and every time we call at what is believed to be the world’s largest atoll we find something new of interest. Sightings have been made of the extremely rare white throated rail and the atoll is also home to the world’s second largest colony of frigate birds and to the largest crab, the coconut crab. Whilst exploring by Zodiac it is difficult to know in which direction to look. The clear blue seas abound with life, the skies are alive with varied birdlife and ashore giant land tortoises forage as they have done for millions of years. We hope to explore Picard Island with a short walk to see some of the thousands of tortoises and numerous robber crabs or swim in the lagoon, a vast 17 mile stretch of shallow clear water. From our Zodiacs we can watch the ever-changing undersea world and snorkel in colourful coral waters.
Day 7 - Day 8 Diego Suarez, Madagascar.
This morning we arrive in Madagascar at Diego Suarez, a stunning natural harbour with a cosmopolitan mix of inhabitants including Creoles, Indians, Chinese, Comorans and Arabs. Using our Zodiacs to come ashore, we will take a city tour visiting the Commonwealth Cemetery and Place Joffre before visiting the Malagasy Rain Forest at the Mount Amber National Park. Dividing into short and long walk parties we will go in search of lemurs and chameleons as we explore the rain forest.
Day 8 - Day 9 Nosy Hara.
Sail overnight over the northern tip of Madagascar where strangely shaped limestone islets dot the aquamarine-coloured sea. The expedition team will decide on the most suitable island for landing by Zodiac, such as Nosy Hara, with its abundant birdlife and a great place to swim off the beach. We will explore the island on foot, walking through dense woodland and observing the unusual vegetation. Alternatively join a Zodiac cruise around the islands and a chance to snorkel over the coral.
Day 9 - Day 10 Nosy Tanikely.
We arrive this morning at the Nosy Tanikely Island Marine Reserve, an uninhabited island which offers snorkelling opportunities and wonderful beaches. We land by Zodiacs and will take the chance to either swim in the clear waters or snorkel over the corals keeping an eye out for reef fish, turtles and morays. Alternatively our naturalists will lead guided walks on the island where we may see the resident lemurs, fruit bats and hermit crabs and enjoy fantastic views from the lighthouse on the island’s highest point. Return to the ship for lunch and spend a relaxing afternoon at sea.
Day 10 - Day 11 Mahajanga.
Today the MS Caledonian Sky anchors off Mahajanga, a port in northwest Madagascar situated on the Betsiboka River which is our base for a full day excursion to Ankarafantsika National Park. This deciduous forest is a haven for birds, lemurs and reptiles and on a choice of walks, we will explore with our guides. Eight species of lemur have been observed here including the famous Microcebus, the smallest primate in the world. Meanwhile over 120 species of birds nest here and we will keep an eye out for the Madagascan fish eagle and banded kestrel whilst the 44 species of reptile include chameleon, turtles and crocodiles that live in Lake Ravelobe. We will enjoy lunch in the park and in the afternoon there will be options to join further walks, watch for birdlife at the nearby lake or we have requested permission to visit the Durrell breeding programme which was established at Ampijora and is dedicated to protecting the ploughshare tortoise, one of the most threatened breeds in the world.
Day 11 - Day 12 At Sea.
Our lecture programme continues as we continue our journey around the Madagascan coast.
Day 12 - Day 13 Morondava.
From our anchorage off the town of Morondava, we will use the Zodiacs to land on the local beach. From here there will be a choice of excursions to explore the local region. A half day morning tour will visit the Avenue de Baobabs. Of the eight baobab species in the world, six are endemic to Madagascar and here we will see the Adansonia grandidieri species with a row of 20 to 25 trees which border the gravel road. We will learn about the trees and their spiritual significance before returning to Morondava and exploring the local market. Alternatively, join a full day excursion to Kirindy Forest. Situated approximately a two hour drive from Morondava, we will pass the Avenue de Baobabs as we travel north. Kirindy is a 10,000 hectare, dry deciduous forest, one of the most endangered in the world where the flora and fauna includes many endemic species. Here we find three species of baobab, many birds and reptiles including snakes, tortoises and lizards. Eight species of lemur reside here including the pale form marked lemur.
Day 13 - Days 14 Tulear.
Our last call in Madagascar will be Tulear on the southwest coast. Arriving at lunchtime we spend the afternoon at the Antsokay Arboretum which is entirely devoted to the conservation of the plants from the south west of Madagascar and, after more than 30 years of hard work, offers a densely kept selection of flora presenting a typical sub-arid thicket with baobab trees towering over the smaller plants. We will see the four hectare botanical garden which comprises over 900 species of plants of which 90% are endemic to the region.
Day 14 - Day 15 Tulear.
After breakfast we drive to the Reniala Private Reserve, a small area of just 60 hectares but containing a spiny forest which is unique to south eastern Madagascar. The park is home to 200 plant species including baobabs as well as being a haven for birders with sightings of paradise flycatchers, Madagascar hoopoe and Madagascar crested drongo. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at sea as we head to the African mainland.
Day 15 - Day 16 At Sea.
Spend the day at sea as we cross the Mozambique Channel.
Day 16 - Day 17 Portuguese Island, Mozambique.
Situated in Maputo Bay, we anchor offshore and spend the afternoon at subtropical Portuguese Island. This uninhabited island can be explored on a nature walk with our naturalists looking for some of the resident bird life. Alternatively, simply spend your time relaxing on the beach. This evening we will sail to Maputo where we moor overnight.
Day 17 - Day 18 Maputo to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London.
Day 18 - Day 19 London.
Arrive this morning.
Day 19 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
02-01-202120-01-2021GBP £10,995Castle Standard Suite
02-01-202120-01-2021GBP £13,895Promenade Owner's Corner Suite
02-01-202120-01-2021GBP £11,195Caledonian Superior Suite
02-01-202120-01-2021GBP £11,395Promenade Premium Suite
02-01-202120-01-2021GBP £12,395Bridge Deluxe Balcony Suite
02-01-202120-01-2021GBP £12,695Promenade Prem. Balcony Suite

Inclusions

    • Discover Praslin & Grande Soeur
    • Explore Alphonse Islands
    • Enjoy Aldabra Islands
    • Visit Madagascar

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