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Wonders of Madagascar & the Seychelles

Wonders of Madagascar & the Seychelles

From GBP £11,195

Description

Celebrate the New Year with a voyage aboard the MS Caledonian Sky in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, discovering some of the most beautiful tropical islands on earth. Our journey combines some fascinating and exotic calls combining the natural wonders of Madagascar with the stunning islands of the Seychelles including the magnificent Aldabra group of islands. Our voyage begins with eight days in Madagascar, the world’s ‘eighth continent’ and an extraordinary country that long remained obscure as a destination and is still relatively unknown amongst even the most serious of travellers. The term ‘unique’ is often an overused description in the travel world but certainly applies to the island of Madagascar where the animals, plants, landscapes and people that make up this thousand-mile-long island are unlike anywhere else in the world. There is minimal infrastructure in many parts of the island and for those wishing to explore in some depth, doing so by small ship is far more preferable than by any other means.

Continuing to the Seychelles, one of the highlights of the voyage will be our time spent exploring the Aldabra Islands, the last breeding ground of the giant tortoise and in addition to seeing some of these endearing creatures we should also encounter dolphins, turtles and whales as well as countless birds including the flightless rail, the last flightless bird in the Indian Ocean. To explore the abundant crystal-clear waters of the vast lagoon and to set foot on atolls which have never been exploited by the hand of man is a rare experience.

This itinerary is a veritable feast of beauty and the natural world and with the vessel’s fleet of Zodiac landing craft we can reach the unreachable, landing on remote beaches, walking through verdant rainforest and national parks and getting close to some unique flora and fauna. Your experience will be made all the more memorable by our expert crew and officers who, along with our expedition team of marine biologists, ornithologists and botanists have many years of experience in the Indian Ocean.

Trip Name
Wonders of Madagascar & the Seychelles
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 Johannesburg, South Africa.
Fly by scheduled flight.
Day 2 - Day 2 Johannesburg.
Arrive today and transfer to the 54 on Bath Hotel (or similar) for an overnight stay. Our rooms will be ready on arrival. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure before we meet for dinner at the hotel this evening.
Day 3 - Day 3 Johannesburg to Tulear, Madagascar.
After an early breakfast we transfer to the airport for our special charter flight to Tulear on the southwestern coast of Madagascar. We embark the MS Caledonian Sky later in the afternoon where the crew will welcome us on board.
Day 4 - Day 4 Tulear.
We have a choice of activities today. Maybe drive to the Antsokay Arboretum which is entirely devoted to conservation of the plants from the southwest 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. Alternatively, visit the Reniala Private Reserve, a small area of just 60 hectares but containing a spiny forest which is unique to southeastern Madagascar. The park is home to 200 plant species including baobabs as well as being a paradise for birders with sightings of paradise flycatchers, Madagascar hoopoe and Madagascar crested drongo. Sail in the late afternoon and welcome in the New Year as we cruise along the Mozambique Channel.
Day 5 - Day 5 Andavadoaka.
The vessel will anchor this morning off the small fishing community of Andavadoaka, home to the Vezo fishing people. The area offers the most diverse marine ecosystem on the southwest coast. It is also the base for Blue Ventures, a marine conservation society who have helped the local villagers invest in their community by way of training local guides and showing ways to preserve their resources. We hope to learn more about the local projects before sailing over lunch to Nosy Hao to discover the sandy white beaches where we can enjoy a swim in the warm waters.
Day 6 - Day 6 Morondava.
From our anchorage off the town of Morondava, we will use the Zodiacs to land on the local beach. From here we have 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. 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 including the rare pale form marked lemur and other mammals including giant jumping rat, fosa and narrowstriped mongoose.
Day 7 - Day 7 At Sea.
Relax on board and enjoy talks by our experienced expedition team as we continue our journey along the Madagascan coast.
Day 8 - Day 8 Mahajanga.
The MS Caledonian Sky will anchor 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. Enjoy lunch in the park and in the afternoon there will be options to join further walks or watch for birdlife at the nearby lake.
Day 9 - Day 9 Nosy Tanikely.
After a morning at sea, we arrive at the Nosy Tanikely Island Marine Reserve, an uninhabited island which offers excellent snorkelling opportunities and wonderful beaches. We 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 can enjoy fantastic views from the lighthouse on the island’s highest point.
Day 10 - Day 10 Nosy Hara.
Sail overnight around 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, such as Nosy Hara, with its abundant birdlife and opportunities to swim off the beach. Others will explore the island on foot, walking through dense woodland and observing the unusual vegetation. We will also offer a Zodiac cruise around the islands and a chance to snorkel over the coral.
Day 11 - Day 11 Diego Suarez.
Over breakfast we enter dramatic Diego Suarez, a stunning natural harbour with a cosmopolitan mix of inhabitants including Creoles, Indians, Chinese, Comorans and Arabs. Choose from a city tour visiting the Commonwealth Cemetery and Place Joffre, or explore the Malagasy Rain Forest at Mount Amber National Park on foot. Dividing into short and long walk parties we will go in search of lemurs and chameleons as we explore the rain forest. In the towering vegetation, we may spot several species of lemurs and chameleons as well as endemic birds, including parrots. We sail from Madagascar later in the afternoon.
Day 12 - Day 12 Farquhar, Seychelles.
We anchor off Farquhar in the morning to clear into the Seychelles and use our Zodiacs to explore the sparkling lagoon of this remote atoll ringed island of coconut and casuarina trees. Hawksbill and green sea turtles come to the atoll for nesting, and several of the Farquhar Group’s islands are Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. The island is a haven providing us with a delightful morning of bird watching or snorkelling. We depart over lunch and spend the afternoon at sea.
Day 13 - Days 13 & 14 Aldabra Islands, Outer Seychelles.
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 14 - Day 15 At Sea.
Relax on board as we cruise the Indian Ocean.
Day 15 - Day 16 Alphonse Islands.
There are three islands in the Alphonse group which is located directly south of the Amirantes. As we approach the islands this morning 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 a number of tracks across the island to enjoy island walks.
Day 16 - Day 17 Amirante Islands.
This morning we arrive at the 28 islands in the Amirante Group of islands which were discovered by Vasco de Gama in 1501 and are considered to be some of the most pristine and untouched islands in the world. If conditions permit we will spend the morning on Desroches, the largest of the islands, although still only measuring six kilometres by 1.5 kilometres. Enjoy nature walks with our naturalists and the island’s conservation team observing the flora and fauna and in particular the giant tortoises and nesting turtles. Meanwhile keen snorkellers will have the chance to swim over the outlying coral. We depart over lunch and spend the afternoon at sea.
Day 17 - Day 18 Aride & Grande Soeur.
Early this morning we will anchor off Aride, one of the finest and most important seabird islands in the Indian Ocean. Over one million seabirds breed on the island including tropical shearwater, lesser noddy, frigatebirds and roseate tern and also five species unique to the Seychelles such as the Seychelles warbler and Seychelles magpie robin. The island is largely covered in native woodland including the endemic wright’s gardenia, a shrub with beautifully scented flowers found nowhere else in the world. Sail over lunch to Grande Soeur, an idyllic uninhabited island. Spend the afternoon walking the island trails which link the island’s white sand beaches and maybe catch sight of some of the giant Aldabra tortoises or enjoy our last snorkelling opportunity in the turquoise waters.
Day 18 - Day 19 Mahe to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London. Arrive this evening.
Day 19 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
28-12-202115-01-2022GBP £11,195Castle Standard Suite
28-12-202115-01-2022GBP £14,495Promenade Owner's Corner Suite
28-12-202115-01-2022GBP £11,495Caledonian Superior Suite
28-12-202115-01-2022GBP £11,695Promenade Premium Suite
28-12-202115-01-2022GBP £12,695Bridge Deluxe Balcony Suite
28-12-202115-01-2022GBP £12,995Promenade Prem. Balcony Suite

Inclusions

    • Visit Andavadoaka.
    • Discover Morondava.
    • Travel to Nosy Tanikely.
    • Enjoy Aldabra Islands, Outer Seychelles.

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