Here is an extraordinary cruise for those who enjoy the natural world and all its wonders and are looking for the opportunity to escape the northern winter. Join the all-suite MS Caledonian Sky and enjoy the warmth and beauty of the Indian Ocean as she undertakes exactly the type of itinerary that suits her many talents best. With the vessel’s purpose built Zodiacs we will land on otherwise inaccessible beaches, explore vast lagoons and coral reefs and encounter some of the most extraordinarily beautiful tropical scenery to be found anywhere in the world.
Day 1 Mauritius
Arrive this morning and transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay.
The remainder of the day is at leisure to acclimatise before we meet
for dinner in the hotel this evening.
Day 2 Mauritius
Enjoy breakfast in the hotel and a morning at leisure. After checking
out, lunch will be followed by an island tour which will include the
Trou-aux-Cerfs Volcano, the Grand Bassin Lake and Black River Gorges
before transferring to the MS Caledonian Sky in the late afternoon.
Enjoy welcome drinks and dinner as we sail tonight.
Day 3 Reunion
We arrive at breakfast in Reunion where we have a choice of
excursions. On a full day tour we will visit the central highlands
where spectacularly rugged peaks of dormant or extinct volcanoes
cradle huge amphitheatres known as cirques, mountains tower to over
10,000 feet and beautiful waterfalls plummet hundreds of feet. Fields
of sugar cane and plantations of tropical fruits, vanilla and all
manner of spices perfume the air. We will enjoy views from the Nez des
Bouefs and see the Piton de la Fournaise crater. After a creole lunch
in a local restaurant, we will visit the “Cite du Volcan” museum.
Alternatively join a morning tour to a vanilla plantation in St Andre
where we learn about the history and culture of this integral part of
Reunion’s heritage. We will also have some free time in St Denis
before returning to the MS Caledonian Sky for lunch and an afternoon
at leisure before we set sail this evening.
Day 4 At Sea
Enjoy a day at sea as we cross to Madagascar. Find a spot on deck to
relax or listen to a talk in the Lounge from the experienced
Days 5 & 6 Nosy Mangabe & Masoala National Park,
Spend a day and a half in Antongil Bay. We visit Nosy Mangabe, a
520-hectare island reserve and one of the most diverse areas of virgin
rain forest in Madagascar which has also been an important research
centre since the mid-1960s when several aye-ayes and lemurs were
released into the forest. We will use our Zodiacs to land on the beach
next to the forest and organise a series of nature walks looking at
the varied trees, plants and ferns and hope to spot chameleon, lizards
and black and white ruffed lemur. For the birders we will keep an eye
out for Madagascar buzzard, kingfisher and paradise flycatchers. We
also visit Madagascar’s largest protected area, the Masoala National
Park, which comprises of coastal rainforest, flooded forests, marsh
and mangroves. Mammal species encountered include the red-ruffed
lemur, the red-fronted brown lemur and the ring-tailed mongoose. The
park is also home to various species of brightly coloured Mantella
frogs and all manner of extraordinary chameleons. Masoala is also a
refuge of the endangered Madagascar red-owl, Madagascar serpent eagle
and many endemic bird species. We will run a series of walks for all
levels whilst you also have the option to swim off the beach or
perhaps visit the local village.
Day 7 Diego Suarez
After a morning at sea we will enter dramatic Diego Suarez, a natural
harbour with a cosmopolitan mix of inhabitants including Creoles,
Indians, Chinese, Comorans and Arabs. After lunch on board there will
be a choice of excursion this afternoon. Choose from a city tour
visiting the Commonwealth Cemetery and Place Joffre, or 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. In the towering vegetation, we may spot
several species of lemurs and chameleons as well as endemic birds,
Days 8 to 10 Aldabra Island Group
Spend a relaxing morning at sea before arriving in to the Seychelles
where we plan to spend two and a half 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 call at the island of Assumption which was ruthlessly plundered for
its vast deposits of guano in the early 20th century. Happily, peace
has returned and the wildlife of rare birds and green turtles are once
again in abundance. Our time here will be spent beachcombing, on a
nature walk or snorkelling. We also 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 11 At Sea.
Spend the day at sea, maybe join a lecture or find a spot on deck.
Day 12 Alphonse Islands
There are three islands in the Alphonse group which
is located directly south of the Amirantes. As we approach the islands
over breakfast 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 morning exploring before returning to the ship for lunch and
an afternoon cruising.
Day 13 Praslin & Grande Soeur
This morning we will use Zodiacs to land on Praslin and explore the
‘Vallee de Mai’, the last remnant of the original high canopied
Seychelles palm forest and home to the coco de mer. 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
island trails which link the white sand beaches and maybe catch sight
of some of the islands giant Aldabra tortoises, enjoy a swim or join
our final snorkelling opportunity in the turquoise waters.
Day 14 Mahe
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for your departure