Islands of the Indian Ocean: Caledonian Sky

Seychelle Islands

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

  • Untouched islands and atolls of the Indian Ocean
  • Luxurious, all-suite small ship
  • Snorkelling opportunities in pristine waters
  • Unique and rare birdlife
  • Wwildlife from the giant tortoises of Aldabra to the lemurs of Madagascar
  • Aldabra, the world’s largest coral atoll
Sailing from Mauritius we will land on its nearest neighbour, Reunion, a little bit of France in the Indian Ocean and a truly stunning place. We spend the day exploring its truly awesome and dramatic scenery including the Central Highlands with their spectacularly rugged peaks of dormant volcanoes which cradle huge natural amphitheatres known as cirques. We then continue to Madagascar where we will have three days exploring this incredible verdant and beautiful island. Madagascar is unique; the animals, plants, landscapes and people that make up this thousand mile long island are unlike anywhere else. It is a country that has long remained obscure as a destination and is relatively little known even amongst the most serious of travellers. The long separation from the African mainland has given rise to its amazing number of unique species of flora and fauna.

From Madagascar we will make our way to the Aldabra Island group. Being one of the most difficult places in the world to access and having a lack of freshwater has saved Aldabra from any tourism development and there is no landing strip so the only viable means of reaching this untouched region is by ship. Aldabra is the last breeding ground of the giant tortoise and in addition to seeing some of these endearing creatures you should also encounter dolphins, turtles and whales as well as countless birds including the flightless rail, the last flightless bird in the Indian Ocean.

Stewart's Take

This expedition really is a veritable feast of beauty, the natural world and island culture.

Overview

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 expedition team. Days 5 & 6 Nosy Mangabe & Masoala National Park, Madagascar 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, including parrots. 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 flight.

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Expedition Vessel: M/S Caledonian Sky

Caledonian Sky

The 114-passenger, all-suite Caledonian Sky is one of the finest small ships in the world and benefits from unusually spacious accommodation, public areas and outside decks. You will find the atmosphere on board akin to a private yacht or country hotel with a little music in the lounge or bar after dinner, talks from our onboard team and informative port briefings from your Cruise Director or Expedition Leader. After a day of exploration ashore, you will return to the comfort and peace of a well-run and exceedingly comfortable ship. The Captain, officers and crew of 70 are dedicated to offering you the best possible experience during your time on board. This is the perfect blend of luxury and adventurous exploration. Is it a luxury ship? An adventure ship? It’s both!

For full information about this vessel click here:

Included
  • Overnight hotel accommodation in Mauritius with breakfast
  • Dinner on Day 1
  • 12 nights aboard MS Caledonian Sky on a full board basis
  • House wine, beer & soft drinks with lunch & dinner on board
  • Shore excursions
  • Noble Caledonia expedition team
  • Gratuities
  • Transfers
  • Port taxes
Excluded Travel insurance, visas
Deposits Reservations require a non-refundable deposit of 10% at the time you receive a booking confirmation from Expeditions Online. A payment link will be sent to you and this may be paid by major credit card alternatively bank transfer. Bookings within 90 days of departure require full payment. Final Payments Balances are due 90 days prior to departure. Final payment can be made by bank transfer or by major credit card (however subject to a 2% surcharge). Cancellations All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. If it is necessary to cancel your arrangements, the following non-refundable charges will apply: - More than 90 days prior to departure: loss of deposit - Between 70 to 89 days prior to departure: 40% of tour cost per person - Between 50 to 69 days prior to departure: 60% of tour cost per person - Between 30 to 49 days prior to departure: 80% of tour cost per person - Between 15 to 29 days prior to departure: 90% of tour cost per person - 14 days or less prior to departure: No Refund We strongly recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance! Booking Terms Please read carefully the General Booking Conditions for Expeditions Online. This voyage is operated by Noble Caledonia and you additionally travel under their terms and conditions as the operator as well as of the Shipping Company/transport carrier. Details will be forwarded to you at the time of booking.
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