Wednesday, February 22, 2012

U.S. / En Route

Fly to Dakar, Senegal.

Thursday, February 23

Dakar, Senegal | Embark Callisto

Arrive in Dakar, the dynamic capital of Senegal, and transfer to the port to board Callisto. Once a small settlement on the Cap Vert peninsula, Africa’s westernmost point, Dakar has grown into a great metropolis that now occupies the entire peninsula and beyond. Sail from Dakar in the late evening. (D)

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Friday, February 24

Saloum River | Djiferre | Joal-Fadiout

After sailing along Senegal’s coast, Callisto will enter the Saloum River and anchor near the village of Djifere. Landing ashore on local motorized pirogues, drive to the fascinating fishing village of Fadiout, where the houses are built of crushed shells. After exploring Fadiout, cross the wooden bridge spanning an estuary to Joal, the birthplace of the great Senegalese statesman, Sédhar Senghor, to watch the hauling-in of the colorful fishing boats. (B, L, D)

Saturday, February 25

Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

Part of the Mali Empire from the 13th to 15th centuries, and a colony of Portugal from the beginning of the 16th century to 1974, when it gained independence, Guinea-Bissau is one of the smallest and least visited countries in West Africa. Explore Bissau, the country’s friendly and peaceful capital, focusing on Bissau Velho (Old Bissau), whose streets are lined with houses dating from the colonial period. Visit the fish market, and the Centro Artistico Juvenil, where local artists specialize in wood carvings. (B, L, D)

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Sunday – Wednesday, February 26 - 29

Bijagós Archipelago

Spend four days exploring the Bijagós Archipelago, a cluster of 88 pristine and seldom visited islands, of which only 23 are inhabited. The islands have been settled since prehistoric times by the Bijagós people, a matriarchal society in which women choose their husbands, and the community is guided by female priests. Before the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century, the islands were vital in the trade routes along West Africa’s coast and were known for their oceangoing canoes that could carry up to 70 people. Fiercely independent, the Bijagós navy defeated the Portuguese when they attempted to conquer the islands in 1535. In fact, the Portuguese were unable to take control of the archipelago until 1936. The 25,000 Bijagós who live on the islands today still practice their ancient traditions and speak their ethnic language, in addition to Portuguese. The islands contain an impressive biodiversity and abundant flora and fauna, in recognition of which they have been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The pristine nature of the islands has been preserved partly due to the Bijagós’ animistic faith, which prohibits economic activities in the many sacred areas, including bans on permanent construction. Our itinerary in the archipelago will be governed by the tides, which in some places can be up to 20 feet. We expect to visit several of the most important islands, including Orango, which is home to a rare species of saltwater-dwelling hippos; the small island of Poilao with its baobabs and ceiba trees and Caravela, with its white sand beaches. In addition to discovering the natural riches of the islands, we will also have the opportunity to visit villages, meet the friendly Bijagós people, and learn about their traditions, which have remained unchanged through the centuries. There will be opportunities to swim in the crystalline waters and enjoy the pristine white-sand beaches. (B, L, D)

Thursday, March 1

Banjul, The Gambia

Founded by the British early in the 19th century, Banjul is the capital and commercial center of The Gambia. Disembark in the morning and drive to the Abuko Nature Reserve, one of the last surviving examples of tropical riverine forests in the country. Within its confines are about 300 species of birds, as well as red colobus and callithrix monkeys. Continue to the Makasutu Culture Forest, a private nature habitat with beautiful woodland and waterways. Enjoy lunch at the reserve. Return to Banjul to visit the National Museum, whose exhibits illustrate the history and culture of the country. (B, L, D)

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Friday, March 2

Tendaba | Kiang West National Park | Baobolong Wetland Reserve, River Gambia

From the village of Tendaba, situated on the south of the riverbank, explore two of The Gambia’s most important wildlife reserves. In the morning, drive to the Kiang West national park, where mangroves, creeks, and mudflats alternate with dry woodland and grassland. Kiang west is notable for its more than 250 species of birds. Alternately, visit a nearby village and learn about Gambian village life. In the afternoon, board local boats to navigate the waterways and maze of islands that comprise Baobolong Wetlands Reserve, a notable bird sanctuary and a wonderland of mangroves, some of which are over 60 feet tall. (B, L, D)

Saturday, March 3

Dakar, Senegal | Gorée Island | Dakar

Once a small settlement on the Cap Vert peninsula, Africa’s westernmost point, Dakar has grown into a great metropolis that now occupies the entire peninsula and beyond. Explore Dakar, starting with a short ferry ride to historic Gorée Island, which played a significant role in the Atlantic slave trade. First settled by Europeans in the 15th century, the island, with its narrow alleyways and colonial buildings, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Return to Dakar for a tour of the city including a visit to the Village des Arts, including a specially-arranged visit to a contemporary artist’s studio. In the evening, enjoy a musical performance, for which Senegal is justly famous. Spend the night docked in Dakar. (B, L, D)

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Sunday, March 4

Dakar | Disembark | Fly to USA

Enjoy a morning tour of Dakar including a visit to the IFAN Musuem of African Arts, one of West Africa’s best, the explore the Marche Soumbedioune, a craft market with the best variety of artisan workmanship. Transfer to the airport for the evening return flight to the U.S. Dinner and day rooms will be provided at the Hotel Pullman Dakar Teranga. (B, L, D)

Monday, March 5


Arrive in the USA.

Revised November 17, 2011