Ultra-luxury cruises with private butler service.

Africa & Indian Ocean

Zanzibar to Mahe - Voyage Number : 7805
DEPARTURE
Apr 16 2022
DURATION
11 DAYS
SHIP
Silver Explorer

Itinerary & Excursions

Go beyond your boundaries and explore the world as never before.

This ancient isle once ruled by sultans and slave traders served as the stepping stone into the African continent for missionaries and explorers. Today it attracts visitors intent on discovering sandy beaches, pristine rain forests, or colorful coral reefs. Once known as the Spice Island for its export of cloves, Zanzibar has become one of the most exotic flavors in travel, better than Bali or Mali when it comes to beauty that’ll make your jaw drop.

Separated from the mainland by a channel only 35 km (22 miles) wide, and only 6 degrees south of the equator, this tiny archipelago—the name Zanzibar also includes the islands of Unguja (the main island) and Pemba—in the Indian Ocean was the launching base for a romantic era of expeditions into Africa. Sir Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke used it as their base when searching for the source of the Nile. It was in Zanzibar where journalist Henry Morton Stanley, perched in an upstairs room overlooking the Stone Town harbor, began his search for David Livingstone.

The first ships to enter the archipelago's harbors are believed to have sailed in around 600 BC. Since then, every great navy in the Eastern Hemisphere has dropped anchor here at one time or another. But it was Arab traders who left an indelible mark. Minarets punctuate the skyline of Stone Town, where more than 90% of the residents are Muslim. In the harbor you'll see dhows, the Arabian boats with triangular sails. Islamic women covered by black boubou veils scurry down alleyways so narrow their outstretched arms could touch buildings on both sides. Stone Town received its odd name because most of its buildings were made of limestone and coral, which means exposure to salty air has eroded many foundations.

The first Europeans who arrived here were the Portuguese in the 15th century, and thus began a reign of exploitation. As far inland as Lake Tanganyika, slave traders captured the residents or bartered for them from their own chiefs, then forced the newly enslaved to march toward the Indian Ocean carrying loads of ivory tusks. Once at the shore they were shackled together while waiting for dhows to collect them at Bagamoyo, a place whose name means, "here I leave my heart." Although it's estimated that 50,000 slaves passed through the Zanzibar slave market each year during the 19th century, many more died en route.

Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged in 1964 to create Tanzania, but the honeymoon was brief. Zanzibar's relationship with the mainland remains uncertain as calls for independence continue. "Bismillah, will you let him go," a lyric from Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," has become a rebel chant for Zanzibar to break from Tanzania.

Zanzibar Island, locally known as Unguja, has amazing beaches and resorts, decent dive spots, acres of spice plantations, the Jozani Forest Reserve, and Stone Town. Plus, it takes little more than an hour to fly there. It's a popular spot to head post-safari.

Stone Town, the archipelago's major metropolis, is a maze of narrow streets lined with houses featuring magnificently carved doors studded with brass. There are 51 mosques, 6 Hindu temples, and 2 Christian churches. And though it can rightly be called a city, much of the western part of the larger island is a slumbering paradise where cloves, as well as rice and coconuts, still grow.

Although the main island of Unguja feels untouched by the rest of the world, the nearby islands of Pemba and Mnemba offer retreats that are even more remote. For many years Arabs referred to Pemba as Al Khudra, or the Green Island, and indeed it still is, with forests of king palms, mangos, and banana trees. The 65-km-long (40-mile-long) island is less famous than Unguja except among scuba divers, who enjoy the coral gardens with colorful sponges and huge fans. Archaeology buffs are also discovering Pemba, where sites from the 9th to the 15th century have been unearthed. At Mtambwe Mkuu coins bearing the heads of sultans were discovered. Ruins along the coast include ancient mosques and tombs. In the 1930s Pemba was famous for its sorcerers, attracting disciples of the black arts from as far away as Haiti. Witchcraft is still practiced, and, oddly, so is bullfighting. Introduced by the Portuguese in the 17th century, the sport has been improved by locals, who rewrote the ending. After enduring the ritual teasing by the matador's cape, the bull is draped with flowers and paraded around the village.

Beyond Pemba, smaller islands in the Zanzibar Archipelago range from mere sandbanks to Changu, once a prison island and now home to the giant Aldabra tortoise, Chumbe Island, and Mnemba, a private retreat for guests who pay hundreds of dollars per day to get away from it all.

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Assumption (Assomption) Island is a small, crescent shaped island about 4.3 square miles (11.07 sq km) in size. Considered one of the Outer Seychelles Islands, Assumption is part of the Aldabra Group, lying approximately 600 miles (960 km) southwest of Mahé, in the Indian Ocean. These outer islands are not made from granite, like their larger sisters Mahé, Praslin or La Digue, but rather are coralline formations. Once a part of the French colony Réunion, then a member of the British Indian Ocean Territories, today Assumption is governed by the Seychelles. Assumption is a rough and arid island, shaded only by shrubs and palm trees but is redeemed by a spectacular reef with huge coral heads and a white ocean floor. Jacques Cousteau said he'd never seen any other place on earth with same clarity of water or diversity of reef life. He filmed large parts of documentary “The Silent World” here, and held audiences across the globe, spellbound by the magic that lay beneath the sea. A notable feature of this island is the Assumption Island day gecko, a subspecies of gecko found only on this island. Assumption is also a known nesting site for turtles and rare birds. Because Assumption Island was found to be rich in guano, coveted for its phosphorous fertilizing abilities, it was essentially plundered in the early 1900s. The island today is has an interesting geography that includes a gorgeous 3-mile (5-km) white beach, a rocky coastline, caves, and two very large sand dunes prominent on the south eastern coast of the island, one of them reaching 104 feet (32 metres) high. There is a very small settlement with less than 10 registered inhabitants, mostly in place to service the small landing strip used by scientists with permission to study the neighbouring Aldabra Atoll. The settlement is surrounded by Casuarina trees and there is an abandoned coconut palm plantation to its south. Pier Information The ship will be anchored off the coast of Assumption and tenders will land on the shoreline. We recommend you wear sturdy walking shoes, sun hats or scarves and bring your camera. Independently explore the island and relax on this peaceful dot in the ocean.

Part of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, Aldabra is reputedly the world’s second-largest atoll and has been described as “one of nature’s treasures” and a “sanctuary”. The inner lagoon teems with marine life like eagle rays and sea turtles. It is possible to snorkel and drift along with the tide passing in or out of the lagoon as massive numbers of fish come and go through the same channels. Narrow channels between fossilized coral islands are fringed in mangrove forests supporting large colonies of nesting boobies and Great Frigatebirds. Its distinctive island fauna includes the Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea). Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population of giant tortoises lives on Aldabra – some 100,000 out of a reported 150,000. Because of its extreme isolation in the blue of the Indian Ocean, and due to a lack of freshwater, the island has not been developed for tourism. No airport has been built, and only a handful of smaller ships with special permits are allowed to call at this unique atoll.

Part of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, Aldabra is reputedly the world’s second-largest atoll and has been described as “one of nature’s treasures” and a “sanctuary”. The inner lagoon teems with marine life like eagle rays and sea turtles. It is possible to snorkel and drift along with the tide passing in or out of the lagoon as massive numbers of fish come and go through the same channels. Narrow channels between fossilized coral islands are fringed in mangrove forests supporting large colonies of nesting boobies and Great Frigatebirds. Its distinctive island fauna includes the Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea). Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population of giant tortoises lives on Aldabra – some 100,000 out of a reported 150,000. Because of its extreme isolation in the blue of the Indian Ocean, and due to a lack of freshwater, the island has not been developed for tourism. No airport has been built, and only a handful of smaller ships with special permits are allowed to call at this unique atoll.

Part of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, Aldabra is reputedly the world’s second-largest atoll and has been described as “one of nature’s treasures” and a “sanctuary”. The inner lagoon teems with marine life like eagle rays and sea turtles. It is possible to snorkel and drift along with the tide passing in or out of the lagoon as massive numbers of fish come and go through the same channels. Narrow channels between fossilized coral islands are fringed in mangrove forests supporting large colonies of nesting boobies and Great Frigatebirds. Its distinctive island fauna includes the Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea). Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population of giant tortoises lives on Aldabra – some 100,000 out of a reported 150,000. Because of its extreme isolation in the blue of the Indian Ocean, and due to a lack of freshwater, the island has not been developed for tourism. No airport has been built, and only a handful of smaller ships with special permits are allowed to call at this unique atoll.

Named for a 15th century Portuguese navigator, Cosmoledo is a large coral atoll that is part of the Aldabra group of atolls in the Seychelles. Cosmoledo itself has more than 20 small islands and islets and has been repeatedly used by humans for guano exploitation, harvesting of local resources and fishing. Abandoned in 1992, the islands not only have recovered naturally, but a conservation organization has tried to eradicate introduced species. Cosmoledo is an Important Bird Area and is home to the Indian Ocean’s largest colony of Red-footed Boobies, the Seychelles’ largest colony of Sooty Terns, as well as Black-naped Terns, Crested Terns and Red-tailed Tropicbirds. Within the lagoon are several beaches waiting to be explored, while snorkelers seek out the interesting underwater world, as this atoll offers some of the best diving in the Seychelles.
The Farquhar Group of islands is located approximately 400 miles west of Mahe Island (where Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, is located). The most prominent of the Farquhar Group is the Farquhar atoll, which looks somewhat like a fishing hook from the sky; some have referred to it as a seahorse with its arced neck and curved tail. The sparse inhabitants of the two main islands of the atoll (Farquhar North and Farquhar South) are rarely visited but wecloming. Hawksbill and green sea turtles come to the atoll for nesting, and several of the Farquhar Group’s islands are Important Bird Areas. Goelettes, the southernmost of the atoll’s islets, holds Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies and Black-naped Terns. See some of the lightest blue waters and most pristine beaches found the world over, where sport fishermen avidly catch multi-hundred-pound exotic fish.
A part of the archipelago and country of Seychelles, located east of Kenya and north-northeast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, Alphonse is a natural paradise. The arc-shaped island is covered in gracious white beaches and crystalline water, along with many natural resources. A population of less than 100 residents mainly works in a small resort, or takes care of the island’s farming and fishing; diving and sports fishing are the island’s main attraction. Despite the presence of people, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters breed on Alphonse and hawksbill and green sea turtles nest here. More than 100 bird species have been recorded on Alphonse Island, and on the island and nearby are stunning areas for birding as well as swimming and snorkeling.
This coral island stands majestically on a submerged atoll of the same name, 120 nautical miles south-west of Mahe in the Amirantes group. Desroches rises 3,000 meters out of the clear blue sea, boasting an abundant fish life and surrounded by approximately 50 nautical miles of reef to explore. The island has a coconut plantation and small agricultural settlement and enjoys a similar weather pattern as the rest of Seychelles in general, sunny all year round, with occasional warm showers. Descended from the original French and British settlers and their African slaves, the Seychellois mixture has also been enriched by traders from India and China as well as Arabs, all intermingling to produce a multi-faceted community. Creole is the common language of the islands, but most Seychellois also speak English and French.

Pristine and uncrowded, Aride is the northernmost island of the granitic Seychelles. The island hosts one of the most important seabird populations in the Indian Ocean with more breeding species than any other island in Seychelles. Eighteen species of native birds (including five only found in the Seychelles) with over one million seabirds breed on Aride, including the world’s largest colonies of Lesser Noddy and Tropical Shearwater, the world’s only hilltop colony of Sooty Terns and the western Indian Ocean’s largest colony of Roseate Tern. This is also the only breeding colony of Red-tailed Tropicbirds east of Aldabra and huge numbers of Brown Noddy, White Tern and Wedge-tailed Shearwater can be found. It is an impressive site as thousands of Great and Lesser Frigatebirds soar over the northern cliffs.

This small granitic island lies serenely off the north-west coast of Praslin and since 1979 has been declared a Marine National Park. Originally called Isle Rouge in 1744 by French explorer Lazare Picault because of its large areas of bare red soil, the island was renamed Curieuse in 1768 after the expeditionary ship sent by Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne to explore Praslin and its surrounding islands. For all Curieuse’s beauty, there is sadness in its past. During the 19th and early 20th centuries the island was home to leper colonies, and ruins of the old settlement still stand along the southern coast. The former physician’s residence, now the Doctor’s House Visitor Centre, is a museum of the island’s unfortunate past as well as an educational resource on the island’s natural history and conservation. Curieuse hosts a diversity of flora and fauna, making it a nature lover’s delight. It is home to a large population of the unusual coco-de-mer palms, which grow naturally only here and in Praslin, and spectacular granite rock formations dot the landscape. Several beaches are scattered around the island, which are often nesting sites for giant tortoises that come ashore to lay their eggs between September and February. The variety of natural habitats, from tall lush woodland and dry bushy scrubland to freshwater mangrove marshes, attract plentiful wildlife such as endemic birds, turtles, lizards, crabs and insects. Due to lack of infrastructure, there are no organised excursions offered.

La Digue is the fourth largest inhabited island of the Seychelles (though only 5 km [3 miles] long and 3 km [2 miles] wide), and the real deal when it comes to a laid-back tropical paradise. Only 6.4 km (4 miles) from Praslin (about a 15- to 30-minute ferry ride) and 43 km (27 miles) from Mahé, little la Digue nonetheless feels a world away. With no natural harbor, La Digue is protected by a coral reef, which, together with masses of colossal pink granite boulders, encircle and protect the island. Streets here hum the quiet rhythm of local life: a melody of ox-carts and bicycles, paths shaded by flowers and lush vegetation, and old colonial-style houses that speak of times past. Named in 1768 after a ship in the fleet of French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, La Digue's economic mainstays used to be vanilla and coconut oil. The island's fabulous beaches, lush interior, and colonial charm have made tourism its number-one industry today. The island's population of about 2,000 mostly reside in the west coast villages of La Réunion and La Passe.

Forty kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Mahé, Praslin is just a 15-minute flight or 45-minute ferry ride away. Praslin, at 11 km (7 miles) long and 4 km (2.5 miles) wide, is the second-largest island in the Seychelles. First settled as a hideaway by pirates and Arab merchants, the island's original name, Isle de Palmes, bears testament to its reputation as home of the Vallée de Mai UNESCO World Heritage Site: the only place in the world where the famous Coco de Mer, the world's heaviest nut, grows abundantly in the wild. Praslin's endemic palm forests shelter many rare species, and the island is a major bird-watching destination. Surrounded by a coral reef, majestic bays, and gorgeous beaches, Praslin is much quieter and less developed than Mahé. With few real "sights," the pleasures of Praslin largely involve relaxing in or exploring its stunning beaches and fantastical forests.

Like jade-coloured jewels in the Indian Ocean, the more than 100 Seychelles Islands are often regarded as the Garden of Eden. Lying just four degrees south of the equator, the Seychelles are some 1,000 miles (1,610 km) from the nearest mainland Africa. Little more than 200 years ago, all 115 islands were uninhabited. Then in 1742 a French ship dispatched from Mauritius sailed into one of the small bays. Captain Lazare Picault was the first to explore these unnamed islands. He encountered breathtaking vistas of rugged mountains, lagoons, coral atolls, splendid beaches and secluded coves. After Picault sailed away, the islands remained untouched for the next 14 years. Then France took possession of the seven islands in the Mahé group. During an expedition Captain Morphey named them the Sechelles, in honour of Vicomte Moreau de Sechelles. This name was later anglicised to Seychelles. The first settlers arrived at St. Anne’s Island in 1770; 15 years later the population of Mahé consisted of seven Europeans and 123 slaves. Today there are about 80,000 Seychellois, the majority of whom live on Mahé; the rest are scattered in small communities throughout the archipelago. The people are a fusion of three continents - Africa, Asia and Europe. This has created a unique culture and the use of three languages - Creole, French and English. Mahé is the largest island in the archipelago and the location of the capital, Victoria. Ringed by steep, magnificent mountains, few capitals can claim a more beautiful backdrop. The town features a mixture of modern and indigenous architecture; it is the centre of business and commerce thanks to the extensive port facilities. Noteworthy sites in Victoria are the museum, cathedral, government house, clock tower, botanical gardens and an open-air market. The major attractions are found outside of town where the island’s quiet, lazy atmosphere delights visitors. With 68 pristine, white sand beaches, Mahé boasts more beaches and tourist facilities than any of the other Seychelles Islands. Beautiful and remote Mahé with its green-clad mountains and palm-fringed beaches is indeed an island of abundance; pleasant surprises are around every bend in the trail. Come ashore and discover for yourself this marvellous island paradise.
Like jade-coloured jewels in the Indian Ocean, the more than 100 Seychelles Islands are often regarded as the Garden of Eden. Lying just four degrees south of the equator, the Seychelles are some 1,000 miles (1,610 km) from the nearest mainland Africa. Little more than 200 years ago, all 115 islands were uninhabited. Then in 1742 a French ship dispatched from Mauritius sailed into one of the small bays. Captain Lazare Picault was the first to explore these unnamed islands. He encountered breathtaking vistas of rugged mountains, lagoons, coral atolls, splendid beaches and secluded coves. After Picault sailed away, the islands remained untouched for the next 14 years. Then France took possession of the seven islands in the Mahé group. During an expedition Captain Morphey named them the Sechelles, in honour of Vicomte Moreau de Sechelles. This name was later anglicised to Seychelles. The first settlers arrived at St. Anne’s Island in 1770; 15 years later the population of Mahé consisted of seven Europeans and 123 slaves. Today there are about 80,000 Seychellois, the majority of whom live on Mahé; the rest are scattered in small communities throughout the archipelago. The people are a fusion of three continents - Africa, Asia and Europe. This has created a unique culture and the use of three languages - Creole, French and English. Mahé is the largest island in the archipelago and the location of the capital, Victoria. Ringed by steep, magnificent mountains, few capitals can claim a more beautiful backdrop. The town features a mixture of modern and indigenous architecture; it is the centre of business and commerce thanks to the extensive port facilities. Noteworthy sites in Victoria are the museum, cathedral, government house, clock tower, botanical gardens and an open-air market. The major attractions are found outside of town where the island’s quiet, lazy atmosphere delights visitors. With 68 pristine, white sand beaches, Mahé boasts more beaches and tourist facilities than any of the other Seychelles Islands. Beautiful and remote Mahé with its green-clad mountains and palm-fringed beaches is indeed an island of abundance; pleasant surprises are around every bend in the trail. Come ashore and discover for yourself this marvellous island paradise.

Suites & Fares

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Owner's 1 Bedroom
Owner's 1 Bedroom
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Grand 1 Bedroom
Grand 1 Bedroom
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Silver
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Medallion
Medallion
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Veranda
Veranda
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Vista
Vista
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View
View
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Explorer Class
Explorer Class
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Adventurer Class
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