By Nadia Eckhardt, Africa Easy & Expedition Easy Founder
I am often asked about exploring West Africa on an expedition vessel. Why go by sea instead of land?
Most recently in 2015, Africa Easy oversaw shore excursions for the Explorer’s Africa sailing from Cape Town, South Africa to Dakar, Senegal. Travelers visited 10 countries in 24 enthralling days.
By day, we were able to explore more remote and less visited areas along the West African coast. By night, we were aboard a luxury expedition vessel.
I firmly believe the best way to experience West Africa is on an expedition vessel. You cover so many unique countries and experiences in a very short period of time. Each day is a different culture and a mix of many different languages.
The best part of all is walking up the gangway at the end of each day and you are home! Your butler is there with a gin and tonic, while you freshen up in your elegant spacious cabins. After rejuvenating, you meet fellow travelers and expedition staff in the lounge for a run down on all that you saw and experienced on shore that day.
14 Reasons to Travel West Africa by Ship
1. You unpack once after you embark and settle into your cabin and only pull the suitcase out again at disembarkation.
2. After touring on shore, you return to the luxury and comfort of your home away from home – the Silver Explorer – and enjoy a warm shower, air conditioning and a cocktail in the lounge before a gourmet dinner.
3. A team of West Africa staff and lecturers are aboard with you during the entire voyage.
4. Information recaps and tour briefings daily. All you have to do is decide which tour you would like to join next day.
5. Shore Excursions are all planned well in advance by experts and included.
6. In addition to the Expedition Staff, you have local English-speaking Guides on shore daily at each stop, in each country.
7. A ship allows you to travel from Congo to Cameroon and the Sao Tome & Principe Island group within a few days, which is often very difficult to do on land and flights are costly with limited direct air schedules. It sometimes takes days to fly to the country next door and often you have to fly via Europe! But on board a vessel you sail in and out of a different country almost daily.
8. Each country along the way offers a different experience. In Namibia explore the mighty red dunes in a 4×4 or do a flight seeing trip! Or in Benin you do a trip on local boats to Ganvie Village (a community build on stilts) and then the next day you are in Lome and can explore the markets and attend an authentic Voodoo Ceremony.
In Takoradi, Ghana, you can visit Elmina Castle & Cape Coast Castle or do a good walk in Kakum National Park or visit Elmina & Kakum!
9. There are always options offered for small to medium-sized touring groups.
10. On shore sample the local cuisine at inclusive lunches on the full day tours.
11. You also have some quality flexible sea time for lectures, time on deck birding or enjoying ocean views.
12. You can take a day off or miss a tour to recharge your batteries. Spend refresh time to watch a movie and enjoy room service aboard the Silver Explorer. The next day dive back into adventures with a Zodiac excursion ashore to Sierra Leone and the Tacaguma Chimp Sanctuary, followed by a local soccer game.
13. On board an expedition vessel, all the clearances and visas are taken care of by the on board Finance Officer…so no long lines at border crossings!
14. On board there is no need to keep cash handy, everything goes onto your account for the end of the voyage…this includes spa treatments, laundry service and fine wines and ice cold beverages.
I return for the Silver Explorer – West Africa Voyage – Explorer’s Africa in March 2016. Contact me for questions about the ship experience or joining a future expedition!