Discover West Africa - an Ever-Changing Landscape & Home to a Kaleidoscope of Cultures
From the Skeleton Coast to the arid grasslands of the Sahel, West Africa is an ever-changing landscape and home to a kaleidoscope of cultures. Here you might encounter the Touareg nomads of the Sahara, the bushmen of the Kalahari, or a high priestess of voodoo in Ghana or Benin. It’s a difficult place to travel overland, which means that a cruise is a great way to visit destinations that would normally be far from the beaten track.
Senegal. Capital of Senegal, and a major gateway to Western Africa, the former colonial trading post of Dakar stamps the Cap-Vert peninsular with glorious surf-fringed beaches. Enjoy the thrum of markets - where colourful textiles are exchanged - and wander streets where jazz, sambar and mbalax spill from every ajar door. Offering tropical island-style beaches in an incongruous urban setting, Dakar is a wild and urgent experience for the senses. Watch on as surfers revel in consistent rollers on this, the most westerly peninsula of continental Africa. Scuba divers can explore worlds below the surface in Dakar's diving areas, or you can head to sandy beaches like Plage des Mamelles' cove, which provide endless options for cooling off. Looking for a little more activity, loosen up and play on golf courses that unroll along the sun-kissed Senegalese coastline, or visit startling natural sites like the vivid pink water of the salty pink Lake Retba. Cultural relevance abounds in Dakar - those wanting to delve a little deeper into the dark history of Senegal should visit the House of Slaves on the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Goree Island, or duck into the Theodore Monod Museum to pour over an incredible collection of masks, artefacts, and treasures. Sandaga Market is a full-on experience of choreographed chaos, sound and flavours. Tear into fish fresh off the boat, and don't be afraid to get your hands a little greasy while handling Dibi - the national street food - soft mutton, simmered with onions and zesty orange spice.
Cepe Verde. Santiago is the main island of the Cape Verde archipelago and the first one to be settled by the Portuguese in the 15th century. Praia is the capital city of the islands. Its old town enjoys an imposing setting on a plateau overlooking the ocean. The Cape Verde Islands are located 300 miles (480 km) off the coast of West Africa. When the first Portuguese arrived in 1456, they found a land rich in vegetation, but no permanent inhabitants. With the colonisation, the Portuguese planted vineyards and brought in slaves from the West African coast. A population emerged of mixed European and African ancestry, forging a distinct Cape Verdean, highly individual culture. The official language is Portuguese, while the local tongue is Crioulo, a Creole dialect consisting of archaic Portuguese mixed with many African elements. The islands became a convenient base for ships transporting slaves to Europe and the Americas. Wine was exported to Portugal, adding to the islands’ economy. After World War II, the newly formed African Party began to pressure Portugal for independence, which was finally attained in 1975. Foreign aid and remittances from a large number of the islands’ citizens working abroad are ensuring a high rate of economic growth. The port of Praia is a major trading hub for agricultural products from the other islands. Visitors find Mediterranean-style houses, cobbled streets, Latin rhythm and African inspiration. Cidade Velha is the site of the original settlement and should not be missed.
If you’re after a small ship cruise or an expedition ship cruise to West Africa Wild Earth Travel can help you find a trip of a lifetime. We are ready to guide you through our range of different options with impartial advice so you can experience the very best of this unique destination. Our team are all passionate expedition & small cruise ship travellers and our knowledge and stories come from our own personal experiences.