West Africa & the Bissagos—Culture and wildlife collide

The lush tropical saltwater habitat of the Bissagos Islands is a hidden gem off the coast of Africa. Few can even point to these islands on a map, making it the perfect destination for any adventure seeker.

Travel to Africa with Hurtigruten

Bissagos and Cape Verde are remote and unspoiled archipelagos far off the beaten track. From rocky volcanic landscapes teeming with endemic bird life in Cape Verde to saltwater lagoons and mangrove swamps in Bissagos’ Orango National Park, we make these islands accessible using our small expedition ship and fleet of small boats (RIBs).

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Why Travel to Cape Verde and Bissagos Islands

The 15 different islands of Cape Verde (nine of them inhabited) and the over 88 islands and islets of the Bissagos Islands are both fascinating archipelagos best visited by sea. Saltwater hippos bathe in lagoons, mangrove swamps sprawl across the landscape, and the matriarchal society of the Bijagós people go about their daily lives. West Africa is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts as the area has remarkable biodiversity that is protected by the people that live here. Abundant birdlife and many species of sea turtles, crocodiles, sharks, plus dolphins and the West African manatee, call these islands their home.

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Wildlife

West Africa Wildlife

Cape Verde’s distinctive climate (where the tropics meet the temperate waters of the mid-Atlantic) has allowed an array of endemic bird species to evolve and provides a crucial layover for many migratory species. Many fascinating species such as the sandpiper and spoonbill arrive as temporary visitors on their way to distant climates, while others like the Madeiran Storm Petrel, known locally as the ‘jaba-jaba’, use the islands as their sole breeding site. Further south, the tropical archipelago of the Bissagos is home to a rare herd of saltwater hippos. 

Wildlife
Fishing village, Senegal
Photo: Shutterstock

Activities

Our small ship MS Spitsbergen will take you to destinations off the beaten track and enable you to get up close to volcanic islands where you’ll go on nature walks. In the Bissagos Islands, try sea kayaking, go on small-boat (RIB) safaris among the mangroves, and visit local Bijagós communities.

Nature lovers can look forward to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Bissagos, plus the globally significant levels of biodiversity in the waters around Cape Verde. Prepare to enjoy the unique musical heritage of Cape Verde and the fascinating social structures of the Bissagos Islanders.

Fishing village, Senegal
Photo: Shutterstock
Fishmarked in Assomada, Cape Verde Islands
Photo: GettyImages

Sustainability

Hurtigruten was the first major travel company to remove single-use plastic from all of our ships, restaurants and hotels. We are constantly improving how we reduce, recycle and handle our waste – and are sharing everything we learn along the way. Our crews and guests collect metric tons of waste from beaches every year and are educated and trained in conservation. Hurtigruten spreads awareness about pollution in every way we can, engages in strategic partnerships, works with relevant organizations, and conducts research and real-time monitoring of the oceans.

Fishmarked in Assomada, Cape Verde Islands
Photo: GettyImages

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