An Island Odyssey: Azores, Madeira, Canaries and Cape Verde

  • 15 days aboard the National Geographic Explorer

Expedition Details


Immerse yourself in the theme of island exploration and make plenty of discoveries of your own: secluded archipelagos, whale-watching, island cultures and ancient lore. Indulge your passion for islands on this one-of-a-kind adventure aboard National Geographic Explorer. Explore three archipelagos known as the Macaronesia region: the Azores, Madeira, and the Canaries. Then voyage to isolated Cape Verde off the coast of West Africa. Travel back in time to a slice of centuries past as we explore the natural and cultural aspects of some of the most remote islands in the world.

Trip Highlights

    • Experience a rare visit to remote islands with deep-seated cultures, unique cuisine, and seafaring traditions.
    • In the company of expert guides, spot pods of whales at the height of their annual migration in the waters around the Azores.
    • View spectacular geology: an active volcano, stunning lava formations, hot springs and the natural wonders of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
    • Enjoy opportunities to search for marine wildlife including dolphins, sperm whales at the height of the season, plus the possibility of blue, orcas and pilot whales.

Itinerary - 16 Days

Days 1 & 2 — U.S./São Miguel, Azores, Portugal

Fly overnight to Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel in the Azores, where we embark the National Geographic Explorer.

Day 3 — São Miguel, Azores

At the heart of the Atlantic Ocean is a lush, mountainous archipelago that combines the breathtaking landscapes of Santa Antão with the charm and culture of old-world Europe. We devote three days to the Azores. There is plenty to lure us. Rolling pastures to volcanic peaks. The villages are lovely, the museums intriguing. Today we explore the Furnas Valley and its famed hot springs, hiking the trails or perhaps visiting a tea plantation or the lovely garden of Terra Nostra. And we will have a tasting of Azorean cuisine. Savor a traditional cozido lunch, naturally cooked from the volcanic activity—underground!

Day 4 — Faial, Azores

The Azores are a whale-watching mecca, where more than 20 different types of cetaceans can be spotted. We go in search of these gentle giants in the channel north of Pico and Horta islands. Once ashore on the island of Faial, we head to Capelinhos, where we can see how dramatically the landscape changed when the volcano at the western end of the island erupted in the 1950's. Farms and villages were covered with ash, adding an extra two square kilometers of land to the island. Later, stroll along the marina, visit the excellent scrimshaw museum, and raise a glass at Peter’s Café Sport, a legendary pub where sea adventurers historically dropped off their mail. For those interested, we can arrange for scuba diving beneath startlingly clear water. Or see some of the countryside on foot with a guided hike.

Day 5 — Santa Maria, Azores

Like the Maasai trackers of East Africa, our local whale experts have centuries of ties to their surroundings and an instinct for scouting its wild inhabitants. They will guide us on our morning whale-watching. In the afternoon, we go ashore at Santa Maria, historically significant as the first landfall of Christopher Columbus on his return from the Americas. For those interested in getting some exercise, there are hiking trails that will allow us to experience the scenery and atmosphere of the island.

Day 6 — At Sea


Days 7 & 8 — Madeira, Portugal

Often referred to as the ‘floating garden of the Atlantic,’ Madeira has beautiful scenery, with a delicious climate. Walk in the Laurisilva forest, endemic to Macaronesia and now a UNESCO Site. Wander along the levadas (former irrigation channels) that network the island or visit the Botanical Gardens. Sample Madeira’s seafood and hear a performance of authentic Fado singing. Have a tasting of the famed Madeira wines, and browse the exquisite embroidery and wicker crafted here. Zodiac cruise around the nearby islands of Desertas, a nature reserve, to see the multi-colored coastline geology and search for the rare endangered monk seal.

Day 9 — Canary Islands, Spain

After a morning at sea, arrive in the lush, European-flavored Canary Islands. All are of volcanic origin, reflected everywhere in the landscapes. The Canary Islands are known for their sunny climate and historical heritage. La Palma is known as Isla Bonita, the “pretty isle,” for its lush mountain slopes set against azure waters. Head up to the edge of a small crater for beautiful views and visit the church of Our Lady of the Snows, with its Spanish-Moorish architecture.

Day 10 — La Gomera, Canary Islands

La Gomera was the departure point of Christopher Columbus’ journey to the New World. On this unspoiled island, we spend time at Garajonay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to hike and stretch our legs.

Days 11 & 12 — At Sea


Days 13 & 14 — Cape Verde

The spectacular mountainous volcanic islands of Cape Verde comprise one of the world’s smallest independent nations. See impressive landscapes on Santo Antao: terraced hillsides, eucalyptus forests, and deep valleys. Visit the island of Fogo, and add volcano-gazing to your life list. We drive 5,000 feet up the volcano to sample the local wine at its source: inside the caldera!

Days 15 & 16 — Praia, Santiago Island, Cape Verde/U.S.

Disembark in Praia, the bustling capital of Cape Verde. The Old Town was founded by the Portuguese and was once the most prosperous city of the Portuguese sea-borne empire. This morning we see the old fortress, cathedral and the pelourhino, a relic of the slave trade. Or you may want to hike the green and mountainous countryside. Dotted with small villages, it offers an insight into daily life on the island. In the late evening we transfer to the airport for our flight home.

Special Offer

$1,200 Airfare Credit

Book now and receive a $1,200 per person airfare credit. Airfare is subject to availability and must be ticketed by Lindblad Expeditions.

Lindblad/National Geographic Logo

This trip is offered in association with Lindblad Expeditions.


This expedition is not currently being offered.