Kristina's African Safaris
The Road to Timbuktu and the Rivers of West Africa
At the end of the Earth, dusty light hallows corridors of clay. Figures walk by in indigo robes and white turbans, smiling, laughing, singing, and praying. At the end of the Earth, musty tomes, centuries old, describe ancient histories, themselves but mysterious transcriptions of tales told to children, handed down to generation after generation. And a fantastical temple rises up, studded and turreted with hand-sculpted mud, forged anew each year for the last thousand years.
This is Timbuktu—poised at the edge of the Sahara, as far away as the imagination can peer, as legendary as El Dorado . . . and now as close as you wish it.
In the long centuries before Magellan, Timbuktu was the destination of camel caravans, bearing salt from the Sahara in exchange for gold, jewels, and precious ivory. It rose to prominence as a scholarly center of Arab Africa before a long period of decline, with the sand dunes inexorably closing in. Only in 1828 did the first European traveler return from Timbuktu. Almost nowhere else is a place so fabled and so prominent in history and myth also so isolated from the rest of the world.
Do you seek an experience beyond your familiar borders? Do you wonder about ancient landscapes and cultures rooted to the fabric of human history?
Because for us, Timbuktu is merely the beginning of a journey—into the heart of West Africa, where myriad cultures and natural wonders will leave you breathless.
The Road to Timbuktu winds through the 19th-century French colonial town of Segou en route to Djenne, home to the famous Grand Mosque, the greatest mosque in West Africa and the largest mud-brick structure in the world. Admire this otherworldly Sahel-style structure before driving through lonely landscapes of epic beauty to Mopti, a bustling city known for its trade in carved wood sculptures and dramatically colored fabrics. Explore the mystical Dogon region, where a complex animistic cosmology reigns, inspiring mask ceremonies, vibrant rock paintings, and mystical cliff dwellings. Unlike most pilgrimages to Timbuktu, a short flight will transport us to this most legendary of cities, bypassing a lengthy and arduous drive for your comfort and convenience.
Sub-Saharan civilizations are only half the story of West Africa. After our exploration of the Dogon region and Timbuktu, we’ll continue our journey aboard the 34-guest Callisto, an elegant private yacht hailed for its wonderful combination of superb cuisine, impeccable service, and intimate ambience, for a dazzling cruise down the Casamance, Gambia, and Saloum rivers of Senegal and The Gambia. You will be surrounded by the extraordinary wildlife of the Casamance, Baobolong Wetland Reserve, Kiang West National Park, and Abuko Nature Preserve—a completely different experience of nature than in the well-trodden safari routes of Kenya and Tanzania. Kingfishers swoop, baboons howl, and warthogs rut and snuffle along the banks; marsh mongoose and roan antelopes dart through isolated expanses of woodland and grassland. An awe-inspiring display of bird life, with hundreds of species from carmine bee-eaters to yellow-billed storks and paradise flycatchers, will amaze champion and neophyte birdwatchers alike. Dock at traditional villages and take excursions to historic towns—including M’lomp, with its banco houses and silk-cotton trees, and Jufureh, famous for its Mandinka culture and griots. Conclude in Dakar, the musical capital of West Africa, for a pilgrimage to Goree Island, creating a comprehensive educational experience in the natural and cultural history of this unbelievably varied region.
Each of our voyages will feature experienced study leaders and guides—experts on the historical, natural, and cultural aspects of West Africa who are eager to introduce you to this awe-inspiring land. In the company of these noted lecturers, we’ll discover Saharan outposts, learn about indigenous cultures and art, and watch for exotic bird life. Among those accompanying our voyages will be Vincent Resh, a biologist and an advisor to 11 West African nations on water sustainability issues; Harry Cahill, who has served as minister-counselor of the U.S. Mission to the U.N. and an expert on the political, economic, and social history of West Africa; and many others.
29, 2005 - Jan. 13, 2006
NOT INCLUDED: Airfare (other than the flights in West Africa listed above); visas; passports; luggage, cancellation, and accident insurance; meals, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages other than those specified above; personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, faxes, and e-mail service; and gratuities to shipboard personnel
Airfare: Airfare (other than the group flights from Mopti to Timbuktu, Timbuktu to Bamako, and Bamako to Dakar) is not included in the cost of the program.
The 34 guest Callisto ship: The finest, most memorable voyages take place aboard a luxurious private yacht. On a private yacht one is part of a small, select, sociable community. Cabins are more like guest rooms in a fine home -- beautifully furnished, comfortably arranged, and complete with the little extras one would expect from a thoughtful host. The yacht's public areas, whether indoors or out on deck, are warm, inviting places where friends meet for conversation, a drink, or to pass a pleasant hour with a good book. The cuisine is superb. And the service is considerate and congenial.
This is the kind of exceptional experience you'll enjoy aboard the Callisto, a beautiful oceangoing yacht that is the fulfillment of a traveler's dream.
Like a fine country house, Callisto is furnished with rich fabrics, handsome woodwork, gleaming brass, rare antiques, and fine works of art. The guest list is limited to no more than 34 individuals -- a group large enough to bring together an interesting mix of travelers, but small enough to foster a genuine spirit of camaraderie.
In addition to all of the other pleasures of the Callisto, the ship's guests enjoy an advantage that eludes travelers aboard big ships: because Callisto is a yacht, it can visit those unspoiled islets, pristine beaches, and intimate coves and harbors that have been familiar to fishermen and other sailors of small craft for thousands of years, but which are inaccessible to large commercial cruise liners.
Callisto was designed with the comfort of her guests in mind. All staterooms are exterior with large windows (portholes on Daphne Deck) that look out on the sea and the yacht's various ports of call; they are air conditioned and feature generous storage space, a telephone, two-channel radio, and a marble bath with shower. The yacht's public areas include a spacious lounge; a dining room in which all guests are accommodated at a single unassigned seating; two broad decks for sunbathing and dining alfresco; and a swimming platform at the yacht's stern. The Callisto flies the Greek flag and is served by a crew of 18.
Join us aboard the Callisto and discover for yourself the pleasure of exploring the world from a private yacht.
Single Supplement: A
limited number of singles are available in Categories B & C for an
additional charge of $3,695.
All cabins on board Callisto have picture windows (portholes on Daphne Deck), affording panoramic views, and feature twin, double, or queen-size beds; private bathroom with shower; telephone, radio; TV/VCR; refrigerator; and air-conditioning.
Length: 164 ft. | Beam: 27.7 ft. | Draft: 8 ft. | Gross Tonnage: 435 | Main Engines: Mannheim 2x840 H.P. | Rebuilt/Renovated: 2000 | Flag: Greek