On our special Sea to Sahara journey, Zegrahm president Van Perry and co-founder Mike Messick lead guests to amazing discoveries across the west coast of Africa. In fact, five itinerary highlights have received UNESCO status:
Cape Verde’s former capital, founded as Ribeira Grande by the Portuguese in the mid-1400s, stands as the oldest European colony in the tropics. Located on the southern tip of São Tiago Island, Cidade Velha (Old Town) was once a major stop for explorers to the New World. Impressive fortress and church ruins remain at the World Heritage site, although it is the town’s role in the slave trade that will forever live in infamy.
The second-smallest of the main Canary Islands boasts two World Heritage designees. Garajonay National Park protects 10,000 acres of some of the world’s last subtropical laurel forest. Silbo Gomero, La Gomera’s indigenous whistled language, was created by inhabitants to communicate across the rugged topography; UNESCO recognized it as “an element that defines the culture and tradition of the island.”
Timanfaya National Park
During the 1730s, more than 100 volcanoes emerged on the west coast of Lanzarote, devastating villages and creating an eerie, Mars-like terrain. These “Fire Mountains,” comprising a Biosphere Reserve spread across nearly 12,500 acres, are a definite must-do in the Canary Islands; feel the heat still emanating from the virgin lava and admire the rare plants that grow in the surreal, multi-colored landscape.
The economic and cultural influence of this former imperial city stretched across the western Muslim world. Its thousand-year-old, walled medina is a labyrinth of bustling souks and stunning monuments, such as the iconic 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque and Kasbah, where further fortifications guard the Bahia Palace, Ben Youssef Madrasa—Morocco’s largest—and Saadian Tombs.
Luxurious vegetation, including many indigenous species, earned La Palma the moniker “La Isla Bonita” (The Pretty Island). It also secured Biosphere Reserve designation for the entire Canary Island, which protects its environmental diversity in two nature reserves and a national park. The latter, Caldera de Taburiente, is also recognized as a prime stargazing destination by the Starlight Foundation.
Guests joining our Sea to Sahara journey also visit three sites on UNESCO’s Tentative List:
Cova, Paul and Ribeira da Torre Natural Park
Tiny, straw-roofed houses on Santo Antão in the Canary Islands are acknowledged as “an outstanding example of traditional settlement and land use.”
UNESCO supports the creation of a national park to preserve this biodiverse region in the Western Sahara, home of the nomadic Sahraoui people and a veritable oasis for migrant shorebirds and marine animals.
Set at the crossroads of three continents, the Moroccan city’s architecture reflects a striking confluence of African, European, and American influences.
For more information, visit Sea to Sahara.