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West African Pelagic



Bird & Wildlife Cruise:
birds, whales & dolphins & photography.


Praia (Cape Verde) via Razo Island – cruise northeast – through the Canary Islands then via Salvage and Desertas Islands – Bay of Biscay – English Channel – Vlissingen, Holland


Regional seabirds including Fea’s and Bulwer’s Petrels (with Deserta’s and Zino’s possible), Cape Verde, Scopoli’s, Boyd’s and Barolo’s Shearwaters, White-faced and Madeiran Storm-Petrels, island endemics and 12+ species of whale and dolphins.




100+ passenger very comfortable expedition cruise ship, all cabins with private facilities.

Cape Verdes to Holland - Seabirds and Cetaceans of Macronesia and the North Atlantic

We are pleased to offer the fourth, and possibly final departure, of this affordable itinerary, which will appeal to all seabird and cetacean buffs, to an area where some highly desired West Palearctic tubenoses can be seen, some of which are in the process of ongoing species ‘splitting’ at this time. This voyage potentially saves a lot of money compared to the series of multi-island visits currently required to see these species. The inaugural voyage took place in May 2011 with all our main targets seen by our pioneering group, and a full report and species list can be found on our website. A second departure took place in spring 2013. (The third departure ran as a private charter in 2016). This expedition will finish in Holland, having sailed north through the Bay of Biscay. This area is not so well known in spring but previous spring pelagic vagrants have included Black-winged Petrel. A WildWings evening log will be held nightly onboard followed by ID discussions and the day’s photo analysis after dinner for those interested.  We will encourage the use of onboard walkie-talkie radios to try and maximise everyone’s personal sightings. Daylight hours will be from 0600 to 1900, but will increase as the voyage sails north.

Our voyage will start in Praia, Cape Verdes and sail northeast, effectively towards the coast of West Africa and then north through the Canary Islands, onwards via the Salvage and Desertas Islands north into the Bay of Biscay. There are no planned landings but we may Zodiac cruise close inshore to a few islands if time and sea conditions permit. Potential seabirds include Scopoli’s (2013 only), Cape Verde , Cory’s, Boyd’s (Audubon’s), Barolo’s (Little), Sooty and Manx Shearwaters, Fea’s, Desertas and possibly Zino’s Petrels, White-faced, Madeiran, Wilson’s, Leach’s and European Storm-Petrels, Bulwer’s Petrel, Magnificent Frigatebird, Red-billed Tropicbird and Brown Booby. Other species should include all four skuas plus various terns and gulls and of course with being out on the ocean the odd surprise or two. In 2011 we saw what may be the second record of White-tailed Tropicbird for the WP! We also enjoyed some non-seabird vagrants, Black Heron and Intermediate Egret on Cape Verde. In late May 2011 a South Polar Skua was recorded in the waters around Madeira too. We will also offer optional land birding on Cape Verde prior to sailing (see our special package below). 

The ‘private’ 2016 sailing added Red-footed Booby and the recently split Cape Verde Storm-Petrel to the multi-year list, plus another South Polar Skua.

The cetacean list seen includes Blue (2013 only), Sperm, Bryde’s, Humpback and Short-finned Pilot Whales, False Killer Whales (2013 only) plus Orcas (2011 only). We’ve also encountered many dolphins including Atlantic Humpback (2013 only), Bottlenose, both Pantropical and Atlantic Spotteds, both Long (2011 only) and Short-beaked Common, Rough-toothed (2011 only), Risso’s and Striped. Many more species of whale and dolphin are likely too including various beaked whales. A few Mediterranean Monk Seals still exist around the Deserta Islands. Other marine life such as turtles, sharks, Ocean Sunfish plus flying fish and flying squid should also be encountered.

This voyage will be in effect a second extension of the Atlantic Odyssey, but you may join the ship just for this twelve night sector. Our ship will be M/VPlancius, a very comfortable expedition cruise ship with superb wildlife viewing in all directions and at all deck levels. She carries a maximum of 114 passengers in quadruple, twin and superior twin cabins, all with shower and wc, a window or port hole. She has a restaurant and a spacious observation lounge and bar with panoramic windows on deck 5.  The ship has internet access and a passenger e-mail system if required.


The day before sailing we offer a WildWings birding excursion by bus to seek the endemic Cape Verde Warbler and Iago Sparrow, Kestrel, Alexander’s Swifts plus will visit the reservoir for herons (including a good chance of Bourne’s Heron) and other waterfowl too. Cream-coloured Courser and Brown-necked Raven were also seen in 2013.


If you’ve never tried a bird and wildlife cruise before, this is a good place to start, especially as generally calm seas and warm weather can be expected most of the time. 

Day 1: Embark vessel and sail from Praia, Cape Verde.

Day 2: At sea in the waters of the Cape Verdes, early morning zodiac cruise off Raso planned, PM at sea.

Day 3:  At sea heading north east towards the coast of Africa.

Day 4: At sea.

Day 5: Sailing in the waters of the Canary Islands.

Day 6: Salvage Islands, perhaps Zodiac cruise, afternoon at sea and Deserta Islands later in the day.

Day 7: Atlantic Ocean, at sea, via seamounts.

Day 8: At sea.

Day 9: At sea, off the Iberian coast.

Days 10-11: At sea, Bay of Biscay and into the English Channel.

Day 12: English Channel.

Day 13: Disembark Vlissingen, Holland.

NB: As applies to all expedition cruises, the exact sea itinerary will be subject to weather, local conditions and government permissions. 

Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.

WildWings Leader: Steve Holloway plus the rest of the ship’s expedition staff.

Dates: TBC April – TBC May TBC (This voyage last operated in 2018, please contact us and register your interest in a future sailing!

Vessel: Plancius, all cabins with private facilities.

Prices: From £1775 per person sharing a cabin 

Single supplement: Bookings can be accepted on a share basis, if you would prefer a single cabin it will be 1.7 of the applicable twin share price. 

Deposit: 20%

2018 Prices per person, all cabins with private facilities.

£1775    Quad berths (upper and lower) portholes & private facilities                     

£1995    Triple berths (upper and lower) portholes & private facilities            

£2395    Twin share (lower berths) portholes & private facilities                             

£2585    Twin share (lower berths) window/s & private facilities                            

£2775    Twin deluxe (lower berths) windows, private facilities                              

£2795    Superior (double & single sofa bed) windows, private facilities                

Deposit 20%                                     

Based on £1 = Euro 1.15

NB: This voyage will operate as a private charter, early bookings are therefore highly recommended! A final decision on if it will operate will be made in August 2017. In the event it does not, immediate and full deposit refunds will be made. Please do not make any other firm travel arrangements until we confirm it’s operation at that time.

Price includes: Voyage with accommodation as booked, including all meals, tea and coffee, Zodiac cruises if applicable, port taxes, services of ship’s team, daily sea watching sessions and evening log (at sea), services of WildWings leader and ship’s other naturalists and guides, pre-voyage information pack and day by day bird and marine mammal checklist. 

2018 Pre-voyage package: c£445 per person includes one way flight from Lisbon to Praia, 28th April departing at 2150, transfers on arrival, two nights 4* hotel sharing a twin with private facilities, room only, full day birding excursion by bus on Praia. Single room supplement £90. Heathrow flight supplement from £140pp, Manchester flight supplement from £190pp.

2018 Post-voyage: Vlissingen is only about three hours by train to Amsterdam Airport, fares from £26. From Amsterdam you can fly back to a number of UK airports eg Heathrow from £95pp, Gatwick from £55pp plus flights to Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast etc.

Price excludes: Flights, visa for Cape Verdes (Euros c40 per person payable in cash on arrival), onboard crew gratuities (suggested Euros15 a day on board ship), meals on Praia, optional morning birding excursion on day of sailing, travel insurance, other pre and/or post voyage hotels if required, other drinks and items of a personal nature.

The 2011 and 2013,2018 voyage reports and species lists can be found on this website.

A former Dutch naval vessel which has been rebuilt for expedition cruising, she carries a maximum of 114 passengers and has a spacious observation lounge and lots of outside open deck space, at all levels and with viewing in all directions. All cabins with private facilities and portholes or windows. Officers and crew professional and friendly. Western expedition staff. Very comfortable with good food. A real expedition feel.

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    To Book
    Please Call
    0117 9658 333

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    “Simon Cook’s knowledge and enthusiasm is a real asset”

    A.H. May 2013 West African Pelagic


    “Fantastic trip all round, most enjoyable. Excellent value for money and filled with top seabird and cetacean experiences with great photo ops too”

    A.S. May 2013 West African Pelagic


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