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The yacht expert’s dream trip: East Africa
Elise Ciappara, Head of Yacht Expeditions at Pelorus, takes us for a deep dive into the world of luxury and adventure as she describes her ultimate superyacht expedition. Elise’s 11 years plus of experience in the yachting industry includes time as a Chief Stewardess and Purser for yachts in the 100 – 300ft. Her curated trips draw on her wealth of experience and typically weave adventure, culture, wildlife, and history into the itinerary—as she does here, with her dream trip uncovering coastal East Africa’s hidden gems.
What type of yacht would you choose for this itinerary?
Yachts are an incredible way to see the world and staying on board a 220ft+ explorer yacht, that can host helicopters, submarines, jet skis, paddleboards, and a spa, would be my ideal way to explore this region. Service on board a yacht of this size is unparalleled, as you will often find a ratio of 2 crew members to one 1 passenger. If you have never experienced it, it will change you. My interpretation of impeccable service is climbing out of the water to a waiting crew member with a personalized cocktail or my favorite refreshments. This level of detail is a priority for Pelorus.
“The Indian Ocean can be overlooked, and the east coast of Africa needs further exploration.”
Where would you go?
I used to think I had seen most places. On joining Pelorus, I realized there was so much more, and my bucket list immediately grew. The Indian Ocean can be overlooked, and the east coast of Africa needs further exploration. I’ve quietly been creating an itinerary, hoping I could offer someone the chance to take a step back in time through an Africa rarely visited. Starting in Kenya, sailing to Madagascar, and finishing in Mozambique, this three-week trip is incredibly immersive. On a yacht holiday, as with all Pelorus trips, nothing is set in stone, all of our itineraries are tailored to each individual client.
Can you tell us more about this East African itinerary?
Starting inland, I would travel to the Turkana Basin, also known as the ‘Cradle of Humanity’, to join an excavation. Here, spend 3-4 days with a paleontologist as we dig to find out more about the evolution of animals and pollination, and dive further into the birth of human development. After this, I would fly to the highest lake in Rift Valley, the beautiful Naivasha, where there is a national park that houses an array of exotic wildlife. It’s an amazing place to relax, complete a PADI course or head out on night game drives looking for leopards, aardvark, and hippos. Some yachts carry PADI instructors and we can weave in courses throughout the charter. From here, I fly out to Madagascar, where I will board the yacht in the beautiful natural harbor of Antsiranana.
“It wouldn’t be a Pelorus trip without venturing inland by helicopter to explore the ecosystem, taking advantage of the wildlife in Madagascar, of which 90% is endemic and found nowhere else.”
The ideal time to visit Madagascar is July or August, as you’ll have the opportunity to trail behind hundreds of migrating humpbacks. If the yacht is suitably equipped, I would launch a submarine, revealing swarms of whale pods. Madagascar is also home to some of the best breaks in the world, making this a great spot for exceptional kite or heli-surfing. It wouldn’t be a Pelorus trip without venturing inland by helicopter to explore the ecosystem, taking advantage of the wildlife in Madagascar, of which 90% is endemic and found nowhere else. Home to the Baobab tree, commonly known as the ‘Tree of Life’, it can reach up to around 100ft. Release your inner child and try climbing up one of these ancient trees to uncover breathtaking views, giving you the chance to marvel at the forest from a whole new perspective. I would also embark on a Lemur trekking expedition to find the rare Gold Crowned Lemur, which is only found in this pocket of the world, as well as diving through an incredible cave system, where the seabed is littered with the bones of various species in an eerie underwater graveyard.
An overnight and morning cruise will bring the yacht close to the coast of mainland Mozambique. Jet ahead of the main vessel in one of the high-speed tenders for the chance to swim with whale sharks and dive with humpbacks, learning about the marine protected area from your local expert guide on the way. After this, I would head south along the coast to Bazaruto, the main feeding ground of one of the last Dugong populations in the world. En route, you can take the opportunity to explore stunning coral reefs and swim with devil rays, manta rays, and nesting turtles. Bazaruto is known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ and this archipelago will bury itself in your imagination for years to come. Here you can track beaches on horseback before heading into the air on a Microlight airplane to spot the elusive Dugong, see their feeding paths, and maybe even spot the occasional breaching whale.
What other recommendations would you make to get the most out of this yacht expedition?
Taking advantage of a Pelorus host and professional photographer/videographer can greatly add to the experience, leaving you time to be present and in the moment. Let your Pelorus host along with your Captain and crew take care of the logistics to ensure your itinerary runs seamlessly, and relax in the knowledge that as you dive below the surface or trek through the jungle in the search of wildlife, all these precious moments are being captured by a professional. For me, travel is about learning and not letting the outside world blur the experience. I always forget to take photos as the last thing I want to do while away is look at my phone or observe moments from behind a camera lens. Having a professional who knows what they are doing is worth it. I particularly enjoy receiving the album or film once I am home, it’s amazing to have the memories collated and professionally organized. Trips without this tend to live on a memory card for years before I get around to arranging, assuming I even do!
Planning your yacht experience
If this East African yacht expedition concept has whet your appetite for adventure, why not get in touch with the Pelorus team to discuss your own experience
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