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Yachting through an expert lens: East Africa
Head of Yacht Expeditions at Pelorus, Elise Ciappara, takes us through her ultimate journey of exploration on board a superyacht, diving further into the world of luxury and adventure. With over 11 years’ experience in the yachting industry, many of those spent cruising the globe as Chief Stewardess and Purser on board yachts ranging from 30 – 90 meters, Elise has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Every trip Elise plans is curated through an expert lens, and here she mixes adventure, history, culture, and wildlife in her dream itinerary, exploring the hidden gems of the East African coastline.
What type of yacht would you choose for this itinerary?
Yachts are an incredible way to see the world and staying on board a 70m+ 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 personalised cocktail or my favourite 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 realised 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 palaeontologist as we dig to find out more about the evolution of animals, 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 harbour 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 30 metres. 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 to one of the last Dugong populations 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, that 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 whilst away is look at my phone or to 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 organised. 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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