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Sail Animal Planet
Single-masted dhows are a marvel of medieval technology. For more than a millennium they’ve sailed between the Persian Gulf and the coast of East Africa, trading spices and beads for ivory, mangrove poles, and jewelry. But for Micato Safaris’ latest high-end trip, a unique land-and-sea expedition, the vessels needed an upgrade. Micato retrofitted a 65-foot craft with six cabins, then added two Zodiacs and diving and snorkeling gear—ample amenities for cruising the Indian Ocean, dropping in on Swahili villages, anchoring in four marine parks, deep-sea fishing (sailfish, striped and black marlin), and detouring to the northernmost reaches of elephant-packed Tsavo National Park. Call it Dhow 2.0. The craft sets sail from Mombasa, a city with "traditional Arab architecture mixed with a Miami Beach–like art deco aesthetic," according to Micato’s director Dennis Pinto, who grew up spending summers on the Kenyan coast. Heading north, the ship pulls into port in Kilifi, where guests share a swig of fenni, a cashew-nut liquor, with a local brewer; then Watamu, where a vast stretch of undeveloped beach serves as one of the largest turtle sanctuaries in the world. A stop at the Gedi Ruins—a 15th-century ghost town constructed out of coral stone—is followed by Tsavo’s elephants, the bustling island of Lamu, and finally the dunes of Kenya’s far north. The speed of the dhow, with just one simple sail, sets the trip’s tempo: "It’s a very leisurely, non-BlackBerry pace," says Pinto.

Outfitter: Micato Safaris;
Price: $7,650
Length: 6 days
Departs: Year-round

Next: Benin, Burkina Faso & Togo: Headlong Into Voodooland

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