As the epic and original adventure up the eastern coast of Africa draws to an end, the guests aboard the National Geographic Orion prepared for their last landing. Mayotte is an overseas region of France. The area is comprised of a few small islands, and though technically Mayotte is within the Comoro Islands, they politically remain part of France.

The bustling morning offered many options; a city tour, snorkeling, diving, and a short hike. As all participants readied themselves for these various opportunities, the stunning beauty of Mayotte awaited just off the ship’s side. The divers left quickly, steaming out towards a beautiful reef which was once an old river bed. This area has been protected as a nature reserve for 15 years, a fact that was made evident by the active coral reef. The water was turquoise blue and visibility was spectacular. With a temperature of 88 degrees Fahrenheit, wetsuits were almost superfluous. The bottom of the ocean was carpeted by granular white sand, the kind that easily rubs between your fingers. Divers spotted unicorn fish, boxfish and giant clams, a variety of coral species, the giant barrel sponge, and many small reef fish. Snorkelers enjoyed an overhead view of the very same dive spot, which seems to be a popular destination of the island (for a good reason).

As hikers and city tour guests landed on Mayotte’s port they were greeted by a lively group of musicians and dancers. Past the entertainment was a spice market, offering fresh cinnamon and vanilla from the region. The hikers set off on an exciting tour of the land, enjoying the tropical climate and strong sun. Incredible wildlife made itself evident, including fruit bats; even sea turtles were spotted from land. City tour guests embarked on an informative trip around the island, learning about the way of life on a French island surrounded by the Indian Ocean.

Once back aboard the ship, the journey to Dar es Salaam began with all sun kissed guests in tow. For the evening meal the crew prepared a fabulous outdoor buffet of local African barbeque items which ended the night, and the fantastic journey everyone had, on a delicious and well-themed note.