Malta: Pre-trip to the Sicily & Malta Cruise Aboard the Sea Cloud: Apr 29—May 03, 2017
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An optional pre-trip to our Sicily and Malta cruise aboard the Sea Cloud explores in greater depth the natural, historical, and cultural highlights of the island-nation of Malta, one of Europe’s most charming countries.
Situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is famous as a crossroads of history’s greatest civilizations. Malta is one of Europe’s smallest countries, but what it lacks in size is made up for in charm. Successful and prosperous, historic and culturally rich, Malta is a favored getaway for travelers from Europe and the United States.
For this pre-trip to our cruise, Sicily & Malta: History, Culture & Nature aboard the Sea Cloud, we’ll experience the island-nation of Malta beyond what is offered in the cruise program. We will have three days to explore the island, visiting a variety of important historical, birding, and scenic locations.
Malta’s illustrious history is on display everywhere, as evidenced by the fact that it hosts a greater density of UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any country in the world. Our itinerary visits a selection of prominent sites, each of which provides exposure to a slice of Maltese history. On the first morning we’ll enjoy a boat ride on Grand Harbor, featuring spectacular views of the walled capital city, Valletta, followed by a walking tour of the Three Cities district. We’ll journey inland to the remarkable St. Paul’s Catacombs, an expansive underground burial chamber used during Phoenician, Punic, Roman, and early-Christian times.
We’ll travel to South Malta for a visit to the Neolithic site of Hagar Qim followed by lunch on the waterfront at Marsaxlokk, famous for its fleet of colorful fishing boats. For a special treat, on one evening we’ll have dinner in the old city of Mdina, unique for its Arabic, Norman, and Gothic architectural styles.
Late April and early May are a prime time to be in Malta for birding, as this is when the island’s resident species are joined by northbound passage migrants. Visits to the Buskett Gardens, Ghadira Nature Reserve, and Foresta 2000, the latter two BirdLife Malta sites, afford opportunities to seek a range of migrating shorebirds and landbirds. Little Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt, European Honey-buzzard, Cetti’s and Sardinian warblers, Blue Rock-Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, and Italian Sparrow are representative of the possibilities.
Finally, our travels will showcase Malta’s scenic beauty, such as the Dingli Cliffs and Blue Grotto, highlighted by flower-filled uplands, towering limestone cliffs, and dramatic seascapes.
Superior accommodations and cuisine; multi-themed program includes a mix of sightseeing and birding activities; light physical demands with a moderate amount of walking; mild to warm temperatures expected; rain unlikely but possible.