Sicily & Malta: History, Culture & Nature: May 02—11, 2017

Aboard the Sea Cloud

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Please contact us if you would like more information on upcoming departures for this tour.

Departs: Valletta, Malta
Tour Limit: 54
Operations Manager: Greg Lopez
Download Itinerary: PDF (676.5 KB)

Route Map


Tour Leaders


Victor Emanuel

Victor Emanuel started birding in Texas 70 years ago at the age of eight. His travels have t...


Barry Lyon

Barry Lyon's passion for the outdoors and birding has its roots in his childhood in southern...


Larry Wolff

Larry Wolff is the Silver Professor of European History at New York University and Director ...


Peter Zika

Peter Zika is a field biologist from Seattle, investigating and describing new species of pl...

More Information

An enchanting voyage from Malta to Sicily combines rich Mediterranean history and culture with opportunities for birding, botany, and other natural history.

Stationed at an ancient crossroads of Mediterranean civilization, lovely Sicily and Malta offer a marvelous travel experience. Beautiful scenery, vibrant cities, ancient ruins, and verdant pastoral landscapes bring to life classical images of southernmost Europe.

In May 2017, VENT will return to the Mediterranean for a cruise to Sicily and Malta, two of Europe’s most fascinating and historic locations. For this voyage, we have chartered the peerless Sea Cloud, a four-masted barque widely regarded as the world’s most beautiful sailing vessel, for a trip that combines the rich history of Sicily and Malta with emphasis on the region’s natural history highlights, particularly birds and botany.

An exciting itinerary includes a day on Malta and a partial circumnavigation of Sicily. Our voyage begins in beautiful Valletta, the mainly Baroque capital of Malta and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Valletta, we’ll cruise to the western edge of Sicily before tracing a route along the south coast en route to Syracuse on the southeastern side of the island. We’ll call at several important ports including Trapani, Marsala, Porto Empedocle, and Syracuse. Land excursions to some of the finest Greco-Roman archaeological sites surviving from antiquity include Segesta, home to a remarkably well-preserved Doric temple and Greek theater; Selinunte and its stately Temple of Hera; Agrigento and its golden-brown temples of Juno and Concordia; and Syracuse, featuring the Temple of Apollo and the famed Greco-Roman theater. Visits to two important nature preserves promise an array of waterbirds and landbirds.

Temple of Segesta, Sicily

Temple of Segesta, Sicily— Photo: luigi nifosi/shutterstock


Early May is a lovely time of the year to travel in Sicily and Malta, with spring flowers in bloom, mild temperatures, and birds on the move. Among the species we’ll seek are a range of regional specialties and passage migrants including Levantine Shearwater, Purple Heron, Pied Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Audouin’s and Slender-billed gulls, European Bee-eater, European Roller, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, Italian Sparrow, and Corn Bunting. 

Highlighting the allure is the opportunity to travel aboard Sea Cloud. Ornate in her all-wood construction, resplendent under sail, and owner of a vivid history, this majestic ship sets a standard by which all other ships are measured.

With historical and natural history interpretation throughout the trip, there simply is no better way to experience the charm of Sicily. Joining VENT leaders Victor Emanuel and Barry Lyon for this special departure are Larry Wolff, the Silver Professor of European History at New York University and Director of the NYU Center for European and Mediterranean Studies; and Peter Zika, a superb field biologist and botanist at the herbarium of the University of Washington.

European Bee-eater

European Bee-eater— Photo: Vladimir Kogan Michael/shutterstock


For those who want to experience more of Malta and Sicily, land-based Birds & History tours will be offered as optional pre- and post- cruise extensions. Our Malta Pre-trip combines birding and sightseeing in a variety of island-wide locations including the Three Cities region on Grand Harbor, the medieval fortress of Mdina, the Neolithic site of Hagar Qim, and the wetlands of Ghadira Nature Reserve. Our Sicily Extension will spend time in the island capital of Palermo, travel to the beautiful cliffside town of Taormina, and go birding on the volcanic slopes of Mt. Etna, Europe’s highest volcano. 

A multi-themed program features one night in Valletta, Sicily and six nights aboard the Sea Cloud; excellent accommodations and cuisine; shore excursions to ruins and birding and nature sites will involve short, easy walks; warm temperatures expected but rain is possible.