Bartolomeu Dias, Route of explorations

After several decades of exploring the western coast of Africa, the Portuguese crown started dedicating more and more resources to finding a naval route to India and China. With the land trade over the famous Silk Road becoming more and more difficult, several naval powers of Europe started taking advantage of newly discovered technologies for sea navigation and finally started a serious exploration of the regions away from the relative safety of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.

Initially promoted by Prince Henry and later on King John II, Portugal's explorers managed to penetrate far below the equatorial regions of Africa, slowly marking their progress and returning home valuable naval information that helped Portugal establish many colonies and bases across the African Gold Coast. After the death of famous explorer Diogo Cão, King John II of Portugal commissioned Bartolomeu Dias to command the fleet of three ships and find the naval route to India.

The route that Bartolomeu Dias took followed the exploits of many previous Portuguese explorers who charted many regions of the western coast of Africa.

The route to the Africa and Back

  • The expedition started in August in 1487 in Lisbon, Portugal, with the fleet of three ships – flagship São Cristóvão (Saint Christopher), large caravel São Pantaleão, and a supply ship.
  • One of the first stops of his journey was on the Gold Coast of Ghana, where he restocked his supplies at the Portuguese fortress of São Jorge de Mina.
  • He dropped off several of his African passages on the various points of the journey, including two last ones at Angra do Salto (probably modern-day Angola).
  • In Angola, he also left a nine-man crew to guard a portion of his supplies that he intended to use on the return trip home.
  • By December of 1487, Dias reached Walvis Bay in modern Namibia.
  • He made additional stops at Elizabeth Bay and Alexander Bay. Facing the unknown, Dias and his fleet rode on the westerly winds and sailed northeast.- A strong storm pushed his entire fleet much southern than he expected. After 30 days on the opened sea, he finally saw land at the Bay of Saint Blaise (today is known as Mossel Bay) on 3 February 1488.
  • From there, he sailed to the Point Elizabeth and Algoa Bay. The furthest point on his journey was at Boesmans River (Great Fish River), where his crew convinced him that it was time to return home after more than a year on the sea.
  • On 12. In March 1488, Dias erected a monument, claiming the land for the Portuguese crown, and sailed toward Europe.
  • On his return trip, Dias made landfalls at L'Agulhas and, in the May of 1488, at the Cape of Good Hope (which he named "Cape of Storms").
  • Before reaching Europe, Dias made landfall again at Angola, claiming it to the crown of Portugal and picking up three of his surviving crewmembers that guarded supplies on land. Bartolomeu Dias's fleet returned to Portugal in December of 1488 , after 16 months spent on the sea.