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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Vasco da Gama is believed to have been born in Sines, Portugal in the year 1460 or 1469 and died in 1524. He is noted as the first explorer to reach India by sea from Europe in one of the longest voyages at the time. The voyage to India was prompted by King Manuel who wanted to displace middlemen and foreign traders of the highly lucrative spice trade to the west. Vasco da Gama set off on this voyage with four ships: St. Gabriel, which he commanded; St. Raphael, commanded by his brother Paulo; Berrio, commanded by Nicolas Coelho; and a supply ship.

They left Lisbon on 8th July 1497 and followed the route along Africa’s Cape Verde islands to reach the coast of present day Sierra Leone. They proceeded south to South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. The explorers arrived in Mozambique on 2nd March, 1498 and hurriedly left for Mombasa after hostilities in Mozambique. In Mombasa, they were met with similar hostilities forcing them to proceed north to the friendlier port of Malindi. In Malindi they were able to secure the services of a pilot who assisted them in reaching Calicut, India on 20th May 1498.

Vasco da Gama left Calicut for Portugal on 29th August 1498 on the same route. Berrio was the first ship of the fleet to reach Lisbon on 10th July 1499. Vasco da Gama reached Lisbon on 29 August 1499 after their separation with the Berrio at sea.

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