This is the second of three issues commemorating the discovery of a sea route from Europe to India by Vasco da Gama and his crew (1497-99). This issue depicts the trip’s second stage, on the West coast of Africa.
After rounding the Cape of Good Hope, the fleet passed in December 1497 a stretch of coast that was named Natal (Christmas, in Portuguese). The fleet then landed on various places up to what is nowadays Kenya, erecting padrões (standards) and being the first Europeans to enter Mombasa, but were understandably often met with hostility. It was in the friendlier Malindi that Vasco da Gama was able to find a pilot to guide them to India using the monsoon winds.
The stamps were designed by Carlos Possolo, lithographed by Litografia Maia on enamelled paper sheets with 4 sets of stamps having perforation 12×12½, and circulated from 5 November 1997 to 30 September 2001.