Arrival in Dakar (Senegal) and transfer to the hotel.
Overnight Hotel Djoloff, hotel de charme with fine traditional architecture and comfort, or similar (Air conditioned, en-suite rooms)
Dakar became the center of political, artistic and intellectual “renouveau” from independence time. Visit of the “Plateau” district, the Governor Palace and some interesting markets as Kermel built in pure colonial style. Lunch in a typical restaurant. Afternoon dedicated to the “Village des Arts” composed by fifty-two artist studios (ateliers). All disciplines of the visual arts are represented (painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, video, installation, etc.). The Village has a large gallery, which receives exhibitions year round. The Village is “the place” to meet the best artist and young talents of the Senegalese vibrant artistic scene.. Arrival at the port of Dakar to board a ferry and spend a night in Gore Island. Mini night tour of Goré
Meals Lunch and Dinner in a restaurant
Overnight Hotel Municipal, “hotel de charme” in a full restored stone building, or similar (air conditioned, en-suite rooms).
Waking up in Goré before the crowd arrives is a pleasure, as strolling in the tiny stone paved alleys of this historical settlement. In Goré slaves used to be crammed and then shipped to the Americas. The town is totally restored to bear witness of those ancient times, however thanks to the nice breeze, the ancient architecture, the many restaurants and boutiques; Goré today has become a very pleasant and trendy location. Ferry to Dakar and drive to Lac Rose, a shallow saltwater lake surrounded by dunes, also known as Lac Retba. The water is ten times saltier than in the ocean and thanks to the high concentration the lake often shimmers into pink. More than 600 workers here collect salt in the traditional way. Along the coast we discover the largest fisherman village in Senegal, more than 4500 wooden painted pirogues came to the shore with the catch of the day… We will live our vehicles for a less intrusive, but fun, donkey chariot to approach the fisherman selling to the local market women, to meet the artisans craving the large pirogues, the painters decorating them with bright colors and if we are lucky the “local saint” for final blessing before sailing…
Meals included in a restaurant and at the camp.
Overnight Hotel Traza or similar (air conditioned, en-suite rooms).
Saint Louis is a charming old town which was the first capital of West Africa French colonies (AOF). Has been the former base of the “Aeropostale” airmail pioneer operation between Europe, Africa and South America. Saint Exupéry the famous writer author of “The Little Prince” was one of Aeropostale pilotes following this route. The best way to visit the narrow lanes of Saint Louis is by calash, just as locals do, and walk in the fisherman quarters. Time to stroll in the tiny avenues and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this old town.
We will spend the night at the historic hotel of the town - built in 1895 and now fully renovated - it was here that all Aeropostale pilots use to stay.
Meals Lunch in a restaurant, dinner a charming restaurant facing Senegal river.
Overnight Hotel de la Poste or similar (Air conditioned, en-suite rooms).
Early in the morning departure northwards to discover Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj), a natural oasis formed by hundreds of miles of partially flooded lands which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This “humid paradise” - the best habitat and nesting site for over a million of migratory and resident birds - lies on the southeastern bank of the Senegal River and offers a range of wetland habitats that are very popular with migrating birds, many of which get here after crossing the Sahara. Out of over 400 species, pelicans and flamingos are the most common, whereas aquatic warblers are a bit less conspicuous - migrating here from Europe, this park is their single most important wintering site yet discovered. Apart from birds there is also a wide range of wildlife has warthog and crocodiles. Motor boat excursion leaded by a local guide-ornithologist
In the afternoon continuation to the Ferlo Desert to discover the arid region where nomadic Fulani tribes herds large droves of zebu. The Fulani (also called Peul) are the largest tribe roaming West African savannahs, living in a vast area from Senegal to Chad. Their origins are still covered with mystery but they all share a common and aristocratic cult for beauty and elegance. In the afternoon a local guide will join us for a visit to the neighboring villages and shelters. When the herds come back, we might even be invited to witness the milking process.
Meals included in a local restaurant and at the camp restaurant.
Overnight Camp made up of simple grass huts, managed by a local entrepreneur (all rooms with beds, mosquito nets are en-suite).
The rarely visited the holly town of Tuba (Touba) is the right place to appreciate the hospitality of an African brotherhood. Tuba inhabitants follow Mouridism and the town itself is a sort of theocratic “state within the state”, ruled by a Caliph. The founder of Mouridi brotherhood was a Sufi named Amhadou Bàmba Mbake and still today the Mouridi have a large social and economical impact in Senegal: thanks to their peaceful (and African) vision of Islam, Mouridism has become the bastion that protects Senegal from radical Islam. During the annual festival the town is visited by four million pilgrims. Mouridi welcome any interest for their traditions yet since Tuba is a sacred town, all visitors should show respect for traditional rules, therefore we must apply a considerate dress code, not smoke, not drink alcohol and not listen to music during the visit. If we follow these simple rules, you will be welcomed. Baye Fall, a member of a colorful branch of Mouridism, will accompany us during the visit.
Meals included in a local restaurant and at the hotel.
Overnight Hotel Kabacoto Safati or similar (Air conditioned, en-suite rooms).
Early departure, we will live the main road to discover the unique megalithic site of Sine Ngayene composed by 52 circles of erected stones, including a double circle. With a total of 1102 carved stones this unique site has been recognized by the UNESCO. After Gambia border formalities we will drive to the northern banks of Gambia estuary where we will join a ferry with a colourful crowd to cross this large river. We will shore at Banjul and arrival to Senegambia hotel the first hotel that has open the country to tourism located in a large and lush park where is easy to encounter birds and monkeys that roams freely often also in the reception. It will be Friday evening, lunch in a restaurant before roaming from club to club to enjoy vibrant music and African style of enjoy.
Meals included, lunch picnic, dinner at the hotel restaurant or at a lively town restaurant.
Overnight Atlantic hotel, separate buildings in a tropical forest vegetation, private beach facing the ocean.
With an ornithological guide we will discover different species of African birds in their habitat. Visit the National museum focused on different aspect of the country: from archaeology to recent history, to art, music and photography. Lunch and in the afternoon drive to the southern border whit Casamance region of Senegal. Evening arrival to our comfortable hotel on the banks of Casamance River where we will stay two nights.
Meals included in a local restaurants.
Overnight Kadiandoumange Hotel on the banks of the river or similar (air conditioned en suite rooms)
We will live the main road to visit an adobe-fortified building still inhabited by a large patriarchal Diola family, a very interesting example of traditional African “sculptural architecture”. These large clay and wooden fortified houses, where light comes from a central hole in the roof, are known as “impluvium houses” and had the function to protect its dwellers from outside attacks. We will be received by the king of a Diola Kingdom. After the protocol salutations the king, that is also the high priest holding both political and mystical power, will answer our question on the traditional rules in Diola society.
In the afternoon we follow an isolated path to a tiny village and … masks leave the sacred forest (where only initiated are admitted) to dance for an enthusiastic local crowd. Mask are part of the animistic Diola culture and Malinka traditions - people fear and respect masks, consider them spirits who play an important role in solving conflicts between villagers. Evening return to Ziguinchor.
Meals included, lunch in a local restaurant and dinner at the hotel.
Overnight Kadiandoumange Hotel on the banks of the river or similar (air conditioned en suite rooms)
Early departure for a long but interesting day. After crossing the border with Guinea Bissau our day will be dedicated to exploring the region inhabited by the Manjaco. This ethnic group calls their traditions “Gendiman” and keeps them still very much alive. We visit tiny villages hidden in the forest to discover sculptured wooden poles called “Pecab” representing the spirits of their ancestors; they are kept in sanctuaries known as “Cab Balugun”. With the permission of the elders, we will have the opportunity to admire sacred wooden sculptures varying in age and styles. It is indeed a unique opportunity to enjoy tribal art in its original cultural context: the village.
Arrival in Bissau
Meals included in local restaurant or pic-nick and at the hotel
Overnight Hotel Azalai or similar (air conditioned en suite rooms)
Morning spent discovering the magical and animistic traditions of the intriguing Pepel people. In this region the forest hides a fetish endowed with feared powers: only the initiated young men can carry it on their shoulders…
We drive to Quinhamel to visit of a traditional healer specialized in the treatment of bone injures. He will show us the herbals and traditional medicaments and explain us his way of proceeding and how he became a “healer”.
Visit of an old-style local rum distillery (Cana) dating back to the old colonial days and walk across a cashew nuts plantation, the main export product of the country.
Finally, we are back to Bissau to enjoy the last vibes of the carnival. We will stroll around Bissau-Vehlo: the lively old quarter with its sleepy streets and alleys. Here we will be amazed by the interesting Portuguese architecture which gives Bissau an atmosphere that reminds us of Portugal back in the days. Old wooden café where to drink Portuguese wine and watch Portuguese news. Or an open-air restaurant where to drink the best mojito in town
Meals included, pic nic and at the hotel
Overnight Hotel Azalai or similar (air conditioned en-suite rooms)
Aboard a speedboat, we start our sailing to discover the Bijagos Archipelago with its remote islands and isolated human settlements. The Bijagos Archipelago is located approximately 40 miles off-shore and, with its 88 islands (of which only 21 are permanently inhabited), is the largest archipelago in Africa. With its wild and pristine landscapes, its genuine tribal culture and its unique fauna, Bijagos is a “geographical jewel”.
Due to the remoteness of the destination, the lack of transportation and the deep attachment to the local traditions, the Bijagos inhabitants have been little influenced by the external world: during ceremonies women still wear the saiya - a traditional skirt made of straw - and the rhythm of life in villages is given by initiations and secret ceremonies – for example young men have to go through a seven-year initiation rite during which they live in a “convent” without any contact with women..
Our first stop will be Bolama Island, the former capital of Portuguese Guinea from 1871 to 1941, before it was moved to Bissau. When the Portuguese left, native people came to live in the town which is now falling apart and is partly invaded by tropical vegetation. It was originally built following the plans of a «Castrum Romanum» (roman citadel) so today we can witness its large sunny lethargic avenues, its empty squares, its dry fountains, its bush-like gardens and its charming administrative buildings in neo Palladian style. In the Governor’s Palace we can still admire columns in the classic style … where now goats graze! Bolama, although inhabited, is plunged in the fairy-tale atmosphere of a ghost town.
Arrival on Rubane Island where we will stay at the most beautiful lodge of the Bijagos Archipelago.
Meals Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overnight Hotel Ponta Anchaca or similar (ocean front comfortable bungalows en-suite with air conditioning, private wild beach, sea water swimming pool, spectacular bar and gastronomic restaurant on stilts).
Day of relax to enjoy the archipelago way of life: relax at the wild beach, swimming pool, or walking to explore villages and luxuriant vegetation.
Optional included: excursion to Soga bay and Bubaque, the largest village in the archipelago and the only one connected to the continent, by an old ferry once a week. In Bubaque we will find unpaved alleys, a tiny colorful market, local bars and traders. Quite interesting the small ethnographic museum dedicated to the Bijagos culture. Return to our comfortable base at Rubane Island for lunch.
Optional not included: game fishing.
Meals included, at a restaurant, at the hotel.
Overnight Lodge Ponta Anchaca or similar. Large and comfortable ocean front air-conditioned bungalows. Swimming pool, private beach. Gastronomic restaurant on stilts, French and international cuisine, specialized in the catch of the day, different menus available.
Arrival by speedboat to Bissau: on time to attend the carnival parade
In the evening transfer to the airport for the flight out. End of services
At the end of this intense journey, we can recommend a few extra days in the Bijagos Archipelago, a natural paradise. On request, we can arrange for some days in Ponta Anchaca Hotel on Rubane Island, in a comfortable ocean-front bungalow enjoying fine French and tropical cuisine. At the hotel you can relax at the pool, go for walks on the wild beach, discover the island lush vegetation or do some game fishing - Bijagos Archipelago is a known destination for rich game fishing, ask details.
Meals Breakfast, Lunch
Day-use Rooms in day-use till 18.00 (all rooms en-suite and with air conditioning)