Bissau to Cotonou - Heart of West Africa
An exploratory journey taking you southeast from the former Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau to the voodoo heartlands of Benin. Starting in Bissau we immediately descend into traditional West African culture, heading first to the idyllic Bijagos Islands, where local customs are at their strongest and unusual wildlife dwells.
Back on the mainland, we continue by visiting a community of ‘griots’ – traditional storytellers – where we learn about a custom that is unique to this part of the world, then travel through the lands of the Fulani, stopping in small villages and exploring the stunning highlands of the Fouta Djalon range.
In Guinea we see mask dances of ancient secret societies, the incredible ‘living bridges’ of the rainforest, and chimpanzees. Moving on to Sierra Leone we stay on lush tropical islands and discover delightful fishing villages, gorgeous beaches and the troubling history of the slave trade, as well as meeting diamond miners seeking their fortune. In Liberia we explore the heritage of this unusual country, ‘founded’ by freed Afro-American slaves in the 19th century and quite different from others in the region.
Ivory Coast offers us the opportunity to witness and see the amazing mask dances of the Dan and Guere people, as well as the rather bizarre ‘cathedral in the forest’ – the vast and opulent basilica at Yamoussoukro. As we hit the coast again we travel through old colonial settlements dotted with European forts and charming colonial buildings, on our way to Accra.
Our final two countries, Togo and Benin, are home to the followers of voodoo and we have excellent opportunities to learn about this much-misunderstood religion, seeing traditional ceremonies and dances that are among the most fascinating spectacles in West Africa.
This is an exploratory tour that often travels through remote parts of West Africa, allowing you see a number of different countries in a short space of time, and where the visit of a ‘foreigner’ is often an exceptional event. Perfect for those that are big on ambition but short on time, this trip delves into the magic and mystery of an ever enchanting region West Africa rarely fails to cast a spell on those who visit.