The Fouta Djalon and Beyond

An innovative itinerary combining three of West Africa’s least visited countries. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been blighted in recent years by the scourges of Africa, disease and war, but are now opening up again to curious travellers keen to look beyond the dated stereotypes. With unique histories, age old traditions and inspiring landscapes, both have a huge amount to offer the Africa enthusiast.

We start in Conakry then make our way into the Fouta Djalon highlands – without a doubt one of West Africa’s most beautiful areas, with breathtaking mountain scenery, gushing waterfalls and lush forests, dotted with traditional villages, and we spend time discovering the region and meeting its inhabitants. From here, we return to the lowlands and the thick forests of eastern Guinea, home to secret societies and arcane traditions that are fast being lost elsewhere.

In Liberia we explore the lively capital of Monrovia, learning about its unique history and Americo-Liberian culture. We then cross the border into Sierra Leone.

Here we meet people seeking their fortune in the diamond trade, see traditional mask dances and spend a couple of nights on the idyllic Banana Islands with their gorgeous beaches and fishing villages, as well as exploring Freetown.

An exciting and pioneering journey through a little known part of the continent.

The Fouta Djalon and Beyond

Highlights

  • Explore the Fouta Djalon highlands
  • Colourful village markets
  • See traditional mask dances
  • Relax on the Banana Islands

Day 1 - Conakry

Arrive in Conakry and transfer to your hotel. Overnight Hotel Onomo or similar.

Conakry

Built on a promontory stretching into the Atlantic Ocean, Conakry is a busy, noisy, lively city that shows few traces of its former nickname of the ‘Paris of Africa’, but an interesting place to see modern urban life on the continent. The region was first ‘discovered’ by the Portuguese in the 15th century and was once a haven for slavers and traders, and over the years it was occupied by Dutch, English and French settlers involved on the slave trade. Conakry was originally settled on the small Tombo Island and later spread to the neighbouring Kaloum Peninsula, a 22 mile long stretch of land. The city was essentially founded after Britain ceded the island to France in 1887. In 1885 the two island villages of Conakry and Boubinet had fewer than 500 inhabitants, but today it is home to about 2 million – around a quarter of Guinea’s population.

Day 2 - Conakry - Kindia

We spend the morning exploring the capital and its small but interesting museum, then drive to the village of Kindia, en route to the Fouta Djalon highlands. Overnight Hotel Moringa or similar. (BLD)


Day 3 - Dalaba

Explore the small town of Dalaba, with its interesting ‘casa a palabra’, a finely decorated building used for local chiefs. We also visit the villa of Guinea’s first president, Sekou Toure, among other sights. Overnight Hotel Safitel or similar. (BLD)


Day 4 - Fouta Djalon

From here we drive into the Fouta Djalon, a stunning area of mountains, waterfalls, plateau and savannah, where we walk to a waterfall and visit a charming Fulani village with typical architecture. Overnight Hotel Baylis or similar. (BLD)

Fouta Djalon

The highlands of the Fouta Djalon are one of Guinea’s – and West Africa’s – most beautiful areas, a region of plateaux, valleys, cliffs and grasslands, it is the source of many of West Africa’s great rivers including the Gambia and Senegal rivers, as well as a major tributary of the Niger River. Most of its inhabitants are Fula, or Fulani, people, who take advantage of the extremely fertile climate for agriculture and raising livestock; in centuries gone by the Fulani launched jihads to expand the reach of their Islamic state from here, and the region was only ‘pacified’ by the French in the late 19th century. Today it’s a peaceful place with numerous traditional villages and great opportunities for hiking amidst lush scenery – particularly impressive after the wet season when the vegetation is still green and waterfalls seem to be around every corner.

Days 5-6 - Kissidougou - Macenta

Leave the mountains to cross the savannah, the home of the Kissi people, who are known for worshipping stone gods called Pomo, found in the forests. Continue to Kissidougou and visit its museum which displays cultural artefacts from the region. From here we continue on bad roads, stopping at the market of Guekedou, to reach Macenta where we can see the initiation rituals of the Toma people. Overnight Hotel Rama or similar (Day 5) and Hotel Macenta or similar (Day 6). (BLD)


Days 7-8 - Nzerekore - Ganta

Explore a lush region of thick forests and remote villages. We may see mask dances while here, including one of the ‘bird men’, dressed in feathers and with their faces painted white with kaolin. This is a secret society, and its members are believed to have powers that make them invisible. We also see the impressive bridges made of living vines, believed to be built by spirits during the course of just one night. Cross into Liberia and drive to the town of Ganta. Overnight Hotel Bethanie (Day 7) and Hotel Alvino (Day 8) or similar. (BLD)


Days 9-10 - Monrovia

Drive to Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. On Day 10 we explore the city visiting the National Museum and the impressive Masonic Temple of Liberia, that has played an important part in Liberian history over the years. Overnight Cape Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Monrovia

Monrovia has a close association with both the slave trade and the return of emancipated slaves to Africa; it is named after James Monroe, the US president who was instrumental in the latter campaign. It was ravaged by war in the 1990s and is today a rather ramshackle capital, albeit rather atmospheric in the right light.

Day 11 - Bo

Cross the border with Sierra Leone and head towards its diamond producing region. Continue to Bo for the night, where we spend time learning about the process of diamond mining, as we join some villagers who show us their craft, as well as meeting diamond traders for an insight into a side of the business few get to see. Overnight Hotel Dohas or similar. (BLD)


Days 12-13 - Banana Islands

In the morning of Day 12 we see a rare performance of the female Bundo masks – normally mask societies are for men only. Continue from here to the archipelago of the Banana Islands, with its stunning beaches and fishing villages. Overnight Bafa Lodge (tented camp) or similar. (BLD)


Day 14 - Freetown

Return to the mainland and head to the stunning beaches of the Freetown peninsula, slowing the pace a little after a busy trip. We spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring along the coast. Overnight Swiss Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Freetown

Sierra Leone’s capital is set between hills and ocean, a chaotic jumble of buildings and streets packed with the life and colour of West Africa. Freetown’s name derives from its original raison d’etre – in the late 18th century the abolitionist movement launched a programme to send freed African slaves back to the continent, settling on this part of West Africa as a likely spot. The last twenty years or so have not been kind to the city – it was utterly devastated during the vicious civil war which raged through the country, with many gutted and half destroyed buildings to be found, but like the rest of Sierra Leone it is now moving on and increased development bears witness to a growing confidence in the city. Like most African capitals Freetown is fairly devoid of formal tourist sights, but the real joy comes from experiencing the hustle and bustle of a city finding its feet again, wandering through busy markets – including the imaginatively titled ‘Big Market’, or discovering some of the fading remnants of Freetown’s heritage.

Day 15 - Freetown - Lungi

Explore the city visiting its lively markets and seeing examples of old colonial architecture. Finally transfer back to Lungi for your flight home. (BL)

We arrive in Lungi in the afternoon of the final day and you should not book any departure flight before the evening.

Please note: This is a pioneering trip and so you must be prepared for flexibility and changes to the itinerary if necessary. We most definitely do not recommend this trip if you like rigid plans, 4 star hotels, good roads and well defined ‘tourist sites’ – this is a very adventurous trip through a remote part of the continent, where infrastructure is not great, things change frequently and you can expect a certain amount of discomfort at times. However the rewards more than balance these out – the chance to travel through lands that rarely see western visitors, experience the truly authentic and go to places that few have gone before, in one of the most interesting corners of Africa.

Woman with dyed hands - Guinea tours and holidays
Market scene in Guinea - Guinea tours and holidays
Fulani woman with baby - Guinea tours and holidays
Restaurant owner in Freetown - Sierra Leone tours and holidays

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

    If you are a same sex couple, on some occasions it may be necessary to book two separate rooms – please contact us for more information.

  • Guides

    In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again. Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety, as well as the capacity to cater for groups. Drinks are not included and are at your own expense.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively, a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • Airport taxes

    If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay these yourself.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

Most travellers will require a visa to enter Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which must be obtained before travel. You may need an invitation letter in order to obtain this, depending on the requirements of the embassy that you apply at – we can provide this for you. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to both countries and you must bring this with you.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover, which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

The local currency in Sierra Leone is the leone, , in Liberia it is the Liberian dollar, and in Guinea it is the Guinean franc. It is best to bring Euros for exchange purposes as neither currency is readily obtainable outside of the region.

It’s not difficult to change money either at banks or the hotels and your guide can assist with this. There are also an increasing number of ATMs in larger towns. However these are not always reliable and so it is best to think of them as a back up rather than a main means of obtaining money.

Credit cards are accepted in larger hotels and better restaurants (usually in Conakry and Freetown only) but are not commonly accepted elsewhere.

When to go

The region experiences two distinct seasons. The dry season runs from October until April, and the wet season from May until September – these can change by a few weeks either side depending on climate variations. Although most people choose to visit in the dry season, it’s also feasible to visit in the wet season – the rains, although heavy, do not last the whole day and usually take the form of short sharp bursts. Some roads can be difficult during the wet season though.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place.

In addition, roads throughout the parts of Africa that we visit are often poorly maintained (if at all!) and distances between key sites of interest can be long. Travelling in Africa can be tiring, hot and dusty at times, and inevitably it can be frustrating. While there are some issues that we are able to solve, others are intrinsic to the countries that we travel through, and you should be aware that many of the countries that we operate in cannot be compared to others on the continent that have better infrastructure – for example the popular tourist destinations of east and southern Africa. Although travelling in these countries can at times be an ‘unpolished’ experience, this is all part of the adventure. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and putting up with a pothole (or ten) is undeniably worth it for the amazing sights and cultural experiences you will encounter along the way.

Please note that none of these countries are particularly used to tourism and what may seem like common sense and good practice elsewhere may not even be considered here. Your guide will manage all situations as best they can, but it’s important to be realistic about the countries that you are visiting – we do not particularly recommend either for first time visitors to Africa.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any parts of Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated July 2023

Woman with dyed hands - Guinea tours and holidays
Market scene in Guinea - Guinea tours and holidays
Fulani woman with baby - Guinea tours and holidays
Restaurant owner in Freetown - Sierra Leone tours and holidays
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
30 November 2024
Price (PP) -
£4,899
Single Supplement -
£640
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
22 December 2024
Price (PP) -
£4,899
Single Supplement -
£640
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
25 January 2025
Price (PP) -
£5,199
Single Supplement -
£675
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
22 February 2025
Price (PP) -
£5,199
Single Supplement -
£675
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
22 March 2025
Price (PP) -
£5,199
Single Supplement -
£675
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
29 November 2025
Price (PP) -
£5,199
Single Supplement -
£675
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
27 December 2025
Price (PP) -
£5,199
Single Supplement -
£675
Trip Status -
Available

You may also like…