Guinea-Bissau Discovery Tour

Guinea-Bissau Discovery Tour – a 10 day Small Group Tour.

Guinea-Bissau’s sovereign history has been more chaotic than many, characterised by a series of coup d’etats, border conflicts, criminality, corruption and civil unrest. No elected leader has served a full term since independence in 1974.

However, a corner was turned in 2014 when fresh presidential elections saw Jose Mario Vaz win by a landslide. New confidence saw investors and international donors return, injecting cash to revive the economy. Tourism today is a nascent industry in Guinea-Bissau and a concept that’s sometimes misunderstood. That said, as well as a colonial legacy the country has immense indigenous cultural reserves and areas of breathtaking natural beauty on its mainland and among its remarkable offshore islands.

To visit Guinea-Bissau is to experience a concentrated dose of West African extremes. Are you ready?

Guinea-Bissau is one of the smallest, and least visited, countries in Africa – few western travellers make it to this former Portuguese colony, but those that do return full of incredible experiences and memories of a stunning part of the continent.

Starting in Bissau, we travel by boat to the magnificent Bijagos Islands – a group of islands where traditional culture is at its strongest and ancient customs still hold sway. We visit local communities to learn about their lifestyles, some of the most traditional on the continent. We also search for the elusive saltwater hippos as well as other wildlife, and sail between idyllic islands on a true journey of discovery. Returning back to the mainland we visit the ‘ghost town’ of Bolama with its colonial remnants then spend time with the traditional Pepel people.

The joy of this trip is the fact that you will be visiting an almost untouched corner of Africa; expect truly genuine encounters with local people and feel privileged to be one of the very few to have travelled here.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife (Oct. & Nov.)
  • Wildlife (Rest of the year)

Tour Pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


Start your Guinea Bissau tour when arrive into Bissau and transfer to your hotel. Overnight Hotel Azalai or similar. No meals are included today.

(Approximate driving time today is 4 hours)

After breakfast and some time to relax in the morning, we depart to Quinhamel, where we discover the magical and animist traditions of the intriguing Pepel ethnic group. In this region the forest hides a fetish endowed with feared powers, and only the initiated young men can carry it on their shoulders. We also visit a local rum distillery which has been in use since colonial times, and visit a cashew nut plantation, the main export of the country. Overnight Hotel Azalai or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time today is 6 hours)

Leaving Bissau, we depart north-west to see the ritual dances of the Diola sacred mask, rarely shown to foreigners. It is said this mask is animated by the spirits, and drums, dances and a colourful crowd will liven the tiny village. We reach the beaches of Varela in the late afternoon. Overnight Aparthotel Avo Anisa or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time today is 6 hours)

Today we travel along a unique landscape of streams, salt swamps, flooded lands, clay dams and paddy fields. In this remote environment, some gigantic and isolated Kapok and Baobab trees give shade to some isolated villages inhabited by the Felupes and Baiotes, both tribes of the Diula ethnic group. We will witness their complex tribal technology and how they manage to desalinate the land for crop cultivation and we will hope to see their ceremonies and distinctive adobe huts. We then leave the flooded mangrove forest to reach Bula where we meet a Manjaco king and learn about the Gendiman traditions of his tribe. They worship wooden poles and statues representing the spirits of their ancestors and which are kept in sanctuaries known as Cab Balugun. Return back to Bissau in the evening. Overnight Hotel Azalai or similar. (BLD)

PLEASE NOTE – DAYS 4, 5 and 6 – The itinerary will be modified to accommodate either the ‘Vaca Bruto’ Wild Bull Dancing Mask Festival, Tribal Carnival or to search for the Salt Water Hippo and to possibly witness nesting turtles, depending on your departure date. Please contact us for the exact itinerary.

Tour dates for Carnival in Bissau: 12th February 2021

Tour dates for Vaca Bruto Mask Dances:  2nd April 2021

Tour dates for Saltwater Hippos and turtle nesting: all October and December departures

This morning we head for the Bijagos Archipelago. Our first stop will be Bolama Island, the former Portuguese capital of Guinea-Bissau but now an atmospheric ‘ghost town’, with charming remnants of its former importance. We then head to Rubane Island which will be our base for our stay in the Bijagos Archipelago. Overnight Hotel Ponta Anchaca or similar. (BLD)

Vaca Bruto mask ceremony (April 2021):
This morning, we reach an isolated village to experience the Vaca Bruto initiation mask ceremony before returning to Rubane.

Turtles’ nesting (October and December departures):
Today, we sail in the direction of the Southern Island and stop at Meio, a pristine uninhabited island where our footprints on the sand will be the only human traces. In the late evening, we transfer to Poilao, an uninhabited island where we should be able to observe the many turtles emerge with high tide from the ocean to lay their eggs and nest (sightings not guaranteed). Overnight Hotel Ponta Anchaca or similar. Return to Rubane in the night. (BLD)

After a late breakfast, we reach by speed boat the Orango island, enjoying on the way the dolphins jumping in the waves by the boat. Orango Island is classified as a national park where the elusive saltwater hippos may be seen in the the mangrove forests. Sightings can never be guaranteed, but local guides will do their best to show you the local wildlife. Return to Rubane for the evening. Overnight Hotel Ponta Anchaca or similar. (BLD)

This morning we take a speed boat to Bubaque, the largest village in the archipelago and only one connected to the continent by a ferry once a week. Stroll along unpaved alleys, a tiny colorful market, local shops and the tiny ethnographic museum dedicated to Bijagos culture. The afternoon is left at leisure to relax on the beach or discover the lush vegetation and villages on the island. Overnight Hotel Ponta Anchaca or similar. (BLD)

After a relaxing morning we return back to Bissau. Take a stroll around Bissau-Vehlo; the lively old quarter with its sleepy streets and alleys. Visits include the Presidential Palace, the Catholic Cathedral, Fortaleza Amura, the Independence Monument and Che Guevara Square. Overnight Hotel Azalai or similar. (BL)

Time is at leisure until your transfer to the airport for your departure flight. (B)

Please note – Itinerary is subject to changes due to sea and weather conditions.

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

There are a number of different options for the Guinea-Bissau Tour.

On days 4, 5 and 6 – The itinerary will be modified to accommodate either the ‘Vaca Bruto’ Wild Bull Dancing Mask Festival, Tribal Carnival or to search for the Salt Water Hippo and to possibly witness nesting turtles, depending on your departure date.

Tour dates for Carnival in Bissau: 12th February 2021

Tour dates for Vaca Bruto Mask Dances:  2nd April 2021

Tour dates for Saltwater Hippos and turtle nesting: all October and December departures

Please contact us to receive the tour dossier corresponding to your preferred departure.

Please note that the tour will be 9 days in duration as from 2023. Please contact us for the exact itinerary.

The maximum group size for this tour is 16. The group will be led by an experienced local guide and dedicated transport will be provided. As tourism facilities in West Africa are limited and some tours including those that include a festival can be popular, it should be noted that on occasions other tour groups will be travelling in the region and may be following the same or a similar itinerary. They may also be staying at the same hotels..

Single supplement starts from £385

Return flights to Bissau from London start from £800 per person. Please contact us if you would like us to arrange flights for you.

We include airport transfers in the price of your tour if you are arriving on the first day and leaving on the last day of the advertised itinerary. These will be provided by our local representative or on occasions by the hotel used for the first and last nights of the tour. When the transfer is provided by the hotel this will often be via a shared shuttle bus operated by the hotel. If you are planning to arrive before the start date, and/or leave after the end date of the tour, Undiscovered Destinations can arrange private transfers at an additional cost. Please check with us at the time of booking.

Please noteif you have arranged extra pre and/or post tour accommodation, either through Undiscovered Destinations or directly with the hotel or an agent, airport transfers are not included in the price of your tour.

Please contact us if you would like Undiscovered Destinations to arrange private airport transfers at an additional cost.

Extra night accommodation pre and/or post tour in Bissau costs from £115 per room, per night sharing a twin/double room and £108 per room, per night in a solo occupancy room.

Please note that the prices quoted above are for the category of accommodation and hotel used for this particular tour. Depending on the hotel eventually confirmed there may be some difference in the rate advertised by the hotel, and the prices available through Undiscovered Destinations. It should be noted we will not apply a surcharge should more expensive accommodation be used. At the same time in the event that a lower rate is available for the confirmed hotel we are unable to offer a refund.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers provided on a shared or private basis depending on location on the stated tour dates. On occasions the transfer will be operated by a hotel shuttle bus. Please note that airport transfers will be provided on the advertised start and end dates of the tour. In all other cases charges may apply for airport transfers.
  • All accommodation
  • Transport as indicated.
  • Services of English speaking guide / tour leader (there may be more than one guide with the group and the explanations may be in additional languages)
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks
  • Expenses of personal nature

This was a fabulous tour of a truly undiscovered destination. Far exceeding my expectations, this was one of the best trips to Africa that I have ever done. Guinea-Bissau is such a beautiful country, with interesting history, lively ceremonies, lovely people and (surprisingly for a country that sees so few tourists) absolutely no hassle on the streets.


Lynn, UK