Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – Forests, Masks and Ocean Group Tour

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – Forests, Masks and Ocean Tour – a 15 day Small Group Tour.

Three very different West African countries with contrasting indigenous and colonial histories, and linguistic legacies, are combined in a fascinating two-week tour.

There are longer in-depth tours of West Africa, but this concentrated combination of states bearing quite distinct public faces is an excellent opportunity to gain an overview of the region.

Join Undiscovered Destinations on this exciting journey to the heart of the African continent. We will discover lost villages, clay bas-relief, high waterfalls within the steep savannah of Fouta Djalon, the largest mountain massif in West Africa. In a large clay building with a decorated conical thatched roof, we will be guest of the elder council descendent of the oldest Fulla kingdom. Driving forgotten tracks to experience masks dances and tam-tam echoes across the sacred woods, and cross the longest liana bridges in the forest to discover the birdmen hidden villages.

Monrovia is the capital of Liberia: “Land of freemen”, the only country that has never been either a colony or a protectorate. The freed slaves coming from in the Americas developed the powerful Krio culture. Between Liberia and Sierra Leone, we will experience the Krio culture’s, his metaphysical symbols and his unique stone and wood architecture.

Circumnavigating the scenic Banana Island we enjoy his remote villages, tiny gulfs, and an untouched forest facing the blue of the ocean. The itinerary ends with Freetown, his peninsula is considered the best coastline of West Africa: wild beaches, calm ocean, sand banks and estuaries: the ideal relax after this intense odyssey.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

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.


Arrive in Conakry and transfer to your hotel. For those arriving early in the day, the rest of the day is at leisure to explore. Overnight Hotel Onomo or similar. No meals nor guided excursions are included today.

(140km; Driving time today: approx. 4 hours)

Today we visit the capital and its small yet interesting museum. We then head out of the busy capital towards the first mountains of Kindia village. Overnight Hotel Moringa or similar (BLD)

(280km; Driving time today: approx. 8 hours)

This morning we have long drive ahead to reach Dabala. The road will bring us to the heart of the Fouta Djalon massif. We arrive at our hotel in time for lunch. In the afternoon we visit the small, quiet town of Dalaba. Of interest is the “casa a palabra” (the house of words) with its fine bas-relief showing a Peul style. It is here where the chiefs used to get together to meet the colonial administration. We also visit the villa built by the colonial governor and later used by the first president of independent Guinea. The leader of the independence was Sekou Touré, one of the most radical activists against the colonialism; he kicked out the French and joined the Soviet Union’s side aligning with Ceausescu. Under Sekou Touré, the country became more and more isolated, and the government turned into a dictatorship. Some villas used by the ministers and by the guests of Sekou Touré are reminiscences of that time. In these villas Miriam Makeba met and married Stokley Carmichael, an exile who was among the inspirators of the armed wing of Black Panther in the US. Overnight at Hotel Safitel or similar (BLD)

(180km; short drives today)

Today we discover the largest mountain massif of West Africa: Fouta Djalon, where the mountains meet the savannah in the deep valleys the forests. Here the highest waterfalls make the landscape more beautiful and site the “water basin” of West Africa. Thanks to a fresh climate, this region has been the most appreciated holiday site during the colonial time. Peul people origins come from this region; Peul are known for their stunning beauty and for being the best zebu breeders od West Africa. We take a walk of around 1hr30m in the forest to discover the Ditin waterfall which are the highest of the region at 100m. After having been introduced by our connections to the elders, presenting traditional gifts as cola nuts, we will have the honour to be received by chiefs and dignitaries siting in council. In a very large clay round hut with a decorated grass roof, dressed in traditional costumes the descendant of one of the oldest Fulla Kingdom will tell us the history of their people and accept to answer our questions about the origins of their tribe and the traditional rules still practiced. We then continue to Mamou for an evening arrival. Overnight Hotel Baylis or similar (BLD)

(320km; Driving time today: approx. 7 hours)

Today is a transfer day. From Mamou we leave the mountains to cross arboreal savannah. We discover the Kissi cultural group, known for praying to stone gods called Pomo which have been mysteriously found in the forest. Kissidougou (Kissi) has a small, interesting museum which shows some ritual objects of the region. Overnight Hotel Rama or similar (BLD)

(170km; Driving time today: approx. 5 hours)

This region is rich in markets; the Guekedou one, on the border with Sierra Leone, has been considered one of the largest of Africa. Surely it is the most crowed and sadly the starting point of Ebola epidemic in 2016. Arrive to Macenta for lunch. In the afternoon we will assist to the Toma young girls initiation dances. The dance celebrates the end of puberty rites when a girl will be considered an adult woman ready to be married. Overnight Hotel Macenta or similar (BLD)

(160km; Driving time today: approx. 4 hours, various drives)

Toma, locally called Loma, have different masks living in the sacred forest. We will assist at one of the more spectacular, and less-known sacred dances of West African forests. The Bird Men with the face painted in white Kaolin and totally dressed in feathers belong to a special initiation that has passed secretly from father to son for centuries. During tribal wars, the bird men were the best messengers, able to cross the enemy lines. Tom-tom drummers and all the village will participate in the event.

These remote mountains with an impenetrable vegetation hides other secrets. A small track in the lush vegetation will bring us to a remote village and a walk to spectacular liana bridges that cross a large river in the jungle. Liana bridges are masterpiece of a “tribal technology” and can measure 70-meter length. They are built only with vegetal materials, as wood and lianas without the use of nails or rope nor other materials foreign to the forest. Only the initiated can harvest the liana and wood and leave it in the forest, is believed that a powerful spirit will build the bridge in one night. During the preparation of a new bridge neither women nor those not initiated are allowed in the forest, to guarantee the secrecy of is technology. We then continue to Nzerekore, the capital of the forest region. Overnight Hotel Bethanie or similar (BLD)

(200km; Driving time today: approx. 7 hours, various drives)

A day driving on rough road in a spectacular forest. Stop at large Hevea wild plantations that covers hundred miles of forest. The Hevea large tree belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family and grows in a tropical and sub-tropical climate that can offer more than 1,200 mm. (50 in) of rainfall par year. To harvest the latex, an incision is made across the bark and the latex is collected in small buckets. We stop to visit some villages and markets vefore arriving at the Liberian border. Overnight Alvino Hotel or similar (BLD)

(270km; Driving time today: approx.  7 hours)

Liberia is the only country which has never been either a colony or a protectorate; it has been found by Krio, the freed slaves who came back to Africa from US, where comes the name “Liberia: the country of freemen”. Krio are 5% of the population and they are in control of a large part of the economy and politics. In the late afternoon, we arrive in Monrovia, our base for two nights. Overnight Cap Hotel or similar (BLD)

Our hotel is the best starting point to visit the city. By foot, we visit one of the main symbols of the town: the temple of the Masonic Lodge. The temple is the most significant symbol of the Krio culture and of its economic power. Another symbol of the city is what is left of the Ducor Palace Hotel, the extreme luxurious hotel with a swimming-pool facing the ocean. The hotel has hosted the local politic elite and its parties. According to the legend, Idi Amin used to swim caring a gun in his belt while his friend Miriam Makeba was singing. After being looted several times, the hotel is now abandoned. In 2008 the government made a deal with Ghaddafi to rebuild this hotel, however the project, as many other Libyan development projects, never came to conclusion thanks to the war that Europe and America made to overthrow Ghaddafi. The National Museum building is itself a display of the Krio architecture, it contains a great collection of masks and ritual objects and a photographic show about the civil war which took place from 1989 till 2003 After lunch at a local restaurant we will reach a village to experience unique mask dances. In most parts of Africa, the masks are male’s prerogative, however among the Mende people and neighbouring populations the masks Bundo are a female’s domain, and they have crucial role in the girls’ initiation rites. Overnight Cap Hotel or similar (BLD)

(310km; Driving time: approx. 7 hours)

Mano river is the southern boundary between Liberia and Sierra Leone. After crossing the border, we visit a traditional village escorted by our local friends that will be proud to introduce us to their homes and way of life. A new road will take us through a landscape of lush rainforest and large rivers where we are entering the area rich in diamonds which has made this country famous. We arrive in Bo in the afternoon the second town of the country. Bo is a friendly town with colourful markets and the “Diamond Shops” where is possible to buy shovels, sieves and all the necessary equipment to “dig diamonds”. Overnight Hotel Dohas or similar (BLD)

(260km, Driving time: approx. 6 hours)

Diamond seeking is as addictive as gambling and the possibility of finding a “fortune” becomes true just for the few most lucky. Diamonds have played an important role in the past civil war. The quantity and quality of “stones” still to find is important. We will follow a track to reach a village with huts made by clay and straw. After greeting the chief, some villagers will take us to the site where we can meet the diamond seekers in action. A villager will explain us the technics of artisanal mining and “sand washing”. From Bo we drive to the coast to reach Kent village where a local boat waits for us to cross to Banana Island. Overnight at Bafa Lodge or similar (BLD)

Bafa Lodge is fixed tents facing the sea, and dinner is based on the catch of the day.

Our boat will carry a us to a pleasant circumnavigation of the most mythical islands in Sierra Leone. Banana Island mountains are covered by a primary forest. The navigation on a wooden boat brings us to discover a spectacular landscape, tiny creeks and Crio fisherman villages with an old Caribbean feeling. This afternoon we return to our comfortable camp and its well-furnished open-sky bar. For the more adventurous the possibility to relive the navigation and experience two hours walking in the shade of the forest. For those who want to relax you can remain at the camp and enjoy the shade of the forest, the breeze of the ocean and the calm water of a tiny beaches. Overnight Bafa Lodge or similar (BLD)

(50km, approx. driving 1 hour plus 30m navigation)

We drive along the coast and the slopes of Freetown peninsula mountain. After 14 days of tracks, through savannah, forests and islands, today is a day dedicated to relaxing or soft adventure. The Freetown Peninsula beaches are considered the best in West Africa. Stop at the wild beaches in the gulf of Bureh and arrive to the wild beach of River Number Two for a delicious lunch. This afternoon there is a choice between relaxing on the beach or a short walk to discover a wild coastline, sand banks, natural pools and an estuary. We then continue to Freetown for our last night. Overnight Swiss Hotel or similar (BLD)

This morning we explore Freetown. By foot we visit the interesting museum which contains the masks and the objects of the different ethnic groups; the Cotton Tree inhabited by thousands of bats near the luxurious palace of the Supreme Court; the interesting cathedral of Saint George and the market are the town centre. You will then be transferred to Lungi where day use rooms will be available until your departure flight. (BL)

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

Single Supplement from £650.

Flights in to Conakry and out of Freetown start from £620 return.

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 note that if 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.

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 occasions the transfer will be operated by a hotel shuttle bus (*please see notes below)
  • All accommodation
  • Transport as described
  • 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 in to Conakry and back from Freetown
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks
  • Tips (discretionary)
  • Items of a personal nature

A very enjoyable time. Our guide Francesca was excellent, she was on top of all the arrangements. I was really impressed. The itinerary was great and really saw unusual and interesting things every day. Particularly loved the Bijagos Islands, at the full moon saw green turtles nesting, laying eggs and babies hatching and running to the sea.

Pamela Stubing, USA