Heartlands of West Africa

Heartlands of West Africa

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 23 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

An exploratory journey taking you south east 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, 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 until we reach Conakry. 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 chimpanzees at Tacugama. From here we head the diamond belt of Sierra Leone, meeting those who seek their fortune and learning how diamonds have played such a fateful role in the country’s history. In Liberia we explore the heritage of this unusual country, ‘founded’ by freed Afro-American slaves in the 19th century and quite different to others in the region.

Ivory Coast offers us the opportunity to witness the incredible ‘living bridges’ of the rainforest 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.

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