Day 1 – Arrival Bissau
Arrive into Bissau and transfer to your hotel. Overnight Hotel Azalai or similar. No meals are included today.
Day 2 - Excursion to Quinhamel – Pepel tribe
(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)
Day 3 – Bissau – Diola dancing masks - Varela
(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)
Day 4 – Varela – Villages of the Flooded Forest – Felupes, Baiotes and Manjaco tribes – Bissau
(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
Day 5 - Bissau, Ghost Capital – Rubane, Bijagos Archipelago
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)
Day 6 – Rubane, Bijagos Archipelago – Excursion to Bubaque - Vaca Bruco dancing mask ceremony or Turtle’s nesting
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.
Vaca Bruto mask ceremony (April 2021):
After the visit, we reach an isolated village to experience the Vaca Bruto initiation mask ceremony before returning to Rubane.
Turtles’ nesting (October and December departures):
Later, 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 late in the evening. (BLD)
Day 7 – Rubane, Bijagos Archipelago – Excursion to Orango Island National Park
After 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)
Day 8 – Rubane, Bijagos Archipelago – Beach Relaxation (Day at leisure)
Today is at leisure to relax on the beach or discover the lush vegetation and villages on the island. Overnight Hotel Ponta Anchaca or similar. (BLD)
Day 9 – Rubane – Bissau
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)
Day 10 – Departure from Bissau
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.
- 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
- International flights
- Any airport taxes
- Travel Insurance
- Expenses of personal nature