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Guinea Bissau and the Sacred Bijagos Archipelago

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Guinea Bissau and the Sacred Bijagos Archipelago

1-Join tour Bissau
Join the tour in Bissau and transfer to Quinhamel. Our bungalows are facing the majestic river and are surrounded by lush tropical vegetation.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

2-Visit animistic tribes; drive to Canchungo
Today we have our first contact with the local animistic culture as we visit a clinic specialised in healing mental illness through herbs, rituals and trance. In one of those villages, a religious power object (fetish) is carried by a few initiates and used to question the reasons why people die.
We stop in a local rum factory en route and learn about the production of rum which started during the colonial era.
In the afternoon we arrive to the hotel which will be our base for the next few days. Casa Canchungo is a simple but comfortable eco-lodge which utilises the solar power to produce energy and dry toilets to preserve water. It also supports the local communities through various projects.
Overnight: Simple Hut
Single Room option available

3-Sail through mangrove forest and visit the Felupes and Baiotes tribes; back to Canchungo
Today a motorised canoe will take us along the Chacheu River to discover the colony of White pelicans, the Goliath herons, Egrets, Hamerkops, Storks as well as Pink flamingos. Our experienced local sailor will navigate through flooded mangrove forest and through a moltitude of waterways and canals of salt and fresh water. After a few hours we reach the remote villages inhabited by the Felupes and Baiotes tribes. Living in isolated ecosystems, these people rely on their rice plantations and have developed the ability to cultivate rice in salty lands. Walking for about 5 miles through streams, swamps, flats lands and rice fields, interspersed with a few majestic Kapok and Baobab trees, we discover simple settlements made of small huts with thatch roofs and large verandas, supported by palm tree poles. Felupes people practice many rituals and within the society there is a powerful cast of priestesses. Cerem0nies are announced by the sound of large sacred drums called ‘bombolon’.
Overnight: Simple Hut
Single Room option available

4-Drive through tropical forest and meet the Manjacos people
Today we drive through a bumpy but scenic road through rainforest, cashew nuts trees and small villages to reach the remote peninsula between Rio Cacheu, the Atlantic Ocean and Rio Mansoa. On this peninsula we meet the Manjacos people, where we discover their unusual traditions. In each village, wooden poles called ‘pecab’ represent the spirit of the ancestors. The Napene priestesses are considered divinities able to read the future through the guidance of the ancestors. We will pay homage to the local King Regolo and hear from him about the history of his people while they welcome us with sacred dances and ceremonies.
Overnight: Simple Hut
Single Room option available

5-Transfer to Bolama island by motorboat
We drive to the ocean shore and transfer to the island of Bolama by boat. Bolama was the former capital of Portuguese Guinea from 1871 to 1941 before this was transferred to Bissau. When the Portuguese left the country, the native people moved to the town, although this is now being reclaimed by the jungle. The city still shows the structure of a Roman citadel through its empty squares, large avenues, dry fountains, elegant administrative buildings and a governor’s palace with neo-classic columns, where goats wander undisturbed. Similar to a ghost town, the city comes to life in the evening, when hundreds of oil lamps illuminate the former capital creating a magical atmosphere.
We spend the night in a simple guest house with private facilities.
Overnight: Basic Guesthouse
Single Room option available

6-Visit Bubaque and the Bijagos culture museum; boat transfer to Rubane
Today we start an incredible sailing adventure to discover the Bijagos Archipelago, its unspoilt nature and isolated ethnic groups. 40 miles away from the mainland, the Bijagos Archipelago is a real hidden gem. After a lazy lunch and some relaxation on a wild beach we arrive at Bubaque, the main island. We visit the small town as well as the tiny but interesting museum dedicated to the Bijagos culture. After having explored the remote beaches of the neighbouring Rubane Island, we transfer to our bungalows facing the ocean.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

7-Visit the Pink Flamingos Colony of Soga Island; transfer to Orango Island and follow the tracks of the saltwater hippos
We have an early start to observe the colony of Pink flamingos near Soga Island before reaching Orango Island, which is covered by lush green forest. We stop in a secluded bay for a forest walk in a nature reserve inhabited by a multitude of enchanting birds, part of a unique ecosystem. We follow the tracks and hope to find the extremely rare ‘saltwater hippos’, that live in the mangrove forest and sometimes go for a dip in the ocean!
Overnight: Basic Camping

8-Walk to the sacred village of Okinka Pampa; transfer to Poilao Island, one of the main nesting sites for the Green turtle
We take a morning walk in the sacred village of Okinka Pampa where, according to tradition, local queens are buried and we learn about the local matriarcal society. From the silent beach of Orango Island, we head to the most remote part of the archipelago, the Marine Park of Poilao and Joao Viera, a protected area of incredible beauty stretching over 495 sq km.
In the afternoon we arrive at the Ilha do Cavalos, only inhabited by birds. We then transfer to Poilao, considered one of the main nesting sites for the Green sea turtle (Chelonia Midas). After sunset, we quietly wait on the beach for the turtles as they emerge from the ocean to dig deep holes in the sand and lay their eggs. If we are lucky, we will be able to witness this wonder of nature and we might be there for the hatching, when the tiny turtles come out from the sand and start a long journey to the ocean. For the female turtles, the journey will end on this same beach 25 to 35 years later when their instinct will guide them here to lay their eggs.
Overnight: Basic Camping

9-Visit Meio Island and Joao Viera; transfer to Rubane
We relax at Meio Island with its crystal clear waters, perfect for swimming and its unspoilt surrounding forest, ideal for walking. We proceed to Joao Viera and after some relaxation on the beach we reach Bubaque island and transfer to our comfortable bungalows in the gulf of Rubane.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

10-Walk through forest and sacred villages on Canhabaque Island
Renowned for the authenticity of its local culture, Canhabaque Island (Ilha Roxa), is characterised by narrow paths leading to small villages hidden in the heart of the forest. Because of its remoteness, the lack of transport and the attachment of the native people to their traditions, the Bijagos have been barely influenced by other cultures. Women still wear the saiya, a traditional skirt made of straw. Life in the village is dictated by sacred rituals, where symbolic masks are worn. Young men live in isolation from women for 7 year as part of their initiation.
As an alternative to the full day hiking, it is possible to visit only a few villages and relax on the beach near the boat while waiting for the rest of the group.
On request, a fishing session can also be organised (not included in the package).
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

11-Boat transfer to Bissau, city tour
Today we leave the archipelago and transfer back to Bissau on board the Bijagos Express, the only regular liner connecting the Archipelago to Bissau once a week. During our five hours on the boat, we enjoy a lively athmosphere, watching the locals dancing to the sound of Afro-Brazilian music, sipping the popular local rum and cocoa cocktail as well as admiring stunning views over the islands and the ocean.
We arrive at Bissau, the small capital city where our vehicle will be waiting to take us on a city tour to discover the old Portuguese architecture and its huge fort.
Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room option available

12-Tour ends Bissau
Our tour ends today in Bissau after breakfast.

Tour includes:

11 Breakfast
10 Lunch
10 DInner
Boat, Minibus
5 nights Standard Hotel
3 nights Simple Hut
1 night Basic Guesthouse
2 nights Basic Camping
Tour Staff:
Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader
Group Size:
Generally 10 – 16

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