The myth of West Africa is that there is no wildlife left. After 2 nights of staying at the Tiwai Island Widlife Sanctuary in Sierra Leone, and seeing up to 11 different primate species, including chimpanzees, plus otters and sea turtles and even, perhaps, the elusive pygmy hippo, you will realise that this is a myth.
If it's tribal culture and wild scenery that you are after mingled with raw adventure and off the beaten track travel, then this really is a trip to consider. The roads through much of Guinea and the Ivory Coast can be very poor, but this is part of the experience, as we get to see stuff that others usually only see from an armchair on the TV.
In the forests of northern Guinea, we will seek out the amazing vine bridges, while in the north of Ivory Coast we will explore the culture, music and villages of the Korhogo peoples. Then there are the stunning Atlantic beaches; those in Ghana are particularly beautiful and a great place to relax.
Border information: if you are joining in Freetown, you will most likely enter Sierra Leone at Freetown Lungi International Airport (IATA code: FNA).
There will be an important group meeting at 10:00am at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will collect your kitty and check your passport, visas, and insurance details at this meeting.
The afternoon will be free to explore Freetown and it's surroundings.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Freetown before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Freetown.
In Freetown we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
The fastest and most reliable way to Freetown from the airport is by water-taxi, as Lungi is across a bay from the city. The departure times for the water-taxis are linked to each flight in and out of the airport, so there will be transport available for you when you land. Exit the airport and walk to the right, and you'll see the water-taxi office at the end - you'll have to buy your ticket there for USD40 or EUR35, and check in your large bags. You'll take a minibus for 15 minutes, then the water-taxi for 30 minutes. The boat lands at the jetty, where you hand in your luggage ticket to get your large bags back.
The jetty is in the Aberdeen district of Freetown, only a 200m walk from our hotel. Just walk up the hill to the main road - the Raza Guesthouse is slightly further down and on the other side of the road.
Today we leave Freetown for the stunning beaches of Freetown Peninsular, where we will spend 3 nights.
There are a few different options for which beaches we could choose to visit, our favourites being Bureh Beach at the south of the peninsular and River Number 2 Beach in the western part.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
We will have 2 full days for optional activities on the wonderful beaches - we could go fishing, take a boat to explore the Banana Islands, get to know the local communities, and of course relax on the beautiful beaches!
On Freetown Peninsular we will camp on the beach, with some options to upgrade to basic guesthouses.
Leaving the Freetown Peninsular behind, today we have a full day's drive through Sierra Leone to the Tiwai Island Sanctuary, one of Sierra Leone's largest inland islands.
Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.
On the following day, we will enjoy various nature walks through the web of trails that weave through the Tiwai forest. We'll be in search of the rare and colourful primates that inhabit the sanctuary, and if we're very lucky we may spot a very rare pygmy hippo!
In Tiwai we will stay for 2 nights sleeping in tents perched on covered platforms.
Over the next 2 days we will travel north up through Sierra Leone to the small town of Kabala. Kabala is famous for being an oasis of cool air in the hills of northern Sierra Leone, and for its traditional Ronko-dyed clothes - shirts or gowns made of strips of cloth, typically dyed a rusty reddish-brown using local pigments.
We aim to wild camp near the town of Makeni en route, or we may stay in a local guesthouse depending on the size and wishes of the group. In Kabala we will stay in a basic local guesthouse.
Estimated Drive Times - 6-8 hours each day.
Border information: Exit Sierra Leone and enter Guinea at Gberia-Fotombu.
The next 2 days we will spend travelling through the remote border region between Sierra Leone and Guinea, driving through scenic areas very rarely visited by tourists and wild camping for a night en route. We will arrive at the small Guinean town of Faranah on the second day.
The road conditions in this area can be pretty tough going and unpredictable, and progress can be greatly affected by the weather conditions, so flexibility is very important over these days.
We will wild camp en route for the first night, and stay in a local guesthouse in Faranah on the second night.
Estimated Drive Times - 5-8 hours each day.
Today we will travel through the central region of Guinea, stopping for a night in one of the towns en route (depending on how the drive goes, this may be Macenta or Gu ck dou).
In Macenta or Gu ck dou we will stay in a small locally-run hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.
Today we will continue through the forested region of Guinea, visiting one of the famous vine bridges (Pont de Liana) en route. We will arrive at the small town of Nzerekor in the heart of Guinea's Forest Region.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.
On the following day, we will have free time to explore the town, the nearby villages and the surrounding forests.
In Nzerekor we will stay in a small locally-run guesthouse.
Border information: Exit Guinea at Gbakor , enter C te d'Ivoire at Gbapleu.
The next 2 days are spent crossing the border and driving through central C te d'Ivoire. These days take us through some very remote areas and some very poor quality dirt roads, so a great deal of flexibility is needed as our progress will largely be determined by the state of the roads.
Both nights will be spent wild camping en route.
Estimated Drive Times - 7-9 hours each day.
Today we will drive through the lush countryside to the northern Ivorian town of Korhogo, famed for the multitude of crafts that are made there.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.
On the following day, we will head out on an included tour around many of the handicraft workshops in the area, visiting painters, bead makers, wood carvers and cloth weavers. We will also have time to freely explore the town and its surroundings.
In Korhogo we will stay in a small local hotel.
Today we will drive to Yamoussoukro, the tiny and bizarre capital of C te d'Ivoire. Yamoussoukro was the birthplace of Felix Houphou t-Boigny, the first president of independent C te d'Ivoire, and is also the unusual location of the colossal and breathtaking Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, the largest Christian church in the world.
In the afternoon will have an included visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, and then have free time to further explore the small city.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
In Yamoussoukro we will stay in a local hotel.
Today we will drive to the Atlantic coast, arriving at the old French colonial capital of Grand Bassam situated east of Abidjan.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.
On the following two days, we will have free time to explore the old colonial town and to relax on the beautiful beaches around our hotel.
In Grand Bassam we will stay in a local hotel on the beach.
Border information: Exit C te d'Ivoire at Elubo, enter Ghana at Elubo.
Today we cross into Ghana and then head east along the Atlantic coast to the beaches of Beru Akyinim near the historic town of Elmina.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.
On the following day, we will get involved with community projects currently being run in the Elmina area by the SABRE Charitable Trust. The Trust does very valuable work in developing educational projects across Ghana, with a focus on providing early-years education - we have been visiting their projects and providing a day of help and a donation for many years, allowing us to give a little back and to experience a wonderful bit of community interaction. The exact experience will depend on what the Trust has a need for at the time, but we could be asked to help to paint a classroom, do a bit of gardening in one of the schools, or simply come and play some games with the children!
We will also have time for an optional visit to Elmina Castle and to relax on the beautiful beaches on Ghana's Atlantic Coast.
In Elmina we will camp at a stunning beach resort.
Today we will head into the nearby town of Cape Coast for a fascinating and moving tour of the old slave fort there.
We will then drive inland to the rainforests of Kakum National Park. On arrival we will head out on an included evening walk through the forests in search of wildlife, bugs and snakes! We may also have the chance to visit a small animal sancutary or stingless bee centre en route.
In Kakum National Park we will camp in the grounds of the Park HQ.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-4 hours.
Today we have an early start with an included morning visit to the Kakum National Park canopy walkways. These are a long series of hanging bridges at the forest canopy level that gives us a unique perspective of the rainforest - and at that time of the morning we will have the place to ourselves!
We will then journey north through Ghana's interior to the historic town of Kumasi.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
On the following day, we will have lots of time for free exploration of the fascinating town and its museums. Kumasi is the home of West Africa's largest market and was the centre of the Ashanti Kingdom.
In Kumasi we will stay in a local guesthouse.
Today we will drive to Accra, the chaotic capital of Ghana! We will have free time on arrival to explore the city.
In Accra we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
Border information: If you are leaving at Accra, you will most likely exit Ghana at Accra Kotoka International Airport (IATA code: ACC).
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Accra. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
Visit the opulent Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix, the largest Christian place of worship in the world
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Trip Name: Rhythms & Realms of West Africa
Duration: 28 Days
From Price: $2,700
Supplier Tour ID: ZFA1/158258
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