Day 1 Welcome to Sierra Leone
Our tour guide will meet you at Lungi International Airport. Transfer to the hotel in Freetown by water taxi. After check in you will be given detailed information of your trip.
Day 2 Freetown – Visit of Sierra Leone’s capital and excursion to Tacugama
After taking breakfast at the hotel, we'll explore Freetown.
Sierra Leone‘s attractive capital city sits on a coastal peninsula. It is a picturesque and colourfully raised town overlooking the Atlantic Ocean which surrounds the town on both the north and west. Rolling hills stretch to the south and south east, on the hill slopes new luxury villas were built in no time at all. The white sandy beaches, the friendly people and the crooked houses constructed of wood and corrugated iron evoke a Caribbean atmosphere.
Today we discover the highlights of the sprawling city. We start our exploration in the heart of Freetown at the city’s famous landmark, the magnificent Cotton Tree. When the first settlers, consisting of British philanthropists and freed American slaves, who had fought for Britain in the War of Independence, arrived in 1787, they built their houses around this silk cotton tree which today rises from one of the busiest intersections of the capital. It is considered a symbol of freedom and the christening of Freetown. Near the tree we find the impressive white building of the Courts of Justice built in 1915 in Colonial architectural style and the small but interesting Sierra Leone National Museum housing a large collection of masks and cult objects of the various ethnic groups, as well as a historical department featuring a replica of the de Ruyter Stone. Two streets away from the museum we reach the Connaught Hospital which was the first hospital in West Africa modelled after Western medical practices. The gate arching the entrance of the hospital is another historical sight of Freetown. It is the Gateway to Old King’s Yard through which the Africans passed, who were rescued from illegal slave ships after the abolition of slavery. This is where the British housed them and gave them medical care. The 1819 inscription reads: „Royal Asylum and Hospital for Africans rescued from slavery by British Valour and Philanthropy“, commemorating the original significance of the place. From here, we stroll through the bustling King Jimmy Market, where the original de Ruyter Stone is hidden. In 1664 the Dutch admiral de Ruyter triumphantly carved his name into this rock. Near the market we’ll find the Old Wharf Steps, often called the Portuguese Steps or Freedom steps as they were where newly liberated slaves would first set foot on Freetown soil. It is another symbol of freedom. We end our city tour south of the Old Wharf Steps at St. John’s Maroon Church located on Siaka Stevens Street. This oasis of peace and reflection encircled by noisy streets is among the country’s oldest churches. It was built around 1820 in colonial architectural style by the Maroons, who arrived in 1800 from Jamaica. The timbers for the roof come from the ship that brought the first group of Maroons. They are well preserved!
In the afternoon we leave the busy city centre and drive into the mountains of the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve close to Freetown. Passing through the elegant village of Regent, which still has many old Krio houses, we see Sierra Leone’s oldest church, St. Charles, erected in 1809. After a 45-minute drive we reach Tacugama, the country’s most important project of protection and conservation of chimpanzees. The sanctuary, which covers 100 acres of lush evergreen rainforest, was established in 1995 to home and rehabilitate confiscated, orphaned and abandoned chimps. Our guided walk will take about 1 ½ hours and you’ll experience a close encounter with these endangered animals, who share 98.6 percent of their DNA with humans. We’ll be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, who is one of the animals’ carers and so he will be able to give us interesting information about the individual chimps and the project.
Towards evening we return to Freetown.
Day 3 Freetown – Tiwai Island
Today we leave Freetown and continue our journey on one of the country's best recently paved roads to Bo, the country’s second city. Red chilli peppers, green ladyfingers and yellow cereals are laid out in the sun to dry. They look like patchwork rugs in front of nice colourfully painted houses. Along the road cassava and sweet potatoes fields line up and groundnuts are grown. They are an important ingredient of Sierra Leone’s popular hot sauces which are served with traditional rice, meat and fish dishes. Try them, they are very tasty!
At Bo we’ll stop for a visit to the colourful market. South of Bo we cross the mighty Sewa River. A bumpy dirt road brings us to Pokoru and then to the small village of Kambama which we reach in the late afternoon. From here, we take a short boat journey across the beautiful Moa River to Tiwai Island Wildlife Reserve.
Day 4 Tiwai Island
Early in the morning we go on a longer walk through the fascinating rainforest. A local guide shows us the unique flora and fauna of the tropical island in the Moa River and gives us explanations. We climb over the waist-high buttress roots of the Bele tree snaking over the hiking trail, and we see the Detarium senegalense tree whose hard nuts are favoured by chimpanzees, who crack them open using tools such as stones and roots and then consume them. We learn more about the Red Medecine tree whose bark plays an important role in traditional medicine and, as our guide whispers conspiratorially, which was used in alleged cannibalistic rituals. At 12sq kms, Tiwai is one of the most important primate conservation areas and hosts eleven species including rare and endangered ones like Diana monkey, three different colobus monkey species and chimpanzee. During our hike we’ll have the opportunity to watch the shy animals high in the treetops. Tiwai Island is also a paradise for birdwatchers. It is home to 135 bird species including eight different horn bills and the rare white-breasted guineafowl.
This afternoon we take an idyllic boat trip along the Moa River to view crocodiles and hippos in their natural habitat. On a white sandy beach we can relax and enjoy the extraordinary scenic beauty of the river.
A nocturnal game walk (optional) offers the best opportunity to spot the extremely rare pygmy hippopotamus living in the Moa River. With a little luck you may encounter this endangered species. The sounds of the rainforest, the smell of humid earth and our curiosity to discover the nocturnal wildlife make our walk an unforgettable experience!
Day 5 Tiwai Island – Freetown Peninsula – Banana Islands
Early in the morning we leave Tiwai Island and its fascinating wildlife heading to the Freetown Peninsula.
En route we see many oil palm plantations. This plant is native to Guinea and is one of the most economically important species of palms. Leafs and branches are used to thatch roofs, red palm oil is extracted from of the pulp of the fruit and white oil from the kernel. They are both used in the food industry. Red oil mixed with cocoa pod ashes is used to produce soap. Palm wine, also known as Bandji or Doubié, is very popular. Along the roadside we see men selling palm wine which is stored in containers. The sap is extracted and collected by a tapper who climbs up the tree using a special belt. During our trip you will have the opportunity to taste this beverage.
At Kent, a small fishing village at the southern tip of the Freetown Peninsula we board a motorboat for the crossing to Banana Islands located at about 5 km from the mainland. The journey takes about 20 - 30 minutes and provides stunning views both of the mountainous peninsula and Banana Islands themselves. The archipelago comprises three islands, Dublin Island and Ricketts Island, linked by a causeway, and the tiny Mes-Meheux Island which isuninhabited. The white sand beaches and lush tropical forest invite you to relax, swim and explore the islands. There are excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. The two main islands have a population of about 900 people, most of them descendants of freed slaves.
Day 6 Banana Islands
Today you have time at your own leisure. You can decide to relax on the beach and swim in the sea or walk around on the island. Dublin Island, where our guesthouse is, has the most beautiful beaches. Alternatively, activities can be organised. There is a half-day guided walk across the lush forests to view the flora and fauna of the islands. We visit a local village and have the opportunity to meet the friendly villagers. On this trip we also explore a bat cave. The history of the islands is amazing, too. There is an excursion that takes you to the ruins of an Anglican church that has supposedly been built by sailors who visited the islands in earlier centuries. Those who prefer any activity on the water can go on a half-day fishing trip in a paddle canoe or rent a motorboat to be taken around the chain of islands. The captain will make stops wherever you like.
For dinner we will enjoy delicious fresh fish.
Day 7 Banana Islands – River No. 2
After breakfast at our guesthouse we board a motorboat that will bring us back onto the mainland. Today we explore the coast and the tropical beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. Sierra Leone beaches are among the best of Africa, if not the world.
This morning our first destination is Mama Beach, a bustling fishing community on the southernmost stretch of the peninsula. The great majority of the population belongs to the Sherbro tribe. The village is situated on the shore of a picturesque lagoon where we can watch the Sherbro everyday life: fishermen repairing their boats, mending their nets or setting out for the next trawl. Traditional fishing boats, proudly flying the Salone flag, bring in the latest catch while women are waiting impatiently on the beach to buy barracuda, octopus, shrimps, squid and prawns and sell it immediately at the market. Hooded vultures and pied crows fight savagely over fish waste, while black-headed herons proudly wade on the shore looking for prey in the shallow water. A large jellyfish is lying like a giant pudding next to colourful fishing boats waiting under coconut trees for their next trawl. This little visited beach is not the most beautiful of Sierra Leone but it is full of life, energy and authenticity.
Our next stop is the picture postcard beach of Bureh which offers a stunning view of the ocean and the lush rolling hills of the Peninsula. At Bureh Beach we’ll stop for a swim.
Another 30 minutes brings us to the charming Creole fishing village of York with nice old wooden houses and some Portuguese remains. Here we will take our lunch break before heading north to today’s final destination, the famous River No. 2 considered one of the country’s most beautiful beaches.
Crystal-clear waters, a turquoise lagoon, fine white power-like sand dotted with colourful fishing boats, jungle clad mountains rising over the ocean: the scenery at this pristine stretch of coastline could not be more gorgeous. Welcome to paradise! The beach is empty, only herons and sea gulls can be seen on the shore. The sea is perfect for swimming: there are no dangerous currents and no rocks in the water.
Here River No. 2 meets the ocean. For the active, there is a nature trail leading into the jungle or you can take a boat trip up river which offers you the chance to view monkeys fishing for crabs in the river. With a little luck you can spot crocodiles bathing in the sun. The pristine forest is a paradise for bird-watchers. It is home to a number of bird species including rare ones such as the white-necked picathartes.
Towards evening we drive back to Tokeh where we stay at a nice new hotel on the beach.
Day 8 Tokeh – Bunce Island – Freetown
This morning we leave the pristine tropical beaches of Freetown Peninsula and returning to Sierra Leone’s capital city. Here we board a water taxi that will take us to Bunce Island.
Bunce Island is situated in the Sierra Leone River, a vast estuary formed of Rokel River and the Porto Loko Creek. The castle, erected in 1670, was one of the largest of its kind. Tens of thousands of African captives were transported from the so-called West African Rice Coast to the southern states of USA after having been kept in the dungeons of Bunce Island for months. Many African-Americans could trace their roots back to the area of modern day Sierra Leone using DNA analysis. The castle has become world famous due to Steven Spielberg’s film “Amistad”. We visit the overgrown ruins of the fortress where we still can see remains of fortification walls, watchtowers and old gravestones of slave traders who have been buried here.
Later this afternoon we take a water taxi back to Freetown.
Day 9 Freetown - Kindia
Today’s drive takes us along the coast to Guinea on a very good tarmac road. The road is lined with oil palm plantations. In the fertile soil of this area bananas, coconut trees, mango trees, pineapple and citrus fruits are grown. Lush rice paddies are spread like green carpets. At Farmoreya we cross into Guinea. After immigration and customs procedures we continue our journey to Kindia via Forecariah and Coyah. En route we stop at the impressive Eaux de Kilissi located close to the main road. The waterfall area boasts a beautiful picnic spot where we can have a snack, after taking a bath in the natural pool and walking down to the second cascade on a narrow path lined with pandanus trees and other exotic plants. The active Monsieur Farafinah, who manages this tropical paradise, will accompany us to the most beautiful spots showing us various endemic plants. He holds a lot of surprises for us!
In the late afternoon we’ll reach Kindia, Guinea’s third-largest city and capital of Lower Guinea. This vibrant town is an important trade centre of bananas.
Day 10 Kindia – Dalaba
The 1116m high Mont Gangan rises majestically over Kindia. It is often wrapped in a morning fog. We drive through the awakening city to visit Monsieur Dafé and his woodcarving workshop. We can watch the carvers at work. Later we continue .to the beautiful waterfall “Le Voile de la Mariée”, which means bridal veil. We enter the waterfall area located about 12 km away from the town centre through a lush teak alley. The waterfall drops 80m into a gorgeous pool lined with huge bamboo, snaking vines and silk cotton trees which seem to grow right up into the sky.
It takes another three hours to reach Mamou, the gateway to the Fouta Djalon Mountains. Near Mamou we will visit the beautiful Lake Bafing hidden in a small forest. Towards evening we reach our hotel at Dalaba, perched at a pleasant 1200 m. The hotel’s terrace offers a unique view over the Fouta Djalon Mountains while the sun is setting. We arrived at the heart of Guinea which is often called “Switzerland of Africa”!
Day 11 Dalaba: Hiking tour to Pont de Dieu and time for relaxing at Lake Dounkimagna
Due to the French botanist Auguste Chevalier who created some gardens around Dalaba in 1908 to determine which European plants can grow in Guinea, the town is surrounded by pine forests today. During our four-hour hiking tour we walk through the breathtaking scenery offering spectacular views of the mountain ridges of the Fouta Djalon Highlands. We pass by crop fields and vegetable gardens and discover small villages consisting of few houses only which are surrounded by rickety fences to keep goats, sheep and cows out of the fields. Children come running towards us happily shouting “toubabou”.Our hike takes us to the impressive Pont de Dieu, a natural bridge over the Téné River. We have the opportunity to bathe in a natural pool lined with Pandanus palms. The nearby forest contains vervet monkeys and guinea turacoes which are often spotted in the morning. From the Pont de Dieu we walk through bamboo groves and potato fields to reach the Jardin Auguste Chevalier, one of those pine forests the French botanist has created. Along with cinnamon trees, maples and a tree nursery where jackfruit trees and eucalyptus are grown we’ll see some of the original pines planted by Chevalier. The fresh scent of pines lingers in the air while we have our picnic lunch in the cool forest. Our driver/s then bring/s us to the nearby Lake Dounkimagna the waters of which nourish Dalaba’s famous strawberry and vegetable fields Dalaba. We can relax and bathe in the lake.
We end our day with the visit of one of Dalaba’s famous leather workshops. Here you have the opportunity to buy leather sandals, wallets or bags of outstanding quality.
Day 12 Dalaba: Excursion to Fougoumba and Ditinn waterfall
You’d like to eat strawberries? Today our destination is the historical village of Fougoumba. En route we visit the fruit and vegetable gardens irrigated by the waters of Lake Dounkimagna. Depending on the season carrots, leeks, spinach, eggplants, cabbage, peas, celery and tasteful strawberries are grown here.
The rugged track brings us to Fougoumba, an important religious and cultural place of the Foula people inhabiting the area. The village is located only 35 km from Dalaba but, due to bad road conditions, it will take us about two hours to get there. Around the year 1725 the Foula founded the Kingdom of Fouta Djalon, a theocratic state, choosing Timbo capital and political centre. Fougoumba, however, became the religious heart of the new kingdom. It was at the sacred town of Fougoumba, where the almamys (kings or supreme chiefs) were installed and received the turban of office and it has been the residence for many important Muslim scholars. Witness of this powerful period is a 500-year-old meeting hall, a solid, thatch-roofed circular hut, where in former times the almamys were crowned and which today still serves as a meeting place. Inside the hut we’ll see a drum known as tabala, the sound of which is audible up to a distance of 20 km. In the olden days it was used to inform the council members when a meeting was to be held. We will be met by the imam of the village and invited into the case des palabres. Here, he will tell us about the captivating history of the Foula tribe. Across the road from the hut, the magnificent modern mosque of Fougoumba has replaced the original building made of mud and straw.
Only a few kilometres away from Fougoumba there is the community of Ditinn. The best-known attraction in the community’s area is Guinea’s tallest waterfall, Chutes de Ditinn. En route we stop at a memorial dedicated to René Caillié. The French explorer stayed in the small town on 4th may 1827 heading to Timbuktu.
A 30-minute walk on a narrow path along the river brings us to the magnificent 120m-high Ditinn Falls. We walk through lush vegetation to reach the base of the falls. Rock monitors bathe lazily in the sun. We’ll have an idyllic picnic and relax on the shore of the pool. By evening, when the sun disappears behind the mountains we will reach Dalaba.
Day 13 Dalaba - Doucky
Today we leave the picturesque town of Dalaba and continue our journey to Doucky.
The small village of Pouké lies on the main road to Pita, only 15 minutes away from Dalaba. It is famous for its basket weavers. The women of Pouké produce bread baskets, place mats, coasters, chocolate boxes and other wares decorated with orange and black designs using dried grasses. The natural paints are created by the women from local trees. A huge gnarled tree stands at the entrance of the village. It is a sacred tree where the animist population made sacrifices before the arrival of the Peulh.
En route we leave the good tar road twice to explore the areas which are off the beaten track. Near Mitty we meet Monsieur Bah, one of Guinea’s most famous contemporary painters. His oeuvre does not only reflect the beauty of the Guinean nature, but also the political and social reality of his country. The themes of his paintings include country’s omnipresent corruption, drugs trade and atrocious massacres, as well as the idyllic waterfalls, green river valleys and bizarre rock formations of Guinea. Only 5 minutes away from the painter’s house lies the Cascade de Mitty, a low but wide and impressive waterfall. The landscape around the waterfall is punctuated by large nere trees, African locust bean trees. Their fermented seeds are used to produce soumbala, a popular cooking ingredient found in most of the west and central African countries. The ball-shaped black condiment is sold at the local markets throughout Guinea. Les connoisseurs of regional cuisines say that West Africa’s best soumbala is made in the Fouta Djallon Highlands.
Our next destination is the majestic Chutes de Kambadaga. This three-tiered waterfall is embedded in a picturesque landscape of rocks and lush vegetation. A natural platform offers a spectacular view of this natural wonder, which is rightly considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls of West Africa. It is the perfect place to have our lunch picnic today.
At the entrance of Pita we stop to watch the weavers at work. The Fouta Djallon Highlands are not only famous for their unique nature but also for excellent handicrafts
From Pita a laterite track brings us to the small village of Doucky located some 45 km away from the main road. On arrival we have time to make a walk with our likeable guide Hassan Bah to enjoy the breathtaking view of the so-called Grand Canyon, which is is not much of an exaggeration. We marvel at the spectacular play of colours produced by the setting sun.
We spend the night at the campement of our hospitable guide.
Day 14 Doucky
Hiking with Hassan Bah is an unforgettable experience and a must! He shows us the miracles of this fascinating world made of stones and rocks which nature has created near Doucky. During our 3-4-hour walk we discover many secrets of the escarpment which capture our imagination. Our hike will take us over and past extraordinary rock formations such as “hyena rock” from where we have spectacular views of the area’s table mountains in the distance. Our destination today is the so-called Indiana Jones Wall, whose labyrinth will surprise you! The landscape is characterized by its bizarre rock formations which make the area otherworldly. Some resemble a fairy-tale castle, some a human profile and others make you think of a crocodile. Liana vines hang from steep walls, small creeks have washed out the stones and we crawl and slide through narrow crevices. There is beauty and mystery waiting behind every bend of the path. The scenery is amazing and could be used as film set of a Hollywood movie!
After our lunch break we have time to continue our exploration. Doucky has a lot more highlights to offer. Caves and grottos, refreshing cascades with natural pools which invite us to bathe, ladders made of bamboo, vine bridges and with a little luck we’ll spot wild chimps!
Day 15 Doucky – Kindia
Today we make a long drive on a bad dirt track. The diversity of the scenery and the stunning views make this drive unforgettable. After some hours we reach the area of Télimélé, which lies near the border between the Fouta Djalon region and Lower Guinea. The road winds up steep hill slopes. We cross the rivers Kakrima and Konkouré in an adventurous manually-operated ferry and on metal bridges. Today there are so many scenic spots, that it can be hard to choose where to picnic. Near the small town of Télimélé the road turns south. The last stretch of today’s journey is striking: the road snakes through the mountains, through ravines and cliffs and leads down to the valley of the Konkouré River. The track is lined with banana plantations and rice paddies.
In the afternoon we reach Kindia,
Day 16 Kindia – Conakry – Bel Air
After breakfast we leave Guinea’s mountainside and drive to the coast on a tarred road dotted with many potholes. We’ll reach Conakry after two hours.
Today, Guinea’s capital has an estimated population of 2 million. Founded as a small fishing village the city developed on Tumbo Island at the tip of the Kaloum Peninsula, to which it is now joined by an isthmus, the city having long spread on to it. In 1891 it became capital of the French colony Rivières du Sud and with the increasing importance of the colony it developed into a major trade centre. At the beginning of the 20th century Conakry was a flourishing town with fine sandy beaches and a beautiful waterfront. Lush trees lined the wide boulevards. Conakry was then called “Paris of Africa”.
This morning we explore the bustling metropolis. The picturesque fishing port of Boulbinet lies on a bay in the Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day we can see the Iles de Loos in the distance, a small archipelago, which could have inspired Stevenson’s novel “Treasure Island”. We watch the fishermen repairing their nets and stroll through the fish market where the catch of the day is sold and also processed and preserved. Then we walk to the nearby National Museum which houses a lot of cultural artefacts, including masks and music instruments from all over the country. We’ll also see the Great Faysal Mosque built in the ‘70s which is considered the largest mosque in West Africa.
After lunch we head north to Bel Air. On our right hand side we can see the extensions of the Fouta Djallon highlands. Near the town of Dubréka we have a view of a mountain called „le chien qui fume“, the smoking dog. On the way to our final destination we cross many rivers on metal bridges. At Boffa we cross the mighty Rio Pongo.
In the afternoon we continue to Bel Air, which is considered to be Guinea’s most beautiful beach.
Day 17 Bel Air
We have time to enjoy our last two days in Guinea as we choose.
Guinea’s coastal area is part of Lower Guinea or Maritime Guinea, one of the country’s four main geographic regions. This is a lush region where palm-trees grow in abundance and mangroves line the coast. The area is populated mainly by the Susu ethnic group. In the 1990’s former president Lansana Conté, who also was a Susu, built a luxury hotel with casino in this tropical paradise. After his death the luxurious hotel declined before being taken over by a hotel chain that restored it.
At Bel Air there is an optional tour to Koukoudé a small fishing village. The villagers of Koukoudé earn their living through fishing and conserving fish. They live in huts made from wood and straw.
Day 18 Bel Air – Conakry - Flight to Europe
This morning you will have free time to enjoy the beach location and this afternoon we will return to Accra where the tour ends.
Please note that from time to time our itineraries may be amended