Dakar to Freetown
The trip starts in the Senegalese capital of Dakar. You will have two nights to explore this cosmopolitan and vibrant city – plenty of opportunity to wander and visit some of the sights. Absorb yourself in art galleries and markets, enjoy the nightlife or take in some of the troubled history of the slave trade on the Île de Gorée. Leaving the capital you travel towards the border with Gambia where the truck (and you) travel on a ferry across the Gambia River and head west to Tendaba Campement. You'll stay two nights at this tranquil riverside camp to relax with the option to take boat trips to spot wildlife in the Baobolong Wetlands and The Kiang West National Park. This protected reserve of mangroves boasts an outstanding wealth of birdlife. From Tendaba you then drive west, following the river and stopping for a night at Bintang Bolong Lodge an eco-friendly campement. Options here include: boat trips and guided walks through the mangrove forest that surrounds the camp and walks to Bintang village where you may get the chance to take part in a drumming or dancing class (Bintang is famous for its “Kankurang” dance). You then get back on the road and make your way through Southern Gambia and cross the border into the Casamance region of Southern Senegal.
This week is spent overlanding through the Casamance region of Senegal, which is quite a contrast to the rest of Senegal - both geographically and culturally (the people are mainly Diola and non-Muslim). In the Casamance Nord you visit the coastal town of Kafountine. You also stop off at Affiniam, between the River Casamance and forestlands. Affiniam is famous for its impressive case a impluvium a huge round mud house where, historically, the villagers would take shelter during wartime. You obtain visas for Guinea-Bissau in the regional capital of Ziguinchor, where you have a free day to look around the colourful markets and the old colonial architecture. You then travel west to Point St George for two nights on the river, situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the Cassamance region, before getting on the road again heading for the border with Guinea-Bissau. This part of the trip should be pretty relaxed. Most drive days will be relatively short, with chances to stop along the way to take photos of this stunning part of Senegal. There will be a number of different options to explore, including: Pirogue rides along the creeks and mangroves rich in birdlife, walks in the rice fields and forests and bicycle tours around the pistes and villages of the estuary. Or you can simply relax on the beach, watch the fishermen bringing in their catch and mending their nets, wander into a nearby village to observe artisans at work and maybe call in at the bar for a glass of the local brew.. This part of Senegal has seen a large slump in tourism since the troubles of the late1980′s and 1990s, so the local people are most welcoming to travellers that venture this way.
Guinea-Bissau has had a turbulent past, but in recent years relative stability has returned and the number of travelers visiting this little known country is growing. Whilst lacking the quantity of ‘attractions’ that neighboring countries can boast, Guinea-Bissau will charm you with its 'off the beaten track' feel and welcoming people. Spend a few days traversing the country stopping off in the capital Bissau where you’ll have a chance to explore whilst you obtain your visas for Guinea (Conakry). Bissau Velho, the old Portugese colonial centre of Bissau, is noted for its pastel-coloured buildings and backstreet cafes. Leaving Bissau you get back on the road heading towards the Guinean border visiting Saltinho Waterfalls near Mampata en route. Once you cross the border into Guinea the roads will start to get more challenging. You will be driving though the Guinean highlands between Koundara and Labe, the centre point of the Fouta Djalon – an area that is considered one of the most beautiful in the whole of West Africa.
Guinea is just starting to build a democratic future following a volatile transition period after the lengthy Presidencies of Sekou Toure and Lansana Conte. Even before the military coup lead by Dadis Camara, Guinea seldom made it onto the ‘traditional’ overland routes through West Africa, and for the most part remains unspoiled. You spend 4 days exploring the Fouta Djalon - the traditional lands of the Fula people of Guinea. The highland climate here is cooler than the rest of the country and ideal for walking and hiking. Based between Labe, Pita and Dalaba over these 4 days, you will have plenty of time to take in the wonders around these three towns. Highlights include: great trekking terrain with stunning scenery; steep drops, tiered waterfalls and craggy mountainsides, trekking or cycling through small villages to watch local people ply their trades and see the Fula people in traditional dress, cooling off under stunning waterfalls and swimming in lakes. The roads off the main ‘highway’ are often impassable for an Overland Truck so a mixture of cycling, hiking and taxi rides are the best ways to travel around the area while you are based at camp in one of the towns. (Very few tourists pass through this area so there are no organised trekking packages with established routes, trained guides or the latest mountain bikes..) From the Fouta Djalon you descend towards Mamou and head southwest towards the capital Conakry via Kindia. If you’re not too tired from trekking in the Fouta Djallon, a few hours could be spared to climb up to the top of Mount Gangan for a wonderful panoramic view of Kindia and the surrounding countryside. You spend two nights in lively Conakry which gives you plenty of opportunity to experience the incredible music played in the bars and soak up the nightlife. Guinea is home to an impressive array of musical talent – so hopefully there’ll be a chance to catch a live performance. Say au revoir to French speaking Guinea and hello to English speaking Sierra Leone (or kusheh-o in Krio). Expect a long couple of days travelling as you get back on the road and head towards Freetown, crossing a border noted for its bribe-hungry officials...The first port of call in Sierra Leone will be John Obey Beach – which despite being renowned as one of the country’s most stunning beaches is often totally deserted. John Obey is also home to the TRIBEWANTED community project where you’ll camp for a couple of nights (with possible options to upgrade to rooms/earth domes) and learn about this innovative sustainable tourism project. You’ll be able to get involved and lend a hand on our free day or just make the most of the downtime and relax on the beach and party when the sun goes down – a perfect way to end your West Africa Overland adventure.. After saying your farewells to the project you drive along the bustling beach lined peninsula, ending your trip in the beautifully situated and historic capital of Freetown.
NOTE: West Africa is unpredictable. There is no 'absolute' fixed itinerary so please treat the information given as a guideline only. Although the information is written in good faith, the route may vary at any time due to weather, politics or road conditions. For an updated dossier containing a more detailed itinerary and information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, optional excursions and other useful information please contact us.