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Dakar to Freetown
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This epic and challenging trip takes you right the way through some truly off the beaten track destinations in West Africa. We take in the highlights of Senegal and the Gambia, first exploring the Sahel region, the colonial city of St. Louis and the impressive Mouride mosque in Touba, and then moving to the stunning wetlands of Toubakouta and the Gambia, where there is an abundance of birdlife that attracts birdwatchers from around the world. After a couple of days to relax on the beautiful beaches of the southern Casamance region of Senegal, we then plunge into the remarkable but lesser-visited countries of Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, where the true adventure begins! We will have several days of travelling very remote areas on poor roads, wild camping on the way, before we reach the Fouta Djallon highlands where we have two days of trekking through the spectacular mountains and waterfalls of the region, a real highlight of West Africa! We then make our way south to the unique country of Sierra Leone and visit the phenomenal beaches of the Freetown Peninsular, before ending our trip in the bustling capital of Freetown. Unlike their more visited cousins in East Africa, these countries truly are hidden gems that are largely untouched by tourism - every trip through the region is therefore an incredible adventure involving fantastic community interaction, some wonderful wild camps, some difficult roads, and a rare opportunity to experience a more traditional way of life. West Africa boasts a huge arts and craft scene, colourful and vibrant markets, and incredible traditional music - however, what makes West Africa especially wonderful are the people - the fascinating cultures, incredible atmosphere, and warm friendly smiles that greet you every day are what makes a trip here so very special, and why the area is frequently on the top of the favourites list for many of our most seasoned travellers. Join us for this incredible adventure!


Duration: 23 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Boating, Canoeing, Community Project, Trekking, Hiking, Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites, Parks & Nature Reserves, Walking Tour Physical rating: Demanding
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 158260
Starts: Dakar, Senegal Finishes: Freetown, Sierra Leone
You will Visit
  • Dakar
  • St. Louis
  • Touba
  • Toubakouta
  • Tendaba
  • Cap Skirring
  • Bissau
  • Northern Guinea
  • Labé
  • Fouta Djallon
  • Mamou
  • Southern Guinea
  • Freetown Peninsular
  • Freetown

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Dakar

Border information: if you are joining at Dakar, you will most likely enter Senegal at Dakar Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport (IATA code: DKR).

Today is an arrival day with a pre departure meeting at 10:00am. Your leader will leave a note in reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Your leader will collect your kitty and check your passport and insurance details at this meeting.

The afternoon will be free to explore the cosmopolitan city and perhaps take an optional trip to the famous Île de Goreé.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Dakar 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 Dakar.

In Dakar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

02

Day 2-3: St. Louis

Today we head north through the dry Sahel region to the old colonial city of St. Louis, formerly the capital of French West Africa.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 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!).

On the following day we will have a free day to explore the streets of the old city and take an optional trip to the Langue de Barbarie National Park or the nearby Djoudj Birdlife Reserve.

In St. Louis we will stay in a colonial-era hotel with good facilities.

03

Day 4-5: Touba

Today we start our journey south to the small town of Toubakouta, situated close to the Sine-Saloum Delta. On the way we will see the landscape change as we enter the greener wetland region, and we will stop to see the Grand Mosque of Touba, one of the best known mosques in Senegal and most holy site in the Mouride branch of Islam.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

On our full day in Toubakouta we will have an optional morning pirogue trip to a nearby village to see a slice of rural Senegalese life and to meet their charismatic female chief. In the afternoon we have an included pirogue trip to the mangroves, the 'Shellfish Island' and the 'Island of Birds' - if the weather is good, there are often some stunning sunsets across the delta.

In Toubakouta we will camp in the grounds of a small locally-run hotel.

04

Day 6-7: Tendaba

Border information: Exit Senegal at Karang, enter The Gambia at Fass.

Today we will head across the border from Senegal into the small country of The Gambia, then cross the Gambia River on a local transport barge to arrive at the famous Tendaba Camp on the southern shore of the Gambia River. The ferry can be quite a chaotic local experience! Tendaba Camp was the first inland hotel in The Gambia, and is one of the most popular spots in the country for birdwatchers.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-9 hours (depending on the ferry crossing).

Tendaba is located opposite the Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve, one of the premier birdwatching sites in Africa. On our full day here we will have an included morning boat trip into the wetlands to spot some of the stunning area's wildlife and natural scenery. We will also have an opportunity to take an optional safari drive around the nearby forests of Kiang West National Park.

In Tendaba we will stay in a basic guesthouse.

05

Day 8-10: Cap Skirring

Border information: Exit The Gambia at Soma, enter Senegal at Senoba.

Today we will cross the border into the southern Casamance region of Senegal, arriving at the beautiful beaches of Cap Skirring.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

We will have 2 full days in Cap Skirring, where there will be good opportunities for optional activities such as swimming, biking, fishing, quad-biking and sun-bathing! While in Cap Skirring, your co-driver will travel to the nearby town of Ziguinchor to obtain Guinea-Bissau visas for the group at the consulate there.

In Cap Skirring we will camp in the grounds of a good beach hotel, where there will likely be the opportunity to upgrade to rooms.

06

Day 11-12: Bissau

Border information: Exit Senegal at Mpack, enter Guinea Bissau at São Domingos.

Today we will drive across the border into the very rarely-visited country of Guinea-Bissau, and drive to its capital of Bissau.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

On the following day, we will have time to freely explore the city and the old Portuguese centre of Bissau Velho.

In Bissau we will stay in a local hotel.

07

Day 13-15: Northern Guinea

Border information: Exit Guinea-Bissau at Kandika, enter Guinea at Kandika.

From Bissau we will journey through Guinea-Bissau and into the remote hilly areas of northern Guinea on our way to the town of Labé, the gateway to the stunning Fouta Djallon highland region. The roads on this section are very challenging dirt roads which take us through some incredibly remote areas, and our speed will largely be determined by the state of these roads - although getting to these areas is very special and a great adventure, even more flexibility will be required on these days!

We will stop for 2 wild camps en route - the first is likely to be next to the Guinean border at Kandika, the second is likely to be in the highlands past the village of Seriba.

In Labé we will stay in a pleasant local hotel.

Estimated Drive Times - 9-10 hours each day. 

08

Day 16-17: Fouta Djallon

From Labé we will set off for an included 2-day excursion to the heart of the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea.

On the first day we will travel in 4x4 jeeps through very remote country roads to the small rural community of Aïnguel (approximately a 4 hour drive). After lunch there will be a short 3-hour trek to a waterfall viewpoint and to the nearby 'Pont de Pierre' rock bridge where we have the change to swim in a beautiful natural lagoon.

On this night we will stay in a very small and basic community-run guesthouse - please note that if the group is large, some people may need to sleep in tents just outside.

On the second day there is a long 8-hour trek through the surrounding hills and villages taking in the incredible scenery. We will stop for a picnic lunch next to a stunning waterfall, where we have the opportunity to swim in the lagoon beneath. In the latter stages of the trek, we hope to be able to get to the base of a much larger and incredibly powerful waterfall, although this is dependent on the ground waters having receded enough after the rainy season to make this route passable.

Upon returning after this walk, we will immediately drive back in the 4x4s to Labé to spend the night in our guesthouse there.

09

Day 18: Mamou

Leaving the Fouta Djallon region behind us, we head south through central Guinea to the town of Mamou.

In Mamou we will stay in a local guesthouse. 

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

10

Day 19: Southern Guinea

Today we will continue our drive south through Guinea, stopping to wild camp close to the border with Sierra Leone.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

11

Day 20-21: Freetown Peninsular

Border information: Exit Guinea at Pamalap, enter Sierra Leone at Kindia.

Today we leave Freetown for the stunning beaches of Freetown Peninsular, where we will spend 2 nights for some well-deserved relaxation after our journey through the tough roads of Guinea.

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 - 7-8 hours.

We will have a full day 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.

12

Day 22: Freetown

Today we will have a short drive up the western side of the Freetown Peninsular to arrive in the Aberdeen district of the city of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

In Freetown we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

13

Day 23: Freetown

Border information: if you are leaving in Freetown, you will most likely exit Sierra Leone at Freetown Lungi International Airport (IATA code: FNA).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Freetown. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman 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.

Airport information - the fastest and most reliable way to the airport from Freetown is by water-taxi, as Lungi is across a bay from the city. Our hotel in Freetown is a 200m walk to the jetty where the water-taxis depart from - the departure times for the water-taxis are linked to every flight in and out of Lungi airport (usually around 4 hours before the time of the flight). We advise that when the trip arrives in Freetown, you go to the jetty to check the timetable for the water-taxis for your flight and purchase a ticket in advance (USD40 or EUR35) - your trip leader will be able to assist with this. The ticket counter at the jetty is open 24 hours a day. 

You should arrive at the jetty 30 minutes before the departure time, as you have to check in your large bags and take a luggage ticket. The water-taxi takes approximately 30 minutes, then you take a minibus for another 15 minutes to arrive at Lungi airport. Your large bags will be waiting for you at the water-taxi office on the left-hand-side of the airport entrance, just hand in your luggage ticket to get them back.  

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Visit the stunning Grand Mosque of Touba, one of Africa's largest mosques and the holiest site of the Mouride Brotherhood, a sect of Islam that focuses on hard work as a form of salvation
    • Take an evening pirogue trip into the heart of the Sine-Saloum Delta to explore the fascinating islands and enjoy the spectacular sunset
    • Explore deep into the stunning wetland delta of the Bao Balong Reserve on a motorised pirogue, discovering one of Africa's best birdwatching areas
    • Guided 2-day excursion to the stunning highland region of Fouta Djallon, with treks through the scenic hills to the incredible waterfalls and local villages, and an overnight stay in a community guesthouse

    Tour Staff
    •  2 crew, local guides where necessary
    Accomodation
    • 45% Camping - 55% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • Adventure Activities
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Community Project
  • Hiking & Trekking
  • History & Culture
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Overland Journey
  • R & R
  • Walks & Rambles