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!
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 2 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 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.
Border information: Exit Sierra Leone at Kindia, enter Guinea at Pamalap.
Today we will head north from Freetown Peninsular and cross into Guinea. Our co-driver will leave the truck this evening and take local transport to Conakry in order to obtain Guinea-Bissau visas for the group at the consulate there.
The rest of us will continue a short way past the town of Coyah and wild camp en route.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.
Over the next 2 days we will continue our journey north through central Guinea to reach the town of Labé, the gateway to the Fouta Djallon highland region. Our co-driver will catch up with us in Labé, with everybody's Guinea-Bissau visa obtained.
In Mamou and in Labé we will stay in small local guesthouses.
Estimated Drive Times - 6-8 hours each day.
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.
From Labé we journey up through the remote hilly areas of northern Guinea on our way towards Guinea-Bissau. 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 in the highlands before the village of Seriba, the second is likely to be near the border with Guinea-Bissau at Kandika.
Estimated Drive Times - 9-10 hours each day.
Border information: Exit Guinea at Kandika, enter Guinea-Bissau at Kandika.
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 - 10-11 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.
Border information: Exit Guinea-Bissau at São Domingos, enter Senegal at Mpack.
Today we will journey through western Guinea-Bissau and 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!
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.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.
Border information: Exit Senegal at Senoba, enter The Gambia at Soma.
Today we will head across the border from Senegal into the small country of The Gambia, and head to the famous Tendaba Camp on the southern shore of the Gambia River. 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 - 6-7 hours.
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.
Border information: Exit The Gambia at Fass, enter Senegal at Karang.
Today we cross the Gambia River on a local transport barge and cross the border into the main part of Senegal, heading to the small town of Toubakouta, situated close to the stunning wetlands of the Sine-Saloum Delta. The ferry can be quite a chaotic local experience!
Estimated Drive Time - 6-9 hours (depending on the ferry crossing).
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.
Today we head north through Senegal to the old colonial city of St. Louis, formerly the capital of French West Africa. On the way we will see the landscape change as we enter the drier Sahel 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 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.
Today our overland journey takes us south to Dakar, the bustling capital of Senegal and the most western point in Africa.
In Dakar we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities in the city centre.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
Border information: if you are leaving at Dakar, you will most likely exit Senegal at Dakar Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport (IATA code: DKR).
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Dakar, and is a free day to explore the cosmopolitan city and perhaps take an optional trip to the famous Île de Goreé.
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Dakar. 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.
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
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Trip Name: Freetown to Dakar
Duration: 23 Days
From Price: $2,925
Supplier Tour ID: ZDF2/158261
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