Guinea and Sierra Leone tour
Description of Guinea and Sierra Leone tour
There aren’t many people doing this unique trip. Be one of the first to realise why Sierra Leone is back on the travel map: its big, beautiful beaches are a big clue.
Your adventure starts in Guinea. Fly into the capital, Conakry, before making your way into the Fouta Djalon highlands. Four major rivers start in these mountains, its sandstone canyons rush with water, and baboons, red monkeys and chimpanzees roam through the forests of bananas and bamboo. Waterfalls are everywhere, among them, Salaa, one of the tallest in the country.
The towns and cities of Guinea give you an insight into the culture of the country’s three main ethnic groups, the Fulani, Malinké, and Soussou. Look out for fine examples of wood carving and woven baskets and mats in the markets. When you reach Fougoumba you can admire its unusual thatched mosque; Islam is the main religion in the country, and thatch is a common building material here.
When you cross into Sierra Leone you’re in for a surprise. Sierra Leone has hit headlines in the past, first for its civil war, then for the Ebola crisis – but the country has been Ebola free since 2016, and is welcoming and peaceful. What’s more, its beaches are amazing. The islands off the coast are a great place to wind down.
You’ll start in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, the capital, with its Big Market and its museums dedicated to the country’s sad past. Banana Island is the perfect place to relax afterwards. Then it’s on to the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary to watch chimps prepare for rehabilitation back into the wild. At Tiwai Island in the Moa River you can spot hippo in the rainforest. Before you fly home out of Lungi, there’s a chance to relax on the wild beaches at Tasso and Bunce Islands.
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PlanetThis tour travels through some very remote regions, some of which have barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining their pristine nature. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of in nearby towns.
Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – again in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off.
Our travellers are specifically briefed on not to buy souvenirs made from endangered species – people in remote parts of West Africa do not always have the same respect towards wildlife as most travellers will have, and can sometimes offer such things for sale. This also extends to bushmeat – it is quite common to find antelope, porcupine or even monkey served in restaurants, and we specifically advise our travellers against contributing to the depletion of local populations.
PeopleAs with many of the trips that we offer, this tour has a strong focus on local culture and different ethnic groups. Where possible we try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence.
We spend time with some traditional ethnic groups on this trip, groups who rarely see tourists. We have a special responsibility to ensure that the encounters that we have are carried out in a responsible manner. We consult extensively with local tribal elders to ensure that our presence here is very much welcomed – we feel that it is very important to be seen as guests here rather than outsiders come to merely look. We are able to spend time with the communities learning about their traditions and customs.
We are careful not to disrupt the traditional way of life of the people that we meet. As a way to say thank you for allowing us to visit, we bring traditional gifts, such as sugar, tea and so on – we do not bring modern accoutrements that may change their way of life as we feel that it is important for all tribal groups that any move towards a more ‘modern’ lifestyle is made on their own terms and not imposed upon them. We give gifts to the elders of the villages who will then ensure that they are distributed appropriately, rather than just giving them to individuals, which can cause problems, jealousy and fights within small communities.
Where small local shops exist within the villages, we encourage our travellers to buy something, be it a cold drink or a snack, so that we have some economic benefit, however small. We employ local guides from the villages to show us around – not only does this give our travellers a greater insight into traditions but again it helps to put money into the local economy.
These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travellers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities. This includes photography – while we recognise that many people are incredibly photogenic it is important for us to respect their wishes should they not want to have their photo taken, and our travellers are carefully briefed upon this.
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