Guinea Bissau to the heart of the Sahara overland tour
Description of Guinea Bissau to the heart of the Sahara overland tour
This overland tour takes you from the islands offshore Guinea Bissau to the heart of the Sahara on an exciting 28 day small group journey. Your adventure kicks off in the Bijagos Archipelago, the largest group of islands in Africa, where you’ll experience the Vaca Bruto Festival, and spend time with tribes that have been little influenced by the outside world.
Moving on to the Senegalese capital Dakar, you’ll visit Isle de Goré, the site of a former slaving fort, and Djoudj National Park, a vast wetland area that’s a favoured nesting spot for millions of migratory and sedentary birds. Mauritania comes next, and here you’ll visit the capital, Nouakchott, drive through the rugged Adrar Mountains, and explore Chinguetti, an ancient 13th century Berber town that was a major waypoint for Trans-Saharan caravans.
Crossing into Western Sahara, you’ll be lead across the desert by a nomad from a Sahrawi tribe, and wild camp in the desert regions of Tiris and Zemmour, before making your way to Morocco. Here you’ll drive across the vast, empty deserts of Erg Chegaga, explore the Djebel Sarhro mountain range and cross the dramatic High Atlas Mountains.
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PlanetOn this tour we sail around very remote islands in the Bijagos Archipelago. Very few tourists visit these islands due to their remoteness and lack of access. When visiting Bolama and Canhabaque Island which see very few tourists, we have an additional responsibility on us as a company and on our clients visiting the country to do everything possible to minimise our impact.
This tour travels through some remote and often pristine environments such as Ban D'Argun, one of the most important natural reserves in Africa, and some nights are spent camping or on board. We make a point of ensuring that we do not leave any permanent traces of our stay behind, making sure that we take all litter with us. The desert is a fragile environment and we take great pains to ensure that we do not disturb it.
We do everything possible to reduce our waste while travelling, using local cafes and restaurants. We also work extremely closely with our locally owned suppliers to inform and educate their staff about a range of issues, including litter and waste disposal, and the recycling of material. Clients are advised to bring their own water bottles rather than purchase plastic.
Wherever possible we use environmentally friendly local accommodation. If this is not possible we make every effort to alert the management of the accommodation in question to ways of improving their service with the environment in mind. Many of the hotels and lodges we use are in extremely remote areas and are therefore almost entirely self-sufficient, using local sources of food, labour and construction materials.
We also visit Djouji National Park, a wetland area home to thousands of species of birds. Most is a designated World Heritage Site, and in order to reduce our impacts, clients are briefed on the appropriate behaviour whilst in the parks, and stick to clearly marked trails and paths as to not disturb or destroy the habitats of the wildlife that live here.
PeopleOur very small groups and limited departures travelling through Guinea Bissau, Mauritania and Morocco mean that our impact – both cultural and environmental – on the areas that we visit is small and truly sustainable. We are investing in the future, in the belief that along with our local colleagues we can create sustainable social benefits. All of the guides we use are local, and most have been working with our local team in a full time role for a number of years, rather than just as seasonal jobs.
We visit the villages of several remote tribes and ethnic minorities, including the Manjaco tribe, Diola Kingdom and the Dra region of Morocco. Here, the local people still follow their ancient traditions and values. To be able to visit these remote villages, often we need permission from the tribe leader. This encourages social interaction between tourists and local people, and our clients are briefed on appropriate behaviour towards the tribe and their leader so to minimize our impact as much as possible. Meeting these remote tribes teach us about the environment and their local customs, both providing income for a remote community and helping to ensure that traditions that have been passed down through generations are maintained, as the younger generation is able to see the value in this.
All of our trips include visits to local markets, craft shops and fairs. We also attend local festivals and support the preservation of wildlife. As well as being good for the local economy this gives travellers to the country a real feel for the life and culture of Guinea Bissau.
We believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures – usually between one and three a year - for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism. We want to visit an area as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come.