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TRANS- SAHARA & WEST AFRICA, THE GRAND EXPEDITION, 57 days: Cotonou – Dakar – Marrakech (or join part of the expedition).

TRANS- SAHARA & WEST AFRICA, THE GRAND EXPEDITION, 57 days: Cotonou – Dakar – Marrakech (or join part of the expedition).

Days:
57
Tour Type:
Grand Expedition
International group
Group size:
From 4 to 16 participants
PRICES per person:
- GROUP OF 6 OR MORE GUESTS: 14393 €
- Group of 4/5 guests: 18639 €
- Single room supplement: 1995 €
GUIDE: English, French, Italian speaking
Deposit at the booking:

5.591,00

The deposit is intended as 30% of the total. For more information, you can view our information.

BENIN, TOGO, GHANA, IVORY COAST, LIBERIA , SIERRA LEONE, GUINEA, GUINEA BISSAU, GAMBIA, SENEGAL, MAURITANIA, WESTERN SAHARA PROVENCE of MOROCCO AND NIGERIA PRE-EXTENSION.

EXPERIENCE a “Grand Raid” from Coasts and Islands of West Africa through Forests, Savannah and Sahel to the crossing of Sahara from south to north. A progressive and continuous changing of landscapes and ecosystems. We will discover the main natural, cultural and religious environments of the African continent.

DEPARTURE: 5 March 2022 (south-north itinerary);  

PRICE FROM: 14393 €

Discount:
Dates Departure:
  • 5 March 2022 - 30 April 2022
Total: 5591

Special offer

Description

BENIN, TOGO, GHANA, IVORY COAST, LIBERIA , SIERRA LEONE, GUINEA, GUINEA BISSAU, GAMBIA, SENEGAL, MAURITANIA, WESTERN SAHARA PROVENCE of MOROCCO AND NIGERIA PRE-EXTENSION.

EXPERIENCE a “Grand Raid” from Coasts and Islands of West Africa through Forests, Savannah and Sahel to the crossing of Sahara from south to north. A progressive and continuous changing of landscapes and ecosystems. We will discover the main natural, cultural and religious environments of the African continent.

Starting from Cotonou the capital of Benin at the origins of African Voodoo: trance and rituals are still practiced in the largest stilt village of the continent. Follow the shores and inland of Guinea Gulf. Experience remotes forests and mountains where the arrival of foreigners is a rare event. Cross rivers on barges and walk liana bridges to the isolated villages, house of Bird Men, sacred masks, animistic ceremonies and… diamonds seekers. Enjoy a “tribal concert” of the Griot: descendent of musician and story tellers lineages dating back from 12th century. Enjoy three days sailing to explore the remote Bijagos Archipelago. After Casamance dancing mask the local culture will change from animism to Islam as the landscape will changes from forest to Savanna and to the desert. From Cap d’Almadine, the western point of the continent our direction will be north to cross Sahara, the largest desert on earth. Discover high dunes, remote oasis in Mauritania. Drive on the endless beaches of Rio de Oro to discover an astonishing landscape where the ocean floods in the desert: escarpments and dunes, during the hight tide, becomes temporary islands. Western Sahara in where other travellers don’t arrive: nomads, camels, caravans, wells, cave dwellers…  and in the night myriads of stars will frame this once in a lifetime experience. End in Marrakech, traditional terminal of the caravans camming, like us, from Sahara and Black Africa.

NEW AFRICA Enjoy remote villages but also modern Africa. Metropolitan life is vibrant:

Stroll in the intense city life of Accra, Abidjan, Monrovia, Freetown and Dakar. Feel the exciting mix of urban culture, live music and fusion cuisine, meet the young talents of the artistic scene.

NATURE. Traveling South to North, or vice versa, is a continuous change of latitude that leads to a continuous change of climate,  fauna and flora: from the luxuriant Rainforest, his large rivers and his tall, gigantic and impenetrable vegetation to the grass and Baobabs in the Savannah and to the rare to absent vegetation of the Sahara.

Travelling along the “uncertain border” between land and water, ocean and islands, dunes and waves. Following the “flyway” in the time of bird migration, a constant and discreet presence,  when millions of birds leave Africa heading to Europe after wintering. We will also visit one of the richest migratory bird sanctuaries on earth and discover some unexpected micro-climates created by the moisty winds from the ocean on the dry desert environment: a multitude of “spontaneous gardens” with flowers, succulents and lichens.

CLIMATE Winter and early spring are the coolest time of the dry season in West African costal countries. Late autumn and spring are the best seasons in the Sahara: climate is mild and pleasant; nights are cool but not cold and days are warm but not hot.

COMFORT The Grand Traverse across West Africa & Sahara is as adventurous as enjoyable. The best available comfort is a must to fully enjoy a travel experience out of the beaten tracks. Modern and comfortable air-conditioned 4×4 vehicles will be the main transportation. On some paved road itinerary could be on private air-conditioned  minibus. On Ocean and lagoons: speed boats for major navigations and local boat for short sails.

Overnights: in comfortable hotels, four stars in the capitals, three nights in settled  camps with large tents, beds, facilities and restaurants. The accommodations have been chosen according to comfort, typical architectural style, restaurant quality, friendly service and scenic locations. Four nights will be spent at  mobile camp in the more remote areas of the Sahara. Our modern tents are provided with mattresses and are equipped with mosquito nets and isolated from the ground by a large mat, camping under the stars is a must of the “Sahara experience”.

SAFETY is our main concern. The expedition is based on a long experience of the area and is led by the best experts. The itinerary is safe and constantly monitored by our local connections network ,with information directly from the field.

Lagos pre-extension:
We can arrange, on request,  a pre-extension to Nigerian capital. With is 21 million inhabitants, Lagos is the largest metropolis south of Sahara, a terrific melting-pot of contemporary Africa.

OR JOIN US FOR A LEG OF THE EXPEDITION:

53 days ACCRA – MARRAKECH. Price from: 13420 €
Start in Accra, March 22th, 2022. End in Marrakech April 30th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

50 days ABIDJAN – MARRAKECH. Price from: 12725 €
Start in Abidjan March 12th, 2022. End in Marrakech April 30th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

42 days MONROVIA – MARRAKECH. Price from: 10800 €
Start in Monrovia March 20th, 2022. End in Marrakech April 30th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

31 days BIJAGOS – MARRAKECH. Price from: 8985 €
Start in Bissau March 31st, 2022. End in Marrakech April 30th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

23 days DAKAR – MARRAKECH. Price from: 5888 €
Start in Dakar April 8th, 2022. End in Marrakech April 30th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

19 days NOUAKCHOTT – MARRAKECH. Price from: 4984 €
Start in Nouakchott April 12th, 2022. End in Marrakech evening April 30th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

12 days DAKHLA – MARRAKECH. Price from: 2996 €
Start in Dakhla April 19th, 2022. End in Marrakech evening April 30th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

15/14 days NOUAKCHOTT – TAN TAN. Price from: 3495 €
Start in Nouakchott, April 12th,2022. End morning April 26th, 2022 in Tan Tan or Guelmim, (15 days). SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

13 days DAKAR – DAKHLA. Price from: 3790 €
Start in Dakar April 8th, 2022. End in Dakhla April 20th, 2021. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

9 days BIJAGOS – DAKAR. Price from: 2153 €
Start in Bissau April 30th, 2022. End in Dakar May 8th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

20 days MONROVIA – DAKAR. Price from: 5740 €
Start in Monrovia March 20th , 2022. End in Dakar April 8th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

28 days ABIDJAN – DAKAR. Price from: 6893 €
Start in Abidjan March 13th, 2022. End in Dakar April 9th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

35 days COTONOU – DAKAR. Price from: 8758 €
Start in Cotonou March 5th, 2022. End in Dakar April 8th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

30 days COTONOU – BIJAGOS ARCHIPELAGO. Price from: 7872 €
Start in Cotonou March 5th, 2022. End in Bissau evening April 3rd, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

27 days COTONOU – BISSAU. Price from: 7085 €
Start in Cotonou March 5th, 2022. Ends in Bissau March 31st, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

23 days ABIDJAN – BIJAGOS ARCHIPELAGO. Price from: 5949 €
Start in Abidjan March 12th, 2022. End in Bissau the evening April 3rd, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

20 days ABIDJAN – BISSAU. Price from: 5173 €
Start in Abidjan March 12th, 2022. End in Bissau in the evening of March 31st, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

15 days MONROVIA – BIJAGOS ARCHIPELAGO. Price from: 3883 €
Start in Monrovia March 20th, 2022. End in Bissau in the evening of April 3rd, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

12 days MONROVIA – BISSAU. Price from: 3196 €
Star in Monrovia March 20th, 2022. End in Bissau March 31st, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

21 days COTONOU – FREETOWN. Price from: 6381 €
Start in Cotonou March 5th, 2022. End in Freetown March 25th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

17 days ACCRA – FREETOWN. Price from: 4995 €
Start in Accra March 9th, 2022. End in Freetown in the evening of March 25th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

14 days ABIDJAN – FREETOWN.  Price from: 3675 €
Start in Abidjan March 12th, 2022. End in Freetown March 25th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

6 days MONROVIA – FREETOWN. Price from: 2184 €
Start in Monrovia March 20th, 2022. End in Freetown March 25th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

13 days ACCRA – MONROVIA. Price from: 3384 €
Star in Accra March 9th, 2022. End in Monrovia late evening of March 21st, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

10 days COTONOU – ABIDJAN. Price from: 2487 €
Start in Cotonou March 5th, 2022. End in Abidjan March 14th, 2022. SOUTH-NORTH ITINERARY

Day 1: COTONOU   Benin
Arrival at Airport and transfer the hotel.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel Azalai ****.

Day 2: THE STILTS VILLAGE   Benin
We will leave our vehicles and cross Lake Nokwe on a motorized boat to reach Ganvié, the largest and most beautiful African village on stilts. The approximately 25,000 inhabitants are part of the Tofinou ethnic group and build their wooden houses on teak stilts. Breeding fish with an ancient tribal technology is their main activity. Ganvié has managed to preserve its traditions and environment despite the long-lasting human presence in a closed setting; and the lake is not over-fished. Daily life unfolds in the dugout canoes that adults and children row with ease using brightly coloured paddles. From these canoes men fishing, women expose goods at the “floating market”, children go to school and play, in  Ganvie children are said to learn to swim first than to walk.
Drive for miles on the fisherman track between endless yellow beaches, tall palm trees, straw huts and colourful pirogues, arrival to Ouidah. Dinner and Overnight at Hotel Casa del Papa **** or similar, ocean front bungalows, wild beaches, swimming pool. (Air-conditioned bungalows en suite).

Day 3: OUIDAH, AFRO-BRASILIAN CULTURE   Benin
Ouidah small town was conquered by the Dahomey Kingdom during the 18th century to become one of the main slave ports. We  the start visit following the “slave road” to the beach, the point of “no return” where slaves were shipped to the “new world”. Ouidah enjoys a rare Afro-Brazilian architecture, where the python temple faces the Catholic Cathedral. The laid-back attitude of the locals blends in harmoniously with the thunder of the distant waves and the rhythm of the drums – a timeless atmosphere well described by Bruce Chatwin in his book “The Vice-Roy of Ouidah”.
On foot we visit the Python Temple and the Portuguese Fort, now a small but interesting museum on the history of Ouidah and the transatlantic slave trade and the links that this trade have created between Guinea Gulf countries and the Caribbean. Between lagoons and ocean, we will discover Zangbeto cult. Zangbeto Mask Is very tall and covered with coloured straw. It represents wild, non-human spirits (the forces of nature and of the night that inhabited the Earth before human). The mask wearers belong to a secret society and keep their identity hidden as the non-initiated cannot know who they are. When Zangbeto dances is an event for the village. Its performance guarantees protection against bad spirits and witchcraft. The spinning movement of the mask symbolizes the spiritual purification of the village and Zangbeto also performs « miracles » to prove it powers.
Arrival to the tiny town of Grand Popo. Dinner and overnight at the charming Auberge dev Gran Popo, ocean front ancient colonial building totally restored. Air-conditioned self-contain rooms. Or similar.

Day 4: VOODOO   Benin – Togo
Border with Togo, Voodoo is the main religion in the coastal area of Togo and Benin and authentic ceremonies are common: the frenetic rhythm of drums and the chants of the adepts “call” the Voodoo spirits who takes possession of some participants. The possessed falls  into a deep trance: eyes rolling back, grimaces, convulsions, insensitivity to fire or pain. Sakpata, Heviosso, Mami Water are just some of the voodoo divinities who can manifest… Surrounded by the magic atmosphere of the ceremony, we will understand what people mean when they say: “In your Churches you pray God; in our Voodoo shrine we become Gods!”.
Overnight at the recent and comfortable Onomo Hotel***, or similar.

Day 5: LOME: COSMOPOLITAN AND STYLISH CAPITAL   Togo – Ghana 
Lome, the vibrant capital of Togo, is the only African city which has been ruled a ruled by Germans, British and French and has attract traders from different African countries. It is also one of the rare capitals in the world bordering another nation. These elements have developed a unique lifestyle of its inhabitants,  of is multi facet cuisine and is the architecture. Lome is a meeting point for people, trade and cultures, a cosmopolitan, but still in human size capital. We will visit: the central market with its famous “Nana Benz”, women who control the market of the expensive “pagne” (colourful cloths) sold all over West Africa the colonial buildings and the largest “fetish market” in whole Africa, where we can find an eclectic assortment of all the necessary ingredients for love potions and magical concoctions. Afternoon drive to Ghana border and Accra.
Dinner and overnight in the town central district at Villa Boutique *** self-contain air-conditioned rooms, or similar. Optional, Accra night tour.

Day 6: ACCRA “THE CAPITAL”   Ghana
Morning dedicated to Accra. Ghana capital has maintained its special identity despite the fast-paced development currently underway. We explore the old quarter of James Town area, inhabited by the local population known as the Ga. Our tour ends with the visit of a workshop specialized in building fantasy coffins. These unique handcrafted coffins can take on any shape: fruit, animals, fish, cars, airplanes…. the only limit being imagination!
Evening arrival at Anomabu Beach resort where we will spend two nights. Air-Conditioned self -contain bungalows near the ocean.

Day 7: ELMINA UNIQUE ATMOSPHERE   Ghana
Full day dedicated to discovering the ancient slave trade castles and syncretic animistic shrines. After a stop at Cape Coast we will visit Elmina Castle, the oldest European building in Africa. ”Sao Jorge da Mina” was erected by the Portuguese in 1482. At different times the castle has been used as a warehouse to trade gold, ivory, and eventually slaves.
The castle we visit today is the result of successive extension works and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Facing the castle, the fishing harbour with hundreds of colourful and large fishing wooden canoes.  In the old town and neighbours, we will discover the Posuban, shrines of the “Asafo companies” where the Asafo “warriors” still pour libations. The alleys in the old town have a unique atmosphere, bringing us back long time before the colonial era when Elmina was the first place of fix exchanges between Europeans and Sub Sahara Africa. Dinner and Overnight return to Anomabu Beach hotel or similar.

Day 8: FROM GOLD TO IVORY   Ghana – Ivory Coast
Early departure. At Axim visit fort San Antonio built by the Portuguese in 1515 near the estuary of Ankobra River in a region extremely rich in Gold. Heavily fortified and built on a naturally  protected site, a rock facing the ocean, was the main gold trading point of the former Gold Coast. From Axim we will drive to the country that took name from the Ivory trade.  Border with Ivory Coast and arrive to the town of Aboisso on the  Bia river.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel le Rochè***, Self-contain airconditioned rooms, or similar.

Day 9: GRAND BASSAM   Ivory Coast
Arrive to Grand Bassam: old Town built on a sand bank between the lagoon and the ocean. It was the former capital of the French Ivory Coast colony and now a maritime leisure resort for the Abidjanese. Thanks to its calm avenues shaded by tall trees, large bougainvillea and well-preserved colonial buildings, Grand Bassam has a magic atmosphere. The old post office is a jewel of colonial architecture. The Costume Museum, in the former governor’s palace, with its large outer staircase is a true architectural gem and its unique collection of tribal costumes, masks, ornaments and ethnographic photographs gives an interesting perception of the country history and culture. Continuation in direction west to Abidjan.
Overnight at the comfortable and new Azalai **** hotel, international standard, or similar.

Day 10: ABIDJAN, SKYSCRAPERS AND LAGOONS   Ivory Coast  
Beyond the lagoon, the “plateau” (the City District) is growing very fast, not horizontally as in most African towns but vertically, with its large modern buildings and skyscrapers. Not much land is available and the little available must be continually recovered from the waters of the Ebrié Lagoon. The modern City District is defined to the west by the harbour and its endless queues of people waiting for a public boat, and to the east by the silhouette of Saints  Peter & Paul Cathedral. Chaotic traffic is the negative result of the fast-economic development of this country that after the civil war has some time reached the 6% of the GDP. Afternoon, Motorway departure for Yamoussoukro  that we will reach late morning.
Dinner and overnight at the comfortable Royal Hotel, swimming pool, *** air-conditioned self-contain rooms, or similar.

Day 11: CATHEDRAL IN THE SAVANNAH   Ivory Coast
Yamoussoukro is the country’s formal capital since 1983 and native village of Houphouët-Boigny, the first President of independent Ivory Coast. Here the Ivorian dream of the 1970s and 1980s has come true, the dream of a country that, despite its shortage of major natural resources, has create the largest economy in French speaking West Africa. We visit the Basilica of the Virgin of Peace, inspired of St Peter’s in Rome, is the largest building of Christianity on earth, unique the high colourful glass windows. We see wide boulevards where the few cars try to avoid the big potholes, Zebus and chickens. The huge government buildings, the lofty hotels up to 14 floors high, and even an artificial lake inhabited by crocodiles have a feeling of abandoned. We visit the Basilica of the Virgin of Peace, inspired of St Peter’s in Rome, is the largest building of Christianity on earth, unique the high colourful glass windows. In a village we attend the  Zaouli dancing masks.  Zaouli is a traditional dance of the Guro tribe. The Zaouli mask, was created in the 1950s, probably inspired by a girl named “Djela Lou Zaouli”.  However, stories on the origins are varied, and each mask can have its own symbolic history. The uniqueness of Zaouli dance is the fine and sophisticated movement of the legs and the fits.
Daloa, dinner and overnight at the recent Hotel La Grace, self-contain airconditioned rooms***, or similar.

Day 12: MAGIC TRADITIONS   Ivory Coast
We start our journey across coffee and cocoa plantation, dotted only by small villages. Ivory Coast is the world’s main cocoa producer, the second is Ghana and together, they represent more than half of the world production.
Leaving the main road, only 4×4 vehicles can drive at remote villages in the forest where the arrival of foreigners is a rare event to encounter the Guere ethnic group,
We will discover the powerful Guéré Mask dances, and (if we are lucky) the rare “Jugglers” performances. Girls initiatory Juggling is an ancient tradition now vanishing. We have been able to discover one of the last villages where is still practiced. When mount Tonkpi with its pic comes into view we are close to our destination. The small town of Man surrounded by 18 green mountains is the capital of the We.
Dan and Guéré ethnic groups known for the mask considered between the masterpiece of African Art.
We will spend two nights at our hotel in Man.  Dinner and overnight at hotel Les Cascades, air-conditioned self-contain rooms ***, swimming pool. Or Similar

Day 13: MASKS OF BEAUTY   Ivory Coast
Full day dedicated to Man region. If Guéré masks are known for the powerful and rough aspect, Dan masks are one of the finest tribal mask thanks to the delicate balance of shapes that symbolize beauty. In a nearby tiny village, masks will emerge from the forest towards us. In the cosmogony of the Dan people, there is a creator god that communicates with humans only through its intermediaries, the masks: during the mask dance the distance between the human and the spirit worlds disappears, the cosmic and the social orders are restored, and gratitude is expressed to the gods and the ancestors.
Man market is an important trading point with villagers coming from the region and from the forests of the  neighbours countries. It will be possible to find a wild choice of handicraft and, with some luck, authentic tribal masks and ritual objects. Dinner and overnight: return to  hotel Les Cascades, air-conditioned self-contain rooms ***, swimming-pool. Or similar.

Day 14: PRIMATES   Ivory Coast  – Guinea
Early morning departure for a small border with Guinea. We will reach Bossou village in time for a walk to discover a forest, where a group of chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes) lives. The inhabitants consider them the reincarnation of their ancestors and therefore hunting them is taboo. The chimpanzee are constantly monitored by the researchers and therefore they are easy to approach.
The road will bring us to Nzerekore the main centre in the forest district of Guinea Conakry. Hotel Bethanie, air-conditioned self-contain rooms.

Day 15: BIRD MEN & LIANA BRIDGES   Guinea
A small track in the lush vegetation will bring us to a remote village and a short walk to a spectacular liana bridge that cross a large river in the jungle. Liana bridges are masterpiece of a genuine “tribal  technology” and can measure 70-meter length. They are built exclusively with vegetal materials, as wood and lianas without the use of nails or rope nor other materials foreign to the forest. Only the initiated can harvest the liana and wood and leave it in the forest, is believed that a powerful spirit will build the bridge in one night.
During the preparation of a new bridge needier women nor not initiated are allowed in the forest, to guarantee the secrecy of this “magic technology”.
These remote mountains with an impenetrable vegetation hides other secrets. We will assist at one of the more spectacular, and les known, sacred dances of West African forests. The Bird Men with the face painted in Kaolin and totally dressed in feathers belong to a special initiation, that has passed secretly from father to son during centuries. Believed to have magical powers that can make him invisible, the bird men are during tribal wars, the best messengers, able to cross the enemy lines. Tom-tom drummers and all the village will participate to the event. Toma localy called Loma have also different masks living in the sacred forest. After dinner we live the hotel to join a village and participate to a spectacular dance: the masks will live the forest and dance at the light of a large fire….
Dinner and overnight at the comfortable and new Hotel Macenta *** fully air-conditioned, self -contain.

Day 16: AFRICAN WILD FORESTS   Guinea – Liberia
Early morning departure for a day of driving from Guinea Conakry greatest forest region to the northern part of Liberia. Before the border we will cross larges rubber plantations (hevea)  in a hilly and luxuriant landscape. Evening arrival at Gbarnga.
Dinner and overnight at hotel Passion 2, air-conditioned self-contain rooms

Day 17: LIBERIA: THE LAND OF FREEMEN   Liberia
Arrival to Monrovia. Liberia is the only African country which has never been either a colony or a protectorate. Liberia was founded by the Krio, freed slaves brought back from America to Africa. Krio represent 5% of the population and considered the creators of the Nation and the main actors of modern economy and politics. 80% of the population speaks Krio a sort of American English “Pidgin”.
Our ocean-view hotel is the best starting point to visit town. Freemasonry have a great impact on the history of Liberia and Krio culture. Visit of the Grand Masonic Temple imposing building. A symbol of Monrovia is what left of the Ducor Palace, inaugurated in 1960 was one of the first five stars hotels in Africa.  Located on a rocky hill in the highest point of Monrovia, dominate the whole town and the bay.   The hotel hosted events and parties of the African elite at the time of independences. In the large pool facing the ocean Idi Amin used to swim caring his pistol at the belt while his friend Miriam Makeba was singing. During and after the civil war the building was looted several times, the hotel is now abandoned and closed, but seeking the right permission, we may be able to visit it. In 2008 the government made a deal with Ghaddafi to rebuild this hotel, however the project, as many other Libyan development projects, never came to conclusion thanks to the war that Europe and America made to overthrow Ghaddafi.
The building of the National Museum is a display of Krio architecture. In the museum we discover a large collection of ancient masks and ritual objects and a photographic show about the long civil wars which took place between 1989 and 2003. Old colonial buildings, stone Krio churches will be also part of this intriguing town visit. Diner and overnight at the comfortable Cape Hotel **** international standard, situated at Mamba Point, the best area of Monrovia. Or similar

Day 18: DIAMONDS   Liberia – Sierra Leone
Mano river is a natural border between Liberia and Sierra Leone . After the border formalities we will continue a spectacular new road in the forest.
Diamond seeking is as addictive as gambling at least, the possibility of finding a “fortune” can become true, just for few most lucky. Diamonds have played an important role in the recent troubled history of the country. The quantity and quality of “stones” still to be find is important. We will take a track to reach a village with clay and straw huts. After asking permission to the chief some villagers will take us to the site where we can meet the diamonds’ seekers. A local person will explain us the technics of artisanal mining and “sand washing”. Arrival to Bo the second large town of Sierra Leone. Dinner and overnight at comfortable hotel Dohas, en-suite rooms with A/C, or similar.

Day 19: BUNDO: FEMALE MASKS   Sierra Leone
In most parts of Africa, the masks are male’s prerogative, however among the Mende people  and neighbours populations the masks Bundo are a female’s domain and they have crucial role in the initiation rites. We reach a tiny village to assist at the exit of these masks, an event that calls for a colourful crowd.
Drive to the Atlantic coast, at the village of Kent where we will live our vehicles to board on a boat for a brief navigation to Banana Island.
Dinner and Overnight at the cozy Bafa Lodge that will be our base for two nights:  fix tents hidden in the forest facing the sea. Fine cuisine based on the catch of the day (other meals available, ask in advance).

Day 20: BANANA ISLAND   Sierra Leone
Full day dedicated to Banana Island. Circumnavigating, exploring, walking to discover this pristine island with mountains and large primary forest, villages and remote beaches. For the more adventurous a half day walk to and experience the forest or continue the circumnavigation of the island. Lunch picnic, dinner and overnight return to Bafa Lodge fix camp.

Day 21: FREETOWN PENINSULA   Sierra Leone
A local boat will bring us back to the continent. Drive along the coast at the slopes of the Freetown peninsula mountains… only the yellow of the beaches divide the green of the lush vegetation from the blue of the ocean. The country has been named after these mountains, the mountains of lion. Freetown origins: in 1786 the first 308 freed slaves came to Sierra Leone from America where they have fought in the independence war on the side of the British, after having lost the war the British sent them to Sierra Leone. Few months after their arrival, the newcomers were starving, got new and  unknown diseases and fight with the locals, who hardly stand them. Few years after during a Napoleonic war, Freetown has been attacked by seven vessels of the French navy and destroyed. Few survivors escape on the pirogues sent by… the slaves’ traders. From 1807, due to the abolition of the slave trade by the British Empire, the ships of the slave’s traders caught by the British navy  freed the slaves in Sierra Leone.
In 1808 Freetown became the capita of the first British colony in tropical Africa. At that time Krio, or ex slaves, were more than 50.000 creating an elite who put pressure on the colonial administration for a better education. In 1845 was built Fourah Bay the first University in West Africa.  During Colonial time Freetown was known as the “Athens of West Africa” . Dinner and Overnight in Freetown at the comfortable Swiss Hotel ****, international standard.

Days 22 & 23: MASKS IN THE FOREST   Sierra Leone – Guinea
Departure in direction north west. After crossing rivers in the forest thanks to old manually pulled barges, arrival at the village of Kamakwie, in a region, where foreigner are rare, if lucky we will assist to traditional dances and the exit of sacred masks, called here “devils”. A tiny small track will bring us to a small border with a remote area of Guinea Conakry. We will be able to cross our 4×4 vehicles through rivers using old manually pulled barge. Next day drive in the direction of Freetown peninsula.
Day 22 Dinner and overnight at the White House hotel or similar, (built, by a local that live in the USA, in the shape inspired to the “  White House) Basic comfort, self-contain rooms.
Day 23 Hotel Balys , or similar. Basic comfort Air-conditioned Self-contain rooms.

Day 24: AFRICAN BAS-RELIEF   Guinea
After visiting the market, we live Mamou, a trading small town door of the Fouta Djalon massif.
A panoramic road will bring us on the southern slope at Dalaba at 1200 m. ( 3900 Ft.) altitude.
Fouta Djalon: thanks to the fresh and salubrious climate was the preferred place by the French for their holidays during the colonial era. Woods of conifers are left as memory of that time. Considered the most spectacular area of Guinea: mountains, plateau and savannah are alternated with deep humid valleys. This large mountain massif is the “water reservoir” of West Africa, from Guinea starts 3 rivers that give name to four nation: Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Gambia. On this territory live the Fulani, famous for their beauty and considered the greatest stockbreeders of Zebus south of Sahara.
Visit to Dalaba small and quiet town. Of an interest is the “casa a palabra” (the house of words) with fine bas-relief in a pure Peul architectonical style. Here the chiefs used to gather to meet the colonial administration.
Visit to the villa built by the colonial governor and later used by the first  president of independent Guinea. The leader of the independence was Sekou Touré, one of the most radical anti-colonials African President; he refuse any cooperation with French and linked Soviet Union bloc tying friendly relationship with Ceausescu. Under Sekou Touré, the country became more and more isolated and the government turned into a dictatorship. Some villas used by the ministers and by the guests of Sekou Touré are unique reminiscences of that time. In a today ruined villa Miriam Makeba met and married Stokley Carmichael, an exile from the US also host of Sekou Touré, who was among the inspirators of the Black Panter armed wing.
Dinner and overnight at a new and comfortable hotel, Safitel ***. Air-conditioned self-contain rooms.

Day 25: FOUTA DJALON   Guinea
Full day dedicated to discovering Fouta Djalon where the mountains meet the savannah, deep valley, highest waterfalls framed by the forest make the landscape of a pristine beauty. Peul ethnic group, (called  also Fula’s) come from this area; Peul are known for their beauty and for being the best zebu breeders of West Africa. In the XVII century the Fula’s (Peul) Jihad started from these mountains and they led the Peul to conquer the majority of savannah till Cameroun and are the largest group in sub-Saharan savannas. A very large clay round hut with a decorated grass roof is where the main council sits  and where were nominate the traditional chiefs of all Fouta Djalon, thanks to our connections we will ask to be received by chiefs and dignitaries siting in council….
Evening arrive to Labe, called the “capital” of Fouta Djalon mountains. Dinner and overnight at the simple but clean Hotel Tata, self-contain air-conditioned bungalows.

Day 26: A REMOTE CORE OF AFRICA   Guinea – Guinea Bissau
Full day experiencing a region inhabited by the Fulla (Peul) tribe; stopover in villages where the arrival of foreigners is a   rare event, large clay houses decorated with bas relief, high conical roofs with several layers of straw. An old  manual barge will allow us to cross Rio Corubal, the natural border between the two Guineas. Evening arrival at Gabu. Dinner and overnight at the new hotel Karsa ***, air-conditioned self-contained rooms.

Day 27: GRIOT: THE AFRICAN TROBADORS   Guinea Bissau
Morning departure. After lunch we leave the main road for a small village in the Malinké region.
The Malinké are the descendants of the ancient Mali Empire and are spread on the current territory of Mali, Guinea Conakry Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guinea Bissau. Griots are a cast of musician-story tellers dating from the Mali Empire. The village we visit is known for the Griot families that have maintained these traditions from the time of the Empire. Well-known also for their skill in producing musical instruments, they will perform a concert for us. Evening arrival to Bissau the capital of the country. Overnight hotel Azalai, international standard ****

Day 28: BIJAGOS SACRED ARCHIPELAGO: THE GHOST CAPITAL   Guinea Bissau
We will start a three days spectacular navigation on a speedboat to discover the Bijagos Archipelago, his fascinating nature and isolated tribes. The Archipelago, composed by 88 islands and islets, is located at an average of 40 miles from the coastline. Bijagos is a “geographical jewel”.
Bolama was the former capital of the Portuguese Guinea from 1871. In 1941 the capital was moved to Bissau. When the Portuguese left, native people came to live in this town which is now falling apart, partly invaded with tropical vegetation. Built following the plans of a «Castrum Romane» (roman citadel) the town is made of straight large avenues, sunny and lethargic empty squares, dry fountains, bush-like gardens, imposing administrative buildings in neo Palladian style. In the shade of the columns at the former governor palace goats graze peacefully. Although inhabited, this capital town is plunged in the fairy-tale atmosphere of a ghost town.
Dinner and overnight at Ponta Anchaca Resort **** in comfortable air-conditioned wooden bungalows, hidden in the vegetation and facing the ocean. Restaurant on stilts with refined French and tropical cuisine. This lodge will be our base for two days.

Day 29: VACA BRUTO DANCING CEREMONY   Guinea Bissau
Short navigation to Bubaque island, the “capital” of Bijagos Archipelago, his market and the tiny museum. Afternoon: due to the remoteness, the lack of transports and the deep attachment of the locals to their traditions, the Bijagos tribes have been little influenced by the external world. Life in the villages is characterized by initiations rites and secret ceremonies. In some villages, the young men must go through a seven-year initiation rite living in a “convent” with no contact with women.
With its wild and idyllic landscapes, and a genuine tribal culture, Bijagos Archipelago is a “geographical jewel”. In Bijagos Archipelago life is still ruled by the “cycle of seasons”. During the long dry season, when harvest is over, the main ceremonies take place. Vaca Bruto (wild bull) is the most spectacular mask in the islands, the dancers convey the mask a realistic presence by bowing and facing the ground.  With eyes of frosted glass, real horns, leather ears and a rope through the nostril. All convey the idea of a real untamed animal, representing a man in full possession of his physical strength but still with an immature behaviour as he has not yet undergone the final initiations. All the villagers attend this fascinating ceremony.
Retour to our comfortable Ponta Anchaca Resort **** air-conditioned wooden bungalows, hidden in the vegetation and facing the ocean. Restaurant on stilts with refined French and tropical cuisine.

Day 30: ISLANDER LIFE   Guinea Bissau.
Morning relax at Ponta Anchaca wild beaches, and swimming pool, or walking excursion in the island.
Afternoon navigation to Bissau.
A vehicle will be waiting us for a brief city tour. Bissau is a tiny but intriguing capital town with old Portuguese architecture and atmosphere and a huge fort, a reminder of the slave trade era.
Dinner and overnight at Azalai Hotel ****. Or similar

Day 31: ANCESTORS CULT   Guinea Bissau  – Senegal
Early morning departure for an intense day. The Manjaco ethnic group calls the traditions “Gendiman”. We will visit tiny villages hidden in the forest to discover the sculptured wooden poles called “Pecab” that represent the spirits of their ancestors, in a sanctuary known as “Cab Balugun”. After asking permission to the villagers, we will have the opportunity to see different generations and styles of sacred wooden sculptures; one of the last chances to enjoy tribal art in its original cultural context.
Crossing Senegal border. Late afternoon we will join the ritual dances of Diola sacred mask. The masks belong to a secret society and the identity of the dancers is not revealed, it is said that the mask is animated by the spirits. Drums, dances and a colourful crowd will enliven the tiny village in the shade of larges kapok trees.
Dinner and overnight at the comfortable Kadiandoumange hotel ***, located on the bank of Casamance large river, swimming pool. An interesting example of successful local managed hotel. Or similar.

Day 32: GAMBIAN BIRDS   Senegal –  Gambia
Late morning cross Gambian border and arrival to Banjul. Visit of the ethnographic museum.
Afternoon brief but intense Bird Watching, Gambia is a known birding destination.
Dinner and overnight at the recently renewed Atlantic hotel ***swimming pool, in Banjul. Or similar.

Day 33: STONE CIRCLES   Gambia –  Senegal
“Very local” and colourful ferry crossing of the large Gambia River estuary to reach the north bank. The region between the north bank of Gambia River and Senegal have hosted one of the largest megalithic civilisations on earth. Just after the border of Senegal we will leave the main road for a tiny track. Sine Ngayene is the richest Megalithic site with 1102 erected stones.
Dinner and Overnight at the comfortable air-conditioned bungalows of Relais de Kaolak or Kabacoto Safari Lodge, swimming pool, facing a lake and lagoons ***, or similar.

Day 34: GOREE ISLAND   Senegal
Arrival in Dakar for lunch at a restaurant in the fishing harbour, specialized in the catch of the day (different meals available) A ferry will bring us to Gorée island, facing Dakar. In Gorée island slaves were crammed, waiting to be shipped to the Americas. Totally restored remain to bear witness of those times. Today its breezy climate, history and ancient architecture, together with restaurants and boutiques, make Gorée an interesting and trendy destination for local and foreign visitors. The right time to enjoy Gorée atmosphere is from the sunset when the crowd of day-visitors and tourist live the island and in the morning before the first ferry loaded of “day visitors” arrive.
Dinner in a typical restaurant and overnight at “Maison Municipal” or similar. A comfortable Guest house in an ancient, restored building, Air-conditioned self-contain rooms. Or similar.

Day 35: LIVE MUSIC & FUSION CUISINE   Senegal
Morning end of Gorée visit that includes the interesting museum with historical and pre-historical artefact and a “gallery” of a local artist. Ferry to Dakar lunch at Le Bedeew an open-space restaurant in a tropical garden hidden  in the core of the city, known for his Word Cuisine is a trendy meeting point in Dakar. Drive to the hotel, late afternoon free to relax or stroll in town. Evening we will join a Live Music club to vibe at contemporary rhythms…
Overnight at the Le Djoloff hotel a balanced mix of furniture in traditional African style and modern comfort. Or similar.

Day 36: AFRICAN METROPOLIS   Senegal
Dakar became an important centre of political, artistic and intellectual “renouveau” during the independence time, still the liveliest metropolis in French speaking West Africa. Visit of the “Musée des Civilisations Noires” including great collections of Tribal Art, textiles, and contemporary local artists.  The “Plateau” district, the Presidential Palace, a typical market and lunch return to our special fishing club restaurant. In the afternoon a typical market, the totally restored Dakar-Bamako railway station a great example of colonial architecture, galleries and handicraft markets…. Return to Le Djoloff hotel. Or similar.

DAY 37: LAKE ROSE AND THE LARGEST FISHING VILLAGE   Senegal
Lac Rose or Lac Retba (meaning Pink Lake), is a saltwater lake surrounded by dunes. The water is ten times saltier than the ocean and due to the high concentration of minerals, the lake often shimmers into pink; swimming in the lake gives the sensation of floating. More than 600 people work there collecting salt from the lake in the traditional way. Spectacular drive to discover the largest fisherman village in Senegal, more than 4500 wooden pirogues came to the shore with the catch of the day… We will live our vehicles for a less intrusive, but fun, donkey chariot to approach the fisherman selling to the local market women, to meet the artisans craving the large pirogues, the painters decorating them with bright colours and the Marabout “local saint” for final magical blessing before sailing. We will be received by the Marabout in is large house where he will introduce us to some anciens Geomantic and Cabalistic divinization techniques.
Evening arrival to Lampoul desert, we cross some ranges of dunes to reach our comfortable fix camp. Dinner and night at Lampoul Lodge. Tents are spacious, with beds and private facilities.

Day 38: SAINT LOUIS   Senegal
Drive to Saint Louis. Lunch in a typical restaurant.
Visit of Saint Louis, a charming old citadel which was the first capital of the French colonies in West Africa.
The old town built on two long islands between Senegal River and Ocean has a breezy climate.
An  island has been the administrative colonial capital of the French West Africa until 1902, when the administration was transferred to Dakar. The second island, near the ocean, is inhabited by a large local fishermen community.
The best way to get around the narrow streets of Saint Louis is on a buggy pulled by the horse, like the locals do!
Dinner and overnight at “Hotel de la Poste”, a historical hotel built in 1850 which used to be the base of the “Aeropostale” (airmail pioneer operation) pilots. Totally restored, it has conserved the best “old colonial atmosphere” in town, charming restaurant facing Senegal river.

Day 39: DJOUDJ ORNITOLOGICAL SANCTUARY   Senegal – Mauritania
Early morning departure to Djoudj National Park, a unique environment composed by hundreds of miles of partially flooded lands between Sahara and the arid Sahel. This “humid paradise” is the best habitat and nesting site for over a million migratory and sedentary birds. Djoudj National Park is one of the three major migratory birds sanctuary on earth and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The protected wetland habitats attract, more than 400 species of migratory birds live temporarily in this unique bird sanctuary.  We will enjoy a boat excursion to visit an island with an astonishing concentration of pelicans.
Continue to Mauritanian border. The landscape will change gradually from a dry savannah to the desert with ranges of dunes. Evening arrival in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, a recent town surrounded by the desert.
Dinner and overnight at hotel Halima, comfortable airconditioned rooms with private facilities.

Day 40: NORTH TO THE SAHARA   Mauritania
Day spent driving along the road going north into the Sahara Desert in spectacular dunes landscape. Crossing the Adrar Mountains through scenic gorges and highlands to reach the oasis of Chinguetti. Evening arrival at the guest houses where we will spend three nights.
Dinner and overnight at “La Gueila” Guest House (or private residence), the cosiest addresses in Chinguetti. Comfortable rooms in a traditional building. Mauritanian cuisine with a French touch.

DAY 41: OUADANE: THE REMOTEST   Mauritania
Entire day dedicated to discovering Ouadane, the remotest oasis in Mauritania, an outpost in the emptiest part of the desert. Ouadane was founded in 1147. Mainly in ruin, some of his stone-houses perched on a rocky hill surrounded by the immensity of Sahara are still inhabited. In the ancient days this town was an important caravan trading point between Maghreb and black Africa. Trading was so flourishing that in 1487 Portuguese built a fortified trading counter in the region.
We will return to Chinguetti in an absolute “out of any tracks” itinerary that follows the Ouadi (dry creek) discovering remote tiny oasis hidden in the high dunes. Return to our cosy base in Chinguetti. Dinner and overnight at “La Gueila” (or private residence).

Day 42: CHINGUETTI: THE OASIS   Mauritania
Full day dedicated to discovering Chinguetti, the stone village, and the green oasis in a spectacular desert environment. Chinguetti is an ancient Berber town founded in the VIII century at the crossroad of several trans-Saharan trade routes. For centuries the city was the main religious centre of the actual Mauritania that was called the “country of Chinguetty”.
Part of the old stone town is inhabited. Its ancient stone-built mosque is known as the second oldest mosque still in use. The Ksar, made of white stone with 5 towers, is a remarkable example of the Arab-Berber architecture. Chinguetti also boasts great collections of ancient manuscripts.
We will spend the evening enjoying the magical atmosphere of this oasis which is considered as the best preserved in Mauritania and one of the more interesting in the all Sahara.
Dinner and overnight “La Gueila” (or private residence).

Days 43, 44 & 45: SAHARA EXPLORATION: DUNES and MOUNTAINS   Mauritania
Out of any track, we will discover remote oasis and Moorish nomad tent settlements in the most scenic landscapes of Mauritania: valleys, high mountains, golden yellow dunes with ranges of massifs brown and red peaks and lost adobe villages lit only by the moon at night. Thanks to the experience of our staff we will follow our own itinerary out of any track, finding our way in the ocean of sand of Amatlich erg and Inchiri region, one of the less-known regions of the Mauritanian desert. Final arrival to the main road and to Nouadhibou.
Days 43 and 44 camp on the virgin sands.
Day 45 Nouadhibou, comfortable El Medina hotel ****.

Day 46: TROPIC OF CANCER   Mauritania – Morocco
Drive north. After the formalities, we will cross a few miles of “no-man land”. The border is a theoretical line in the desert that “divides the sand from the sand”. On the other side, the military post of Morocco, a real sensible place, the only open border with Sub-Sahara Africa. This region was part of the former Spanish Sahara territories. It was the site of a long war between the Polisario Armed Front and the Moroccan army. Nowadays it is part of Morocco.
A signboard in the immensity of the desert will indicate that we are crossing the “Tropic of Cancerline. The road runs along a spectacular cliff that separates the dunes from the waves…
In this geological universe a few brave fishermen live for months in caves overhanging the sea, extending their fishing rods…
Arrival at the hotel in Dakhla that will be our “base” for two nights.
Hotel Doumss, air-conditioned rooms with private facilities.

Day 47: RIO DE ORO   Morocco
The Rio de Oro (River of Gold) is a 25-mile long sea loch situated between cliffs and dunes. Different colours paint the scenery: the intense blue of the ocean, banks of white sand, green seaweed fields and yellow dunes. The exceptional beauty of this landscape makes Dakhla peninsula a special place. The small town of Dakhla was founded by Spanish navigators in 1502 and called “Villa Cisneros” until recent times. Excursion to the colourful fishing harbour. Along the shore we discover a unique changing shoreline between ocean and desert, between dunes and waves: with the high tide sand dunes and a rocky hill will becomes temporary islands.
Lunch in an oyster farm, fish and oysters directly from the sea (vegetarian meals available on request). Return to Doumss hotel. Dinner in a typical restaurant, and excursion to the animated night market.

Days 48 & 49: WESTERN SAHARA: THE FORBIDDEN TRACK   Morocco
We will meet our local guide, a nomad from a Sahrawi tribe who will lead us during three days through a real desert crossing in the Western Sahara, now Sahara Provence of Morocco.
Since the second half of the seventies, due to the long “sand war,” this region has been off-limits to travellers. Until today no peace treaty has been signed, but a cease-fire is respected. We are proud to be the “first” to take intrepid travellers to discover the vast desert regions of Tiris and Zemmour. During this extreme Saharan expedition, we will cross large dunes and get off the tracks to discover wells frequented by long lines of camels belonging to the legendary Reguibat nomads. Days 48 and 49, camping on the virgin sand of the Sahara.

Day 50: FROM THE DESERT TO THE OCEAN   Morocco
After crossing the longest in the word automated conveyor belt, caring phosphate to the Atlantic (phosphate is the main resource of the region) we will arrive to Laayoune, main base of Morocco economic development in the Sahara Provinces. Late afternoon arrival at Tarfaya on the Juby Cape, (facing the Canary Islands that are at less than 100 km). Tarfaya is a former “Aeropostale” base,  pioneer airmail transport from Europe to Africa and Latin America. Interesting museum on the Aeropostale and Saint Exupéry, the writer-pilot. Hotel Casamar, air-conditioned rooms with private facilities.

Day 51:  DUNES AND LAGOONS   Morocco
Naila lagoon is a unique inland sea, separated from the ocean only by rows of dunes; we will rent a local fishing boat to explore the remote shores inhabited only by birds. After lunch in a local restaurant, we will visit a ghost military fort, which still “guards” the former borders between the French protectorate of Morocco and the Spanish Sahara.
We will feel like we were on the set of an old Foreign Legion movie.
Evening arrival at the comfortable Ksar Tifnidilt, that will be our base for two nights. The hotel is built using local materials in a beautiful Saharan style and managed by our friends, Guy and Magali, a French couple. Magali is a desert expert; she won the “Rally des Gazelle,” the most strenuous off-road competition reserved to female teams. Ksar Tifnidilt is a meeting point for passionate Sahara travellers.

Day 52: ESTUARIES AND FISHERMEN   Morocco ­
Early morning leaving Tifnidit to cross steep range of dunes…
The Dra estuary region and Cape Dra are visited only by brave travellers. Between the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean there are not paved roads. We will discover tiny temporary settlements of fishermen, ghost colonial military posts, dunes, and camels… A steep descent will take us to a riverbed in a Canyon, the only access to the ocean for an exciting kilometres drive on the “white beach”. Return to Ksar Tifnidilt.

Day 53: OASIS AND CASBAH   Morocco
Guelmim has been an important trans-Sahara terminal, and in the Souk,  we will be still able to find remains of the caravan trade. Full day of driving in an astonishing landscape, we will discover luxuriant oasis surrounded by thousands of palm trees and shady gardens, a real miracle in the desert. Near the oasis, there are fortified adobe villages, called Kasbah, still partially inhabited. This scenery will give us a “timeless” feeling as if we were in the Middle Age. Visit of an oasis still shearing irrigation time with an ancient “water hourglass”.
Overnight in Tata at the comfortable Les Relais des sables *** Hotel or similar

Day 54: DUNES and FOSSILS   Morocco
We will leave the main road for an of road itinerary to cross the spectacular landscape of the Iriki dry Lake through a flat, salty plane. Out of any track, we will discover rocky hills where, just looking attentively, we will find our own fossils.  The tall dune ranges of Erg Chegaga will bar our way, only the expertise of our driver and the experience of our guide will lead us through these sand labyrinths in an unforgettable itinerary, finding our way across steep dunes in the northern edge of the Sahara, the wildest desert on earth.
Evening arrival to a comfortable fix camp in the dunes. Overnight in large tents with beds. Restaurant and facilities.

Day 55 & 56: ROC ART, CAVERN DWELLERS AND A SECRET VALLEY   Morocco
Morning departure following the spectacular road that crosses the Dra Valley and Berber villages.
Visit of an ancient rock art site. Hundreds of fine graffiti dating thousands of years ago, silent witness of peoples living in these regions before the desertification.
We will leave the main road to explore the less visited regions of the Djebel Sarhro mountain range. The itinerary climb rocky valleys through a breath-taking landscape of mountains.
A highland itinerary (more than 2,000 meters high) will take us to large caves where shepherd families still live permanently, the last remainder of an ancient troglodyte civilization.
Day 55: Overnight at a hotel in Zagora, comfortable air-conditioned rooms with facilities.
Day 56: Overnight at Ibis hotel in Ouarzazate.

Day 57: MARRAKECH   Morocco
Morning departure, heading north to cross the spectacular High Atlas range on a panoramic route that will take us through the Tin Tichka pass (2,260 m). Meet local gems diggers in quest of Amethyst, Tourmaline…. With their help we will be able to find our own gems. Arrival in Marrakech in the early evening. Marrakech, traditional caravan terminal is the ideal end of our journey.
Dayrooms will be available in a hotel for a last shower before the final transfer to the airport.

EXPEDITION LEADER: Alberto Nicheli, TransAfrica founder, has been travelling in West Africa since  1975. He has led more than a hundred expeditions in West Africa and sixty-four Sahara expeditions, including a solo crossing of the desert, ethnological research on Tuareg and rock painting. He has organized the logistics of a documentary film for Discovery Channel on the caravans of the Niger and has assisted Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith from National Geographic in numerous research projects on West Africa , as well as in different television programs on West Africa. He has an expertise in Tribal Art and security in West Africa.

EXPLORATORY ITINERARY: This itinerary is an expedition; participants must be flexible and ready to enjoy the unique encounters, but also some unexpected situations that are part of the “African Experience”.

TRANSPORTS: a great variety of landscapes, cultures and nature go hand in hand with the choice of the different transports, each one being the best to discover and enjoy each specific environment.
On land: we will make use of 4WD, air-conditioned vehicles  for most of the itinerary on roads, tracks and virgin sand dunes, as well as brief but funny rides on: colourful local bush Taxi, traditional calash and donkey chariot.
On water: on the ocean we will sail  on ferries and speedboats will be used in the  Bijagos Archipelago. To explore lagoons we will charter local fishing boats.

VACCINATIONS:
Yellow fever
: mandatory for those completing the part of the expedition from Senegal to Cotonou (from day 20th of the program). Yellow fever vaccination is lifelong and doesn’t need to be renewed.
Cholera: not required at the time of editing this program, please check it before departure.
Malaria prophylaxis: absolutely recommended for those completing the part of the itinerary from Chinguetti (from day 17th of the program).

VISAS:
Morocco:  not required for most nationalities. Please check it.
Mauritania:  required. We will obtain visas at the border (cost 55 Euro).
Senegal: two-entries visa needed. Visa not needed for many nationalities including US, Canada and European Union citizens . For other nationalities the visa is requested, please check it.
The Gambia: some nationalities do not need a visa,  some others can obtain it at the border, some others must obtain an invitation letter
Guinea Bissau: single-entry visa is needed, we can obtain the visa during the tour. Please inform us in advance.
Guinea Conakry: multi-entry visa ( two-entries needed).
Sierra Leone: visa available at the border (cost 100 USD).
Liberia, Ivory Coast: single entry visa is required. The Ivory Coast E-Visa is not valid for entering the country by land, a visa from the embassy is required.
Ghana: Single-entry visa required; the visa is issued only at the embassy competent with the country of residence
Togo: visa available at the border, please confirm with us before.
Benin: e-Visa: www.evisa.gouv.bj/en/
Note: Liberia and Ivory Coast have diplomatic representations in Dakar that can issue visas.
Extension to  Nigeria: Single-entry visa required. The visa must be obtained at the competent embassy of the  country of residence.

MEALS:
Lunches: cold meals (picnics) or restaurants.
Diners: in the hotels we can enjoy a great variety of fish specialties among other possibilities, vegetarian or different meals available on request, please mention it on booking.
Mobile camps: simple dinners made of local fresh products; bottled water included. Wine included, except in Mauritania.

HOTELS: carefully chosen, due to a possible lack of rooms’ availability in some hotels, the tour leader may have to replace hotels with others as similar as possible.

CAMPS: four nights camping, in the remotest part of Western Sahara and Mauritania. Camping in the immensity of Sahara is an unforgettable experience. Igloo tents fitted for tropical climate, camping mattress included. Please bring your own light sleeping-bag or sleeping-sheet.

LUGGAGE: due to the nature of the itinerary (bear in mind the  boat rides and camps), please limit your personal luggage to 45lb (20 kg), soft sacs are recommended, water-proof sacs, or plastic bags covering the luggage are recommended in the Bijagos islands navigation.

INSURANCE: mandatory for medical assistance (health care),  repatriation, physical and material damages.
TransAfrica will not be held responsible for any material and physical damages during or in consequence of the tour.
Discover our insurance policy proposal: https://transafrica.biz/en/travel-insurance-en/

NOTICE: The itinerary is designed to experience fascinating places where  foreigners hardly arrive. We need to be tolerant and flexible to fully enjoy and truly appreciate the unique nature and wildlife, the spontaneous hospitality of the local populations, the African magic and mystery, the metaphysics, ceremonies, life philosophies and religious beliefs that people are willing to share with us.
Itineraries, visits, overnights and accommodations are subject to changes, improvements and adaptation due to : tides time, recent experiences and news from the fields, force majeure. The changes are decided by the organizer. We are not responsible for any delays and cancellation due to external conditions.

Included:

  • Transfer airport/ hotel and hotel/ airport at arrival and departure, EXCEPT, from the hotel In Marrakech to the airport . 
  • Transfers and itinerary in 4WD vehicles, minibus and boats.
  • Tours and visits as per the programme
  • The equivalent of a bottle of water a day during the visits.
  • Accommodation in standard rooms, as per itinerary
  • All meals, from breakfast of day 2 to breakfast of the last day of the expedition.
  • Entrance fees to parks, concessions, protected areas and cultural sites
  • First Aid box
  • All service charges and taxes

Not included:

  • International flights
  • Earlier (prior) and/or later (after last day) transfers from and to airport
  • Visa fees
  • Any meal or sightseeing other than those specified
  • Mineral water and drinks at restaurants and hotels.
  • Portage
  • Fees for personal photos and videos
  • Personal and holiday insurance (compulsory)
  • Tips for drivers, guides and hotel staff
  • Costs related to delayed program or lost luggage
  • Any item of personal nature such as phone calls, laundry, etc.
  • Whatever is not mentioned as included

 

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