Sierra Leone is rising from a tough past which has left it isolated and therefore its traditions were untouched by the globalization.
Freetown is the capital of the country and it means “the land of freemen”, it was funded by those slaves who have been freed in the Americas and returned to the “motherland Africa”. Here they developed an economic and cultural elite called Krio.
People form Sierra Leone are welcoming and like to show their traditions as the female masks’ society and the Poro, a very tough male initiation rite. In the heart of virgin forests we meet the diamonds’ hunters who made this land sadly known. At the rising of the sun we will sail down long rivers crossing an impressive vegetation finally, we will meet chimpanzee and a rare endemic fauna.
The last part of the journey will cover one of the most scenic coastlines of West Africa. Sierra Leone was named after the rocky peninsula running to the East of Freetown: “the mountains of lions”. Here mountains and forests reach the ocean: gulfs, tiny estuaries, enchanted islands and the most scenic beaches of the Gulf of Guinea. Lastly, a short navigation will let us discover the beautiful Banana Island.
1 DAY: SIERRA LEONE: THE MOUNTAINS OF LIONS
Arrival at Lungi (Freetown) international airport. Transfer to Lungi Airport Hotel*** Rooms with A/C (wi-fi)
2 DAY: MASKS AND DANCES OF TEMNE PEOPLE
Breakfast at Lungi, briefing and departure to Makeni, main city of the north province, famous for the market where local goods and colorful cloths can be found; lunch in a typical restaurant.
Later, visit to a typical village of Temne people where we will attend amazing traditional male and/or female dances.
Departure to Bo, the second main city of the country and capital of the Mende ethnic group. Evening strolling around the streets of the city centre and dinner in a local restaurant.
Overnight at Bo, Dohas hotel, rooms en-suite and with A/C (wi-fi)
3 DAY: A RIVER IN THE FOREST
Breakfast at the hotel in Bo and departure to reach Tiwai island of an incredible naturalistic charm. On this small island (12Km2) the native raining forest of West Africa can still be seen, the forest hosts a variety of plants, animals and primates.
Once in Kambama, we will embark on a small boat, crossing the river Moa to reach Tiwai. Lunch with typical food and a “scenic river tour” on board of small boats along the river within a wild and scenic landscape. On the way, visit to remote villages. Dinner on the island enjoying typical food.
Overnight in fixed tended with mattresses.
4 DAY : PRIMATES’ ISLAND
Waking up at the sunrise, breakfast on the terrace and departure for a walk in the forest to discover plants, animals, chimpanzee and the rare endemic Diana guenon. If we are lucky, we might meet the shy and endangered pygmy hippo. Back to Kambama, lunch break in Bo and departure to Kenema, lively small town in the Eastern District, known for the mining of the diamonds.
Dinner and overnight in Kenema at Paloma guest house***, this nice guest house will be our base for two nights.
5 DAY: A WOMAN CHIEF & A SECRET FEMALE SOCIETY
Breakfast at the hotel in Kenema and departure to Boijabo, one of the main villages of Chiefdom of Simbaru. Meeting with an important chief: miss Mamie Gamanga from the Mende ethnic group, one of the few “Paramount Chief” ladies. Later, tour of the surroundings villages to discover traditional dances. We can attend the Mende masks’ dance from the Sande secrete female society and the ones form the Poro male society. Return to our hotel Kenema.
Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Paloma Guest House*** (wi-fi)
6 DAY: DIAMONDS
Breakfast at Kenema hotel and departure to discover the famous diamonds’ mines of Sierra Leone. Visit to a mining site, where we can get to know the different step of the diamonds’ search. Later, we will take a walk among the small village to discover the “Diamonds’ shops” specialized in buying the precious stones. Lunch in a local restaurant and departure heading north-east to reach the breath-taking beaches of the peninsula in the Western Area. We will arrive at our hotel by the ocean in Kent.
Dinner and overnight at the comfortable Nova Africa Resort
7 DAY: BANANA ISLAND
Breakfast at the hotel and departure to take a boat excursion in the Banana Island archipelago, a gem on the Atlantic Ocean. Stop at Dublin, one of the three island make up the archipelago together with Ricketts and Mes-Meheux. Visit to the village and retour. Lunch in a local small restaurant on the beach and departure heading Tacugama Chimpanzy Sanctuary, to discover the chimpanzee. The Forest reserve stretches over 100 acre. Departure to Abardeen, the most beautiful quarter of Freetown and dinner by the sea.
Overnight at Hotel Sierra Palms Resort**** International stand (wi-fi)
8 DAY: FREETOWN: THE TOWN OF THE FREEMEN
Breakfast at the hotel and departure to make a city tour along the busy roads of the old quarter of Freetown, the lively and crowded capital of Sierra Leone. Visit to the National Museum to discover old finds related to the secret societies and the mysterious Nomoli stones.
Stop at the most interesting highlights as the Cotton Tree and the central market- known for the artisanal. Its architecture of stones and wood, typical of the Krio culture, makes the market even more interesting.
The origin of Krio dates back to the 1786 when the British brought to the coasts of Sierra Leone the first 308 slaves who had been freed in the Americas. Their life in the “new world” has been very harsh and hasn’t brought any good results for long time; the newcomers did not succeeded in growing any plants due to the inappropriate seeds and little knowledge about the seasons and ground.
Few months after their arrival, the newcomers were starving, got unknown diseases and they struggled with integrating with the locals, who hardly stand them. In 1808 Freetown became the capital of the first British colony in tropical Africa. At that time Krio, or ex slaves, were around 50.000 and they made up an elite who pushed for a better education from the colonial administration; the cultural level reached, had led Freetown to be known as the “Athens of West Africa”.
After lunch spent in a local restaurant, we reach the harbor of Freetown where a ferry will bring us to Tagrin, we will come back to Lungi in the evening.
Special evening: we will be guests of a large medical centre, which has a chirurgical area run by international volunteers to make the harsh health conditions better. The visit will be lead by the founder of the ONLUS – ONG who will tell us his experience and the complex world of the medical reality in the sub-tropical Africa. Volunteers remained active during ebola time in 2014-2015. Dinner with the staff and later, within the scenic tropical forest, dances masks both female and male.
Overnight at Lungi Airport hotel*** comfortable rooms with A/C and en-suite (wifi)
9 DAY: THE ISLAND OF SLAVES
Breakfast at the hotel and transfer to the bay of Rokel where will embark on a motorized boat, scenic sailing across a large creek to the east of Freetown. Visit to Bunce Island, one of the main point of the slave trade in Western Africa. It remains active until the salve trades become illegal. A big fortress, nowadays semi-destroyed, was used to gather the slaves before they were embarked to the “New World”. Stop at Tasso Island for the visit to an interesting ecotourist project made together with the locals.
Free lunch and free time in the afternoon to make some excursions to the villages and near beaches.
Rooms in day-use at Lungi Airport Hotel*** (wi-fi). Transfer to the airport
Tour leader: with long experience in the Country and local guides
Vehicles: Comfortable 4X4 with A/C. Navigations will be on motorized pirogues equipped with safe life jackets.
Vaccinations: Yellow fever: Mandatory, the vaccination has been declared lifelong by the World Health Organization.
Cholera: it is not mandatory at the time of setting this itinerary, anyway it is recommended to verify it before the departure
Prophylaxis anti-malaria: highly recommended it
Visa: mandatory, obtainable at the airport, it costs 100USD. If you will obtain the visa before departure, please advise us before departing. Passport’s scan and the insurance’s bill are required.
Meals: lunch: picnic or at local restaurants. Dinner in hotels, touristic menu
Overnight: in the capital hotel of international standard, in the country side the best available, mostly have en-suite rooms and with A/C and wi-fi
Luggage: due to the kind of trip we recommend to contain the weight to 20Kg per person in duffel bags.
Insurance: mandatory for medical assistance, repatriation and damages. TransAfrica is not responsible for diseases, accidents, damages that might occur during or after the trip, whatever the cause might be and whoever might be responsible. The bill from the insurance must be delivered to us before the departure
Participants: max 16