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West Africa Overland – Accra to Freetown TOP019_5

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West Africa Overland Accra to Freetown

An epic adventure through West Africa that offers incredible experiences each and every day. Travel through Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Liberia and Ghana and experience life off the beaten track. You’ll explore culture, wildlife, beaches, tribal music, ceremonial dance, architecture, and even the most incredible vine bridges. This is 42 days of epic – designed for the adventurer who wants to see it all.

Trip highlights:

  • Walking on the canopy walkaways high above the rainforest in the Kakum National Park
  • Camping overnight at the Kintampo waterfalls
  • Getting a taste of history when you visit the old slave forts along Ghana’s coast
  • Taking a safari through Mole National Park
  • Dancing your way through Ouagadougou’s fantastic music and culture scene
  • Bush-camping under big African skies Visiting the somewhat weird yet always wonderful capital of the Ivory Coast, Yamoussoukro
  • Trekking through small villages and stopping to meet the locals and observe their way of life
  • Spending time on the beach and enjoying the nightlife of Freetown – with it’s unique ambiance
  • Exploring the markets of Kumasi and Kejeita – the biggest in West Africa
  • Sitting in community with village elders in Sierra Leone and experiencing their story telling traditions
  • Getting up close and personal with amazing wildlife – even the rare Pygmy Hippo
  • Exploring the grand market and very impressive adobe mosque of Bobo Dioulasso
  • Feasting on local cuisines and try new food every day

You’ll primarily be over-landing on this West African adventure and you’ll be doing it well off the tourist tracks. Because of that, there is always room for the unexpected and your spirit of adventure will help to see you through the challenges that may come up. Jeep is a great way to see the country as you can cover ground each day and get to some out of the way places that many don’t get to go.

This is six weeks that will change your life and push you to grow. West Africa is challenging but beautiful place and you’ll definitely want to come back.

Itinerary:

Week 1: Ghana

The trip starts in Ghanaian capital of Accra. It is well worth visiting the artisans market, for some souvenir hunting! We will also obtain visas in Accra for later on in the trip.

Heading out of Accra we will drive west along the beautiful Atlantic Coastline.  We will stop at Cape Coast Castle to visit what was once the residence of the British governor until Accra became the capital of Ghana. Further west we will also visit St George’s Castle in Elmina, which was originally built by the Portuguese as a trading post, but later turned into a holding fort to ship slaves across the Atlantic. We will camp for the night at a beautiful beach and hopefuly make it there in time for sunset.

Next stop is Kakum National Park. We’ll have a chance to walk on the famous canopy walkways above the rainforest and hopefully see some of the wildlife within the reserve.

The journey continues north to the Ashanti stronghold of Kumasi where we’ll spend two nights. Things to see and do include: the sprawling Kejetia market – one of the biggest in West Africa, the Manhyia Palace museum, strolling around the grounds of the national cultural centre and witness the crafts people at work and a day trip out to the sacred Lake Bosumtwi.

Leaving central Ghana we head further north for a long days drive to the beautiful Mole National Park. To break up the long drive we will spend the night at the enchanting Kintampo falls for the chance to have a refreshing swim to cool off. Then, we have a whole day at Mole for guided walks through the park.

Week 2: Burkina Faso

The trip crosses from Ghana into Burkina Faso as we head north for the village of Tiebele, home to the Kassena people. They are considered one of the oldest groups who settled in present day Burkina Faso. In Tiebele, we will see some of the best examples of the Gurunsi style when visiting the village. The buildings are made up of clay/straw/soil/dung, which is then decorated with incredible colours and designs passed down through the generations.

The trip continues north to the capital city of Ouagadougou where we will obtain visas for countries later on in the trip. There are some fantastic museums and music workshops in the city, offering you a great chance to throw yourself into the musical and cultural scene in Ouagadougou! And you could also take a taxi ride out of the city to the Laongo Sculpture Park.

With visas in our passports, we drive south west to funky Bobo Dioulasso. The city is home to the Sudanese style grand adobe mosque and a superb market, not to mention some great nightclubs. You could also visit nearby villages like Koumi and Koro famed for their mud architecture.

We will then spend the next few days visiting the surrounding Banfora region, perhaps the most beautiful part of Burkina Faso. Possible excursions include: Tengrela Lake, famed for its resident hippo population; the Domes of Fabedougou, an area dominated by limestone rocks with intriguing shapes; the beautiful Karfiguela Waterfalls; the villages of Niansongoni and Sindou.

Week 3: Ivory Coast

The northern town of Korhogo is our first stop in Ivory Coast, famed for cloth weaving, jewellery and antiques. Visiting the surrounding area will give you a fascinating insight into the life of the Senoufo people. Le Quartier Des Sculpteurs in Korhogo is definitely worth a good look around for souvenirs!

Next we drive south to one of Africa’s anomalies – Yamoussoukro – the capital of Ivory Coast in name alone. Yamoussoukro was the hometown of long serving post-independence President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who spent exorbitant amounts of money to make it the new spectacular capital city of the country.

We will spend two nights just outside of town – giving you a chance to marvel at the Presidential Palace and his showpiece, the Basilique De Notre Dame De La Paix, which is almost an exact replica of St Peter’s in Rome! The town itself boasts 6 lane highways that lead nowhere, grand hotels, and monuments on par with any other capital city of the world, yet all situated in a relatively small settlement of 250,000 people.

From Yamousoukkro, we drive west towards the town of Man and onto the border with Guinea. This is perhaps the most beautiful part of Ivory Coast, due to the surrounding mountains and tropical vegetation, with numerous opportunities to stop off and witness local festivities, mask and stilt dances, and wildlife.

We will spend a night in a beautiful village in the west of Ivory Coast, where we will have the chance to watch a traditional dance ceremony, with a stilt dancer!

Weeks 4 – 5:  Guinea Forestiere Into Liberia

This weeks itinerary is left deliberately vague due to the nature of the area we will be travelling through. Guinea Forestiere (Forest Region) and much of Liberia is remote, and receives far fewer visitors than other parts of the region. It’s one of the most naturally beautiful parts of West Africa, but travel in the region is somewhat challenging due to varied road conditions.

As a very rough guide, we hope to do some or all of the following during this week:

  • Overland from the Ivory Coast border into Guinea taking in the views of Mount Nimba
  • Optional trekking to visit the wild chimpanzees the area is famous for
  • Explore the markets of Nzerekore and perhaps look around the Musee Ethnographique, home to a selection of masks and fetishes
  • Hike in the Guinea Forestiere to find the vine bridges the area is famed for – walking on them is at your own discretion!

This is truly off the beaten track travel – overlanding through a remote part of West Africa few others get to see!

By the end of week 4/start of week 5, we will have driven from the Ivory Coast-Guinea border and arrived onto the coast of Liberia. A true overland adventure you will never forget!

Weeks 5 – 6:  Liberia Into Sierra Leone

Liberia is very much new to travellers after being closed for so long. We will visit Kpatawee waterfalls en route, one of Liberia’s most beautiful spots, where if you wish you can spend a few hours trekking up the river to see a number of falls rising up the hillside. Then, in the Nimba region, we hope to visit the huge rusting relics of a long abandoned mine, against the backdrop of a modern purpose built mining town.

Arriving onto the Atlantic coastline of Liberia we will spend time in and around the capital Monrovia. The city is in a varying state of repair, but the people are particularly welcoming and always pleased to see tourists coming to their city! Marvel at what remains of the Masonic Lodge and other reminders of Monrovia’s most intriguing history.

We will spend time at a surf retreat in the sleepy coastal town of Robertsport. Here you will have the chance to enjoy the beaches, or explore the interesting architecture from some of Liberia’s early settlers.

Leaving Monrovia we journey west towards the border with Sierra Leone. Another days drive will bring us into the diamond dealing town of Kenema in the east of Sierra Leone. We will spend some time here to recharge and clean up after the drive through the forest from the border with Liberia.

Our next stop is the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, a unique reserve where we’ll have the chance to see some of the best wildlife Sierra Leone has to offer, including 11 species of primate and, with luck, the rare Pygmy Hippo!

Leaving Tiwai island, we head west towards the capital city of Freetown, where you’ll have an opportunity to explore and soak up the atmosphere in Sierra Leone’s dazzling metropolis. You could  take a speedboat to Banana Island, visit Charlotte Falls, the Tacaguma Chimpanzee Sanctuary or simply beach hop along the peninsula. You’ll also find plenty of street parades, beach bars and nightclubs to dance in until dawn, a great way to end our adventure from Ghana to Sierra Leone!

More Details

Additional Trip Notes:
This is truly off the beaten track overlanding – travelling through a stunning part of West Africa few others get to see. This trip will be exploratory in nature with a flexible itinerary to take into account any unforeseen challenges we may be presented with en route.
Road conditions will inevitably slow us down so we have built extra time into the itinerary to account for this. It will be tough going for short stretches as we journey between Ivory Coast, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. We’ll be driving through remote areas where, in places, there simply is no tourist infrastructure. We’ll be bush camping off the truck for a few days at a time. Team work is the key to keeping the truck moving and group morale high!
Corrupt officials are part and parcel of travel in this region. Delays at borders and checkpoints are commonplace. It can be tiresome but also quite comical sometimes – you just have to play the game!
Security note: We will be monitoring the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice before we set off and when we are on the road. We also have contacts on the ground who will let us know if the situation changes further ahead and we can re-route accordingly. We are happy to say that there have been no travel restrictions in place for any of our route for some time now.

   

Dates

  • 1 February – 14 March 2016
  • 6 Feb 2017 – 20 March 2017

Price from: 1,700 GBP per person (plus a kitty of around 550 EUR)

What’s included?

All accommodation costs included. Approximately 1 night in hostels/hotels, the rest mixed between campsites/campements with basic facilities, and bush camping (no facilities). The longest stretch without facilities should be 3 nights in a row. There are numerous options on this trip to upgrade from camping to a basic room if you want to pay the extra.

All food whilst camping is included in the kitty, though occasionally we might want to put a lunch or dinner on hold whilst camping if we find somewhere funky en route or are invited to eat in a local village.

Operator

“When it comes to exploring West Africa there can’t be a better bunch to travel with than this passionate independent tour operator. Their unique trips in the region offer exploratory travel to countries and places that no other overland operators venture to.

Instead of just passing through the region as part of a Trans Africa Tour, or only visiting a few tried and tested countries, they take their time and travel as far off the beaten track as possible.

The overland adventure trips they offer focus entirely on West Africa and nowhere else – so you can be sure you are getting a trip run by crew who are passionate and entirely focused upon this magical part of the world.

We love that if you compare the trips to other companies offering tours of West Africa you will see they travel at a slower pace and visit many more places.

The crew oozes a passion for this wild and under visited region.”

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