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Bissagos Islands Cruise

12-Day Journey with 8-Day Cruise from Dakar to the Bissagos Islands

Bissagos Islands CruiseThree countries—Senegal, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. Three former colonial
powers—France, Great Britain and Portugal. Three Rivers—Senegal, Casamance
and Gambia. Three climate zones—desert, savanna and tropical. A journey
couldn’t be more diverse!

from4,780 $per person

What Makes Your Journey Unique

  • Fascinating cruise journey on board the comfortable yacht MY Harmony V
  • Absolutely unique route from Senegal to the Bissagos Islands via the Gambia and Casamance Rivers
  • Expert English-speaking tour guide throughout journey
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Île de Gorée, Saint Louis, Kunta Kinte Island and Fort Bullen, Djoudj National Park and Bissagos Islands
  • Trip on the Gambia River into the heart of Africa
  • Journey through time to the archaic wonderland of the Bissagos Islands
  • Casamance: Senegal’s tropic paradise and home of the Diola
  • Safaris in West Africa’s most beautiful national parks
  • Saint-Louis: Colonial flair at the gateway to the Sahara
  • Authentic everyday life in Africa in remote villages

Dates

  • 17 Feb 21 - 28 Feb 21 (12 days)

Info & Booking

Ramona Schultz
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Day 1. On to West Africa!

Arrival in Dakar. What a magical location: Your hotel is situated amid palm trees directly on the turquoise waters of the Atlantic ocean! A welcome dinner set to the music of the Kora, a 21-string West African lute, whets your appetite for adventure. You spend the night in your comfortable hotel. Overnight in Dakar: Hotel Jardin Savana (or similar) (D)

Day 2. Melting Pot Dakar

Dakar is situated in an exotic world of contrasts. On a sightseeing tour, you are plunged into the city’s hustle and bustle. Colonial buildings, palatial banks, slums and in between—traveling salesmen, market women and shoeshiners. Afterward you visit the Museum of Black Civilizations. Later you leave this Senegalese metropolis and dive into Africa’s Atlantic countryside. You continue on to Thiès, where you visit a museum and can enjoy lunch if you wish. In the evening, you reach the old port city Saint Louis, the cultural heart of Senegal, near the border with Mauritania in the north. Its old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated on an island in the Atlantic and is bursting with the unique charm of disrepair. You take a horse-drawn carriage past decaying colonial facades and colorful pirogues, canoe-like boats, on the Senegal River. Your old-town hotel for the next two nights not only has a wonderful flair, but also an impressive history. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, once stayed here. Overnight in Saint Louis: Hotel de la Poste (or similar) (BD)

Day 3. At the Gateway to the Sahara

The Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, 60 kilometers north of Saint Louis, is the third largest bird sanctuary on Earth and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Half of the northern hemisphere’s birdlife fly here for the winter. 10,000 postcard worthy pelicans come here for vacation, as do numerous flamingos, storks, cormorants, cranes and ospreys. Overnight in Saint Louis: Hotel de la Poste (or similar (BD)

Day 4. The Pink Lake

After another dip in the refreshing waters of the Atlantic, you then continue back toward Dakar. Baobab trees line your way through the vast savanna. Is that a mirage in the distance? No. It’s the Lac Rose, shimmering in all hues between pink and purple. Locals carry the white gold of the salt lake on their heads. In the afternoon, your friendly crew welcomes you aboard the MY Harmony V in the Dakar port. Then it’s off you go! The lights of Dakar gradually disappear behind you in the horizon. Overnight on board MY Harmony V (BLD)

Day 5. Into the Heart of Africa on the Gambia River

A new day, a new country. In the morning, the immense mouth of the Gambia River emerges, guarded by the mighty Fort Bullen, built by the British to put an end to the slave trade. The opposite bank is tranquil—Gambia’s small capital, Banjul, exudes colonial charm to this day, but the vibrant Albert Market is pure Africa! One of the most famous holy sites is the sacred crocodile pool of Bakau. About 70 of these ancient reptiles are worshipped here as fertility symbols. Around noon your ship heads upstream on the Gambia River. It’s African everyday life straight out of a picture book—straw huts, palm groves, peanut and rice fields, waving children. With a bit of luck, a hippopotamus family may emerge from the murky waters. You anchor on charming Kunta Kinteh Island, formerly known as James Island, where you see the ruins of an old fort. The island is named after Kunta Kinte, the main character in Alex Haley’s novel Roots, was taken into slavery here. The island, including Fort Bullen, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its role in the history of the West African slave trade. Under a red evening sky, you pass the mouth of the Gambia again and continue south along the coast. Overnight on board MY Harmony V (BLD)

Day 6. Senegal’s Green Garden

Today your ship reaches Carabane Island at the mouth of the Casamance River. Welcome to the land of the Diola people and Senegal’s green garden! Rice is grown in the river valley, and cereals, vegetables, lettuce, cashews, mangos and citrus fruits are grown higher up. In the small port of Elinkine, you can look over the shoulders of fishermen as they prepare dried fish and build pirogues. In Mlomp, you can see the two-story mudbrick houses of the Diola. The villagers are happy to have a chat with you. Overnight, you travel south along the coast and reach Guinea-Bissau. Overnight on board MY Harmony V (BLD)

Day 7. Feminism à la Bissagos

Welcome to the Bissagos Islands, consisting of approximately 88 islands, the majority uninhabited. In this remote locale, a unique culture was developed that was able to withstand all colonial ambition up to the twentieth century. Matriarchy, animism and archaic rituals have been uniquely preserved here. In the morning, the eerie scenery of Bolama Island awaits. The town there of the same name was the first capital of Portuguese Guinea. Today, only the whistling wind makes its way past colonial facades, avenues and squares, which are slowly being taken back by Nature. In the afternoon, you explore Canhabaque, one of the Bissagos archipelago’s most beautiful islands, with its green mangroves and white palm beaches. Here you learn why the island is considered the sacred stronghold of Bissagos culture. Each locality has its own queen, and men go through a seven-year initiation without any contact with women. Overnight on board MY Harmony V (FMA)

Day 8. Myths, Masks and Magic

Today your ship reaches Orango, the second largest Bissagos island and burial place of the queens and kings of Bissagos. In the largest village, Eticoga, you immerse yourself again into the fascinating world of the locals. Here too, everyday life consists of mask dances, initiation rites and medicine men. In the afternoon, you hike the sandy paths of the Orango National Park. Savannas, mangroves, waterways and palm forests are the habitat for numerous bird species, crocodiles, snakes, and the globally rare saltwater hippo. Sea turtles lay their eggs on long sand beaches. That night, your ship weighs anchor and leaves the Bissagos wonderland for the north. Overnight on board MY Harmony V (BLD)

Day 9. Holiday Paradise on the Atlantic

Today you anchor at Cap Skirring in Senegal’s Casamance province, whose wide, palm-fringed sand beaches are a dream! In the morning, you go on an excursion to the hinterland. The open-air Sangawatt Museum offers a glimpse of the Diola Culture and colorful photo opportunities. In the afternoon, you enjoy sun, sand and sea in Cap Skirring’s picturesque beach. That night, you head back out to sea. Overnight on board MY Harmony V (BLD)

Day 10. A World of Seashells

In the morning, you drop anchor in the sleepy fishing village of Djiffer. Nearby, there are three islands made entirely of seashells, the so-called mussel islands, created by more than 500 years of discarding mussel shells into the mud flats of the Mamanguedj Lagoon. The Île de Fadiouth, the cemetery island of Diotyo, and a third island make up this bizarre archipelago. You explore this fascinating world of seashells in a traditional pirogue. Overnight on board MY Harmony V (BLD)

Day 11. On the Island of Slave Traders

After breakfast, your extraordinary cruise ends in the port of Dakar, but at least one more highlight awaits! You take a ferry to the Île de Gorée, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a large, unique open-air museum with a view of the Dakar skyline. You walk down cobblestone streets, you stroll past pastel-colored colonial villas and peek into cozy, secluded courtyards. As beautiful as it is, however, the island also has a sad history—the shipment of thousands of African people into slavery. Later you head toward Saly on the Atlantic coast. Once a Portuguese trading post, today it serves as a holiday destination with its fine beaches. In the afternoon, there is time for a swim in the Atlantic or a visit to the handicrafts market. Overnight in Saly: Hotel Lamatin (or similar) (BD)

Day 12. Au Revoir, Afrique!

In the morning, you go on safari in the Bandia Nature Reserve, established in 1997. In addition to giraffes, gazelles, wild boars, buffalo and crocodiles, you can also admire ostriches and numerous other bird species. After a final dip in the ocean, you enjoy your farewell lunch. With dance and music, you experience Africa’s magic once again. In the early evening, you transfer to the airport for your flight home. (BL)

(B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner

Your compact, cozy ship easily reaches fascinating locations, where hardly a traveler has anchored and to which no road leads.

Embark on a journey through time to a bygone world of slave traders, swashbucklers and pirates. Dive into a mysterious world of rituals, myths and spirits in the villages of the Wolof, Diola and Bissagos peoples. Go on a safari filled with crocodiles, hippos, flamingos and more.

Rates Include

  • 7 nights accommodation aboard the MY Harmony V in the booked category
  • 1 night in hotel in Dakar
  • 2 nights in hotel in Saint Louis
  • 1 night in hotel in Saly
  • All meals according to itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • Welcome cocktail, captain’s dinner, coffee, tea and water on board
  • English-speaking tour guide to and from Dakar
  • All excursions and entry fees according to itinerary
  • Transfers and excursions in typical mini-buses with air-conditioning
  • Luggage service
  • Free rental of fishing and snorkeling equipment on board the ship (subject to availability)
  • Informational documents

Not Included

  • Visa fees
  • Gratuities
  • International flights
  • Personal expenses

Entry Requirements

  • Passport and visas required
  • Yellow fever vaccination for Guinea-Bissau obligatory

Hotels Planned

  • 1 night in Dakar, Hotel Jardin Savana
  • 2 nights in Saint Louis, Hotel de la Poste
  • 1 night in Saly, Hotel Lamatin

Important Notes

  • For groups only (16–20 guests)
  • We regret that due to the intricate logistics of this tour, itinerary changes are sometimes unavoidable.
  • This journey is generally not for guests with limited mobility or who depend on CPAP machines. Please contact us for more information about your specific requirements before booking.

Category C

Three cabins on the main deck. About 11 square meters, with double bed, two small windows.

Category B

Six cabins on the main deck. About 13 square meters, with double bed or two single beds, two oval windows.

Category A

14 cabins on the upper deck. About 13 square meters, with double bed or two single beds, large viewing window.

Category P

Two cabins on the upper deck. About 14 square meters, with double bed or two single beds, panoramic window.

Restaurant

In the restaurant, international dishes are served with local touches. Additionally, it’s possible to enjoy meals outdoors, depending on the weather.

  • Guaranteed
  • Available
  • Limited
  • Waiting List
  • Excursions and lectures conducted in: EN=English

Dates

Dates Cat. CCat. BCat. ACat. P
Price $
17 Feb 21 - 28 Feb 21ENExcursions and lectures conducted in: English | Groups only
Single use supplement in compartment + hotel
Total price $