At a Glance
Dates: November 24th - December 4th, 2023
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £2,550 pp sharing (with a £250 single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: An underappreciated destination that packs a huge punch, Guinea-Bissau can offer stunning beaches, unusual wildlife and extraordinary birdwatching.
Guinea-Bissau is the definition of a hidden gem. Even experienced travellers who have explored the deepest recesses of West Africa often overlook this picturesque corner of the continent, for reasons that have never quite been clear to us at Pictus Safaris. Whilst much of Guinea-Bissau's jungle interior has suffered from the effects of poaching and illegal logging, patches of paradise do remain here. The largest ecosystem in the country, the Dulombi-Boe Complex, is a shadow of its former self, protecting just a handful of leopard, forest elephant and forest buffalo, where once there roamed thousands. Closer to the coast, however, intact ecosystems remain. Catanhez National Park is one of the finest locations in West Africa in which to view chimpanzees at close quarters, and is always worth a visit. The jewel in Guinea-Bissau's crown, though, is undoubtedly the sprawling and stunning Bijagos Archipelago. Boasting some of the finest sport fishing in all of Africa, most visitors make the journey here to seek out the piscatorial pleasures of the African Atlantic. The islands and mangroves, though, also protect some truly special wildlife. This area is the stronghold in West Africa for African manatee and Atlantic humpback dolphin, although sightings can be hard to come by in the murky waters around the mangroves. More likely to be seen are the hordes of sea turtles that haul themselves onto the beaches each night, as well as the entertaining 'surfing hippos' on several of the islets. For a relaxed and rewarding tour that offers a broad array of excellent and unusual sightings, look no further.
On arrival into Bissau, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris tour leader and transferred to your local hotel.
This morning we will transfer by boat to the stunning Bijagos Archipelago. Comprised of nearly 90 islands and islets, the archipelago takes years to fully explore, but our private island is a fantastic place to base yourself. Our hosts are experienced and knowledgeable naturalists and, after a chance to familiarise yourself with your accommodation, they will provide a brief introduction to the archipelago and its wildlife. Thereafter, we will take to the water in search of the first wildlife of the trip, with dolphins being our primary target. The most common dolphin species in these waters is the common bottlenose dolphin, and we are likely to encounter this species this afternoon. More interesting, though, is the possibility of glimpsing the elusive Atlantic humpback dolphin. The archipelago, and the neighbouring habitat in Guinea, is the primary stronghold for this species and, whilst sightings are not guaranteed, this remains perhaps the best place to see this species anywhere in Africa.
Our day begins with the morning spent in two local villages, Binte and Cutcham. The local people of these traditional villages are unfailingly friendly and open, and this is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the traditional way of life in this corner of Guinea-Bissau. After lunch, our hosts will once again set aside some time to discuss the local wildlife with us before we head out by boat. This afternoon our primary target will be African manatee. These shy creatures are usually very difficult to find - but in Bijagos, they are always around. However, the dark and murky waters in their preferred habitat can make sightings through the water challenging. We will aim to provide sightings to all guests using a drone, although this can never be guaranteed.
Today we set out to visit two different villages, Bixau and Anipoc, where local people will perform a traditional dance to welcome us. The areas around the villages are a good bet for spotting primates including lesser spot-nosed monkey, Campbell's monkey and green monkey.
This morning we transfer to Orango National Park, enjoying lunch at the Orango Hotel. Keep your eyes peeled even during the heat of the day, as the birdlife is prolific here and dolphins can pass by at any minute. You are likely to glimpse bushbuck here too, an unexpected sight near the sandy beaches. The national park here protects a wide range of wildlife, and our primary quarry is one often overlooked elsewhere in Africa - the hippo. These specimens are unusual, though, in that they call the ocean and mangroves home, rather than freshwater lakes and rivers. If we are lucky, we may spot some animals playing in the surf, although most likely we will spot them resting in the mangroves.
Leaving behind Orango, today we head first to our private island, and then to the tiny uninhabited island of Poilao. Marking the southernmost point in Guinea-Bissau, this island is unassuming but actually offers one of the most incredible wildlife experiences available anywhere. Each night, thousands of green turtles clamber onto the empty beaches to lay their eggs. We are likely to have this experience to ourselves, a rare and humbling privilege.
This morning we will remain on Poilao, soaking in the experience of watching the last few green turtles waiting for the next high tide before returning to the sea. Thereafter, we will head north, stopping off at the pristine Meio Island for a swim, before continuing on to the island of Joao Vieira, where we are likely once more to see green turtles and a rich array of birdlife.
Bijagos Archipelago & Bissau
This morning we will first head to Angurman, where fantastic photographic opportunities abound with flamingos feeding on offshore sandbanks. From here, we will transfer by boat to Bissau, where the evening is at leisure.
We transfer today by car to Catanhez National Park, a journey of up to six hours. Our afternoon will be spent observing the hugely charismatic and entertaining chimpanzees as they hunt, fight and play. We will spend the night in basic accommodation in the park.
The full day today is spent in the national park, with morning and evening walks spent with the chimpanzees.
Setting out at dawn, we return to Bissau for your homeward flights.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may
occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in November and December 2023, aiming to take advantage of the dry weather and favourable wind conditions at this time of the year. The tour will run from November 24th to December 4th.
The cost of this trip is £2,550 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Drinks are not included. We regret that we must levy a single supplement of £250 pp for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £995 must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Bissau at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Bissau after 16.00 on your return, if leaving on the same day that we return to Bissau to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Guinea-Bissau. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Guinea-Bissau will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Guinea-Bissau entry visa for UK citizens is £50 - these can be obtained from an embassy prior to travel. The nearest embassy to the UK is in Paris and we therefore recommend using a third-party visa service provider to obtain your visa. Visas can be issued on arrival, although this service can be unreliable.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Guinea-Bissau in November is hot and humid, with maximum temperatures of around 32 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 20 degrees Celsius.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars and Euros.
Safety and Security
The security situation in Guinea-Bissau is currently good. The country is prone to bouts of political instability, and we will alert you in a timely manner to any changes to the security situation. We fully expect our tours to Guinea-Bissau to go ahead as planned.