Day 1: Arrival in Freetown, transfer to hotel
Arrive at Freetown’s Lungi International Airport, which is one of the world’s most uniquely-situated airports, located on the northern coast of the Freetown Estuary. On arrival, disembark and enter the arrivals hall for baggage reclaim. You will be met by a representative from Vumbua Africa who will have a signboard with your name on it after customs. He will be available to deal with any immediate questions and then get you on your private vehicle for transfer to the dock from where you take the 30-minute boat ride and make a charismatic entry to the city catching a glimpse of the towering hills over
Freetown. Once in Aberdeen, you will be met by your guide and driver and transferred to your hotel.
Overnight at Country lodge or similar.
Day 2: Freetown Historical Tour & Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Freetown Historical Tour
Today we start the day by having our first look around the vibrant city and making a sweep through its historical core. With the car and guide at your disposal, you will visit sites such as the Railway Museum, St. Georges Cathedral, National Museum, Peace Monument, the Maroon Church, the Cotton Tree, The Gateway to the Old King's Yard and Fort Thornton (where the Presidential State House now stands).
Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
After lunch (not included unless otherwise stated), you will head for Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
You will see the amazing work being done by Bala and his team. Chimpanzees are often cruelly or ignorantly kept as pets, or sometimes hunted for their meat. Today however, more than 100 primates find haven at Tacugama, swinging from branches, hooting with happiness, throwing things at passers-by with the petulance of children, nuzzling each other with the tenderness of mothers attending to newborns, and picking bugs out of each other furs with the attention of Madonna’s manicurist, even the least animal-friendly of visitors gets sucked into the magic within the moments.
Apart from the Sanctuary, there are other attraction sites available in this area to occupy your time among which is the viewing of over 100 bird species that have been identified in and around the Tacugama Forest Reserve. After the chimps tour, you are transferred to your hotel
Day 3: Bunce Island & River Number Two
This morning we go to Bunce Island with a private speedboat, viewing the city from the coast as you go by. Bunce Island was the largest British slave castle on the Rice Coast of West Africa.
Founded around 1670, it exported tens of thousands of African captives to North America and the West Indies until the British Parliament finally closed it down in 1808. Bunce Island is left to decay, and although this raises questions of preservation, it does have a certain charm. It is authentic, and raw - a painful history that is burying itself under layers of greenery.
After Bunce island, you will visit River Number 2 beach where you could have lunch and explore this beautiful beach before being transferred to your hotel.
River Number Two
The beauty of River number 2 does not only lie in its gorgeous beachside, towering mountains and mangrove forest that flank the river flowing into the sea, it also lies in the fact that it hosts a completely community-run tourist location.
Their organisation, the Community Tourism Development Association, was founded about 20 years ago and has been active in protecting the beachfront, developing the tourist industry and supporting their community.
In terms of activities, River Number Two is a great starting point for guided forest walks, fishing trips and boat rides to the nearby islands (Banana and Turtle Islands). These are optional and can all be arranged locally. If you are into surfing, River number. 2 sometimes has a pretty decent swell, but there are no boards to rent so you have to bring your own.
Of course, you can just chill out on this stunning beach.
Day 4: Freetown to Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Freetown to Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary
A visit to this tropical rainforest is undoubtedly one of Sierra Leone’s wildlife highlights. Enriched by the lazily flowing waters of the Moa River you are immersed in the sights and sounds of this safe haven. There are some of the most diverse chimpanzee and monkey populations and more than 700 species of plant life, not to mention the elusive pygmy hippo, a squat little nocturnal beast found only in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Depart Freetown for Tiwai Island, departing 8am, taking an early lunch in Bo. Arrive at Tiwai Island c. 3pm, with time to rest at camp following transfer to Tiwai Island by boat from Kambama.
After arrival and a bit of a rest, take a late afternoon/early evening boat trip up the Mao River in an engine-powered boat.
Take in spectacular views of Tiwai Island and the neighbouring mainland, looking out for monkeys jumping between the trees, some 135 species of birds and, of course, the occasional crocodile and the very elusive Pygmy Hippo.
In the evening eat dinner cooked by camp staff and rest at camp. Night walks can be arranged at an additional cost.
Day 5: Full Day on Tiwai Island
Full Day on Tiwai Island
In the morning, walk the forests of Tiwai Island accompanied by a local guide, experiencing the thrill of tracking the 11 different species of primates, 135 species of birds and some 800 species of butterfly, as well as the footprints of mammals such as mongoose, wild pigs and that Pygmy Hippo. Not to mention the incredible plant life.
Departing after an early lunch, take a boat back to the mainland and explore the fascinating culture and heritage of the rural villages of Kambama and nearby Nianiahun (20 min drive), including sites of traditional sacrifice, meeting points for the rituals of village elders, birth ceremonial sites and the ‘blood stream’ hiding place for the knives and weapons of ancient warriors.
In the evening take a stroll into the forest to watch for monkeys, and birds and gaze at the treetops. Eat dinner cooked by camp staff and rest at camp. Night walks can be arranged at an additional cost.
Day 6: Transfer Banana Islands
Transfer Banana Islands
This morning, depart Tiwai (on a 5 hours drive) and head to Kent Village on the Freetown peninsula to catch a boat to Banana Island, for a chance to explore this scenic paradise. Three islands make up the Banana Islands: Dublin and Ricketts are linked by a stone causeway. The third Mes-Meheux is uninhabited. We will be going to Dublin, with its backyard gardens, big breadfruit trees and rare and delightful butterflies. You will be welcomed by the sleepy but friendly community and go on a tour of this quiet paradise.
These pristine islands are a wonderful place to experience laid-back Sierra Leone and there will be various optional activities available for everyone, including hiking, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing and or a scenic boat trip around the island.
This is an opportunity to have an insightful land tour of the island and set aside some time to explore on our own around this virtually unknown area of West Africa. Lunch will consist of locally-caught fresh fish, prawns and lobsters (all subject to availability)
Overnight at Bafa Resort or similar.
Day 7: Freetown Peninsula - The Estuary or The Place (Tokeh)
Freetown Peninsula - The Estuary or The Place (Tokeh)
After breakfast, depart Banana Island for Tokeh via a stop at Bureh Beach to talk to the guys at Bureh Beach surf club before settling down for a seafood lunch. On your own time depart for Tokeh Beach.
Tokeh is a small coastal village settled on the Western Area Peninsula and has one of the most beautiful beaches Sierra Leone has to offer. Tokeh beach has a backdrop of lush, green mountains and the old wooden pier that runs into the sea makes this place a visual spectacle. You can explore the area or spend your time on the beach or pool area.
Accommodation: The Place or The Estuary
Day 8: Back to Freetown and Depart
This morning you can do some last-minute shopping at one of Freetown’s craft markets for gifts and souvenirs before being transferred to the airport for your trip home!