Tour to Guinea Bissau and Archipelago of Bijagos: attending the amazing carnival

Tour to Guinea Bissau and Archipelago of Bijagos: attending the amazing carnival

Carnival is the main festivity in Guinea Bissau.

Carnival is an incredible mix of African and Brazilian traditions and it  goes wild in the afternoon when along the main avenue, colorful masks from different areas and neighborhoods start their parade: sacred masks, fetish priests in traditional costumes, warriors dressed in a crocodile skin and armed with arrows, initiated girls wearing strings of glass beds around their waist and contemporary masks made of papier-mâché. Hours of lively parades turn this carnival into an unforgettable experience, a real “fiesta popular” combining Brazilian influence and tribal African soul.

  • Duration: 9 days
  • Guide: English speaking
Price from 2775 € Send request
Day 1


Arrival in Bissau and transfer to the hotel

Day 2

Tribal carnival

Ful day dedicated to explore the region inhabited by the Manjaco.  We visit tiny villages hidden in the forest to discover sculptured wooden poles called “Pecab”  representing the ancestors spirits, kept in sanctuaries known as “Cab Balugun”. With the permission of the elders, we have the opportunity to admire different styles of sacred wooden sculptures, with different ages and styles: dating back from many generations to contemporary. It’s an unique opportunity to enjoy tribal art still in its original context: the village.

In the afternoon -if confirmed- we will participate to the exciting Tribal Carnival. The carnival consists in a parade of spectacular masks coming from the whole region. It is a unique opportunity to meet fetish priests, dancers and traditional warriors all gathered for one of the most vibrating ceremonies in West Africa.

Day 3

Villages of the flooded forest

A speed boat will take us along the wide Cacheu River to discover the white Pelicans , the Goliath Herons , Egrets, Hamerkop, Storks and Pink Flamingos. We will leave the river for a intriguing navigation in a flooded mangrove forest.  After a few hours we will reach some remote villages hidden on island of a salt swampy region inhabited by Felupes and Baiotes tribes, both part of the Diula ethnic group. These people live in an isolated ecosystem where they farm rice thanks to a complex “tribal technology”  to desalinate the lands.


Day 4

Bissau carnival

Bissau, the capital, is a small but intriguing city with its old Portuguese architecture and its huge fort dating back to  the Slave Trade period. It is in the afternoon that the carnival goes wild: along the main avenue  colorful masks from different areas and different “barrio” (neighborhoods) start their parade: sacred traditional masks, warriors armed with arrows and dressed in a crocodile skin, contemporaneous masks made of papier-mâché, all surrounded by initiated girls only wearing strings of pearls around their waist… Hours of lively parade, turning this carnival into an unforgettable experience, a real “fiesta popular” combining the Brazilian influence with the cheerful African spirit.

Day 5

Bijagos Archipelago

Morning departure by speedboat for a five-day journey in the Bijagos Archipelago to discover remote islands and isolated human settlements.  With a wild and pristine landscapes, genuine tribal culture and an unique fauna, Bijagos is a “geographical jewel”.

Due to the remoteness of the destination, the lack of transportation and the deep attachment to the local traditions, the Bijagos inhabitants have been little influenced by the external world: women still wear the saiya – a traditional skirt made of straw – and the rhythm of village life is given by initiations and secret ceremonies and young men have to go through a seven-year initiation rite during which they live in a “convent” without any contact with women.

The colors of Orango Island will simply fascinate us: the green vegetation, the white sand beaches, the brown rocks and the blue ocean.

Day 6

Secret Islands

Departure to discover small islands and untouched villages, where the arrival of a foreigner is a rare event. We will live our boat on the beach and follow a path in the vegetation.  A walk will bring us to discover a settlement in the forest: larges adobe huts surrounded by a veranda and thatch roofed. Following African tradition we will start the visit paying homages to the traditional chief. The respect of the local rules is the best way to be accepted. With the chief’s permission we will be welcomed to the villages and to the sacred shrines…

Day 7

Matriarcal tribes

Bijagos tribal culture gives an important rule to the women, and is a semi-matriarchal society where has happen that the supreme ruler was a woman.  A forty minutes’ walk will bring us to the sacred village of Okinka Pampa, hosting the graves of the Queens.

Day 8

Island life

Boat excursion passing by Soga Bay with its large colony of pink flamingos. Visit of Bubaque, the largest village in the archipelago and the only one connected to the continent by a ferry once a week. In Bubaque we will find unpaved alleys, a tiny colorful market, local bars and traders. Quite interesting also the ethnographic museum dedicated to the Bijagos culture.


Day 9


Ghost Capital

Departure to Bolama Island , the former capital of Portuguese Guinea from 1871 to 1941, before was moved to Bissau. When the Portuguese left, native people came to live in the town which is now falling apart and partly invaded by tropical vegetation. Today we can witness its large sunny lethargic avenues, its empty squares, its dry fountains, its bush-like gardens and its charming administrative buildings in neo Palladian style. In the Governor’s Palace we can still admire columns in classic style … where are now grazing the goats. Bolama, although inhabited, is plunged in the fairy-tale atmosphere of a ghost town.

In the afternoon, we end our navigation by arriving in Bissau, the actual capital of the country. Here a vehicle will be waiting to take us on a brief tour of this tiny and intriguing capital.

In the evening transfer to the airport for the flight out.

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