Tour to Senegal & Guinea Bissau: Special Carnival – Travel with the Photographer

Catherina Unger – travel photographer

Photography is the way I express myself, my way of story-telling. Stories about distant countries, people and cultures. I would love that, watching my pictures, the observer finds something familiar even in the exotic, feels to be part of this one unique humanity and opens the view to the beauty of our world.”

Of the late 70’s I remember afternoons after school passed in the darkroom of my father’s studio, photographer in Eastern Germany. With my first camera, a Russian model, I photographed scenes of the forests and snowy hills around my home. Or I captured the mountains of Romania, the views of the Bulgarian Black Sea and the street corners of Leningrad during the travels of my childhood.

I very early found my passion for traveling, my insatiable curiosity for foreign cultures and my deep love for the nature. Soon I began to explore the world and traveling became my profession.

Photography has always had a fix place in my life – my free time is reserved for explorations with my camera in the surroundings and abroad. The travels take me to the most enchanting places of Italy and all over the world. But it is the African continent I feel particularly connected with, its wild, pristine nature moves me deeply: desserts, forests, untamed rivers, wild animals, wide landscapes, big skies, bright stars. The warmth and the hospitality of its people open my heart. Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Egypt, Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe: dozens of unforgettable journeys, every single one unique.

My photos are available through one of the most important agencies specialized in travel photography (http://www.awl-images.com/search?s=catherina+unger). My works are regularly published in guidebooks, magazines and calendars. And there are some photographic projects which have been particularly important for me. There is my photographic book about wine and wine making in the Cinque Terre. A project especially precious to me is a reportage of an integration project of refugees: 7 men, refugees from different sub-Saharan African countries learn the repairing of dry-stone walls in the Cinque Terre.

  • Duration: 13 days
  • Guide: English, Italien, German
Price from 3 330 € Send request
Day 1

Dakar

Welcome to Senegal!

Visit to the lively capital Dakar which is the center of political, artistic and intellectual “renouveau” since independence time. Visit of the “Plateau” district, the Governor Palace and some interesting markets as Kermel built in pure colonial style.

 

Day 2

Ile de Gorèe

By ferryboat we reach the charming Island of Gorèe, Unesco World Heritage site.

Walking in Gorèe is a pleasure, take your time strolling through the tiny stone paved alleys of the historical settlement among pastel facades, baobab trees, flowering gardens, art galeries and colonial buildings.

But the history of Gorée is less bright: slaves used to be crammed and then shipped to the Americas. The town is totally restored to bear witness of those ancient times, however thanks to the nice breeze, the ancient architecture, the many restaurants and boutiques; Gorèe today has become a very pleasant and trendy location. Especially the sunset offers beautiful occasions for great pictures.

 

Day 3

Lac Rose – Kayak

Back to Dakar we drive to Lac Rose, a shallow saltwater lake surrounded by dunes. The water is ten times saltier than in the ocean and thanks to the high concentration the lake often shimmers pink. More than 600 workers here collect salt in the traditional way.

On the coast we visit the largest fishermen man village of Senegal, more than 4500 wooden painted pirogues come to the shore everyday with their catch. We will witness fishermen selling their catch to the local market women, meet artisans craving the large pirogues and painters decorating them with bright colors.

Day 4

Saint Louis – Unesco World Heritage site

Saint Louis is a charming old town on an island between the Senegal river and the ocean.

It was the first capital of West Africa French colonies. The best way to visit the narrow streets of the town is by calash, as locals do, and walk in the fisherman quarters. You’ll have time to stroll and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this old town with its beautiful colonial buildings. We will spend the night in a historic hotel of the town – built in 1895 and now fully renovated – it was here that all Aero- postale pilots used to stay.

Day 5

Fulani People

We procede our journey to the Ferlo Desert to discover the arid region where nomadic Fulani tribes herds large droves of zebu.

The Fulani (also called Peulh) are the largest tribe roaming West Africa’s savannahs, living in a vast area from Senegal to Chad. Their origins are still covered with mystery but they all share a common and aristocratic cult for beauty and elegance.

In the afternoon a local guide will join us for a visit to the neighboring villages and shelters. When the herds come back, we might even be invited to witness the milking process.

Day 6

Joalh Fadiout & Delta Sine Saloum (Unesco World Heritage)

We stop in Joal-Fadiouth, two villages connected by a bridge. Of special interest in Fadiouth is the fact that is has been buildt on sea shells, that are also used for the construction of the buildings and decoration. Even the cemetery is located on one of the islands made of sea shells and surpri- singly has both Muslim and Christian tombs next to each other.

In the afternoon we reach the area of the Sine Saloum Delta and in the evening we will be spectators of the popular Senegalese wrestling show. This sport is a type of folk wrestling traditionally performed by the Serer people and now a national sport in Senegal and parts of The Gambia.

Day 7

Delta Sine Saloum

A day to explore the Delta, walk in the villages, make a short boat ride or just relax at the beautiful lodge.

 

Day 8

Sine Saloum – Ziguinchor

After witnessing the sunrise in the Delta we drive to Sine Ngayene to see the famous Stone Cir- cles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which consists of 52 circles of standing stones, including one double circle.

In all, there are 1102 carved stones on the site. Around 1km to the east, (outside the inscribed property) is the quarry from which the monoliths were extracted and where the sources of around 150 stones can be traced. The site was excavated around 1970. The work established that the single burials appeared to precede in time the multiple burials associated with the stone circles.

After we cross the Gambia river and proceed to Ziguinchor.

Day 9

The Casamance and the Diola People

Leaving the main road of Casamance we will visit an adobe-fortified building still inhabited by a large patriarchal Diola family, a very interesting example of traditional African “sculptural archi- tecture”. These fortified houses, where light comes from a central hole in the roof, are known as “impluvium houses” and had the function to protect its dwellers from attacks.

Afterwards we will be received by the king of a Diola Kingdom. After the ufficial salutations the king, who is also the high priest holding both political and mystical power, will answer our questions about the traditional rules in Diola society.

Later, we will attend a mask performance. These masks leave  the sacred forest to dance for an enthusiastic local crowd. Masks are part of the animistic Diola culture and Malinka traditions – people fear and respect masks, considering them spirits who play an important role in solving conflicts between villagers

 

Day 10

Guinea Bissau and the Felupe People

After crossing the border to Guinea Bissau we will leave the main road for a hike. We will walk in a unique landscape of streams, salt swamps, flat lands and rice farms. In this remote environment, some gigantic Kapok and Baobab trees give shade to tiny human settlements of Felupes.

These people live in an isolated and flooded ecosystem where they farm rice thanks to a complex “tribal technology” to desalinate the soil. People live in adobe huts built in a unique architectural style: clay “buildings” surrounded by a shady veranda and covered with large and tall thatch roofs with garrets for the aeration.

With luck we will be able to witness some special dancing performances of the Felupe people. 

Day 11

Bijagos Arcipelago

Aboard a speedboat, we explore the magic archipelago of the Bijagos islands starting with Bolama, the former capital. After the Portuguese left, native people came to live in this town which is now falling apart, partly invaded by tropical vegetation. It was built following the plans of a «Castrum Romanae» but today we find large sunny and lethargic avenues, empty squares, dry fountains, bush like gardens. In the Governor’s Palace we can still see the classic columns now surrounded by grazing goats. Although inhabited, this capital town is now plunged in the fairy-tale atmosphere of a ghost town.

Arrival to Rubane island where we check in at the best lodge in the archipelago. Afternoon free to enjoy the sandy beach, the pool or discover the island with a local guide.

Day 12

Bijagos Islands

Morning visit of Soga Island. Due to the remoteness, the lack of transports and the deep attachment of the locals to their traditions, the Bijagos tribes have been little influenced by the external world. Life in the villages is characterized by initiations, rites, and secret ceremonies.

In some villages, the young men go through a seven-year initiation rite in a “convent” with no contact with women. With its wild and idyllic landscapes and genuine tribal culture, the Bijagos Archipelago is a “geographical jewel”. Life is still ruled by the “cycle of seasons”. During the   long dry season, when harvest is over, the main ceremonies take place.

We will see if there is any special event going on during our visit on one of the islands.

Day 13

Carnival in Bissau

Speedboat ride back to the capital Bissau in time for witnessing the colorful Carnival procession in the afternoon.

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