Discover West Africa on an overland adventure from Dakar to Accra

The quintessential West Africa overland trip, this tour from Dakar to Ghana leaves no cultural, natural or historical stone unturned on its eastbound journey across the continent. Very much off the beaten track, this is a fairly physically demanding tour that involves a lot of camping, hiking and trekking – though the bulk of it is undertaken in a comfortable overland truck. This is grassroots travelling at its very best; where you can really get involved in the communities and local people you meet along the way. Whether experiencing stunning birdlife and witnessing the last populations of West African lions, or getting involved in a community project in Ghana, this West African adventure takes in the best this part of the continent has to offer. From the wonderful and wacky city of Yamoussoukro to relaxing on the many serene beaches along the coast, West Africa is the ideal destination for travellers wanting a different travel experience.

Dakar, Senegal
Accra, Ghana
Ivory Coast,
Sierra Leone
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 18
Group size
Min 6 Max 22
Carbon offset
2 523kg pp per trip



This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2015 to 28 November 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

No ngoolu daa! Welcome to Senegal!
The trip begins with a group meeting at 10am.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
You know when you've arrived in Dakar. Senegal's bustling, cosmopolitan capital bursts with life. This is a city of busy streets, noisy markets, noisy, colourful markets and vibrant nightlife; at first it can seem chaotic but embrace the rhythms of Dakar life and you'll come to appreciate it just as much as the passionate people who live here. In terms of conventional sightseeing, the beautiful Ile de Goree is certainly worth a visit, the bustling centre of the slave trade during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

If you're interested in West Africa culture you should also seek out the Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noir (IFAN) Museum, which has some great displays of show masks and traditional dress from all across the region. Or you may prefer to just wander the streets, browsing the markets and soaking up the atmosphere. Dakar also has a lively arts scene and you should be able to find some great live music here, there are venues all over the city and regular music and film festivals.
Today we head north through the Sahel to the old colonial city of St. Louis, which was formerly the capital of French West Africa. We will have 2 nights here, giving us the opportunity to explore the streets of the old city and take an optional trip to the Langue de Barbarie National Park.
Today we start our overland journey as we head south from Dakar to the small town of Toubakouta, situated close to the Sine-Saloum Delta. Along the way we will stop to see the Great Mosque at Touba and also the Medina Baay Mosque in Kaolack - one of the largest and best-known mosques in Senegal.
The capital of the Kaolack region, the town of Kaolack is an important market town. It is also Senegal's main peanut trading and processing centre, and a major centre of Islamic education. The Medina Baay mosque in Kaolack is one of the largest and best-known in Senegal.
In Toubakouta we will stay in a small, locally-run hotel or campsite.
Situated amongst a maze of mangroves, the tiny town of Toubakouta is one of the most beautiful spots of the Sine-Saloum Delta and is a great place in which to base ourselves for excursions into the Parc National du Delta du Saloum, which teems with wildlife.
The following day we head out to the Sine-Saloum Delta for a pirogue trip in search of the stunning array of birdlife that the Delta area hosts.
The Parc National du Delta du Saloum is a region of great biodiversity, consisting of estuaries, beautiful beaches, mangrove swaps, sand islands, and dunes. The area is rich in animal life and is home to a variety of birds including flamingos, pelicans, herons, gulls, terns, egrets and avocets. We hope to see many of these species as we head out in a pirogue to explore the lush greenery of the delta's labyrinthine waterways.
We head across the border today from Senegal to The Gambia, and to the Tendaba Camp on the Gambia River.
The accommodation at Tendaba Camp is in simple round huts, in the African rondavel style. They are completely made out of natural materials from the bush. The camp is our base for our pirogue trip into Kiang West National Park.
We stay here for two nights and during this time will take an included pirogue trip into Kiang West National Park.
Established as a national park in 1987, Kiang West is now the largest national park in the Gambia. Situated on the south bank of the river it encompasses dry deciduous woodland, savannah, mangrove creeks and tidal flats. Over 300 species of birds have been sighted in the area, including 21 raptors: vultures, harrier eagles, sandgrouse, Blue-breasted, Kingfisher hawks, white-shouldered black tit and falcons. An ideal spot to watch birds is Tubabkollon Point. Also can be seen are the West African Manatee, otters, sitatunga and roan antelopes plus rarer sightings of animals include the hyenas, leopards and dolphins.
We journey into the southern Casamance region of Senegal to spend 3 nights on the beautiful beaches of Cap Skirring, where there will be good opportunities for swimming, biking, fishing, quad-biking and sun-bathing!
Cap Skirring is a town on the Atlantic Ocean coast of the Casamance region of Senegal. It is a popular seaside resort with miles of palm-fringed sandy beaches and warm ocean.
Due to the unpredictable nature of this region, a spare day has been added here to build some flexibility into the itinerary. This day will be used at the discretion of the leader and crew.
We leave our bush camp early and set off on another long drive to reach our destination of Bissau, where we spend two nights in a small, locally-run hotel.
Guinea-Bissau's capital, Bissau, has a laidback vibe. The old Portuguese colonial centre, Bissau Velho, is noted for its charming, washed out, pastel-coloured buildings and bustling backstreet cafes.
From Bissau we journey through Guinea Bissau to northern Guinea. We will spend 3 days driving to reach the town of Labe in the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea.
We will stop for 2 wild camps en route - the first is likely to be just over the border at Kandika, the second is likely to be in the highlands past the village of Seriba. The roads on this section are very challenging dirt roads which take us through some incredibly remote areas.
From Labe we will head off for an included 2 day excursion to the heart of the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea.
The stunningly beautiful Guinean highlands known as the Fouta Djallon, are the traditional lands of the Fula people of Guinea. The highland climate here is cooler than the rest of the country which makes it ideal for walking and hiking.
On the first day we will travel in 4x4 jeeps through very remote country roads to the small rural community of Ainguel (approximately a 4 hour drive). After lunch there will be a short 3-hour trek to a waterfall viewpoint and to the nearby rock bridge ('Pont de Piedre') where we have the change to swim in a beautiful natural lagoon.
On the second day there is a long 8-hour trek through the surrounding hills and villages taking in the incredible scenery. We will stop for a picnic lunch next to a stunning waterfall where we have the opportunity to swim in the lagoon beneath. In the latter stages of the trek, we hope to be able to get to the base of a much larger and incredibly powerful waterfall, although this is dependant on the ground waters having receded enough after the rainy season to make this route passable.
Upon returning after this walk, we will immediately drive back in the 4x4s to Labe to spend the night in our hotel there.
Leaving the Fouta Djallon region behind us, we head south through Guinea to the central town of Mamou.
Tonight we aim to stay in a local guesthouse.
We continue our drive south through Guinea, stopping to wild camp close to the border with Sierra Leone.
We cross the border from Guinea to Sierra Leone where it is time for some well-deserved relaxation on one of the stunning beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. We camp here for two nights.
Today's journey brings us to the capital of Sierra Leone - Freetown - where we stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains, Freetown is the lively capital of Sierra Leone, steeped in history and culture. A British colony in the late 1700s, Freetown became the principal base for the suppression of the slave trade and 1200 freed slaves from Canada came here in 1792 to join the original settlers. There are countless beautiful beaches within a short cab ride form the city centre, and a journey to the hilltops that surround the city provides truly breathtaking views.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Today we head to the Freetown Peninsula for some relaxation on one of the stunning beaches. We camp here for two nights.
Leaving Freetown behind we travel southeast through Sierra Leone towards the Tiwai Island Sanctuary, one of Sierra Leone's largest inland islands. We stay here for two nights sleeping in tents perched on covered platforms.
During our stay we will take a nature walk through the webs of trails that weave through the Tiwai Forest in search of rare and colourful primates.
In the Mende language, Tiwai means 'big island'. It is one of a cluster of islands in the wide, open Moa River, which journeys from Guinea close to the tip of the river Niger, and south through Sierra Leone into the Atlantic Ocean. Tour the river in canoe or motorboat, watching river turtles surface or birds fly overhead. In the evening, take a night tour to search for the elusive and extremely rare pygmy hippopotamus. You can also explore on foot, on the web of trails weaving through the Tiwai forest. If you move silently, you can glimpse some of the most rare and colourful primates in the world, including the Diana and the Colobus monkeys.
Due to the unpredictable nature of this region, a spare day has been added here to build some flexibility into the itinerary. This day will be used at the discretion of the leader and crew.
The next two days are spent travelling north up through Sierra Leone, bush camping as we head towards Kabala. Once in Kabala we will stay in a locally-run hotel.
Kabala is famous for Ronko dyeing, where a shirt or gown is made of strips of country cloth and typically dyed a rusty reddish-brown using local pigments. While in Kabala there may be time to trek in the Wara Wara Mountains that lie just to the north-west of the town. Kabala is also famed as the centre of the cattle-tending area of the largely Muslim north, and its climate puts it among the best sources of fresh produce in the country.
The next few days are spent travelling from Sierra Leone to Guinea, bush camping along the way. Although distances are short, we've allowed a couple of days here as the roads can be tough and unpredictable. At times it is very narrow with deep ruts and corrugations. We may have to ford rivers if the bridges are not strong enough for the truck. This is truly off the beaten track - overlanding through a remote part of West Africa.
Once in Guinea we'll travel through the mid-region, stopping in one of the towns (possibly Gueckedou) on our journey south towards Guinee Forestiere. We will aim to stay in a small hotel or guesthouse.
We reach the forested mountainous region in south-eastern Guinea, and base ourselves here for a couple of nights in the surrounding area. We aim to camp here however might stay in a local guesthouse depending on the facilities in the area. During our time here you have the option of visiting nearby villages to see their famous vine bridges, or just exploring the surrounding area.
Guinee Forestiere is a mountainous forest region in south-eastern Guinea, extending into north-eastern Sierra Leone. Most of Guinea's people live in the forest region, so we will take the opportunity here to trek and explore Guinea on foot, learning about the fascinating culture and people of the region. This area is also rich in flora and fauna, and opportunities abound to trek across savannah, follow trails to the beautiful Soumba waterfalls, and track forest elephants at the Foret Classee de Ziama.
The next couple of days are spent driving from the forest region of Guinea, and across the border into Cote d'Ivoire. One night will be spent bush camping en route and the other we will either camp or stay in a small hotel in Odienne depending on the facilities available.
Odienne lies in the north-west of Cote d'Ivoire and it is known for its large mosque and nearby gold mines. Just to the west of the town is the solitary granite mountain of Deng Ke Le Massif, providing a striking backdrop.
Heading due east to the north-central region of Cote d'Ivoire we travel to the town of Korhogo, where we stay in a small hotel.
The northern town of Korhogo is famed for cloth-weaving, jewellery and antiques. Visiting the surrounding area will give you a fascinating insight into the life of the Senoufo people. Le quartier des sculpteurs is worth a good look around for souvenirs, but be prepared to haggle! Keep an eye out for Korhogo wood sculptures - a traditional art utilised by the Poro secret society.
After a fairly long drive, we arrive into the capital of Cote d'Ivoire, Yamoussoukro. We stay here for two nights in a local hotel, allowing time for you to explore the sites on offer.
The capital of Ivory Coast in name alone, Yamoussoukro was the hometown of long serving post-independence president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny who spent exorbitant amounts of money to make it the new, spectacular capital. Among his grand buildings are the Presidential Palace, where he is buried, and the Basilique De Notre Dame De La Paix. Despite a low percentage of the population actually being Catholic, the president spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the Basilica; almost an exact replica of St Peter's in the Vatican City. The town also boasts six-lane highways that lead nowhere, and grand hotels and monuments on a par with any other capital city in the world, but serving a relatively small settlement of just 250,000 people.
Leaving the capital behind, we head south to the old French colonial capital of Grand Bassam, situated east of Abidjan. We stay here for two nights allowing time to explore the town.
Grand Bassam was originally the French capital of Cote d'Ivoire before being moved due to outbreaks of disease. Explore the old colonial town, watch local artists at work, or kick back and relax on the serene beaches.
Due to the unpredictable nature of this region, a spare day has been added here to build some flexibility into the itinerary. This day will be used at the discretion of the leader and crew.
Today is a long drive day as we cross into Ghana and head to the Atlantic coast and Brenu Akynin, near Elmina. We camp here for two nights at a beach resort, allowing time to visit Elmina Castle and also to get involved with a local community project.
Home to a beautiful natural harbour, Elmina is a busy little fishing town situated on a narrow peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. The main tourist attraction of the town is St George's Castle; sub-Saharan Africa's oldest European structure.
Just outside of the town of Elmina is a small village right on the beach called Brenu Akyinin. The local people here rely heavily on fishing and cultivating coconuts, pineapples and groundnuts to make a living. The one small school here is located just a few metres from Brenu Beach, a stunning location for tourists, but far from ideal for the school children. They are distracted from their studies by the vehicles that pass through the school to access the beach, and often cut class in order to sell goods to the tourists or assist their parents with the farming and fishing. Over the last few years, we have got involved with a local grass-roots charity, the Sabre Trust, which is working to improve education for all of the children here. Originally the school here was in a terrible state of disrepair and extremely under-resourced, but gradually this is beginning to improve. On overland trips we stay in Brenu for at least a couple of nights, allowing us time to get involved in a variety of projects at the school. Depending on your groups skills and the school's needs, you could be getting your hands dirty helping out with small building projects, participating in educational workshops, or even helping with the teaching. Getting involved at the school is a great opportunity to lend a hand and give something back to the local people here, albeit in a small way. It's also a great chance to experience everyday Ghanaian life at first hand, getting to know the local children and their families.
Journey to lush Kakum National Park. Try to spot pygmy elephants, forest buffaloes and colourful birdlife while ambling through the treetops - the canopy walkways are a unique way to experience this tropical rainforest.
The park has a long series of hanging bridges at the forest canopy level known as the canopy walkway giving us a close up experience of the park.

We will stay in a local guesthouse in Kakum for 1 night.
Today we will drive north to Kumasi where we will base ourselves for 2 nights at a local guesthouse, allowing lots of time for exploration of the town and museums. Kumasi is the home of West Africa's largest market and was the centre of the Ashanti Kingdom.
Today's drive takes us to Ghana's capital, Accra, where we stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Accra, Ghana's sprawling capital, is a bustling coastal city with a whole load of beaches that would please even the most discerning sun worshipper. Some of the beaches are more touristy than others and they can all get very busy on Saturdays and Sundays; and whenever you go you should expect to be entertained by an endless stream of musicians and acrobats and pursued by souvenir sellers. Away from the beach, the Perpetual Flame at the Cenotaph in Revolution Square is worth a look, plus the National Museum houses one of the best collections in all of West Africa. Next to the museum you will also find a good craft market, perfect for a bit of souvenir shopping. In the evening you can sample Accra's lively night life, heading out to one of the many bars and restaurants that can be found all over this surprising city.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


Overland vehicle
Bush camp (no facilities) (6 nights), Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nights), Camping (with facilities) (17 nights), Guesthouse (4 nights), Hotel (18 nights), Rondavel (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Nature walk
  • Guided tour of the local cloth weavers
  • Sabre Trust School project, Elmina
  • Elmina Castle
  • Entrance and Rainforest canopy walk, Kakum National Park


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Trip notes

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