Guinea-Bissau is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. This former Portuguese colony may be one of the smallest countries in continental Africa, but it is just as rich in things to do as any other nation, offering a great mix of culture and nature. It is divided into eight main regions, each with its own unique offerings. Bolama-Bijagos, which lies off the coast of mainland Guinea-Bissau, is made up of several islands boasting stunning white sand beaches. The region is also home to the country’s ancient capital, where fascinating ruins can be found.
The modern capital of Bissau also has its own tourist draws, like the beautiful presidential palace, João Vieira Beach, and the Poilão National Maritime Park. The Portuguese quarter is a great place to get a feel for what it was really like during colonial times. Guinea-Bissau’s natural landscapes provide adventurous travelers plenty to do on organized expeditions of the nature parks.
With the Bijagós Archipelago only 25 miles off Guinea-Bissau’s coast, it is fairly easy to explore the country’s small islands, many of which are untouched by civilization. Fishing is a popular activity especially in the Bijagós area, where jacks, snappers, tarpon, cobias, barracudas, and sharks abound. The forested areas are great for wildlife viewing and trail walking while the famous João Veira Islands are a popular turtle-spotting location. Cantanhez Natural Park in Jamberem is perfect for eco-tours and is frequented by travelers who want to see elusive chimpanzees. A few miles from Bissau is the largest animal sanctuary in Western Africa, known as the River Zoo Farm, which offers even more opportunities for wildlife watching.
Trekking through the thick forests with a side of bird-watching is also possible, as the country is rich in various species of rare birds (like the emerald starling). Game-shooting in the jungles is also quite popular, especially in Bolama and Bubaque.
Continent Tours and Palace Travel are two of the best African tour specialists that offer packages and adventure activities in destinations throughout Guinea-Bissau. These often include city tours of the capital as well as the ancient town of Bolama, island-hopping in the Bijagós Archipelago, museum trips, as well as shopping in the colorful markets.
Short boat cruises around the islands and lazing around on the beaches are also a great way to waste time in Guinea-Bissau. Continent Tours and Palace Travel offers cultural tours and great opportunities to meet and commune with the locals for a round of a traditional mask dance and other ethnic rituals and traditional presentations.