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Bijagos Archipelago Trips

  • Photo by Bruno Zanzottera

Lying off the coast of Guinea Bissau, the UNESCO listed Bijagos Archipelago is made up of 88 small islands which are noted for their extreme beauty and importance to wildlife. The Bijagos are the epitome of a tropical island paradise; pristine, deserted white-sand beaches line shores which give way to an interior made up of coconut palms, tropical forest and the occasional small village of thatched mud-wall houses.

Different islands have different things to attract the adventurous traveller. Bolama is the closest island to the mainland and is also the name of the island’s main town. Bolama town was once the capital of Portuguese Guinea; deprived of this prestigious status in 1941, the buildings in the once grand town have been slowly decaying ever since. Today, parts of the town have an eerie, derelict feel as the jungle slowly reclaims its territory.

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Over on Rubane Island, pristine beaches are a wonderful place to adjust your pace to island life while on Orango, it is the rare salt-water hippos which are the main attraction. Usually favouring fresh water, on Orango, a large colony of hippos live amongst the mangrove. On tiny, uninhabited Cavalos Island, it is the birds who steal the show. The island is the second most important breeding site for birds in West Africa and is home to African fish eagles and more than 19,000 pairs of terns.

Poilao is an important nesting site for Green turtles. A sunset visit to the beach may reward visitors with the site of a female turtle hauling herself out of the sea and digging a deep hole in which to lay her clutch of eggs. Covering them over, she will then return to the water, leaving the baby turtles to develop. Later in the season, you may be lucky enough to be present when the baby turtles hatch. The young turtles make their way to the water which will be their home for many years to come, before some of them return to lay eggs on the same beach some 25 to 30 years later.


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