Featured image by TransAfrica.biz
This is a guest post by Chris Buckwell, a seasoned traveller from Kent, UK who has travelled extensively around Africa. He is also a soprano saxophonist who has performed in many of the African countries he’s visited. Chris shares his thoughts with us about two of his favourites; Guinea-Bissau and the Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.
“In my lifetime I have visited 21 of the 50+ African states, plus the Spanish Ceuta. Every country of course has unique qualities but I would encourage travellers to consider visits to some of the smaller and less well-know states:
- Guinea-Bissau has faced difficult times and continues to do so. However it is a beautiful country. Every February it holds the equivalent of the Rio carnival; where spectacular floats are prepared from all parts of the country. The real jewels of Guinea-Bissau are its islands; Islas Bijagos. I have been to The Maldives and the Bijagos are much better in comparison. You can cycle the length of Bubaque, from Bubaque village to Praia de Bruce, which is such a fantastic experience. On Bolama even the old cemetery is interesting, with affixed photos of late Portuguese colonial residents perfectly preserved due to the climate. The African Queen ship undertakes weekly island cruises from November to April. You arrive at a different island each morning. The mainland is also fascinating. The music in Bafata, the creeks full of oyster roots and the enormous crop of cashew nuts are wonderful attributes. There are direct flights from Lisbon and from all over Europe with Air Maroc, via Casablanca. Bissau and some of the islands have good hotels.
- Talking of islands, the Republic of Sao Tome and Principe are outstanding. It is accessible by flights from Lisbon, Accra, Libreville, Malabo and Cameroon. The country is named after its two main islands. Both have excellent hotels and wonderful terrain. The country offers the warmest welcome to visitors and you can explore the luxuriant green areas of both islands and visit the former plantations, learning about both cocoa and coffee. Luxurious chocolate is produced locally and is widely available to purchase. Navetur is a superb local travel company who can arrange great tours and the main Pestana hotel is excellent; I stayed there in January. The music of Sao Tome is also to be experienced.”