WEST AFRICA BY BICYCLE
There is so much of interest in West Africa we tend to wander from country-to-country from year-to-year -- either heading for a destination where people have expressed an interest or heading to a country we have been to recently so we can keep up with old friends and make new ones..
For those who love to interact with people and gain a better understanding of the world when they travel, the Bicycle Africa offers several cross-cultural programs in West Africa each year: "Sahel Journey" (in the interior) and "West Africa People-to-People" (on the coast). Each two-week itinerary is unique (see below). We generally offer one interior and one coastal program, back-to-back each year. The destination can change from year to year. Consecutive programs are easily combined for a more extensive trip (full schedule).
All of West Africa is very rich in cultural and history. We select from the best. Participants have the opportunity to stay in rural villages, learn about daytoday life, meet artisans, health care personnel, educators and government officials and visit historic and cultural sites. Those who continue on to the coast can celebrate by relaxing on the beach.
Highlights of the Mali program are visits to Mopti and Djenne, the fascinating enclave of the Dogon people, with its many sacred sites and a truly extraordinary riverboat trip on the Niger River. A few of the special features of the programs in the coastal countries are the variety of ethnic groups, visits to museums and markets, historic sites, traditional shrines and countless warm and welcoming rural villages.
SAHEL JOURNEY (West Africa Interior)
The West African Sahel is the broad savannah that runs along the southern edge of the
Sahara. Bisecting the region is the Niger River -- 'The Strong Brown God' -- Africa's
third longest river and the life blood of central West Africa. Since the time of the great
Mali and Songhai empires the Sahel has been the crossroads of West African trade. It is
still hosts to people from all corners of the compass. On a market day it is not unusual
to meet people from Senegal to Cameroon or from the Mediterranean Sea to the Bight of
Benin. Proud Hausa, Djerma, Fulani, Wolof and Tuareg people regularly travel throughout
the vast region -- each with their own traditions and distinctive culture. These, and
other more sedentary ethnic groups, like the Dogon, represent some of Africa's most
complex societies and most resistant to the imposition of Western institutions. The Sahel
has a beauty and power all its own. We will share the road with camels, donkeys, sheep and
horses. Routes are varied among Mali,
Burkina Faso and Niger, and are generally
scheduled for October-November. The schedule
is mostly driven by a combination of weather and agricultural cycle. After the
end of the rainy season (May-Oct) is harvest time. The further you get into dry
season the less interesting the fields and the stronger the harmattan winds
(creating high altitude dust that turns the sky grey). The dirt roads get
dustier as well.
WEST AFRICA PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE (West Africa Coast)
After a visit to vibrant West Africa you will realize how much Africa touches our Western lives. From these shores flow rubber, coffee, cocoa, coconut, pineapples, palm oil, gold, diamonds and many other resources. The men and women who produce these goods are a fascinating mix of peoples: some traditional, some 'modern', and many seem to be caught in between. Their ethnic diversity forms a unique collage of cultures. Each has its own language, customs, history and lore. This is the source of the expressive religion, music and art that was exported with three centuries of slaves. Grim slave forts, now powerful historical museums, still dot the coast.
You will have the opportunity to meet and share ideas with traditional villagers, urbanites, university students and government officials. The countries of West Africa are filled with contrasts, they beckon comparisons and offer the study of a thousand disciplines. Westerners who sit and 'cut rice' ('break bread' -- eat) in West Africa leave with a treasure. Programs are generally in October-December, and alternate between Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Liberia and Ivory Coast. The schedule is mostly driven by a combination of weather and agricultural cycle. After the end of the rainy season (April-Oct) is harvest time. The further you get into dry season the less interesting the fields and the stronger the harmattan winds (creating high altitude dust that turns the sky grey). The dirt roads get dustier as well.
Unique Programs To Special Places For Memories Of A Lifetime!
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