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Imagine being in the Heart of Guinea

CONAKRY – two full days of welcome and orientation (days 1-3)

Conakry campusYour excitement mounts as you descend into this vital city of 5 million.  As you exit the tiny airport, you are struck by the warm air, dimly lit streets and joyous, boisterous, and vibrantly clothed people everywhere you look.  Is it some sort of special festival?  No, it’s Conakry…welcome to Guinea, welcome to AFRICA!  We greet you with warm hugs and whisk you off to the Mansare family compound, where your entire 25 member host team has been anxiously awaiting your arrival.  You are lovingly greeted by members of your new family, your drum instructors, dance instructors, cooking team, neighbors, and neighborhood children, lots and lots of children!  We help you settle into your simple comfortable accommodations…here we will take a full 2 days to acclimatize to the weather and time change by walking through the neighborhood,  visiting markets,  working with the tailors, having our first dance and drum classes, and orienting and preparing you  for the full 3 week voyage in front of us.

TRAVEL – 1 full day of traveling into the heart of Guinea (day 3)

on the road to inlandThe day to travel inland has come, and you are ready.  As you board the bus with our 12 member travel team of artists and hosts along with drums, pots and pans, tents and water bottles, you can see clearly that you are about to experience something amazing and rare that few others will ever have a chance to experience.  Along the 10 hour journey through 3 of the 4 natural and ethnic regions, you note the riches and diversity of this country … tropical beaches, elevated cooler pine forests, and finally dry grasslands and ancient hardwood forests as we arrive in Faranah.  Tired and full from the day of travel, we check into the hotel, have a bite to eat, and dive into bed.

FARANAH –1 day of exploration and 3 days of festival (days 4-7)

You wake up ready to explore Faranah, the capital of Sankaran, visit the family of Faduba Oularé (famous drummer) and Mamady Kourouma (famous dancer), view the great Niger River, and perhaps venture into Haute Niger National Park to see the Chimpanzees!

For the next 3 FULL days you are mesmerized, entertained, educated and touched deeply by more than 400 traditional cultural personalities, traditionalists, storytellers, artists, musicians, dancers, hunters, fetishers, sorcerers and masks  from all different corners of Guinea AND from countries such as Mali, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso,  and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

Dundunba at the Festival du Faranah

The ‘Festival de Musiques Traditionnelles et de Contes’ is a special and unparalleled opportunity to witness a wide range of ancient, authentic and sacred African tradition, ceremonies, rituals, folklore and art intact and unaltered by western development.  You pinch yourself to see if this is all really happening…though attended by thousands of Guineans, you are surprised to find that you are one of the only foreigners in attendance and think to yourself that this festival is an unknown and hidden treasure;  you are so incredibly lucky and honored to be here!  You know your life will be forever altered out of experiencing this deep diverse montage of the life and culture of the cradle of humanity.

KISSIDOUGOU & DEMBAYARA – a full week of living, dancing, and drumming in the village (days 8-14)

Just 2 hours further in country from Faranah we arrive in the city of Kissidougou ("place of refuge” in the local language Kissi), descend the bus, climb on some motor taxis, and head for the remote natal village of our host family Mansare, Dembayara.  You are already eagerly prepared for this simple, fresh, and natural week of living in huts, drinking well water, dancing in the dirt, savoring village cuisine, connecting to local tradition, and delving into song, music, dance and joy as you have never experienced!  How exciting to add in expert local talent to our already amazing teaching staff!  Each day is better than the last as you unwind and soften into the community of family and hosts, learning about their lives of cultivation, fishing and hunting, and hear stories of life 800+ years ago…you cannot believe that you get to live and travel with this amazingly well connected and revered Mansare family.

KANKAN – a day of exploring the capital of eastern Guinea (days 15-16)

Ngris-ngris in KankanKnown for its Universities, kola nuts, its religious scholars, ‘ngris-ngris’ markets (traditional magic ‘medicine’ supplies), the Milo River, one of the oldest mosques in all of West Africa, and perhaps most importantly, tons and tons of Mangos, no visit to Haute Guinea would be complete without a day in Kankan.  We are sure to connect and learn from several well-known and traditional artists here!

HAMANAH REGION:  KOUROUSSA, BARO, KOUMANA, SANGBARALA – 4 days soaking in the rich traditions of the birthplace of the Dundunba (days 16-19)

Mining for GoldAs we round the corner into the final week of this trip, we come ‘home’ to what many people call the birthplace of all of the Malinke music and dance that we love so much…the Hamanah Region.  You know it is an absolute honor to stay in Kouroussa and visit some of the surrounding historic villages such as Baro, Koumana, Sangbarala, the home of extraordinary artists such as Fodoba Keita, Famoudou Konate, Daouda Kourouma, Sékou Konaté , Nankouria Moudou Keita, Mansa Kamio and so, so many more.  You can feel the centuries of tradition and history, and it somehow empowers and deepens your artistry.  Sacred Fromager TreesHere you are beside yourself with the opportunity to at long last be able to study this art in its proper cultural context.   We work with a local Dundunba drum and dance company, observe local festivities, and take part in a giant Dundumba celebration.   We take the opportunity to visit a fascinating tour of an African gold mine, and on the way back, we stop to sit and appreciate the sacred ‘Fromager’ or ‘Kapok’ trees…900 years old and 200 feet tall,  you wish you could see all that these trees have witnessed. 

TRAVEL TO CONAKRY – a day of travel through the Fouta Djallon and back to coastal Guinea (day 20)

Leave Kouroussa, pass through Dabola, Mamou, Kindia, Coyah and finally arrive back to our home in Conakry.

CONAKRY – one last day at our family’s home to celebrate all that we have experienced! (day 21)

some of our teaching staffHappy to rejoin our incredible team in our Conakry campus, we celebrate and share all that we have learned and experienced.  What an incredible journey…never to be forgotten.  During our last dance and drum classes, you find yourself proud to show what you have learned on this incredible adventure.  The connections you have made to the heart of Guinea, Haute Guinea, show up in mysterious ways in your art making… and you look forward to heading home and sharing about the far away and oh so real world of Guinea, West Africa.

Join us for the trip of a lifetime.
Space is limited so sign up for your Inland Guinea Villages trip today!