The Cantanhez National Park in Guinea Bissau is located in the district of Tombali, in the south of the country, about 250 kilometers from the capital Bissau. To get there the road is in good condition except for the last 60 kilometers that become a terrible but beautiful forest track difficult to access. The Cantanhez forest is the largest remaining in Guinea Bissau and has a wide variety of fauna, flora and landscapes, offering travelers the pleasure of regarding.
Inside the National Park of Cantanhez there are different tabancas or communities. Local farmers live in close contact with chimpanzees. This coexistence and interaction between people and chimpanzees in the same space is not always easy, in fact, it is common to see primates and chimpanzees eating in cultivation areas.
Without a doubt, one of the facts that makes Cantanhez a unique and very special destination is the possibility of seeing different animal species in the surroundings of the local villages.
The day we went for sighting chimps, we woke up very early, it was still night and we walked from Jemberem, where the camp is, to the area of palm trees and forest that the rangers and the locals told us they had seen the chimps climb to the trees to sleep at night. Once we reached the approximate place where the chimpanzees had built their nests for sleepping, we waited in silence for the day to come and then, with the first rays of light, they began to emit their characteristic screams and sounds and to go down of the treetops one after the other. We were at a distance of about 150 meters and we could clearly see the agility and speed of these primates.
Different conservation and ecotourism projects have largely made local communities aware of the importance of preserving the fauna of Cantanhez and the medium-term possibility of receiving income from tourism.
In the town of Jemberem there is the camp U’Anan, a simple but good accommodation well managed by the director of the Cantanhez National Park, which offers different bungalows for 2 or 4 people, in addition to preparing great typical Guinean meals. This Jemberem camp is a great base to visit for many days all that the Cantanhez forest offers us.
In addition to the forest, in Cantanhez it is possible to discover an incredible variety of landscapes such as lakes, mangroves, rivers and palm groves, where the humid forest mixes with fresh and salty waters giving life to a rich flora inhabited by monkeys and chimpanzees, but also more than one hundred species among mammals, fish and birds. Especially numerous are buffalo, chimpanzees, macaques and red and black boars.
One of the best ways to visit the Cantanhez National Park is by a guided bike routes. You can also make routes on foot or by boat to discover the labyrinth of channels and mangroves.
Near Cantanhez we visit Guiledje, a historic place with its two interesting museums about the liberation of Guinea Bissau.
Another visit not to be missed during our trips to Guinea Bissau on the way form Cantanhez National Park, is the Saltinho waterfalls of. Beautiful water rapids surrounded by exuberant vegetation where you can enjoy the peaceful African rural life. You can go for a swim in some of the natural pools in a wonderful experience and see the fishermen throwing the nets or women washing their clothes. Next to these rapids is the Pousada de Saltinho, a really nice place to camp and taste delicious Portuguese recipes with an African touch.
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