Disclaimer: I’m not a professional kayaker.

We’re just 2 slightly crazy people with little else but each other, some weed and a blow up boat bobbing around out of the way islands with only God and a smile to look after us.  Ignorance is our mother of adventure.

That said i’ve been tripping out long before the guide books sold the hippy havens to ‘backpackers’ and the web makes trip research a lot easier. Mumy’s a core Salone woman and much accomplished at getting round West Africa on a wing and a prayer.

Google Earth throws God’s green wide open … so here’s what we found …

From where the water ends to where the trees start can be a very long way depending on the tide, so the ideal is to arrive and leave around high tide.

Porting the water from the water

to the trees

still porting

still porting...

almost there ...

and back again

The tide ebbs and flows VERY quickly. A few times we found ourselves racing an ebb tide to avoid a several kilometer wade through the mud. There’s a lot of sandbanks/mud. The mud can be deep – too deep to walk through. In mangroves and river mouths it can be hard to find routes at low tide.

Sand banks aren't shown on maps or satellite pics

and there's a lot of mud in places

Orangozinho and the river. Nowhere to camp in the mangroves

Fresh water was a major consideration.I never realised how much salt dried skin can itch. If we wanted to sleep we had to wash. There are some springs on the coast but most of the wells are in the villages, a few kilometers from the sea.

Villages central/south Orangozinho

Getting to the villages for supplies means finding the path

Uite village, Bijagos

Supplies need ported back...

.. through the bush.

A solid study of Google Earth combined with a 1947 off the web map gave a good idea of where the possible camp sites, villages and paths to them were. I couldn’t find any decent maps to buy so I took screenshots and laminated them. What this didn’t give was any real idea of what things were like at low tide.

US/Portuguese map. The place names are way out but gives an idea of locations and paths.

We never actually found a path to a village ourselves. We just worked out the likely area a village would use as sea access and hung out till someone turned up and helped us. Folk were great and spread the love …