I found a paper on dolphin surveys in Guinea-Bissau that showed a large number of sightings, in particular in the Bissagos/Bijagós Islands, with almost as many Humpbacked as Bottlenose, and I recently emailed Tom Clode with Pictus Safaris for advice on seeing it. Tom is a wealth of good information about West Africa and suggested the last week of November/first week of December because the weather is good but it is before the Harmattan gets bad. The Harmattan, I learned, is a dry wind that blows sand from the Sahara dessert across the continent and can be like a mini sandstorm.
The original idea was to try it on my own but it became apparent that the language barrier and lack of eco-tourism infrastructure (other than fishing) would not likely be successful so I asked him for a price quote, which is
1 pax – £5,995
2 pax – £3,500
3 pax – £2,595
4 pax – £2,150
The good news is that Tom has local guides in the Bijagós who see the dolphin regularly and know the best places to try for it. The quote is for seven nights full-board (excl. soft drinks + alcoholic drinks) with exclusive use of a private boat. The plan is to spend some time at the Kere lodge and go from there as needed, i. e. we can camp from the boat on other islands to improve our chances if we want. Having our own boat is the deluxe version of the Bijagós as it obviates waiting for public ferries or repeated negotiations with private lodges/guides, and we can go for the saltwater hippos in Orango, or turtles, or anything we want. It does not include an overnight hotel in the capital city of Bissau but that should be a pretty minor cost.
Catanhez NP is a decent spot for chimpanzees and could be done with some advance planning and probably cost. There are W African Manatees in Guinea-Bissau but Tom says they can be hard to see. Bissau to Ziguinchor, Senegal is about 6 hours overland and from there to the Manatee spot at Pointe St George is pretty straightforward.
It goes without saying there are no guarantees but the guides think we have excellent chances of finding it. And it’s more fun with a group of like-minded people.