Talking about tourism and sustainable destinations means talking about places and countries with virgin forests, with untouched and protected fauna and flora, it means talking about countries blessed by the gods and that should be protected by people.
This is what the people of Guinea Bissau are trying to do. Perhaps because they are mostly animists, they protect and respect nature, the tides, the rains, the trees and the animals that surround them with a reverence that is sometimes missing in the western world.
The country has several natural parks and in the south, there is a beautiful and extensive stretch of fresh water surrounded by two of Guinea-Bissau’s eight rivers: the Corubal River and the Rio Grande de Buba in what is called the Natural Park of Cufada Lagoons, which represents the largest fresh water reserve in Guinea-Bissau. It is therefore classified as a Ramsar site wetland of global importance.
These Cufada lagoons are almost four hours away from Bissau, on a beautiful route that imposes two mandatory stops: the first, at Cussilinta, an area of rock in the Corubal river that creates real jacuzzi pools that invite you to take a refreshing bath; and further on, at Saltinho, a beautiful waterfall that holds the strong current of the Corubal river next to a charming lodge, a former colonial building. The water is cold and clear and the surrounding nature is abundant at any of these stopping points. There we see bare-bodied women bending down to wash clothes, which they lay out to dry on the large black stones, giving a special colour to the scenery.
Continuing always southwards, we follow literally to the end of the road, already in Buba, which ends abruptly on the bank of the Rio Grande of Buba. Here, after paying due attention to the local beauty, we should look for the IBAP house where the park keepers await us to continue to the lagoons of Cufada.
The dirt road (20km), often impassable during the rainy season from May to October, is bordered by large trees and vegetation that doesn’t let us see much beyond our noses. It is a real walk of life that leads us to a village of three or four houses where the kayaks are parked, allowing us to fully enjoy the beauty of the place.
Once again, we follow a road that suddenly ends at the shore, this time of the extensive blue water lagoon flanked by the strong green vegetation that fills our view. A wooden pier continues into the lagoon, flanked by water lilies and one or two canoes anchored there.
The noise of the birds requires concentration to distinguish the various species that roam there. They have many colours and different songs. Above all, they are of enormous beauty.
Once the kayak is in the water, it is time to submerge in the peace that this place offers us. There, only raw nature and us. In the Cufada lagoon, we have to paddle without haste, towards the lookout point on the other side of the lagoon. Another pier, where we pull over and can climb to a picturesque lookout point. Here and there, you can see a lazy canoe passing in search of fish, which are abundant in these waters. You can hear the monkeys in the rush of the day, and you can imagine hippos, crocodiles, antelopes, hyenas and others nearby. They are the inhabitants by excellence of this spot of nature.
We are only here for a short time and we should try to absorb as much of this wonderful environment as possible. Because it’s not every day that this explosion of colours, beauty and nature is within the reach of ordinary mortals like us.
There are places that are sacred by nature. And which are so above all because they are made up of pure nature. This is the case of the Cufada lagoons.