Guinea Travel Guide
Known recently as Ground Zero for one of the worst Ebola outbreaks in recent memory, Guinea isn’t exactly at the top of many people’s travel lists. However, it is important to note this outbreak has ended according to the WHO. This means there is no risk of active transmission of this disease as of the writing of this article.
There is nothing this nation needs more right now than direct foreign investment, and tourism has an important role to play in its recovery. With a lack of fellow visitors, its amazing cultural sights, waterfalls, wildlife parks, and paradise beaches are all blissfully empty, making it a destination of interest for the adventurous traveler.
Currency: Guinean francs
Languages: French, various indigenous languages
What To Do
Shortly after arriving in Conakry, spend some time at Sandervalia National Museum. Those expecting a significant collection here will be disappointed, as this institution has declined measurably over the years, but it still contains a few key artifacts and crafts which tell the story of this nation’s various tribes.
With many of its pieces going missing over the years, the focus of the Sandervalia Museum has shifted to supporting Conakry’s art community. As such, you may happen upon an art exhibition during your visit; be sure to ask the staff if anything is coming up during your time in the capital city.
Although this religious landmark currently does not allow visitors, making a trip over to the Grand Mosque of Conakry is still worth it for the photo ops it provides. Built in 1982 with assistance from Saudi Arabia, it is one of the largest mosques in sub-Saharan Africa, boasting the ability to hold more than 12,000 people at capacity.
Situated within a short boat ride from Conakry, the Iles de Los is the best-loved beach getaway in Guinea. Despite being known as a place for rest and relaxation, these isles also had historical significance as a transit point during the slave trade.
However, chances are good that you’ll love this place for its dense palm groves and its beautiful beaches, so if Western Africa is starting to take its toll on you, be sure to visit this place when you are in the area.
Waterfall fans will want to check out Les Cascades De La Soumba, as it is another of Guinea’s underappreciated natural gems. Situated a short distance north of Conakry, these tiered waterfalls are at their most impressive shortly after the end of the wet season in November, though they remain a stunning sight throughout most of the year.
With swimming permitted and a restaurant on-site, it is feasible to spend a full day here, while those wanting to stay even longer will be happy to learn that there is accommodation available here as well.
Looking for a real adventure during your time in Guinea? Then chart a course for Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve. A UNESCO World Heritage Site that protects one of the few mountain ranges that can be found in Western Africa, it rises steeply from the surrounding savannah.
The montane forests on its slopes are home to a stunning biodiversity of flora and fauna, as 317 different species of fauna can be found in its various microclimates, including a rare variety of chimpanzee capable of designing and using stone tools, and the viviparous toad, an endangered species that only lives in highest altitude zones of Mount Nimba.
What to Eat
When it comes to fuelling the daily activities of everyday people in Guinea, Fufu is the food that drives the majority of them. A thick porridge served as a side at virtually every meal, it is made by boiling cassava root until it is malleable enough to be mashed into a thick, dough-like consistency.
Served with dipping sauces, it is easy to find at local restaurants, so be sure to try some during your time here.
If you like getting your starch in a more familiar form, then buy a loaf of Tapalapa Bread from one of many vendors out on the streets of Guinea’s cities and towns.
Somewhat different than bread derived solely from wheat flour, Tapalapa Bread is made from a mix of maize, wheat, millet, and cowpea flour. This allows locals to get their daily loaf at a price which is far more reasonable than traditional baguettes, but be sure to ask around for trusted providers, as some makers have been criticized for their unhygienic practices.
Looking for a sweet treat which also makes for a great side at dinner time? Be sure to get some Patates to go with your meal when you eat local in Guinea. Sweet potatoes which are sliced and then fried, they are essentially the same as the wedges you get with your burger back home, only for a much lower cost.