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Guinea

Guinea will propose you sightseeing tours that won’t typically see on regular tourist circuits. This country offers extraordinary landscapes, and unforgettable human encounters. Guinea, also known as Guinea-Conakry (do not confuse with Bissau, Equatorial and New Guinea) is a coastal country located in the west of Africa. Guinea Conakry is described as the water tower of West Africa because the major rivers of the continent (Senegal, Gambia, and Niger) take their source in this country.

 

Rugged and heavily watered country, Guinea is divided into four major natural regions: Guinea-Maritime or Lower Guinea, which runs along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean; Middle Guinea, a mountainous region that includes the Fouta Djallon massif; Upper Guinea, savanna zone in the north; in the southeast, Forest Guinea. Each region has its own climate, fauna, flora, and historical and cultural traditions.

Conakry, the capital, is a coastal town in Lower Guinea. Its historic center is located on Tombo Island connected to the mainland by a dike.  Conakry is home to 2.5 million inhabitants out of nearly 10 million registered in the country. The rest of the Guinean population lives mainly in rural areas (70%).

The Guinean coastline has a great diversity of landscapes. Off the coast of Conakry, the Loos Islands have fine white sand beaches. In the Boffa prefecture, 225 km from Conakry, Bel Air beach with its seven kilometers of fine white sand, bordered with coconut trees is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches of the West African coast.

Between Conakry and Boffa, the Bay of Sangareyah is characterized by its mangrove forest crossed by navigable seawater. Along the coast you will find many slave sites, vestiges of the slave trade: Fotoba Penitentiary (Conakry), Dominya and Farinyah (Boffa), and Fortin de Boké.

In Middle Guinea, the mountainous massif of Fouta Djalon is one of the very few peaks in West Africa. The highest peak is Mount Nimba culminating at 1752 m. It is also the place where the Niger River has its source precisely at Kobikoro (Faranah prefecture). An escapade to the Badiar National Park will also be an opportunity to discover the cemeteries of first white missionaries.

Nearby, Sankarani Park is one of the few virgin forests in the region. Middle Guinea is inhabited by the Peuls (Fula people or Fulani). Soussous live in Lower Guinea, Malinke in Upper Guinea, Guerzé, Tomas and Kissis in Guinée Forestière. Upper Guinea and Guinée Forestière are home to national parks and forest reserves that are worth visiting especially for their wildlife. For example, white elephants can be seen in the forest of Ziama in Macenta (Guinée Forestière).

The best season for a trip to Guinea is the dry season, from November to April. From December to February, the Harmattan season starts (dry and dusty northeasterly trade wind which blows from the Sahara Desert over West Africa into the Gulf of Guinea).

The rainy season from March to October, very intense, should be avoided. Guinea offers beautiful and varied landscapes: paradisiacal beaches of the coast, peaks, cliffs and lakes of Middle Guinea, stunning natural beauty of forest Guinea …

The country is also rich in a naturally welcoming and warm population. Buses and minibuses serve all the cities of the country. For shorter distances, bush taxis are faster and more economical. It is always possible to rent a car in Guinea (a 4×4 is preferable) but avoid driving during nighttime. It is always better to keep your papers with you because police or military checkpoints are frequent.

Art and culture in Guinea

Traditional and modern music is very important in Guinean culture. Enjoy a concert made by the National Orchestra of Guinea which plays with authentic African instruments, such as the djembe (rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum), the kora (Mandinka harp built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator with a long hardwood neck) or the balafon (kind of wooden xylophone).

The dance performance of the National Ballet of Guinea is also worth seeing.  Traditional musical instruments can be found on local markets, as well as colorful loincloths, rugs, wood carvings, pottery, woven leather items, and calabashes.

What to visit in Guinea

The paradisiac beaches of the coast and the landscapes of the Fouta Dalon and the Niger River must be seen. It is also necessary to visit the slave sites located in lower-Guinea and more particularly Forté de Bokin and its labyrinths taking the slaves to the ships for unknown destinations.  

The main cities to see are: Conakry (the capital), Dalaba (in the mountains of Fouta Djalon), Kankan (spiritual capital of the Malinke people) and Boké (where former slave traders established themselves)

Gourmet specialties in Guinea

Main ingredients are: rice, cassava, corn and yam. In Guinea, all dishes are usually served with rice, spicy or not. Cassava can be cooked with fish or meatballs. The cassava is cooked in puree, shaped into large balls accompanied by peanut sauce.

Jollof rice, chicken stuffed with peanut butter, couscous mixed with fermented milk, taro, and bananas loko are traditional dishes. For dessert, you can try bould akassa (or kagna), a pastry made from peanut paste, corn flour, rice or fonio with powdered sugar.

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