Okay, so Guinea might not be the stuff bucket lists are made of. Tarnished by the Ebola crisis and long-term political instability, it is a country most people stay away from. But for travellers who like being far, far from the beaten track, Guinea has many enticements.
A land of remote hills, virgin rainforests and plunging waterfalls, this wild, West African nation is home to some mesmerising landscapes. If you like to immerse yourself in Mother Nature, you’ll love Guinea.
But don’t expect an easy time of it. The country has been mired in political instability and outbreaks of violence, and it was here that the first person died from Ebola in 2014. It is also an exceptionally poor country and beyond the capital, Conakry, it is not an easy place to travel: corruption is rife and the ubiquitous military checkpoints intimidating.
Conakry is a lot of fun, though. The city has a lively nightlife and a reasonable number of international standard restaurants serving predominantly French cuisine. Its hotel scene is hardly blazing a trail – accommodation ranges from small guesthouses to slightly run down international chains – but the city has a certain charm.
If chaotic Conakry wears you thin, hop on a ferry to Iles de Los, a small archipelago floating just off the coast. The antitheses to the bustling capital, these islands are blessed with clean sandy beaches, simple guesthouses and a relaxed vibe, which feels a world away from Conakry.
Beyond the capital Guinea is rarely visited by tourists due to the difficulty in getting around. Public transport is crowded, uncomfortable and slow, but avoids hassle from police officers, which you are likely to attract if driving your own car.
Guinea certainly isn’t for everyone, but those with a curious mind and sense of adventure will be richly rewarded.