“Few would imagine that one of the best, most interesting trekking destinations in the whole of Africa is to be found in Guinea, this small and little-known country in West Africa. Specifically, it is in the highlands of Fouta Djallon, the wellspring of the great West African rivers. Still fewer would think – or do think – that it’s worth travelling here on holiday, though it offers the most authentic ‘African feeling’ I know, and on top of that something even better, but even harder to define… Still, I have to admit, this isn’t an easy country for visitors, and for anyone trying to get around outside of a pre-planned, guided trip it’s positively difficult. Even in terms of simply planning an itinerary, since in Guinea, if something can go wrong, it definitely will… Especially if you don’t have deep pockets, or aren’t willing to spend a lot of money. And in fact, even if you are, it still won’t be easy.
If by some method or other you succeed in reaching Labe, the second largest city in Guinea and the center of the Fouta Djallon region, then you’re already on the threshold of one of the most spectacular hiking experiences of your life.
But don’t imagine that only the natural beauty of the Fetoré river valley awaits you: you’ll also travel through villages of a sort you’d only ever have seen in the pages of National Geographic, and what’s more, get a glimpse into the everyday lives of their inhabitants. Time in these villages has stood still – or in fact never got started – and it’s possible, even just for one day or perhaps an afternoon, to experience family life in such places.
Five-eight hours’ walk each day will take you to the next campsite or village, which still leaves plenty of time for gaping at the tremendous waterfalls which dot the route, wiping the sweat from your brow in the stifling heat, and perhaps leaping into the cool, freshwater pools if you’ve got the stomach for it.” (2018)
“Guinea is basically a friendly country and one which the average European or American could easily go a lifetime without hearing much about. Minor crimes (and inflated prices) are always a possibility, but in general, I’d say that they look after foreign tourists.
The country is essentially ‘offline’ – there are very few hotels, and 90% of those which do exist are concentrated in the capital. What’s more, public transport in the western sense of the term simply doesn’t exist! What’s more, it’s virtually impossible to find a tour guide using an internet search. If this doesn’t intimidate you, the best places to begin exploring this unique African country are the tropical islands near Conakry, the highlands around Fouta Djallon, and the forests in the south of the country, which are about two days’ drive from the capital. This last option I would recommend particularly to travelers with adventurous spirits and deep pockets, but it’s a place where you can encounter real African wildlife, and the sort of rainforest creatures you’ll never encounter in the classic safari countries like Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, etc.
All in all, then, this isn’t a place you’re going to encounter mass tourism, and you shouldn’t come here expecting to find a cut-price version of the air-conditioned safaris offered in places like Kenya. Still, if you come with the right spirit, and are willing to spend a little extra when necessary, you’ll encounter an entirely different Africa, and have experiences which are sure to last a lifetime!”