Deeper into West Africa - notes prior to leaving

Trip to Guinea, Guinea-Bissau & Senegal overland using taxi brousse for a month over Christmas & New Years 2006/2007 A follow up from the 2005/2006 escapade to Mauritania ..

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

For the full blog of my now completed trip please go to:

Friday, November 24, 2006

New Petit Fute Guide to Guinea & Guinea Bissau

I've just picked up my ordered copy which was published on 10th November. I've paid 16euros for it and am really dismayed; it's not the cost of it but the principal of publishing a travel guide.

The information is very basic, maps are appalling and there is NO mention of connections between the two countries they may as well be at opposite sides of Africa ... Guinea Bissau gets 22 pages of which 2+ are maps with very little on the interior of the country (2 pages) and about 8 pages relating to the islands.

As far as I can see the author has been there on an organised trip and visited a couple of towns, written up hotel descriptions and left again ... but made sure that every bar & nightclub in each town had a visit too ... not really what I want to know.

Very pleased to say that the information gathered from knowledgeable Thorn Tree posters that is posted below on this blog is far more interesting to my mind that the book!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Headspin Hospital Visit

Just been to hospital in Toulouse for my new Yellow Fever shot and have been warned by the doctor there ... she told me that the Chikungunya virus is now in Senegal and they are advising travellers to take all precautions against mosquitoes. The leaflet that they've given me says that I should keep an eye out for fever and make immediate contact with any description of medical help. Chikungunya virus info from Wikipedia.

I've not heard of it in W.Africa before, it was prevalent earlier this year in La Renunion ... it seemed to me in Toulouse that this was quite a new thing that they'd heard about. I've subsequently heard that 5 French tourists from Bordeaux arrived home from Senegal with it earlier this month!

Been given another Lariam prescription - it's never done anything to me but give me longer sleeping hours, so I'll be safe there; catch up on a few I've missed this year! However I was really sad to learn that the doctor I met had lost a member of her family (in Guinea) almost a year today to malaria, that's the second person I know (of) who's died this year from malaria without taking any type of precautions. An amazing Polish woman Kinga sadly also died on 9th June this year www. she has an amazing website of her trips.

Personally I feel that when you're off on trips like this you should be asked for a passport, ticket & malarial medication - we have to produce our Yellow Fever certificates crossing borders so why not malaria??

Learnt another 'old wives tale' today about keeping mosquitoes away - my neighbour was waiting for me and overheard two people talking about 'savon d'alep' which I found in a nearby pharmacy it also apparently acts as a shampoo; an ideal travelling soap bar!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

First departure

Having spoken to Gianni to make last minute preparations the night before last; he told me that he's catching the bus today from Turin down to Morocco. There's a COMANAV ferry from Genova to Tangiers which is (to my mind) an easier way to get there but Gianni's not big on boats!!

This poses a big question: will he be willing to get the fishing/ferry boat from Cacine (G.Bissau) to Kamsar (Guinea) with me? Or will we cross the border by road??? I'm still unclear as to whether there is a boat that still runs!

Meanwhile I've finally ordered the new Petit Fute guide to Guinea & Guinea Bissau having read my Routard guide on Senegal/Gambia cover to cover. Petit Fute finally published their guide on November 10th, so it's the most up to date guide around. In French - at least we'll both be able to read it.

Wednesday next week I'll get my fourth yellow fever vaccination will be done - unbelievable that I've already had 30 years cover ....!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Guinea notes - Notes gathered from the Thorn Tree, other travellers ideas & experiences

Here's a variety of excerpts from posters on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree that are going to be useful for my trip & hopefully other travellers. Another poster, Kanding has forwarded more info to me including a lot in German, which I can't translate but maybe some German travellers will find it interesting! Click here

Starter points: A variety of websites for the region:

cheap flights to West Africa and Ruanda

Malaria & Lariam

Electrycity Plug Around the World

Airline ticket Finder & More

Currency Converter : African Currency guide

My Travel Site: story, pictures, infos, etc. | ABTT people's face

A great site for cheap flights from uk to Gambia : Nga Def got €190 return once

africaserver : general info on any african country (a dutch site, but also in english)

AllAfrica: I don't think anybody has mentioned this link for up to date African news - A random Russian site, but also in English, some excellent G.Bissau details of towns & villages

These five West African countries have an all in one visa called the visa touristique de l'entente (VTE). The visa costs CFA 25000, and allows you unlimed travel within the five countries for a period of up to 60 days. It is difficult to obtain the visa, some embassies will deny the existence of the visa. Some guidebooks will say the same. However, it still exists (october 2004).

Below are confirmed points of sale:
the Togo embassy in Paris
the Benin embassy in Paris
the Togo embassy in Accra
the Cote d'Ivoire embassy in Ouagadougou

A number of visa services on the internet that can deliver the Entente visa. Example: the visa treaty

Africa travel info and forum: There's some good info here, along with a discussion forum for expats and travellers in

TACV (Cape Verde airlines) numbers:

Cape Verde
Praia city (HQ)--(+238) 608200
Praia airport--(+238) 633982/84
Sal--(+238)411268, 411305
France-Paris--(+33-1) 5679-1313
Guinea-Bissau-Bissau--(+245) 206087
Portugal-Lisbon--(+351) (21) 323-0555
Senegal-Dakar--(+221) (8) 213968
USA-Boston--(+1) 617-472-2227 : For the most up to date and accurate digital maps of Africa that you can load onto your pc and gps-for navigation.

Good to hear that you've finally decided! 23.5 Euros a day sounds enough to me, I think I managed with less in all of the countries you're planning to go (that's travelling on a shoestring, though).

Fantastic sites by some cyclists on same route

Monday, October 30, 2006

Senegal (ex Casamance)

Guinean visa in Dakar; can be multiple entry if you ask for it - I forget how much it was (at the embassy in Dakar at least), single entry was 30€ and i think that multiple entry was 45€ although don't quote me on it...

HOTELS IN DAKAR15,000CFA for 3. . Chez Vieira is 2 flights of stairs up although there are also 2 other places on these stairs, one on the 1st floor and 1 on the same floor as chez vieira. not sure of their prices but i doubt they'd be much different. I don't have the exact address but it's easy to find. if you get a taxi to the intersection of rue Pompidou and rue Mousse Diop, it's in the adjacent block on the left hand side as you walk away from Place de L’Independence. There’s a shopping arcade called the passage ALNEHME, and you go up a flight of stairs just inside the entrance on the right hand side

Dakar is a fairly expensive place so don't expect much for less than about $20-$25 USD. I like Le Relais near the University but it is a brothel.....

You can try Chez Antonio Veira in 25 Pompidou Avenue tel 8229847 managed by a Cape Verdean Family, is in the downtown area near Place de L'independance, is not a real hotel but a sort of private house. I was there 5 years ago and it cost 10000 cfa per night, but check this info because they need an update

A good hotel is Oceanic, they have a website also. It has a very nice bar/restaurant with lot's of interesting people sitting around all day and night.

Hotel Nina - a good, comfortable, clean hotel in the centre of town, just off the main square and a 10 minute walk to the ferry for Isle de Goree. 25000 CFA per night inc breakfast, approx. 30 minute taxi ride from the airport, no problems arriving in the small hours, great if you've just come in from the bush and you're looking for comfort, hot water and no bugs ! Contact details 43, Rue St. Michel, Tel: 8890120, email

Try to get an internet price for Hotel de l'Independance. When I stayed there it was about US$30 per night, which is a great deal especially as they have a pool. It is very comfortable if impersonal, and a nice break from the usual.

I'd say if you're alone you'll be over that, there aren't many dorm style places like there are in Mauritania - in Dakar especially (don't miss it though, fantastic place!!!)

BARS ETC IN DAKAR - Le Siren is near the port and is for sailors and prostitutes and is only crowded when all the disco techs close (say 4-8AM). It is definitely not recommended. Not because of danger but only because it sucks. However it's also been said: "La Sirene" is a different place, very disreputable but offers opportunity for a chat with French expats. It is almost opposite to the harbour gate where you go for the Goree ferry, badly lit area at night...If you are out at 4AM and still don't want to go home then this is an OK place to go. Take serious care for pickpockets here and don't go here alone at this hour unless you know what you are doing. Rest of the places I mention are safe, secure and are wonderful places to have a few drinks. Best western type bars would be Le Viking or Grenelle (in the hotel Gondolle). This is where to go anytime until around 1AM For a more tropical type experience there is a bar on the corniche west facing the sea (there is only one so no confusion). When you go there eat dibiterie. Pronounced jibi. Just say 1 kilo mutton. For nightclub type activities in places that are pretty safe, you have Bar Texas, Bar Alexandra and La Scala (midnight-4AM) There are many other places but they are only happening sometimes. If Youssou N'Dour is in town you absolutely must go to his club Thoissan (chossan) - this is a 1AM-5AM ordeal. There is an outdoor club in the Point E section called just for you. If the taxi doesn't know it, it is about a mile past the Score Sam in Medina. Outdoor tables, live African band, cheap beers and more wholesome for the family then your corner bar. Senegalese beer is pretty good, nothing to write home about. There is a restaurant next to La Galette on Ponty that has a fine selection of Belgian beers but apart from that all you will find are the local beers (Star, Castel, Gazelle) and Heineken. Abovementioned Bar Goree has been closed for about 2 years. It was a shithole.

Went to "Just 4 you" or something like that. There's a few tourists there, but good live music

Also remember Senegal is a Muslim country so nobody on the street will have any idea where is a good place to have a beer. Have fun.

I was surprised to find out that there is less hassle from touts and souvenir vendors than a few years ago. Also, the central area around Place Indpendance and Av Sarraut has new bright street lights and there are lots of new modern buildings going up. It seems safer than before, even at night time. Still, you see a lot of unemployed people loitering, and homeless sleeping on the sidewalks.

Best place for breakfast: French cultural center, Rue Gomis, with their nice garden courtyard. Best place for lunch: at the swimming pool of Hotel Teranga. Tasty pizzas for around 5000 CFA. non-guests can use the pool for 4000 CFA.

If you are craving some reading, check out Librairie Clairafrique just off Place Independance . They have French and African literature, and a small selection of English books.

Ile de Goree: I dont remember what time the ferry starts, but I got the second one of the day at about 10:30. The ferries dont run around lunchtime (to make sure you spend some money for food on the island I guess), but as long as you know what time you need to be back at the airport, you should be fine. I spent 4 hours on the island, saw everything I wanted to, and think it was well worth the effort. The taxi ride back to the airport during daylight hours will take twice as long, so plan for that.

TRANSPORT SOUTH - Dakar - Bissau you can probably do in 2 days with a bit of luck (start mega early, maybe get to Ziguinchor for the night or otherwise in Banjul, maybe you'd have to do both), it's comfortable all the way. Transportation in Bissau isn't too bad either, only 9 passengers per car generally so it's a bit more of a squeeze but still ok. Guinea requires a bit more zen...

You can fly between Dakar & Cap Skiring, cost 39500 CFA one way in Feb 2006. Takes less than an hour.

There's also a new ferry runs between Dakar & Ziguinchor twice a week, the Willis.

Dakar - Bamako Express Train: I heard in Dakar the train is still running but only once a week! But I suppose it has the potential to change at any minute...

I took the train in Feb 2006, as far as 70km west of Tambacounda, where it ground to a halt due to broken rails. The condition of the carriages in 2nd class was dire, working lights only in some compartments, all the ceiling fans ripped out (and some of the toilets), stuffing hanging out of many seats - but the dining car and bar had a continuous supply of hot food & cold beer, which made the 32 hours it took us to get that far bearable (just). I hope this Canadian company do improve it, but until they do, if you want to catch the train, I'd suggest doing what around 3/4 of the passengers on my trip did: leave the train at the Senegalese border at Kidira and take road transport from there.I was there in February 2006. The train was almost over, running just one per week without fixed schedules.

There isn't much transport from Tamba to Kedougou, I strongly recommend you to go in a "7-places", buses and vans are much slower. All of them leave when they're full, but in Kedougou for instance, we saw an almost full van, they told us "only four more", so we bought two tickets... and had to wait two hours until it left. 7 places are a bit more expensive but much faster. To go to the Casamance you have to go back to Tamba, and if you do the same day that you arrive from the Bassari-Land, you won't get to Ziguinchor, just stay overnight in Kolda and go on next day. There isn't much transport West of Kedougou, on Mondays there is a market, I think, but you don't have so much time. The best thing is to find someone locally who will arrange everything to bring you to Bassari-Land, and try to be five or six, so that it is cheaper. Ask in your hotel or campement how to find more people for the excursion, we were only two and ended travelling with four more.

I’m pretty sure there's a crossing south of Kolda. The roads in Guinea-Bissau are (maybe surprisingly) very good. Don't wear nice clothes cos you'll have to go wading through rivers at the ferry crossings...

One thing you might want to consider when you make your decision is that if you choose to go to Dakar, you'll have a lot more uncomfortable bus/car trips to do, as you have to make your way from there to Guinea and back (instead of arriving straight to where you want to go). Then again, cars are not as uncomfortable in Senegal as in Guinea (where roads are terrible and 'sept places' actually means up to ten people (plus little children) stuffed inside a Peugeot 504 + various people hanging outside the car).

Any recommendations/comments from others about cheap charter flights out of Dakar one way to France?? I had a good look around cos i was unsure where i was flying from, air algerie offered one way to lyon or paris (probably other french towns too) for 200.000cfa. nouvelles frontieres had tickets for 140.000 but obviously they were snapped up like hot cakes ! in the end i came back from bamako with afriqiyah (189.000cfa !!!! but the woman issued us the wrong ticket by mistake so you won't be able to get the same fare unless you're lucky..)

St. Louis: sure it's worth a stopover - very impressive place, the hassle is constant and these people are very persistent. It's still worth it though, probably has the best colonial architecture in the whole of West Africa.very pretty but very touristy and it's worse than Dakar in terms of "hassle" now.. "no" doesn't seem to be part of the vocabulary of the local crap salesmen in any language. There’s a cheap place to stay on rue de france on the island, paid 2000cfa each for the 3 of us. It’s called "chez bouba" and it's unmarked - afraid I can't remember the address!!! But it's got a green gate, its 400-something rue de france nord, and the guy who runs it is called boubacar n'diaye. Maybe people know him, not sure! Not the kind of place you'd spend a week in though. At least not if you're me...

Nice town but lots of hassle - we are staying with Aziz, you could get a good deal negotiating (paying in advance for several days) - behind the Belgium Consulate

La Lac Rose

Lac Rose, or the Pink Lake in Senegal I found to be worthwhile sidetrip...I was told that it is the 'dead sea of africa'- in certain light it has a brilliant pink color and so much salt that you float. there are lots of different options for staying around there that are relatively inexpensive, I believe I paid 4500 cfa per night to stay in a hut with two great beds and bathroom...I don't recall electricity or fans so it was slightly rustic but a very enjoyable place to stay. You can arrange prices to be taken across/around the lake in a pirogue. The lake is surrounded by sand dunes, just a short way from the ocean and while it was slightly more than my budget at the time, I think horseback riding as well as 4-wheeling can be arranged. I traveled to the lake from Dakar and back for 500 cfa...less than $1 US. It wasn't hard to access using public transportation- a combo of advice from the LP book and just asking along the way.

Foundjoune : There's a wonderful little village called Foundjoune in Senegal where the Sine and Saloum rivers meet. There are buses that go there, although I took one from Dakar, so I'm not sure what the trip would be like from the Gambia. It's a big enough village where you can find a little hotel or room to stay. There is some peace corps influence there, but not much else, the country side is nice, especially near the water. There are lots of beaches you can find along the rivers to hang out at and swim.

Kolda about 3 weeks ago. The crossing that you are looking for is east of there. There is no crossing south of Kolda. Head for the village of "Wassadou". This is where the main road that goes from Senegal into Guinea-Bissau "T's" off of the main route into Kolda, it head east and west. From there you will head to GB and through the border crossing of "Pirada". It’s fairly easy and everyone knows it. There are a lot of bush taxis that will run from there to Gabu in GB. Once you get to Gabu you will have to get a taxi to Bissau, if that is where you’re looking to head to. The trip from Kolda to Wassadou is about 1-2 hour (depending on vehicle and driver) from Wassadou on to the border and then onto Gabu will take about 2 hours (thanks to the border patrols), Gabu to Bissau will take about 3 1/2-5 hours (again depending on the driver and conditions). Let me know how things are going for you. I have the names of some villages that you will pass along the way if you would like them, just so that you know your heading the correct direction. I used to live in GB. also, if you need to use the phone or internet do it before you cross the border into GB, the phone is a hell of a lot cheaper and it is a way better connection, Wassadou has several telecenters but no internet, Kolda has both. Have fun and stay safe!

Tambacounda: I went to Gare routiere Pompiers in Dakar around 8am and took a 7-place to Tambacounda, which got me there by nightfall. For an extra 1-2000 CFA, the driver will give you the front seat which is the most comfortable. The road has long bad sections with many potholes, but it is a beautiful drive between Kaolack and Tamba, well worth doing at daytime.

Kedougou: From Tamba, a few of the 7-places leave each morning between 6:30 and 8:30 am to Kedougou. It is a smooth fast drive on an excellent road, with unspoiled landscape and villages along the way. You will arrive at noon.

I heard the road from guinea direct to Senegal (I think the place is called Kedougou ??) is abysmal, probably not possible in the wet season but I’m sure in December it would be worth a crack

I'm staying at Relais de Kedougou; the best hotel in town (with swimming pool). Their low season prices until Dec 1st are between 11-13000 CFA per room. You can walk there from the gare. Continue on the main road into town, for some 200m. At the main intersection next to Black n White Disco, turn right, then you will see large signs pointing you to the relais, in total it is maybe a 600m walk. There are other cheaper options, I checked Campement Diao and Campement Moise (turn left at the main intersection) and they both seemed nice.

Bandafassi: Half way to Djindjifelo; Bandafassi is another nice town worth spending time. There is a good campement with food and accomodation. It is possible to get there by bicycle; it is less than 15km from Kedougou on a reasonable dirt road.

Djindifelo: At 6am each Sunday, there is a public bus to Djindjifelo, a nice village to the south, near the guinea border. The bus returns at 3pm the same day. It is an exhausting 3 hour drive on a shockingly bad road :-) You will be rewarded by a friendly village, colorful market and you can walk 20min to an impressive waterfall with a refreshingly cool natural pool. From the bus stop, walk onward on the road for some 300m to the village Campement, they will find you a young boy who can guide you. They also have food, drinks and accommodation. If you have the time, it is well worth staying here for several days. You can hike up to the Fouta-Diallon plateau, which starts 1km south of the village, and the border police seems to allow foreigners to cross on footpaths into Guinea if you are with a local guide and intend to stay only in the immediate border area for a few days. The camp manager can set you up with a guide, who will be able to find you accommodation in villages on the plateau. There are occasional cars from NGOs or expats stopping by the campement; so you may get rides out, even on days other than Monday.

Bassari country: Now is a good time to visit. The rains have ended 4 weeks ago. The landscape is very green. It is harvest season for peanuts and watermelon. You will also see lots of well-feed livestock. All roads are dry now, none of the dreaded mud holes anymore. Temperatures are cooling down, it is very agreeable in the morning and evening, it can get as low as 25 C at night :-)


Also depends on where you are, e.g. Dakar and Bissau = expensive Ziguinchor = quite a bit cheaper. Senegal is quite expensive but so is G-B. I was amazed how much I had to spend on accommodation there (G-B). I think it has to do with that they're both in CFA (I found all CFA-countries - in African terms - a bit expensive). Guinea, on the other hand, is probably the cheapest of the countries in this area. I could manage even under 10 euros a day there (rock bottom travelling).

Best way to exchange money: turn left when exiting the arrival hall. Re-enter the building at the next door into the departure hall, and go upstairs to the souvenir shops. They will exchange 650 CFA for 1 Euro, and maybe ask for a small commission (1-2 Euros will do).Avoid exchanging downstairs because a small crowd will form around you. Supposedly there is no crime at the airport, but I don’t want a dozen onlookers when handling money...Going downtown: turn right from the arrivals hall. You will see a clearly visible taxi sign, and a row of cars parked next to it. Approach the first cars and they will assign you to the car that is next in line. Ignore anyone talking to you or trying to drag you in a different direction. The official price downtown has been 4000 CFA for the last 7 years or so, but I happily paid 5000 because I know that fuel prices have gone up considerably. Downtown Dakar Best place to change money: Bureau de Change du Plateau, Rue Blanchot near Felix Faure (3 blocks south from the Av Ponty, past the mosque). They give you 655 CFA for 1 Euro, no commission.


GAMBIAN Visa: It's 25.000CFA from the embassy in dakar and they will insist you can't get one on the border... but I walked into the border guards building with a big smile and told them I'd get a visa on the border for 350 dalasi (6600CFA). The guy looked a bit surprised and asked me who had told me that, and after a bit of a mental panic I told them the gambian embassy in Brussels. In any case I got the visa for 350 dalasi on the spot so it is possible to get a visa (at the Karang crossing in any case) for those who need one.

Gambia and Senegal are about the only two countries in the region where you need no visa whatsoever and can cross the border as many times as you please... if you're German that is (but not French!)... don't know about other nationalities but it can't be that bad.

Loads of women changing money on the border and they are very temperamental, it's easy to get them slinging abuse at each other and competing to offer you better rates....
The women moneychangers at the border looked really hot (they missed their profession?), but they were obviously ripping me off. Sometimes I can't be bothered to listen to the hard sell. I decided to just keep walking and see what is on the other side. Voila, a branch of some bona fide Gambian bank, where a shy friendly clerk did a smooth and honest money exchange.

I remember paying about 50-60 euros for the multiple entry Guinean visa in Banjul, Gambia so it sounds about right to me. I got my SL visa in Banjul, too (instant service), but there shouldn't be any problems in getting it in Conakry. The price might put you off, though: it's a steep us$100 (it should be the same price for everyone and everywhere), but I still considered my visit there well worth it.
State of the roads is generally good - colonel qadhafi was in Gambia when I was there so we had to take a bunch of bumpy backroads to get to Brikama and the section between Kaolack and the Gambian border is a bit touch and go but it generally goes pretty quick.

I would recommend to go up to Georgetown on the Northroad because the Southroad is in very bad condition. The northern route should be tar road most of the way until Wassu. They were working on it in April and if the rainy season does not ruin it it should be a good new road. Probably I can tell you more when I am there in October. On the way to Georgetown you can visit the Wassu stone circle (Unesco World Heritage) and James Island (Unesco World Heritage). Georgetown is a nice little town. From there you can arrange boat trips to see hippos and monkeys. There are boat trips to Georgetown, but these are very touristic and can be arranged in the larger hotels in Senegambia area or Banjul.

Banjul to Georgetown costs about 160-190 GMD when taking 7-seater and minibus including 1 large bag. There are 7-seater between Barra and Farafeni.
I did travel from Banjul to Georgetown and on into Senegal with no problems. The only thing is the buses are really slow, 100km takes about 3 hours as the roads are so bad. Also be aware that if you are going to small places, it is better to travel in the mornings as there may be no buses in the afternoons and the buses leave when they are full. Cant remember costs but it wasnt expensive.

In The Gambia, it is very easy to travel around by yourself. There is numerous public (and cheap) transport in the whole coastal area (southbank) up to Brikama.

I have made a trip upcountry towards Georgetown / Bansang and this was also not a big problem. Be aware, that the road on the southbank is very bad and therefore the transport is slow. Moreover, many drivers nowadays don't like to take this route anymore, because the road is so bad. The roads on the northbank have no asphalt (all gravel roads). You can make a nice trip all the way to Georgetown (or Bansang) and even further to Basse (never been there). There are enough cheap places to sleep upcountry. I never made any reservation, this was no problem. I would advise you to buy the LP Gambia /Senegal and also the Bradt (Gambia) is very useful.

I think its a good idea to get out and do your own thing eve if you are on one of these packages. upcountry accomodation is pretty cheap, though also not of very high quality as the Butchers shops which seem to double as the local hostels dont lok at all appealing.You can make sort trips by minibus but for longer trips it will generally be better to go by "bush taxi" (a larger car which collects 3-4 people together to do a longer trip. We went to southern Sensgal via this route without any problems. We enjoyed the atmosphere there beter than on the coast in Gambia which attracts some "fun the sun " British package tourist types and the associated Gambian "Bumsters" who are a bit of a pain.

The northern road is in much better condition than southern route and the bushtaxis leave more often. You have to go by ferry from Banjul to Barra. There you can get a 7-seater or a minibus to Farafeni. In Farafenni you have to go across town to the other garage and there you can take a minibus to Panjang or Ka-ur. From there you can go on by minibus to Wassu. The Wassu stone circle are some kilometres out of town, so you have get a Taxi or walk. Perhaps it's easier to get a taxi in Ka-ur as it has a bigger garage and more traffic. From Wassu there are minibusses to Georgetown. You have to cross the River by ferry or small boat.

From Banjul to Georgetown the trip will take about one day, I was on the way from 8am to 6pm, but I did not visit the Wassu stone circles that day. My way back took about 13 hours if I remember correctly. One way costs about 160-190 Dalasi including 1 large bag. The trip was made in April this year during very good weather (>40 Celcius).

I dont know the way up to Basse, but it took several people I met some hours with a chartered minibus

Be aware that public transport to more remote areas can be few. This can even be the case east of Brikama (mainly because of the terrible condition of the road). So just must be prepared to wait quite a long time before you have transport, must be aware of fluctuating prizes e.g. Now and then I hear from people who waited >1 day for transport to the east (=upcountry).

When I travelled to the east, I did Kotu (coast) - Soma in one day and Soma -Georgetow the other day. I arrived in Georgetown at around 2PM. I returned from Georgetown - Kotu in one long day (6.30 AM - 7.30 PM), but had luck in Soma being able to pick up transport to Serekunda. You can also stop halfway in Soma (or Farafenni) and sleep there for the night.

Go south from The Gambia, into Casamance. There are some lovely villages and nice people, lots to see and do. I would recommend you to go into the Casamance and not to Saint Louis, because its too far for that short trip. Ziquinchor should be a nice town and Cap Skiring has nice beaches.

I do recommend unreservedly is the Safari Garden Hotel in Banjul. Again, its not the cheapest place in town, but the woman who runs it (British, long term resident) is great, and is very keen to use the hotel to promote local industry and eco concerns. She is also extremely knowledgable about the rest of Gambia and is a great source of info for good things to do there. The hotel has a gorgous pool and a great restaurant and a lovely tropical garden, and if you're looking for a place to chill out and regain some travelling energy after a while on the road, its perfect. They have a website, which you should be able to find if you fancy it.

Senegal - Casamance

The quickest way to get a Guinea-Bissau Visa is in Ziguinchor, 10.000CFA (zig info 03-07-06) and for that you get 30 days and 2 entries, the consulate is over the road from the hotel le flamboyant, up the stairs at the side of the building. It’s an easy ride to Bissau from zig taxi station. there are a lot of hangers-on at Zg gare routiere though so be firm with them.. Guinea-Bissau visa is incredibly easy to get in Ziguinchor if you're going there first. Guinea Bissau was fine when i passed through, apparently 3 weeks earlier you could hear mortar fire in Ziguinchor coming from M’pack at the crossing into G-B. Keep an ear to the ground but you'd have to be pretty unlucky.. In any case, trouble would be more likely in Casamance or just over the border in G-B, if taxi drivers are happy to go from Zig to Bissau you should be happy to as well!

I’m staying at the Auberge Casafrique, we negotiated a triple room for 7.000CFA but its low season and that's usually the price for a double room. Nice place though...

Security in Casamance; I'm in Ziguinchor now, there was apparently a lot of trouble a couple of weeks ago (i was told this afternoon that mortars could be heard in Ziguinchor at that time) but generally it's fine. There is a lot of traffic on the road between here and the Gambian border and I’m getting a lift with a semi-resident businessman to Bissau tomorrow who isn't concerned either. it's a bit of a hop from (or to) Banjul - from Banjul you get a minibus to Westfield junction in Serekunda (6 dalasi) and from there another minibus to Brikama (10 dalasi), from the Brikama gare routiere a bush taxi to Seleti (40 dalasi plus baggage) and from there another taxi to Ziguinchor (2200CFA plus baggage). The driver from Seleti to Zig was pretty impatient to get going although i don't know if he wanted to avoid night time driving or if he just wanted to push us into buying the 1 remaining seat in the taxi. The road to Zig is in great shape, no problem in the wet season (a few potholes but generally flat tarmac all the way), and it really is very wet at the moment, the most violent storms I’ve ever seen!! In any case there is no problem at the moment, it's calm and people are not tense at all. So the message is that Casamance is beautiful, come and enjoy it... keep your ears to the ground but don't be scared away by its reputation!!! From what I heard in Ziguinchor - when the trouble flared in in Casamance, people just went on going there anyway (at least several of the guys that I met have been going there, and to villages in the area as well, regularly for the last 15 years - one even owns a house there). Anyway, the rebels went hiding into the bushes when i came around so if they hear a tough irish girl is on the way they'll probably do a serious runner and join the GSPC or something....

Guinea Bissau

LP says G-Bissau is dangerous. Has anyone been there recently? Is it possible to go by land to Senegal? Any flights to Banjul?
What LP are you referring to (from what year) and what do they exactly say? I have been there last December (2004) and it was safe, although there has been political unrest as late as October.You can read the news on Access is easy from Ziguinchor/Senegal by bush taxi. I did not ask about flights as the bush taxi was only 4 hours (120 km) and cost 5 Euros. I was there in June and had no problems (although I was quite pleased I didn't caught out in a thunder storm one evening, the Taxi's in Bissau increase their prices 400%.) I'd imagine that getting from Banjul to Bissau would be quite easy in one day by sept place although it'd be a shame to miss out on Casamance. I passed through there in March (2005). It's totally quiet. Bissau is among the safer capitals in West Africa to wander around, the people are really nice and the food is tasty (lots of garlic).

FLIGHTS: I spent an afternoon looking at the carcasses of blown-up soviet tanks in the surroundings of Bissau airport, but did not hear any incoming flights. I know there is a flight from Dakar/Senegal, but don't remember which airline. Travelling from Banjul to Bissau in bush taxis is a breeze. Why do you want to fly? Travel time: one and a half days (sleep in Ziguinchor). Cost: around 25 Euros. You may need a visa for Bissau, which can conveniently be procured at their consulate in Ziguinchor, it is issued in a few minutes and costs 10 Euros. I think to fly you would have to go through Dakar these days, though SLOK or one of the other puddle-jumpers used to stop in Bissau on the way south. Flights Banjul-Conakry are availible from Slok Air, which has its office near traffic light, Kairaba av., serrekunda. Approx 250 euro for return ticket. There are flights almost everyday dkr-bnj-oxb(bissau) and return on Air Senegal, should be very easy.

The road between Sao Domingos (at the border near Ziguinchor in Senegal) and Bissau is now finished, so there is only one ferry crossing to hold you up on the way. I left Bissau at about 2PM and made it to Banjul by 10PM counting about six changes of vehicle--mainly in sept-places, but also in a couple of the dreaded sweltering metal boxes.

The share taxis from Ziguinchor go all the way to Bissau, no need to change car in Sao Domingos.
At the gare routiere in Ziguinchor there is one row of cars that go to Bissau. There are several each day until the early afternoon. You can buy several seats if you want more space or to leave faster. You can also charter the whole car Ziguinchor-Bissau one way for around 26.000 CFA. Same setup in Bissau for the way back. Those are all senegalese cars and they have their own small area in the gare in Bissau (all cars with Senegalese number plates and French speaking drivers).

About Guinea & GB: to avoid backtracking, you probably want to go through GB only once. This 'loop' works out so that you enter GB from Senegal (Ziguinchor -> Bissau), then Guinea and after doing Guinea cross back to Senegal by the road going from Koundara towards north (I've forgot the name of the little town in Senegal where cars from Koundara go to). If you take a car going from Gabu to Boke (rather than using the eastern border crossing) you don't have to do any backtracking at all! Of course you can do this 'loop' other way around too, but I think the transportation works out slightly better this way.

It's only sleeping that will cost you very much, otherwise comparable with Senegal. And anything you spend in excess in G-B you'll save 5 times in guinea. I think the Guinea Visa is the same price in Dakar but takes longer. Bissau is expensive and upcountry is cheaper, still expensive for what you get but you really get crap :) G-Bissau visa is now 10.000 btw from Ziguinchor

I was in Bissau (it's a nice little town but very expensive to sleep in...) and Gabu, and then to Labe in Guinea.... I met some other people in Guinea who got their visa also at Karang, they have facilities to do it and they also gave me a receipt specially for it so it seems like it is a standard procedure, of course the embassy tells you it's not possible so they can get the money instead...anyway there you have it

This message is getting a bit long but a quick word about Guinea-Bissau. Again - from hearsay - I believe getting out to the islands is very worthwhile. Though apparently if you want to see the Hippos on Oranje you have to take the fuel for the transport with you - or you simply end-up stranded with basic provisions, no electricity, no water etc. with no hippos anywhere near!

When I was there in April, there was fairly frequent traffic between Gabu (in Guinea-Bissau) and Boke (say, a car or two in a day), some of it going all the way to Conakry. As I didn't take this route, I don't know exactly how the roads are, but knowing G-B and Guinea, they will be something between very bad and disastrous. Zig-Bissau and Bissau-Gabu are flat as proverbial pancakes. Gabu to Labé is mega slow and bouncy (took 16 hours for me) although apparently most cars take a different route from the one we took via Gaoual

If I'm not mistaken, I believe that the only road (in good enough condition) crossing the southern border is the one I mentioned (from Gabu to Boke). However, I've heard of people crossing the border on the coast with a boat (and I think even LP mentions this). I don't know where these boats leave from on the Guinean side (somewhere north of Kamsar, anyway) but I think they go to Cacine in G-B. From there onwards you can travel by boats and cars to Bissau. This would be a very interesting route! Good luck!

As far as crossing into Guinea by mean from Guinea Bissau to Guinea Conakry by water? I don't think we looked into it because we wanted to go to the Fouta Djalon in upper guinea, and the road isn't too bad up to the border with guinea. It also seemed that everyone we talked to that wanted to go to Conakry went by land. But there are a lot of boats and docks and what not in Bissau and I’m sure if they are going they would be happy to take you...just ask around. I did remember seeing an official ticket stand at one of the docks (across from the big monument, the one that doesn't go to the Bijagos) and they were selling tickets to somewhere, but I don't think i found out where. A little warning though, the boats are sometimes really leaky, and probably less than sea worthy for long journeys. It was okay going to the Bijagos because you are sheltered from the open sea by the islands...but when we went to Orango there wasn't any shelter out that far and it was REALLY rough. People were vomiting and holding on super tight. I don't think it would have been really pleasant for a long journey. If you meant from Senegal to guinea Bissau by boat, we heard from the locals in Varela that you could come by pirogue...but I don't know where you would get your passport stamped. The name of the resort town in the south of Casamance is escaping me at the moment, but we could see it and could have walked to it in a few hours from Varela.

As for the boat, I’m sure you could ask the Guinean consul in Bissau (sekou touré's nephew who I had some drinks with at a party, really nice guy...)

The hotel in Varela was really is run by Fatima and Franco and is called Chez Helena ...anyway, the room was 10,000 cfa a night, breakfast included. I think it was the only open hotel when we were there, and we were the only tourists in the town...there is one that looked a bit more run down by the water that wasn't open at that time, but may be while you are there. Franco is a great cook...i think all our meals for both of us was about 10,000 a day....really gourmet food though. There wasn't really any other restaurants there...though we had a lot of invites from locals...and plenty of fruit. Check to see if the bridge got fixed, or plan on a 12km walk if you go to Varela.

On the Bijagos we stayed at Chez Titi, which is really quaint, maybe not as nice looking as some of the other places, but really Titi made our stay there. I highly recommend it if you can get one of his two rooms. (4000 cfa/ night includes breakfast). If you can't stay there, go and chat with him at least because he has great info and can arrange any kind of trip you might want.

Bissau if you're looking to stay on the cheap - not sure if it would still be ok but worth a try cos hotels in bissau are pretty expensive generally I met a Norwegian guy at a bar (the night we squashed the Portuguese, hurrah !!!) who put me in touch with some guys who were looking after the house of a Swedish diplomat who'd gone back home because of bad health. So if he's still away these guys put people up apparently to make a bit of extra cash, very nice guys. The main guy is called Luizinho, another one is called Samory - the house has some antelopes in the garden. Can’t give you any more details than that but may be worth asking around. Another possibility is finding a guy called "kiss" who hangs around in the casafrique in Ziguinchor, he has contact details for a reporter for RFI in Bissau who puts up travellers as well. I couldn't get in touch with him cos the telephone lines were down at the time but he said this guy charges 3000cfa a night. Can’t remember his name for sure (i think it was something along the lines of allan yeye embalo) but he's very well known in Bissau. good luck !!

Bissau was expensive...I recommend Casa Creola (I may have the name a little off, but you can see it from the Che Guavara Circle and is next to the fancy white espresso place and the cafe by the same name.) The cheaper room was 15000 cfa a night, she only has three rooms, (one is 20000 and the other has a long term German renter who is working on his PhD). If it is available though it is probably the nicest place for the money, and it doesn't really get cheaper than that except way out in the suburbs. The Lonely Planet was wrong about the prices of all the supposedly cheap places in Bissau, 15000 was as cheap as we saw in the center. I don't really have any recommendations for hotels in guinea...there wasn't anything special that I can remember. A lot of the places in the guidebook have moved location or shut down...but we did find the book useful in a few situations. Personally, I found Guinea-Bissau expensive. 20,000 CFA for a hotel in Bissau. I met some travellers who found a much cheaper place but this was attached to a bar & had all the night-time noise you might associate with such a place in Africa! Mamou was in the book and was pretty nice and cheap, but I unfortunately can't remember much about it because I was decently sick. It was one block down and one block over from the gare though....

Unnamed hotel: LP West Africa guidebook, 5th edition, page 517... walk two blocks west from Praca Che Guevara, look for a two-storey yellow building on the right side, with rounded balconies on the 2nd floor. Enter the building and ring the door at the 2nd floor, right side. The lady speaks no French, only Portuguese... 10,000CFA

INFO FROM LATE OCT 2006: In Bissau I stayed at the Hotel Galeon which is being renovated but negotiated with the man in charge (builder, manager??) named Francis (Corsican I believe but a nice guy) for 5000 cfa a night on a mattress on the floor in one of the rooms and used an ensuite that was intact to shower and toilet (bucket only but they have a well downstairs). There was even a mosquito net set up but didn't see many about. There was a key in the door to lock it and I had no troubles with security at all. It is on the placa Che Guevera roundabout. Meals and cold beer across the road.


Guinea visa - got it in 24 hours in Dakar (rue 7, point E), it's 20.000CFA for up to 1 month single entry

I assume you'll get your visas before you go - but I had no problem getting my Guinea visa in Bissau - 30000 CFA. This was a double-entry too (though whether I got lucky or this is regular I'm not sure). I can also confirm that i picked up a visa for Guinea in Bissau for 30000 CFA - this was a 45 day double-entry visa. I have a feeling I got lucky getting a double-entry for this price.

I was in GB and Guinea in June / July travelling in the opposite direction to you. We tried to use the road from GB to Boke through Quebo , but there was a bridge washed out in Sansale so we had to turn back and use the Gabu-Koumbia-Boke route. As far as we could work out (and we spent a lot of time trying) that’s the only alternative to going back through Labe, and repeating yourself. Boke to Gabu took approx 10 hours of driving with one ferry crossing, and there would be a couple of cars each day doing that journey. The road is black-topped for about an hour of that, the rest is averagely bad track.

INFO POSTED 28th Nov 2006: I just came through to Guinea from Guinea Bissau 5 weeks ago and took the 'standard' Gabu to Koundara but this involved 3 cars, plenty of waiting to fill up, some crappy almost 4wd roads and took all day. I believe it is possible to go direst to Koundara but there wasn' enough people to do this and i don't know the cost of taking a whole car yourself. It wasn't too bad a trip and the border was straight forward. It is only a small outpost with a few houses and stores.

If you want to go out walking in the forests and hills then Dalaba (between Labé and Mamou) is a nice place, there's a luxury (relative) hotel there we stayed in, 10€ for 3 people so we stopped for a couple of days! It’s on the edge of a cliff with a couple of paths going down into the valley.. you could spend a few worse days than that I’m sure ! I can also recommend the Hotel Tangama in Dalaba, should you choose to stop there. That's the place I mentioned before. I also heard good things about the trip to Mali-ville but at that point I wasn't into horrendously long bus rides unless they were in the direction I was heading!

The route through the Fouta Djallon (Gabu-Koundara-Labe-Mamou-Conakry) is very slow but can be done in a couple of days (I did it in reverse last year). From Gabu to Koundara is fast and easy.

Koundara there is only a single place to stay, pretty basic but with decent food and a big local hangout (and brothel if I'm not mistaken). Then from there to Labe is dusty, long and not so pretty--I had to get from Dalaba to Koundara in a day as I was recovering from something that had stripped 9 kilos off me pretty quick, and wanted to get up toward Gambia and Senegal. There are strange formations by the side of the road--mushroom-shaped but stony,. The mushrooms are termite mounds - waterproofed versions for the rainy season unfortunately that's about all there is to see of interest but there are loads of them everywhere. There is a single ferry crossing to be done, but otherwise it's piste. You may want to break it up over a couple of days or just grin and bear it. From Labe it's pretty easy. Don't hesitate to ask your driver to slow down on the road from Labe to Conakry. It's a very dangerous road.

Just to be clear, Labe to Koundara was about 12 hours for the 250 or so km, and I was in a particularly awful vehicle (it had to be pushed to the gas station at the start of the trip)--. The rest of the way is paved (Labe to Conakry, Gabu to Bissau) or at least decent piste (Koundara to the border was maybe 40 minutes) from what I recall.

The road wasn't that bad, I would say normal by Guinean standards. The road from Koundara towards G-B is worse; the one going south to Labe is probably just as bad.

Koundara to Labe (35000 + 4000) was a long day's journey on very dusty roads. Hotel Independence overlooks the Gare & is friendly enough. If you fancy a relative splurge (perhaps double the price of the Independence, though I'm not sure) Hotel Tata looked nice. It's definitely worth visiting for the great pizza's though - if you've been away long enough to crave such things at least. You can also find a guide there if you're looking too. I splurged 120000 (90000 for a taxi & 30000 for the guide) to go to Sall a falls with an English speaking female guide called Binta. The falls were nice enough but the most memorable part of the trip was the "road" to get there!

The route may be newer or just better but I managed from Gabu to Labe in a single sitting, 16 hours in the wet season but we didn't go via Koundara, went via Gaoual instead, a road which isn't marked on any maps i can find.... so i'm not sure if it would be better or worse than the others.

Labe is a bit of a dump; Labe will be a great city to relax in after coming from Koundara. There's electricity, internet, etc. If you like indigo-dyed fabric, Labe is the place to buy it, and you can buy it a well-known women's co-op there.

I don't know if you'll have time... but the best scenery in Guinee is in Mali-ville, a town several hours north of Labe by taxi. Do go if you have the time in your schedule! December might be a little dry, but still, it's beautiful.

Also, don't know exactly what the road from Conakry to Kamsar is like, but surely there will be daily transport between the cities

Given that you will have traveled from Koundara to Labe by taxi, Conakry to Boke is a piece of cake, probably 5 hours tops including the large number of police checkpoints since the problems in June, and Boke to Kamsar is also an easy run, less than an hours trip. Both roads are blacktop all the way. It's a mining town. (I don't know anything about crossing the border north of Kamsar though. Your best bet might be going from Boke, as suggested above.)

I heard the road from Conakry towards the Fouta is a bit dodgy but from Labé all the way to Kissidougou was in great shape and the Kankan-Bamako road is brand new apart from a short section towards Bamako where it hasn't been finished yet...

Boke is a well-developed, large town.

TRANSPORT - If it helps, I saw one bus in over a week in guinea, at Kankan gare routiere going to Conakry.. I’d say stick to bush taxis.. They’re also far more reasonable for baggage charges than in Senegal for instance. Also I didn't see any minibuses at all... I didn't go to Conakry so maybe the Sogetrag network is centered there. Just like you have to wait for the taxi to fill before it goes (usually a couple of hours, depending how many spots are left when you buy your ticket), you have to wait for the bus to fill before it goes. Literally, you could wait for a couple of days. Also, when a bus breaks down, it's a much bigger mess than when a taxi breaks down. Yeah, they do give times for the buses to leave, but believe me; no bus in Guinee ever leaves at a pre-determined time! Really, they would never leave until every seat has been sold. I was shocked when I left Guinee for the first time and found the buses in Bamako left on a schedule, and they weren't even full.

Be prepared for crowded public transport. The same cars that fit seven in Senegal take a minimum of 9 (usually 10) in Guinea. Some of the roads can be windy too - at least windy enough to upset the stomachs of some of the local village women and/or their children - which isn't funny in such confined spaces!

In guinea always get a seat on the back row; they only put 3 people there!!

Of course, once you're in Conakry you will be able to find the answers, with some persistence, at the taxi park, where you might find a car going directly to Guinea-Bissau.

TOURISM - In general, the thing about Guinea is that there aren't a lot of actual "sites." The tourism sector is pretty much non-existent. For the beach, I went to Kassa Island which you can get to by boat from Conakry. I've never been to Boffa-area beaches, but I've heard they're beautiful.

Conakry rocks. Great city, great people, food, lively atmosphere. Traffic is absolutely horrendous. Public shared taxis are reliable and cheap. Internet is available in town. Quite rundown, but has a lively atmosphere and great nightlife.

The countryside is breathtakingly beautiful. Dalaba is a gorgeous town with beautiful hikes. Fouta Djalon has some tourism, but is by no means overrun, and with literally hundreds of trails. Very friendly people, amazing scenery, and lots of opportunities to meet people, stay at villager's homes etc.

Mali-ville is a beautiful place, especially if you like hiking, and the people of Mali are actually trying to get tourists to come visit.

The waterfalls around Kinda and Labe will be drier in December, I think.

I think adding Nzerekore would take too much time and you're right to focus on the Fouta and the coast.

If you're feeling like you need a treat, there is a French cafe, Le Damier, across the street from the Marche Niger in downtown Conakry that will make you feels like you're not in Guinea.

The good news is that Guinea (or at least the Fouta Djalon area) was probably my favourite part of my last trip. Good climate - certainly if you struggle with the heat as I often do in Africa. Very pleasant area for walking - though I didn't do nearly as much as I should've. Very friendly people. And very good value for money - as in about as cheap as I'd hoped other places in Africa would be, but they weren't!

MONEY - You do need cash in both Guineas. On a short trip you'd probably bring enough hard currency from home. I used the banks (ATMs or visa cash advance facilities) in Senegal to top-up on CFAs - which were no problem to change in Guinea. When I was there I got between 7.6 and 7.9 GF for the CFA. Or in other words between 38000 and 39500 GF for each 5000 CFA changed. I changed Euros once and got 5100 GF for 1 Euro.

If I remember well only thing about guinea is you need big pockets to stuff all the notes in 1€ = 6500FG in july, biggest note = 5000FG.

Some prices - all in local currency. Speaking only of the Fouta Djalon region I didn't pay more than 30,000 GF for accommodation. I got an excellent room for this in Dalaba. The same hotel had cheaper options that looked fine too if you're really trying to save. By comparison the place I stayed in Koundara was half that price but extremely basic by comparison - there's just not a lot of choice in Koundara (though of the two places i'm sure I picked the worst!). Rice & sauce was 1500 GF, Water 2000 GF, Soft drinks 1000 - 1500 GF (small) & 2000-3000 GF (large). Beer 2500-3000 GF. More expensive meals 10-12000 GF.

Gabu = reasonably cheap but quite expensive for what you get usually... Overall I’d say not much difference between the two. guinea is dirt cheap added to this the fact that you are not usually given the tourist price for things.... we got a triple in a 3 star hotel in Dalaba (the kind where you walk in and wonder what planet you've landed on) for 10€..... 6 metres of fabric for 3€ etc, actually I hardly haggled for anything in guinea unlike long processes in Senegal, Mali etc... Taxi brousse are an exception though, they seem to be more on a par with regional prices

Gabu (in Guinea-Bissau) to Koundara on local transport on market day. 1000 CFA to the border in a clapped-out mini-bus, 3500 GF (+ 1500 luggage) from the border to Sarebeido & another 5000 GF (+ 1000 luggage) to Koundara.

Mamou to Kissidougou at 50.000FG for instance,

Kankan to Bamako for 90.000FG.

Gabu to Labé is 11.000CFA

Visa in Conakry

Just in case you try to get more visas on your way, having two passports I got four visas (4 that is!) in 1,5 days in Conakry: Ivory Coast (126.000 GF, Liberia (200.000 GF), Mali (16.200 GF!) and Ghana (US $20), all being 30 day single entry visas. Both Ivory Coast and Liberia take two days, but if you have one passport as I assume you can go to the Ivory Coast embassy first at 09:00 am, then announce your application at the Liberian embassy directly after (since that's what they want). On the second day pick up your passport at 14:00 pm and head to the Liberian embassy where the visa will be issued on the spot. If you're heading for Mali or Ghana visit the folks as they are very helpfull, so they might be able to issue the visa within 30 minutes if they know when you're coming. Do note that the embassy of Mali is not on the same spot as is mentioned on the LP map, but opposite Hotel Camayenne. The embassy for Ghana is a two minute walk from there.

Note: According to another traveller the Liberian ambassador in Sierra Leone died a while ago, which means that there is no Liberian representation in Freetown at the moment, so it might be impossible to get a Liberian visa in Freetown at the moment!

An accommodation tip for Conakry: Since the Catholic Mission was full I stay in Motel du Port, a quite nice place with a freezing airco for 65.000 GF; not too bad in a capital city...

Conakry to Freetown

I'm not sure if internet will be my first priority, but this is what my friend Janusz wrote me two days ago:

"If you will go from Conakry, go to the Matam gare voiture and ask for Pamalap/Conakry. I was there at 6:30 am and took the first taxi brousse. Its 55.000 plus 10.000 for extra luggage fees etc. Departing at 8 am I have arrived Freetown at 4 pm. The border is ok. Only the guinean policeman took from me 5k francs, as well as from other passengers. The SL side of the border is ok. You can change the cash either in Conakry at the taxi drivers or more easily at the border. The rate in both places is the same: 100 leone for 150 francs (or 5.000 for 7.500)."

For the bankers among you: It IS possible to get cash advances on Visa, Mastercard and American Express at the Rokel bank next to the post office in Freetown. I think I had to pay an amazing 10% commission or so but maybe that was just because I took only a small amount of money. It might be cheaper though to stock up on cash at the BICIGUI ATM in Conakry if you're coming from that way and change your money on the street.