In Conakry, you will be immediately immersed in an African atmosphere, with men playing music on traditional instruments and women and children dancing.
Conakry, the capital of Guinea, is situated on a peninsula with a view of the clear blue sea and has a number of important sites. A visit to the National Museum to see its extensive collection of masks, statues and musical instruments is certainly a must. You should also take a look at the Palace of the OAU, which was intended for meetings of the Organisation of African Unity, but is now used as offices by the current President.
Illes de Los, a chain of islands, is very popular with tourists and the local people as a place to relax, especially on Sundays and holidays. Another very useful tip is not to take photographs without permission in Conakry, as this might get you arrested.
SLEEP The sleekly decorated Mai Hotel (Commune de Matam Quartier Koleya Corniche, mounahotel) is located in the city centre. There’s a great cafe/restaurant and terrace bar, offering African, Asian and Italian food.
EAT Close to the Niger market, Le Damier (Route du Niger, La Ville, www.damier-conakry.com) has a Parisian vibe and is a great place to enjoy excellent Guinean food. Try the carpaccio of grouper or fufu of cassava with okra sauce in green lime, and pick up some of the delicious handmade chocolates at the restaurant’s chocolate lab.
- Take yourself on a city stroll with a self-guided walking tour, using your smartphone for company. The Conakry Walks & Maps GPS app will help you to discover some of Conakry’s most interesting attractions, including palaces, monuments, the botanical gardens, mosques and the cathedral.
- Le Marché Medina (off Route du Niger) is hectic and crowded, being one of West Africa’s biggest markets. Selling everything from jewellery drums, and hand-woven Guinean fabrics to household goods and food, it’s the perfect introduction to life in Guinea. Bartering is the norm, but beware pickpockets. Hiring a local guide is worth it, as they’ll steer you in the right direction.
- Continent Tours (www.continenttours.com/Destinations/africa-tours/guinea-tours) are travel experts offering cultural tours in and around the city. If you have a bit more time, the ‘Discover Guinea in Seven Days’ takes in the National Museum, Kakimbon caves, waterfalls, local markets and fishing villages, as well as cultural performances.
Aéroport de G’bessia is 15km from the city centre. Taxis cost around GNF112,500/€14; alternatively, ask your hotel about their shuttle service.