I went to Guinea – 21 of #54before54 – earlier this month.
It was the first work-related trip on my new job and I went to Conakry for two weeks. The trip from Dakar to Conakry was long. While the journey usually takes an hour on Brussels or Mauritanian Airlines, I arrived at Gbessia International Airport in Conakry 5+ hours after checking in at Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport in Dakar. Due to an “operational problem,” my fellow passengers and I waited 2+ hours for our plane to arrive and boarded an aircraft of the Portuguese charter airline HiFly instead of a Brussels Airlines plane.
Thankfully, everything else went well. I had never heard of HiFly, but the airline’s plane and crew make me want to fly with them again. The immigration process on arrival was also quick since I traveled with my Nigerian passport and Guinea, like Nigeria, is a member of ECOWAS. (Note: Citizens of ECOWAS member states can travel to and stay in other ECOWAS states without a visa for up to 90 days). Later, although I arrived at the hotel around 9pm, I ordered and ate a tasty meal in my spacious and functional room before getting some rest in a comfortable bed.
Speaking of the hotel: I really enjoyed my room and the service at the Millennium Suites Hotel.* I was comfortable and had a pleasant stay despite the fact that, honestly, Conakry is not a visitors- or tourist-friendly city. Unsurprisingly, then, I barely left the hotel when I was not working. Still, I explored the city a bit before returning to Dakar and describe it in three words.
3 words that describe Conakry
There were lots of cars and people in the streets of Conakry. Drivers of moto taxis (motorcycles used as taxis) also slalomed between cars and large trucks to avoid traffic that is as inconvenient as that in Lagos. Although less than 2 million people live in Conakry, it is on a narrow peninsula that complicates circulation around the city. Likely as a result of poor infrastructure and city planning, all traffic goes towards Kaloum district in the tip of the peninsula (the administrative and business center) in the morning. It is virtually impossible to travel in the opposite direction until about 10am. At the end of the day, all traffic goes from Kaloum to the other districts of Conakry. Consequently, every outing in Conakry requires quite a bit of planning and patience.
Besides women’s outfits in various types of ankara and bazin, men sell brightly colored raffia chairs and other woven furniture on the side of several streets of the capital. Like in Dakar, there were colorful pirogues on waterfronts. I also saw red, pink, grey, and yellow buildings. Green struck most, however. In addition to the city’s botanical garden, there is a wide variety of trees and plants everywhere. There are also green tiles on Conakry’s main attraction – a mosque with four minarets.
Conakry is a city of water. Besides a view of the pool from my room, I saw the ocean on my way to work every day. Further, the Iles de Los island group are among Guinea’s famous attractions and only a 30-minute boat ride from Conakry. Lastly, coming from Dakar where it has only rained four times in three months, I was happy when torrential rains provided some relief after particularly hot days three times in two weeks in Conakry.
Have you been to Conakry? How would you describe the city?
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*I’m considering starting a series of posts/ reviews on the hotels, airlines and/or restaurants I patronize. Should I do that? Are you interested in reading such reviews?
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