Here you will find information for traveling to Guinea. If you have up to date information for this page, please email us at web@friendsofguinea.org. If you are going to Guinea and can carry mail or packages for volunteers, please help out and visit our Who’s Going to Guinea Page.

Helpful Information

 

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Getting a Flight

 

Visas

 

Vaccinations

 

Gifts for Villagers

 

Gifts for Volunteers

 

Helpful Tips from those who have gone before!

 

What to pack? – Money? – Health Tips – Food – When to Go – Arriving at Conakry airport – Taking photos – General Comments

 

Keeping in Touch

 

Mail, Phone numbers & Addresses

 


                Getting a flight

Airlines flying to Guinea

Top Three Airlines

  1. Royal Air Maroc through Casablanca. Direct flights to Conakry from New York and Washington D.C.
  2. Air France, Paris to Conakry- most popular and most comfy.
  3. Air Brussels

Royal Air Maroc: “New York to Casablanca, Morocco to Guinea. You may have to spend a night in Morocco, but if that’s the case, they’ll pay for the hotel. I just flew RAM from Guinea to NYC for $1052 US. that was a one way, but I believe their round trips are also very reasonable. The airline is professional and friendly. ”

Air France: “We flew Air France and it was wonderful. Actually, we went from O’Hare to Paris and stayed three days. Then flew from Paris to Conakry, stayed nine days, then back to Paris and on to Lisbon for five days, back to Paris and home. The three loops on Air France were very efficient and the service was excellent.”

Recent airfares

July 2016: $1200-$2500.

Senegal: $800. Some travelers choose to fly via Senegal to ease into the culture, and airfares to Senegal are cheaper.

Purchasing tickets

Look into buying two sets of tickets: one between the US and Europe (either Paris or Brussels) and one between Europe and Conakry. I’m not sure why, but this is usually cheaper than flying all the way from the US to Guinea.

You might also try Spector Travel of Boston. They specialize in African travel. http://www.spectortravel.com/

Buying tickets in Conakry

You can buy air tickets in Conakry at a travel agent used by Peace Corps, which is quite good. Prices can be quite reasonable or even cheap, but it depends on what deals might be around at the time. Plan plenty in advance, maybe recruiting a PCV to check around Conakry for you.

One parent said, in July 2001, “We just brought our son home for a summer break and found it was much cheaper to get round-trip tickets from Bamako, Mali to Memphis than from Conakry (we saved about $1000). What was neat, it turned out the AirFrance flight he was catching in Bamako actually originated in Conakry and for less than $200 he was able to buy tickets in Conakry and fly straight through.”

One parent said: We were advised by our local travel agent to purchase the ticket through Air France and pay an extra $100 US to hold it at the Air France office in Conakry. we bought the ticket a couple of months ago and it came to $1,950 round trip. (2002)

                Visas

Download the Visa Application Form by clicking here. This is a PDF file, viewable in Adobe Acrobat.

Contact the Guinean Embassy in Washington for current requirements.

As of July 2016, here are the visa requirements.

  1. $160.00 for the visa fee (single entry) $320.00 (one year multiple entry)
  2. Two completed visa applications (click here for .pdf of visa application)
  3. Passport valid for at least 6 months from the end of your visit with at least two blank pages
  4. Two passport photos
  5. International Vaccination Card showing vaccination for yellow fever
  6. Cover letter stating the purpose of your travel
  7. A self addressed stamped envelope to return your passport (you may also use a Fed Ex envelope for speedy return)
  8. For a Guinean Visa you need to have 6 months left on your passport after you leave the country. So check your passport expiration date.

AMBASSADE DE LA REPUBLIQUE DE GUINEE

2112 LEROY PLACE, N.W., WASHINGTON, DC 20008

PHONE: 202-986-4300 FAX: 202-986-4800

http://guineaembassyusa.com/

                Vaccinations and Other Health Tips

The CDC Health Information for West Africa is the gold standard for vaccinations you may want, as well as other health considerations.

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/guinea?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001

 

Routine Vaccinations: 

MMR TDAP Varicella (chicken pox), Polio, and annual Flu shot

Suggested Vaccinations: 

Hepatitis A

Typhoid

Yellow Fever

Malaria:

You will need to take anti-malarial medicine while you are there, and for 2 weeks prior (at least). It is also good to get checked out for any bugs you might have picked up once you return.

Yours Options :

Doxcycline- daily medication, side effects include some photosensitivity, broad spectrum antibiotic

Malarone- daily medication, also used to treat malaria in different doses, side effects minimal, slightly more expensive

Mefl0quine-weekly medication, common psychological side effects such as vivid dreams and hallucinations, broad spectrum antibiotic, not used to treat malaria

 

Other Tips

Throughout the trip, we took low grade antibiotics which I think helped greatly in fending off disease. We also brought prescribed Lomotil which also helped a lot when sickness came on. Most malaria prophylaxis are low-grade broad spectrum antibiotics!

Trim your nails; long nails are a source of infection.

Wash your hands early and often. Hand sanitizer is also very helpful.

 

                Gifts for Guineans

Gifts are not expected, but you could consider bringing small gifts for close associates and/or friends of the person you are visiting. Since giving gifts can set difficult (and sometimes annoying) precedents that can sometimes hinder development, you might first want to check with a PCV or someone living in a community to gauge how appropriate gift-giving might be.

Be modest with your gifts. A $20 gift is often more than a month’s salary, and it could easily be inappropriate. If a more expensive gift is to be given, it should be something given to the entire village and for everyone’s benefit. Feel free to ask for suggestions if you want to make such a gift to a village.

Gift ideas:

  • Baseball caps are very popular. Check the thrift shops
  • Jasmine tea has been a big hit among young men
  • Matchbox cars,
  • Jewelry or nail polish for women
  • Pens and stationary
  • Markers,  crayons, chalk for kids
  • T-shirts (especially new ones). Soccer shirts are a BIG plus.
  • Nice baby clothes from the secondhand store
  • Nice-looking watches (inexpensive, like $5-$10. Thrift store again!)
  • Officials sometimes like things for their desks, like fancy-looking desk sets, clocks, or a nice pens.
  • Small photo albums with photos of you and/or them.
  • Books in French.
  • Brightly colored silk scarves.
  • Small change purses and key chains.
  • Nice handkerchiefs for men and American bandanas.
  • Any American candy (Tootsie Rolls and Starburst travel the best in the heat)

                What to Pack

Other Travelers

We assume you’ll only be in Guinea short term. If not, check out our packing suggestions for Peace Corps Volunteers. It’s a much more thorough list, and you’ll understand better what is and what items are and what items are not available in Guinea.

You should definitely get the one and only available map of Guinea. We don’t make any money on this. We”re only promoting it because it’s useful!

One parent writes: We took soft sided suitcases, but when I go again, I’ll take a backpack. There are very few roads to wheel suitcases on and then you just have to carry them. We found backpacks better. Good clothes for Dakar/Paris were in a suitcase we left at the Labé house.  The less you pack, the better you’ll feel, because you have to lug it everywhere and taxis charge for each bag on board as well as for the passengers.

Bring a day pack.

Take a good camera.

Good quality shoes. Both sandals like Chacos or Tevas in addition to closed toe running shoes for hiking, a pair of flip flops for indoors.

Comfortable pants and loose, light-weight shirts. Lots of long skirts for women, (if you are into skirts).

Lots of little flashlights and a headlamp.

Sunscreen, sunscreen, and more sunscreen. A nice big hat too!

I suggest bringing an old wallet with an expired credit card and a minimal amount of cash. This way, if you get confronted and have to give up a wallet, you can give that up without experiencing any loss.

Prospective Volunteers

See packing list here.

                Money

One parent writes: We took cash only, on a tip from another parent and they were right. We used the money belts and changed money at the hotel in Conakry and in the bank in Labé. There is a Western Union there in Labé, as well. No Traveler’s Checks and the one time I tried to use my credit card in Conakry, it didn’t work because of the electricity going out.

One traveler writes: We did use Master Card to pay for hotel rooms at the the Riviera in Conakry but this was a mistake. The hotel will gladly take your card but before they process the transaction (by hand – not electronically) they manually convert the bill to Euros and and then send it through who knows where to actually get the processing done. We felt it cost about 30% extra to use plastic.

One parent writes: You won’t want to bring travelers cheques, bring cash, just stash it all over your body! You’ll be amazed at how creative you can be! Credit cards only work in Conakry and only in the expensive places.

Another says: We found that $1,000.00 per person was more than adequate for our two week stay. We took U.S. $100.00 bills. We had this changed into Guinea Francs by our daughter who went to currency changers on the downtown streets of Labé. and Conakry (leaving us behind because she could get a better rate if there wasn’t a group of “tourists” hanging around while she negotiated.) Exchange rates are negotiable with these folks and you get much better than the going bank rate.

And another says: For money, take US cash or EUROs. These can be exchanged at the banks or on the black market in Guinea. You are right, traveler’s cheques are useless. Since you are coming through Mali, probably Bamako, which I did also, I found the Hotel Le Compegnard would take VISA and US traveler’s cheques. It is also has an association with Hotel Le Refuge which operates through Hotel Le Compegnard. One Bank (sorry I don’t remember the name) had an ATM in Bamako where I used my VISA card to get CFA’s. Use this information as you like. They are both located not far the the Bamako Peace Corps House. I’m sure you will do as I did and give any “leftover” CFA’s and Guinean francs to your PCV. They can use them, but once you leave Africa, they are useless to you. No bank in the US will exchange the money for you.You will change 5 CFA’s (Mali money) for Guinean francs at the border. At least they did for us. CFA’s can also be exchanged at banks and on the black market in Guinea.

“I believe that my mom spent about $500 excluding airfare for an 8-day trip. She stayed in my village, Tougué, for a few days, so our only major expenses were souvenirs and hotels in Conakry and Dalaba. ”

Before leaving, call your credit card companies and tell them where you’re going to be. Otherwise, you may find that your card will be refused in either Guinea or Senegal.

 

                 When to Go

“Rainy season (our summer) is good except the roads might be in worse condition. Still, if you’ve got more than just a couple weeks to spend there, it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.” In June (early rainy season) road will not be in as bad condition as in August, when they might be more washed out. April is the hottest and driest time of year.

May/June turned out to be a good time to visit. It was end of dry season and beginning of rainy season in the Fouta. This meant that the countryside was turning green, mango, avocado and banana were in full bloom and delicious, the small rains kept the red dust in check but the pot holes and mosquitoes had not yet taken over.

If your PCV is a teacher, they will be off school from  mid-June – September. December is nice as it’s the cool/dry season. Teachers have 2 weeks off for the holidays as well.

                What will happen when I arrive at the Conakry airport?

The Guinean airport is one of the worst in the world. It can be a bit overwhelming. You will first go to a checkpoint to show your passport, visa, and WHO card. Woe to the traveler without the right documents! Then you go to the section to claim your baggage. People will try to get you to let them take your bags. They’re not stealing them (usually), but want to get paid to wheel the cart for you. If you have a lot of bags, you might want to accept this. I wouldn’t pay more than $1-$2 for this. PLEASE don’t pay more, or you make it more difficult for all the other travelers. They’ll take advantage of your naïveté. You can also wheel a cart yourself, you don’t have to pay them. On your way out, you pass by a desk with grumpy looking people in uniforms. This is customs. Be sure you know what you have and if it should require customs charges. They will often ask for some money ($5 should do it), and just let you through. That’s often easiest. Otherwise, they might go through your bags and ask for stuff. This is worst case scenario. I usually just said “Peace Corps”, waved an ID, brought my bag on the table in a gesture of cooperation, and they waved me on. Smile, and look dumb.

                Taking photos

Always ask permission for photos of individuals! Especially in cities. Do not photograph mosques, official government buildings, or military police.

Villages are a different story but still ask for permission. Most will love photographs especially if you print a copy for them. (There are Kodak kiosks in larger cities). Ask in the local language if you can!

 

                General Comments

One traveler says: “In retrospect, nothing was that bad and all the advice from this newsletter was very good. Everyone has their own spin on what was helpful. Most women said don’t take too many clothes, but I wish I had stuffed more t-shirts in, at least to feel fresher. It’s hard to achieve that without running water! I think Purell was invented for Guinea. The little village was far more tolerable, despite the lack of amenities. Everyone was so nice. ”

Have your PCV prepare a back-up plan for arrival in case they’re not there to meet you at the airport.

Don’t try to see too many places – pick a few and stay there. Traveling takes a long time and can be exhausting.

With respect to bathrooms, I suggest you all start practicing squatting as low as you can to the ground. Remember, lower is better. The real natives can squat with their feet flat on the ground. Good luck.

As far as traditions or customs – one thing they do constantly in a very friendly manner is greet you over and over again. It is rude to pass someone without greeting and shaking their hands. You may also expected to bring small gifts and your friend can tell you what to bring.

Make sure any taxi you get into has working doors and a complete exhaust pipe and that the windows go up. If you encounter a roadblock, do not give up your passport.

We were only hit up once for a bribe – that was at the airport just after we arrived and we were trying to get out of the building with copious amounts of luggage – duffel bags of “stuff” that we had brought over for our daughter and other volunteers. One of the “security guards” began to do a “search” of the bags for contraband, but before she got too far another one who appeared to be a supervisor came over and asked us why we were coming to the country. Our daughter explained she was with the Peace Corps and those were the magic words. The supervisor reprimanded the first person and let us go. Our daughter was very strict with us – not allowing us to pay a bribe or give up easily when we were dickering for an item we wanted to purchase because she felt it would set a bad precedent for those who would follow.

If you get a chance, visit Doucki — the only ecotourism spot in the area — near Pita. Hassan speaks English, French, Pular, and other African languages. His hobby is hiking. He built some “cases” (round houses with thatched roofs) and leads the best narrated hikes ever to great canyons, rainforests, and waterfalls. It was physically challenging, but Hassan sizes you up before selecting the hike. He provides good food, tea, and wonderful hospitality in a breathtaking part of the Fouta. Ask him to make the “green banana dish (one of the best dishes we had in Guinea and a treat for vegetarians).