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Holidays in Guinea,Bissau

Understanding Guinea,Bissau


Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, part of the Mali Empire; parts of this kingdom persisted until the eighteenth century Early reports of Europeans reaching this area come from the mid 15th century The rivers and coast of this area were among the first places colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the interior was not explored until the 19th century

The Portugese tried desperately to hang on to their colony much longer than other European countries An armed independence rebellion began in 1956, but it was not until 1974 that the Portugese finally accepted indpenendce for Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau's post-independence history has been chequered A civil war in 1998, followed by the imposition of a military junta in 1999 has been replaced with a multi-party democracy The economy remains fragile, however hopes are high


Guinea-Bissau is warm all year around and there is little temperature fluctuation; it averages 263 °C 793 °F The average rainfall for Bissau is 2,024 mm although this is almost entirely accounted for during the rainy season which falls between June and September/October From December through April, the country experiences drought

Talking in Guinea,Bissau

Portuguese is the official language and the language used for writing, however creole is the language spoken among the locals There are several local languages such as Fula, Balanta, Mandinka, Pepel, Bijago etc But you will always find people who speak English and, of course, French from other African countriesThe Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Mauretania, Nigeria You can buy a Creole/English dictionary at the WEC Mission which is in Caracol

What to see in Guinea,Bissau

  • Forests of Jemberem - Cantanhez Natural Park, where you can see chimpanzees with a little luck

What to do in Guinea,Bissau

In Conakry, one of the best places to grab a beer and hangout is the beach bar in Taouyah, a neighborhood with a large market and mostly residential with some night clubs and restaurants Many expats, including the Peace Corps headquarters, live in the neighborhood and meet up at the beach around sunset for great pizza or fish or chicken dishes There is a great breeze, live music, and lots of locals playing soccer games until the sunsets, especially on the weekends

Music in Guinea is one of the best cultural activities the country has to offer Some of the best Kora players in the world are from Guinea There are many bars that offer live music

The French-Guinean Cultural Center has some great musical shows as well as movies, plays, ballets, and hosts exhibitions and conferences It also has a library and multi-media center Members can take out books and use the computers and internet This is a great place to meet expats, and local musicians, and artists Most people there will know the best places to go see a show that week

Outside of Conakry, there are many attractive tourism destinations for the adventurous traveler Infrastructure, such as hotels, roads etc is lacking outside of the capital but you can find basic places to stay with limited electricity powered by generators

The Foutah Djallon area has superb hiking, sweeping vistas, waterfalls and cliffs Fouta Trekking is a local non-profit that promotes equitable tourism They offer hiking tours ranging from three to five days or tailored tours Tourists stay in villages with part of the revenue going back to the villages for community development Labe, the historical capital and seat of the Foutah Empire that reigned in the pre-colonial times, is a bustling city with some interesting history You can buy beautiful traditional cloth in various navy blue colors On the road from Conakry, via Kindia, is the city of Dalaba, where the major chiefs of the country met to determine the fate of the soon to be independent country from the French in 1958 There is an old mansion that you can visit and a ceremonial hut with amazing carvings inside Kindia has some of the best vegetable and fruit produce and thus a lively market

The coastline from Conakry up towards Guinea -Bissau also offers great tourism with beautiful untouched beaches, mangroves, and wildlife viewing Bel Air is a well known tourism destination on the beach about two hours from Conakry on a well paved road There is a large and usually deserted hotel where past political leaders have met Its a very popular destination around major holidays A much nicer place to stay if you like more eco-tourism is Sabolan Village which is a small hotel on a beautiful beach that is off the well paved road that leads to the Bel Air hotel There are about ten modern huts there and a restaurant Its a bit expensive for what you get but the setting is amazing If you have a tent or want to stay in a more authentic and cheaper place, you can go down the beach or along the path, past the actual village, and stay in nice huts made by a local villager and now run by his son Expats who work in the mining areas rent out the huts and come on the weekends but you can always pitch a tent You have to bring your own food however

For the more adventurous is a trip to the island archipelago near the Guinea-Bissau border called Tristao You can drive from Conakry to Kamsar and from there you can get on a local boat to the Tristao islands The boat takes four hours and usually runs once or twice a week You can sometimes get lucky if there is a fishing boat going back to Tristao but they are usually very heavily loaded and may not be as safe as the passenger boat Manatee, turtles, and many different bird types live in the Tristao archipelago Its a very isolated place with many animist traditions still in existence

Kamsar is the main bauxite mining export town, where major shipments of bauxite leave from the Boke region There are some pretty good hotels and restaurants that cater to the mining executives and expats The Boke region is the main bauxite mining area Boke, the administrative city of the region, has an interesting colonial museum, some decent hotels, and a Lebanese store on the main road where everyone goes to watch the football games soccer and have cold Amstel lights when the generator is on

Buying stuff in Guinea,Bissau

In December 2007 the first ATM's arrived to the country of Guinea-Bissau - in the BAO Banco da Africa Occidental branches of Bissau and Gabú An ATM is also being set up in the Hotel Malaika in Bissau These ATM's only function if you have a local account with that bank So, leave your credit card/bank card at home because it will do you no good Probably still safest to bring euros or FCFA enough to cover the time you plan to stay Western Union is present in Bissau eight locations, Bafatá, Gabú, Buba, Canchungo and Mansoa They will rip you off by taking 10%

The largest market in the country is Bandim Market, which is on the main road going into town You can buy many things there and the atmosphere is nice Otherwise there are small vendors on most roads of the capital In the villages Tabankas you will also find small vendors selling the necessities In the main towns in the countryside there are larger markets called "Lumo", which give farmers and merchants the possibility to sell/trade their goods Don't forget that Guinea-Bissau is a poor country and as such the possibilities for shopping are smaller than in the Gambia or Senegal

Useful creole shopping phrases: Ke ku bu misti? what do you want? N mistil I want it N ka mistil I don't want it

Food and eating in Guinea,Bissau

Most Guineans eat rice with fish, because the country is rich in fish, and rice homegrown or imported from Thailand is relatively cheap The more costly meals contain beef, goat, chicken or pork Meals are also made with palm oil and peanut sauces and diverse vegetables Guineans also eat wild/game meat deer, monkey, beaver etc but these animals are considered to be in danger of extinction and so it is not recommended to support this Guineans are known for their warm heartedness and so you will always be asked to come have a bit with a group of people it is common to eat from a large bowl"bin kume, no kume"

Fruit available depends on the season, but mangos, papayas, oranges, grape fruits, bananas, cashews and peanuts are abundant Also try the sour "fole" fruits and the baobab fruit juice sumo de cabaceira Imported fruit can be bought in "fera de prasa" in the center of Bissau apples, pears, pineapples, watermelons etc but is more expensive than in Europe

Vegetables sold in the markets include lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, parsley, okra, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, chili, sweet potatoes

Street snacks are typically sandwiches with hardboiled egg, omelete, fish or beef - or donuts, cake or hardboiled eggs Frozen juice in small plastic bags is popular among locals

Drinking in Guinea,Bissau

The people of Guinea-Bissau love to drink a sweet green tea known as "warga", the non-muslims also enjoy drinking cashew wine or palm wine There are also possibilities to buy Portuguese beer, wine and soft drinks but these are more expensive It is recommended that foreigners only drink bottled, filtered or boiled water

Accommodation in Guinea,Bissau

Hotels in Bissau are generally overpriced - but some hotels were undergoing renovation in 2007, giving hope for more competition and lower prices

In most of the towns outside the capital, there are possibilities to find hotels or other rentable rooms

There are also mainly french-run hotels on the Bijagos islands which are recommendable

Working in Guinea,Bissau

There are numerous NGO's, missionaries and international organizations UN, EU, WHO, UNICEF, The Global Fund working in Guinea Bissau

  • Bandim Health Project 4
  • Médicos do Mundo 5
  • INDE - Intercooperação e Desenvolvimento 6

Cities in Guinea,Bissau

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