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Guinea

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Palm Camayenne
Palm Camayenne - dream vacation

BP 2818, Conakry, Guinea, Conakry

Golden Plazza
Golden Plazza - dream vacation

Quartier Almamya 1194, Conakry

Noom Hotel Conakry
Noom Hotel Conakry - dream vacation

Quartier Ignace Deen Av De La Republique, Conakry

Guinea (officially the Republic of Guinea; French: République de Guinée) is a former French colony that borders Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the north, Mali on the north and north-east, Côte d'Ivoire to the east and Liberia and Sierra Leone to the south. Unrest in Sierra Leone has spilled across the border, creating humanitarian emergencies and threatening the stability of this country. The country is often sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea.

Regions

Cities

  • Conakry — capital
  • Beyla
  • Dalaba — a small town often dubbed the "Switzerland of Guinea" because of its relatively mild temperatures and nice scenery.
  • Faranah
  • Forécariah
  • Kankan — the second city
  • Kindia
  • Labé
  • Mamou

Other destinations

  • Fouta Djalon — scenic region of forests and cultivated valleys ideal for hiking through Fulani villages or in search of waterfalls.
  • Loos Islands — a former slaving base, these forested islands with sandy beaches near Conakry are a popular weekend escape for expats.
  • National Park of the Niokolo-Badiar (Parc National du Niokolo-Badiar) — savanna along the Senegal border home to antelope, monkeys, lions, & leopard during the dry season.
  • Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve — a UNESCO World Heritage Site partially in Guinea and partially in Cote d'Ivoire.
  • National Park of the Upper Niger (Haut Niger National Park) — headwaters of the Niger River; home to hippos, elephants, buffaloes, chimpanzees, and waterbuck.

Understand

Guinea is a remarkable country with very warm, genuine people but little infrastructure. While they have tremendous natural resources available to them (which includes around one half of the world's reserves of bauxite, and many major gold, jewel, and metal deposits), they rate very poorly in the UN's quality of life index. Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdom.

History

Guinea belonged to a series of empires until France colonized it in the 1890s, and made it part of French West Africa. Guinea declared its independence from France on 2 October 1958. The first president, socialist Ahmed Sékou Touré, faced a lot of criticism from the West for alleged human rights violations and suppression of opposition parties. He believed in building a powerful, self-sufficient nation, without reliance on foreign powers.

When he died in 1984, General Lansana Conté took over. Under Conté's rule, things did not improve and the ideals of Touré were soon left behind. Conté made too many political promises and most of them were never fulfilled. In 1993, the first elections were held, though their results were disputed - as have those in all subsequent elections. Conté died in 2008 without appointing a successor, leaving chaos in his wake. Immediately following Conté's death, on 23 December 2008, a man by the name of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara took power as Guinea's new President staged by a coup d'état. Even though Camara came in as a popular figure, this has proved to be another political blow for Guinea and Guineans. Civilian protests have been often met with live gunfire and physical abuse at the hands of military and police personnel. In December 2009, Camara was involved in an assassination attempt, and the current "big man" is Alpha Condé.

Climate

The coastal region of Guinea and most of the inland have a tropical climate, with a rainy season lasting from April to November, relatively high and uniform temperatures, and high humidity. Conakry's year-round average high is 29°C (84.2°F), and the low is 23°C (73.4°F); its average annual rainfall is 4,300mm (169.3 in). The Sahelian Haute Guinee region has a shorter rainy season and greater daily temperature variations.

People

Guinea's population comprises more than 20 ethnic groups.

The Fulas or Fulani (French: Peuls; Fula: Ful?e), comprise 30% of the population and are mostly found in the Futa Djallon region. The Mandinka, also known as Mandingo or Malinké, comprise 40% of the population and are mostly found in eastern Guinea concentrated around the Kankan and Kissidougou prefectures. The Soussou, comprising 20%, are predominantly in western areas around the capital Conakry, Forécariah, and Kindia. Smaller ethnic groups make up the remaining 10% of the population, including Kpelle, Kissi, Zialo, Toma and others.

Get in

Visa

Visa inquiries must be made at Guinea embassies, and are not available at the borders or airport. Also a yellow fever vaccination certificate is needed to enter.

In Europe a one month, single entry tourist visa costs €110, three months €150 and six months E€220. In USA a one month, single entry visa costs around US$100 and three month, multiple entry visa is double the price and is the only type available to citizens of the US.

By plane

Royal Air Maroc (RAM) flies from numerous European cities to Conakry (CKY) via Casablanca. RAM supplies the only direct flight from Montréal to Africa (Casablanca, with a stopover in New York) and many connections from Casablanca to Conakry (also called Kry) and elsewhere.

Air France from Paris, France and SN Brussels from Brussels, Belgium. Air Ivoire flies to Conakry regularly from Abidjan en route to Dakar, as does Belvue. Expect to be asked for a "gift" by airport security.

By train

Although cargo trains still run the old line between Conakry and Kankan, there are no passenger trains still operational in Guinea. The old station in downtown Conakry is worth a visit.

By car

In 2008 travel between Guinea and Liberia was safe, though time consuming. Hiring a motorcycle is one of the the best options.

Crossing the Guinean border with Senegal is possible but very uncomfortable and requires patience. Inside Guinea, the road between Labe and Koundara is unpaved and very rough. It takes about 8 hours for the whole journey with only minor breakdowns. There are some decent and very cheap places to stay in Koundara. Between Koundara and Diaoube (Senegal) is a similar journey. The border is relatively hassle free. There's a 20 km no man's land between border posts where you only know you've entered Senegal because the dirt road gets better. It's possible to change your currency at any hour of the night at the border towns on either side of the no man's land. Local transport from Diaoube to Tambacounda and on to Dakar is relatively easy.

Koundara is also the main jump off point for a trip to Guinea-Bissau.

The Guinea (Kopoto)/Sierra Leone (Kambia) crossing with a car or motorcycle is made possible with the 'Laissez-Passer Pour Vehicule', available at the Guinea Embassy (US$40) and with the 'Vehicle Clearance Permit', available at the Sierra Leone Embassy (US$40). An additional 'Ecowas International Circulation Permit' will be required for Sierra Leone, available at the border for SLL100,000.

An Ecowas 'Brown Card' may also be needed for proof of insurance for the vehicle.

Get around

There are no buses. Traffic in Conakry can be very heavy. The local transport vans in Conakry seem to be the most congested in all of West Africa. Taxis are very inexpensive, even if you want to rent one for a half or whole day. Expect to have to stop for gas almost immediately after you get in the car. The Government and business centre of the city is unfortunately located at the tip of a long and narrow peninsula which is only connected to the rest of Conakry, which sprawls onto the mainland, by two roads. This can be particularly frustrating at rush hour. Queues at gas stations in Conakry can be quite long and disorganized at certain times. Much of the infrastructure around the airport is being rebuilt, so trips to downtown or to la miniere might take unusual detours.

Bush Taxis ("504", for the common Peugeot 504 model) are used for transport from city to city. Keep in mind that there is a curfew at night, and if you try to drive into Conakry you will have to wait outside the city until morning. Local transport is usually able to leave Conakry after dark. Departure times are never set for local transport. In the early morning you might be told that a taxi will be leaving "toute suite" (right away) but will not get out of Conakry until well after dark. Intercity travel in Guinea requires a great deal of patience and a loose schedule. It is also possible to fly from city to city, but get to the airport early and bring cash for your tickets.

MotorTaxi/TaxiBike a much faster, and more comfortable way of travel is by motorcycle, which often serve as taxis.

Talk

The official language is French. There are numerous ethnic languages, and the three most prevalent are Susu, Pular (Foulah, Peuhl) and Malinke. Susu is spoken in the coastal region and in the capital city. Toma, Guerzé, Kissi and others are spoken in the interior (Sacred Forest) region bordering on Mali, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Liberia. There are a lot of people who cannot speak any English at all, even in the capital city.

See

Guinea has some spectacular landscapes with a few tropical, dry forests remaining, and the rainforests in the south are lush, verdant and full of wildlife - much of it destined for the cooking pot.

In Conakry, there is the National Museum which highlights the distinct ethnic tribes in Guinea and various traditional instruments, masks, etc.

The main port is located at the tip of the peninsula in Conakry, near the President's Palace. You can take a boat from there to the islands of Loos for a day or overnight trip. Its a bustling place where fishermen offload their daily catch.

Cape Verga has some of the best beaches in Guinea for exploration.

Mount Nimba is the highest mountain peak in Guinea for trekking.

Do

In Conakry, one of the best places to grab a beer and hangout is the beach bar in Taouyah, an area with a large market and mostly residential with some night clubs and restaurants. Many expats, including the Peace Corps headquarters, live here 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 Centre has some great musical shows, movies, plays, and ballets (i.e. traditional West-African dance), and hosts exhibitions and conferences. It also has a library and multi-media centre. 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 colours. 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).

Buy

Money

The currency of the country is the Guinean franc (French: franc guinéen), denoted by the symbol "FG" or "Fr" or "GFr" (ISO currency code: GNF). Banknotes circulate in denominations of FG500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 and inflation is rampant.

ATMs

  • All Ecobank ATMs in Guinea take Mastercard or Visa card for cash withdrawal.

Shopping

They do not sell a lot of trinkets in Guinea, but they do have wonderful clothing that you can purchase. The tailors there are very skilled and can create an outfit very fast (approximately a day). Masks, wood statues, djembes (drums), traditional clothing, bags made in Guinea are sold in many of the areas outside of major hotels in Conakry and along the roadside. Always haggle, especially if outside a major hotel as prices there are higher. A good rule of thumb is to halve whatever the opening price is and also to walk away if the prices don't come down. Negotiations are supposed to take awhile and are a way of figuring out the "walk away" price point for both buyer and seller.

The largest market in Conakry is Madina market. You can find everything and anything there. Be careful of pickpockets, mud (during rainy season) and traffic. Its a pretty hectic and chaotic place but you'll find the best produce, electronics, etc., at the best prices. You can hire a young boy to haul out your purchases for you if you are walking back to a parked car or where you're staying. Fee is about FG5,000 (€0.5 or US$0.7).

In certain parts of the country you can also find some nice carvings, many of which are created in the city of Kindia.

Eat

Many options are available for dining. For FG20,000 (€2 or roughly US$3), you are able to dine on delicious, nutritious food. If your taste buds would prefer something international, many other choices are available as well. The beef in Guinea is very good, and is highly recommended. Pork isn't served because of the dominance of Islam but is eaten among the forest people of the South east (Guinee Forestiere). There are good restaurants that are Lebanese which have European-styled breakfasts.

Outside of the capital, Conakry, you can can often enjoy local dishes (consisting of Guinean style rice and one of the 4 main sauces with sometimes beef or fish in some cases) at a hole in the wall local restaurant for less than US$1 (FG3,000-6,000 depending on the exchange rate). You will leave full!

In Kankan, Guinea (Haute Guinee), there are few places to choose from if you wish to eat at a more decent restaurant. There is Hotel Villa and Hotel Bate. As of mid-2008, these were the top two places for lodging and meals. A typical plate can cost anywhere between FG35,000 and FG55,000. Note that prices of food and drinks can often dramatically increase at the spur of the moment and without any explanation!

Fruits are very inexpensive here, especially compared to the higher costs in neighbouring countries (Mali, Ivory Coast and Senegal). For those who love pineapples, on the national road (which literally goes from the North of the country to Conakry in the South) you can find people selling this tasty fruit very cheaply on the side of the road in and around Kindia. Mango fruits, oranges and bananas can also be found in abundance throughout the country and at a cheap rate, especially at road sides.

Another alternative to eating out is eating "in". Since Guineans are generally welcoming and friendly people you may be invited to their home to share a meal. Most Guineans eat together from one big dish. Enjoy the experience and don't drink the local water if and when they offer it to you. Take bottled water (Coyah, Milo, etc.)

Drink

Canned European beer is available as well as local "Guiluxe" and "Skol" lager beers.

Water bottled in the name of Coyah is available everywhere for about US$0.50 per 1.5 litre bottle and is very good. Conakry's tap water is generally not safe unless filtered/boiled.

Work

Stay safe

Guinea is a rather unsafe nation, due to the fact that it has a history of being one of Africa's most unstable countries; lawlessness and criminality are widespread. Most of the crime is done by officials in military uniforms, and usually targets foreigners. Most non-violent crime involves acts of pick-pocketing and purse-snatching, while armed robbery, muggings, and assaults are the most common violent crimes. Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Stay vigilant, and apply common sense if stuck in a difficult situation.

Visitors should also avoid unsolicited offers of assistance at the airport and hotels because such offers often mask an intention to steal luggage, purses, or wallets. Travellers should arrange for hotel personnel, family members, or business contacts to meet them at the airport to reduce their vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity.

When taking photographs, avoid military bases and political buildings, as it can be considered espionage in Guinea and can land you in jail.

The police are completely ineffective. Low salaries and improper training contribute to the lack of professionalism of the police. If you are the victim of a crime, consult your embassy.

Corruption is extremely widespread - Corrupt police and soldiers target foreigners for bribes in just about any place in the country. Policemen will demand bribes at any checkpoint. Policemen will often intimidate you to pay bribes by confiscating a particular item.

Business trips to Guinea are strongly discouraged. Business frauds and scams are rampant, and if you are going for a business trip in Guinea, it is strongly recommended that you do not go.

Stay healthy

The medical system in Guinea is in a very poor condition, and is not well equipped and is very limited. Some private medical facilities (e.g. Clinique Pasteur in Conakry) provide a better range of treatment options than public facilities, but are still well below western standards. There are no ambulance or emergency rescue services in Guinea and trauma care is extremely limited.

  • Tap water is unsafe for drinking. Drink only bottled, unopened, water.
  • Malaria is prevalent. Make sure to take anti-malarial prophylactics and cover up exposed skin during the evening and early morning when mosquitoes are at their worst.

If staying in the country for a long time it is advisable to bring anti-malarial drugs, and anti-diarhoea drugs (Cipro) as well as paracetamol and a medical kit with you if you are coming from Europe or the US as the drugs found in Guinea are usually of lesser quality and strength, albeit much cheaper.

The best insider's tip for eating fresh vegetables is to soak them in a big bowl of water that has one drop of bleach in it. This will kill any bacteria and you'll be able to have a salad or eat vegetables and fruits that can't be peeled such as tomatoes or keep the skin on cucumbers etc. for added fibre and vitamins.

A major outbreak of the deadly Ebola viral haemorrhagic fever erupted in Guinea in March 2014, killing more than 11,000 people in 2014-2016. This disease is fatal if not treated early and aggressively, and has showed a 40% fatality rate. As of June 2016, WHO has declared the end of Ebola virus transmission in the Republic of Guinea. Though WHO states, the risk of additional outbreaks originating from exposure to infected survivor body fluids remains and requires sustained mitigation through counseling on safe sex practices and testing of body fluids.

Respect

As with most of West Africa, greetings are very much a part of daily life in Guinea. A simple, "ça va?" will often suffice. However, Guineans appreciate if you ask about their family, health and job/studies: "et la famille, la sante, le boulot/les etudes." Before getting to the point in a conversation, e-mail, etc., it is common and expected to greet somehow and ask how they are doing.

Greet, eat and exchange money only with your right hand; the left hand is used for bathroom purposes and is considered unclean.

The gender issue is quite complex in Guinea to say the least. Even though Guinea is a slightly conservative, Muslim, male-dominated society, foreign female travelers will rarely face any sort of difficulties. Don't be surprised if you are proposed to a million times! Cat calls, whistles and other similar forms of harassment are rare in Guinea and frowned upon. Guinean males often give up their seat to females as a sign of respect, especially in people's homes, outdoor settings, etc.

In general, men are still higher up the social ladder than women and this is prevalent in all aspects of Guinean society (education, jobs, etc.) Don't be surprised if men are shown more consideration than women in daily life. Once it's known that you are a foreign woman (especially if you are a Black foreign female coming from the US, Europe, etc.), and not a local, you will usually be granted a higher level of consideration).

For women it is NOT advisable to wear clothing showing anything from the stomach to the knees! Shorts, see-throughs, mini skirts, bare midriffs are considered tasteless if worn in public. It's not uncommon to be met with hostile stares or looks of disapproval from local Guineans or even worse. Tattoos and body piercings are not common and visitors are advised to cover them up when possible. A head scarf, however, is not necessary. Jeans (while still not very popular among Guinean women), long skirts and dresses, tank tops and short or long sleeved shirts are perfectly acceptable.

There is a Christian minority (mostly concentrated in the southern forest region); however, Muslims, Christians and others tend to co-exist peacefully with tolerance and respect.

Guineans will often invite you to eat at their home. This is a sign of respect and consideration for the visitor. Accept the invitation where possible. If you are unable, it's better to politely respond with a simple "next time" or "prochainement". Simply showing up without an appointment at the home of a Guinean is not considered rude or impolite as it can be in the West. Don't be alarmed if you find Guineans popping over to see how you are.

Overall Guineans are warm, friendly and hospitable and will come to your assistance where appropriate.

Photo by Fineas Anton

YOU REACH INTO you wallet to pay for your hostel bed for the night, and come up empty. You dig deeper, finding only receipts and pocket lint.

You realize you’re out of money.

Nervous, you excuse yourself from the hostel clerk and rip open your backpack, in search of a secret stash of cash. Nothing. Not even a few coins.

All you have left are some smelly socks, an overdrawn bank account, and an unquenchable thirst for adventure.

What do you do? Pack up your gear, hang your head in shame as you call your friends/parents to send the money for a ticket home? Or do you consider these innovative options for funding a life on the road:

1. Travel writer

Considered by many as the ultimate travel job, writing for online publications can help you buy your next mug of beer. Work your way to becoming the next Hunter S. Thomson by learning about the craft and querying your next inspired idea.

2. Wield that camera

National Geographic may not be knocking your door down, but that doesn’t mean that your photos don’t deserve an audience. Try selling your landscape and portrait shots to travel publications or submit it to a stock photography company such as Shutterpoint.com, Andes Press Agency, and Getty Images.

3. Video journalism

With the advent of Youtube amateur videos are in great demand. Become a backpack filmmaker, set up your own vlog, or simply sell it to tourism sites.

If you’re talented (or even if you aren’t), this is a great way to earn money. Just make sure you’re not taking someone else’s “spot” and check the legalities of performing in a certain area. Or if the police come, you could just run away really fast.

5. Work in a bookstore

It’s a great way to show-off your “intellectual” side whilst devouring the latest books. Keep in mind that most may require a work permit before they hire you. A great alternative is to bunk in Paris’ famed Shakespeare and Company where the owner offers free beds and work in exchange that you promise to read at least one book a day.

6. Online poker

This is the perfect money-making means for risk takers. Many travelers who have funded their trips from their winnings on online poker. Make sure to weigh the risks of wiping out your bank account and developing a gambling problem.

7. Massage

Have you been known to make your dates swoon with your suave massage moves? Maybe it’s time you put your seduction skills to good use by working as a freelance masseuse. Find willing clients on the beach or a location where people are looking to relaaaaxxxx. Invest in some scented oil, clean nails, and your most disarming smile and you’ll have enough funds for your own spa treatment.

8. Farm work

Fruit picking and farm work is one of the favorite possibilities for hippies, idealists, and masochists. Though it is hard labor, it’s a paying job with invaluable perks, like meeting new people, enjoying the outdoors, and having a unique experience.

One of the best resources is Transitions Abroad, Matador’s Guide to WWOOFING and Finding Paying Work in Europe.

9. Construction

If you’d like to fatten your wallet whilst trimming your waistline, then take on some short-term construction work. Who knows, with your newly sculpted abs and beefy biceps, you may find other uses for that tool belt.

10. Work in a hostel

Many hostels hire part-time workers in exchange for cheaper rates on rooms. Cleaning up after travelers may seem pretty disgusting, but it’s an opportunity for quick cash, a free bed, and some new friends.

11. Painting

You don’t have to cut off your ear to get a painting gig, but you can put your artistic abilities to good use by offering your services for home, office, or building refurbishments.

12. Dishwasher or kitchen staff

Grab some leftovers without having to resort to dumpster diving. Experience the stress, camaraderie, and craziness of working in a restaurant’s kitchen. It may even open your eyes to a new career path like it did for bad-ass chef extraordinaire, Anthony Bourdain.

13. For the love of science…or some cash

If you were the type of kid that purposely ignores the expiration date on milk cartons just to “see what would happen,” then this is the job for you. Get prodded and poked by nervous science students in the UK, US, and in Europe with Get Paid to Guinea Pig.

14. Donate blood

So what if you feel a bit woozy? A train to Russia is not cheap. Plus, you’re helping save lives.

15. Modeling

Do you enjoy staring at your reflection on train windows and hostel mirrors? Then throw down that backpack for a few hours and head off to the glamorous world of commercial and print modeling. Often found in the gigs section of craigslist ads and city job sites, these opportunities require little more than a few cheesy poses.

16. Movie extra

Run through the streets of Berlin with Jason Bourne or flee Godzilla’s rampage in Tokyo by working as a movie extra. You can check out casting agencies, local job posts, or even the local couchsurfing group where independent film makers often post openings. It’s a great way to rub elbows with international celebrities (or at least tell your friends you did), earn some fast cash and possibly get discovered.

17. Recycle

Yes, saving the environment does pay. In most European cities, you can get cash back for the bottles you collect. Scour the hostel lounge and trash cans for some empty containers which you can take to the local supermarket where you’ll be given enough change to finally buy that banana you’ve been eyeing.

18. Sports events

Run after wayward golf balls or mop up the latest spillage from the Tae Kwon Do championships. For sports enthusiasts, it’s a great way to earn some money whilst gaining insight on the local games.

19. Trim some bushes

No, not those, pervert. Knock on a few doors and ask if they need any cleaning, yard work, or repairs done. Though you may be chased off by Rover (or Ganesh if you’re in India), with a rumbling stomach, anything is worth a try.

20. Expositions

If you consider yourself a master of setting up tents, then challenge yourself by working at an exposition. Find these jobs on the city classified pages and help put up the displays, tarps and booths for a quick and easy buck.

21. Write content

If you’ve been annoying your friends and family back home with your lengthy emails, then maybe its time to get paid by writing about other things than yourself. Work for a site that pays per hits such as blogit.com and helium.com.

22. Resell stuff

Don’t quite know what to do with that weird doll you got in Romania? Then sell it in your next location. From convincing your bunkmate to buy your lucky charms to auctioning fleamarket finds on ebay, reselling unusual travel goods can turn into quite the lucrative on-the-road business.

23. Handicrafts

If you’ve got a knack for crochet or can weave a basket at hyper speed, then selling some of your crafts can be used towards funding your next bus ticket. At the very least, you could make yourself something warm for those homeless evenings.

24. Festival stalking

One of the best ways to combine a crazy cultural adventure, lots of drinking, and enough dough for your next hangover spot is to work the festival circuit. You could either apply for a gig in one of the stands or push your own agenda by selling homemade space cakes, jell-o shots, or setting up a kissing booth.

25. Sail Away

Sail off towards the sunset by working on a yacht or a cruise ship. You can find work by perusing crew job sites or simply asking people by the harbor if they have any leads. It provides a sense of freedom, a means to sustain to yourself and a way to get to your next stop.  

Being on the road with very little or no cash may seem daunting at first, but the challenge of using your imagination to provide for yourself will make the experience all the more exciting and valuable.

More like this: The real reasons you can't afford to travel
The single story about Africa

Photo by Tanja Heffner

In her famous TED talk, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warned viewers of “The Danger of a Single Story.” She tells a poignant story of her experience living with her American college roommate in the United States to illustrate her point:

“My roommate had a single story of Africa. A single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her, in any way. No possibility of feelings more complex than pity. No possibility of a connection as human equals.[…] If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves, and waiting to be saved, by a kind, white foreigner… The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

How can you make sure that you too don’t get trapped in a single story of Africa? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Understand the geography of the African continent.

Africa is bigger than the United States, China, India and all of Europe combined. And yet too often, a negative news story about simply one of Africa’s fifty-four countries ends up negatively affecting the whole continent. For example, a BBC article reported that when the Ebola epidemic hit Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, even countries in sub-Saharan Africa lost tourist revenue: advance bookings for 2015 in Tanzania were 50% lower. Tourists couldn’t understand that cities like Rome and Madrid were closer to the center of the of Ebola outbreak than Tanzania was. Instead they simply assumed that any country in Africa was automatically more dangerous.

2. Acknowledge the successes on the continent, instead of single-mindedly focusing on the negative.

It’s way too simplistic to focus only on the bad news coming out of Africa, particularly when there are plenty of things Africa does better than the States: According to data by the World Bank, Rwanda leads the world in female representation in their government (64% of their government officials are female. In the United States, that number is 18%). Unlike the United States, African countries offer paid maternal leave. Countries like the Central African Republic, Chad, Namibia all also have higher voter turnout rates than we do.

3. Read and watch Western portrayals of the Africa with a critical eye.

As Courtney Martin wrote, “single stories are born, not just from inadequately seeing real people (although that is sometimes the case), but inadequately writing real people — creating caricatures rather than characters.” This happens too often when Westerners attempt to portray African people in their art.

Check out this viral Youtube video made by an organization called Mama Hope, which points out the various stereotypes African men are tired of seeing in Hollywood movies. And check out Binyavanga Wainaina’s video instructing Westerners “How not to write about Africa”:

Keep these videos and idea in mind anytime you’re reading books or watching movies about the continent and its people.

4. Diversify your news sources.

In 2013, the #SomeoneTellCNN controversy in Kenya showed how Western new outlets reporting on Africa can often get the story wrong. Journalists get lazy and write pieces that don’t give the story the actual nuance (or even accuracy) it deserves.

To make sure you’re getting the full context of a story, check out news outlets that actually feature African journalists on the ground. Here are a few:

  • Africa is a Country — This was founded by Sean Jacobs in 2009 and aimed to “challenge the received wisdom about Africa from a left perspective, informed by his experiences of resistance movements to Apartheid.”
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  • Africa Check — This non-profit organization was created in 2012 to “promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa” and “raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.”
  •  

  • Okay Africa — This website reports on African youth culture and art, and aims to fill “a much needed gap in representations of Africa by presenting a forward-thinking, nuanced view of Africa today.”
  • Although it’s one of the most well-known archaeological wonders of the world, Machu Picchu still holds plenty of secrets and is on our shortlist of must-see destinations on any Peru trip.

    Paul enjoying Machu Picchu on the Jaguar tripPaul Walrath enjoying Machu Picchu – on the ‘Jaguar‘ trip

    Machu Picchu is an enigma, some would say a paradox because it is known as both the best known yet least known about of the Inca sites. Since its discovery on July 24, 1911 by North American Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu has been considered one of the world’s greatest architectural and archaeological monuments, due to its extraordinary magnificence and harmonious structure. Machu Picchu is definitely one of the most fascinating sites in Peru.

    At 2,400 meters above sea level, in the province of Urubamba, Machu Picchu surprises us because of the way its stone constructions are spread over a narrow and uneven mountain top, bordering a sheer 400 meter cliff into the Urubamba River canyon.

    Why and how was Machu Picchu built?

    Huayna Picchu from Machu Picchu

    Machu Picchu is a citadel shrouded in mystery, and to this day archaeologists have not definitively uncovered the purpose of this city of stone. The site covers an area of about one square mile, and stands in a region that the Incas considered to be magical, due to the meeting of the Andes mountains with the mighty Amazon river. When 135 bodies were discovered while exploring the site, 109 of which were female, some believed that Machu Picchu could have been a monastery where acllas (young girls) were trained to serve the Inca and the Willac Uno (High Priest). Others said it may simply have been an advance settlement for further expansions planned by the Incas. Perhaps the mystery may never be fully explained.

    The surprising perfection and beauty of Machu Picchu’s walls, built by joining stone to stone without using any cement or adhesive whatsoever, has led to many theories developing around how the city was constructed as well. It is said that a bird by the name of Kak’aqllu knew the formula for softening rock but by command, perhaps by the ancient Inca gods, had its tongue torn out. Others say there was a magic plant that could dissolve and compress stone. Nonetheless, mysteries and myths aside, the obvious wisdom and skill of the city’s ancient builders – evidenced by Machu Picchu’s many squares, aqueducts, watchtowers, observatories and its sun clock – is quite clear.

    Many people may be drawn to Peru by Machu Picchu, yet it is considered by many of our guests, to be just one of many of the ruins featuring on the “highlights reel”of their trip. See reviews to read more

    Group photo looking down on Machu Picchu Ruins

    How to get to Machu Picchu – One day or multi day trails

    You can take a one day trip to Peru from Cuzco or Lima, and walk up to this citadel in the clouds high in the Andes, or you can take some time to get acclimatised and trek via several trails that lead to Machu Picchu, most taking around 4 to 5 days to complete. A lot of people begin their Peru trip with the intent of visiting Machu Picchu, but don’t know how much more there is to see and do in and around Machu Picchu.

    After all, if you are going to Peru to experience a South American trip of a lifetime, why not learn about all the activities and other ruins there are to discover.

    Popular activities on our Peru trips (including Machu Picchu):

    1. Hiking the Lares or Classic Inca Trail
    2. Exploring Machu Picchu – facts about Machu Picchu
    3. Hiking in the Amazon jungle
    4. Sea kayaking on Lake Titicaca
    5. Staying with a local family on Amantani Island
    6. Hiking Sacsayhuamán fortress
    7. Hiking and cycle in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
    8. Exploring Cuzco
    9. Cycling through Andean villages and La Raya Pass
    10. Hiking Amantani and Taquile Islands

    You may be surprised at the number of activities you can do in Peru. In fact it’s a surprise to a lot of people that it is possible to enjoy these “non Machu Picchu focused” activities at all. Our philosophy is a little different to many tour companies, we believe that if you are going to travel all the way to a new country to experience a whole new culture, why not experience as many perspectives, local cultures and ruins as you can while you are there?

    Obviously the most popular trail chosen by visitors wanting to visit Machu Picchu is the Inca Trail. Some people prefer the Lares Trail because it offers a much more immersive experience in Peruvian village culture. If you wants to experience some of the traditions and village life the early Inca’s enjoyed, you can stay with their descendants in one of the many villages along the Lares Trail.

    If you want to hike the traditional route,  take a sneak peak below at some of what the Inca Trail has to offer.

    Hike to Machu Picchu on the ancient Inca Trail

    The Inca Trail between the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River and the mysterious abandoned citadel of Machu Picchu is one of the world’s classic treks. Climbing out of the river valley, crossing rugged mountain passes over 13,000 ft high, the trail winds through the Andes, passing numerous significant Inca ruins en route before descending through the Sun Gate to the silent stone city of Machu Picchu. To hike the Inca Trail is a thrilling experience and a great privilege. You need a permit from the Peruvian government to set foot on it, and there are strict limits on the number of permits issued each year. If you join a guided tour like the ‘Jaguar‘ trip, these permits are all take care of for you.

    But the Inca Trail is much more than a great hike. It is one small portion of an incredible network of such trails crossing high mountain ranges, bleak deserts, and raging Andean rivers, tying the Inca Empire together. At its peak expansion, Tahuantinsuyo (or The Four Corners as the empire was known) extended from what is now southern Colombia in the north, to central Chile in the south, covering a distance of about 5500 km (3400 mi). To rule such a vast domain, the emperor, or Inca, forged a remarkable communications system of approximately 18,600 miles of trails, paved through much of its length, stepped where need be, through tunnels where necessary, and using gossamer suspension bridges built of straw ropes to cross rivers unfordable in the wet season.

    The roads served to move the conquering Inca armies, and were generally wide enough for a minimum of two warriors to travel abreast. A system of runners stationed at rest houses known as tambos sped messages along the roadways, much like the Pony Express mail of the old American West. The Inca, at his empire’s capital in Cuzco, could receive news from far away Quito as rapidly as a letter crosses between the two cities in today’s mail.

    As remarkable as this highway system was in the days when it was built, used and maintained, it is an astounding testimony to its construction that so many segments remain serviceable today, after half a millennium of neglect. Clearly the Inca highway system ranks as one of the greatest engineering achievements of pre-industrial man.

    The full Inca Trail is approximately 40km long. Spread over 4 days, this amounts to about five hours walking per day, although you can walk at your own pace – you are not forced to walk with your group the whole time. It is not a difficult walk, although there are a couple of high passes, and a steep climb on the second day, so a basic level of fitness is required.

    Read More:

    Aventura Fantastica!

    “This was our second Active Adventures trip and while we went to Peru mainly to see Machu Picchu, I feel it was only a fraction of the fun we had during our trip. For me, hiking at 14,000+ feet, climbing rocks via ferrata to go zip lining was an awesome experience despite being very prone to altitude illness (we got there a day early and I was fine by the second day) and having a hubby who is very afraid of heights. Machu Picchu was magnificent but I really enjoyed the less crowded Incan and pre-Incan sites we visited more because we had them nearly all to ourselves. Our tour leader Jhayro and another local guide Daniel (who we had for 3 days in Peru) also made our trip extra special being so friendly and fun to be with both while leading us on adventures as well as during meals and on the bus.

    The food we had in Peru was excellent and that is coming from someone who is usually viewed as a picky eater with a fussy stomach. My hubby, who is a much more adventurous eater than I, tried alpaca and guinea pig and both were surprisingly good (yes, I tried them too!). After a couple days, we were used to not drinking the tap water or flushing paper down toilets so neither were a big deal. In fact, when we were in Quito, it seemed strange to be able to do so!

    For the Galapagos portion of our trip, we were led by Jose since our scheduled guide Pablo couldn’t be there due to a family emergency. Jose was very knowledgable about the local geology, flora, fauna and variety of other things and with several in our group being (former) teachers or scientists, we sure did ask a lot of questions. The unique wildlife of the islands was the primary reason I wanted to visit and I loved seeing Galapagos turtles again as I’d not seen them since I was a child back in the 60’s (I remember riding on some in a zoo which I know now was so wrong!). It was my first time seeing marine iguanas and blue footed boobies in the wild and I also enjoyed seeing a variety of other creatures that are in other places but we don’t see very often, even living in Hawaii which has very similar geology.

    Like Hawaii, each of the Galapagos Islands was different and it was interesting to see how they varied. The different forms of transportation we used to get from island to island were also adventures in themselves: 2 hour ride on a speed boat and an hourish ride on a teeny prop plane!

    The only thing that was not quite what we expected with this trip was that some of the activities listed on the Galapagos Island itinerary we did not get to do. Nevertheless, the trip was fantastic and being probably my one and only trip to South America, it will always be remembered.”

    Shirley Pratt's Review ImageShirley Pratt – Hawaii, United States Iguana, May 2016

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    To learn more about Peru as a destination, download our Brochure or join our Newsletter

     

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    Peru Trips

    ABOUT 300 million years ago, Earth did not have seven continents (or eight if you count Zealandia), but one supercontinent called Pangea, which was surrounded by one ocean called Panthalassa. About 200 million years ago, the supercontinent began to break up and the world as we know it today started to take shape.

    Reddit user LikeWolvesDo, used a map of the ancient supercontinent and drew our current international borders on it — the result is rather fascinating. Greenland and Portugal were once neighbours, India was stuck between Madagascar and Antarctica, and Florida was a hop, skip and a jump away from Guinea.

    It’s important to note that the map of the world as we know it with seven (or eight) continents will not remain the same. According to Live Science, “Right now, for instance, Australia is inching toward Asia, and the eastern portion of Africa is slowly peeling off from the rest of the continent.” Another supercontinent is likely underway.

    To be able to zoom in on the map and see more details, click here.

    Pangea

    Map: Reddit user LikeWolvesDo

    More like this: This is how green our planet really is

    SOMETIMES the treasure isn’t at the end of the rainbow, but down a rough dirt road that will rattle your fillings out. When driving up Camino Cabo Este (East Cape), north of the popular spring break destination of Cabo San Lucas, your tires hit sand and potholes for 50 miles. Most rental car companies advise against driving it and let you know that they are adamant they won’t come to your rescue. If you can, spend a little more and get an SUV for the extra suspension. The obstacles include barbed wire strung across the road, boulders, and donkeys, but don’t let the slow pace deter you. The beaches are deserted, the waves roll in for your surfboard, and whales breach just off shore.

    Getting there

    For the full Camino Cabo Este experience, fly into San Jose del Cabo. Drive south into old San Jose on the toll road (or go local with stop lights), zigzag through the streets toward the marina and head north on that tough dirt road.

    Where to stay

    In old Baja, there are no all-inclusive resorts (yet). Instead, Villa del Faro, an upscale eco-lodge, offers casitas — including a stone cottage on its own secluded beach.

    Baja's East Cape

    Photo: Villa del Faro

    Further up the coast, Cabo Pulmo is a dive community complete with Marine Park. No cars are allowed within Villa del Cabo Pulmo There are just sand paths for the visitors and dogs.

    Baja's East Cape

    The Cabo Pulmo Reef. Photo: Cabo Pulmo Beach resort

    Small hotels line the coast, where you can sleep under a mosquito net if you want. There’s no internet or cell service, just the sound of stones tumbling in the waves on the beach, the whoowhoowhoo of birds in the trees, and the rustle of palm fronds.

    What to do

    Activities along the East Cape are different from the Cabo bars spilling over with drunk spring-breakers. You can take a desert hike with the Sea of Cortez in the distance and see wild cacti and other vegetation. A couple of tee-shirts and shorts are all you’ll need to spiff up after your hike.

    Mountain bike the trails, or get stuck on the beach with an ATV, but make sure you take a dunk in the water. The sea is teeming with coral bars, spotted Guinea Puffers, green moral eels, and schools of giant parrot fish. Squadrons of pelicans swoop above you, as manta rays fly through the air.

    What to eat

    Head into the local towns for $2 tacos and beer for a buck. You may not recognize a lot of the local food but venture beyond the habitual for more local fare, from the Rajites (stuffed, roasted, fresh pepper with cream and corn) and chicken, beef and nopales al molcajete (grilled pear cactus pads with onion and chili peppers) to machaca (breakfast beef with eggs and fresh tortillas).

    Weekend-trip from Baja’s East Cape

    Baja's East Cape

    Punta Pescadero. Photo by author.

    Punta Pescadero is a rustic fishing resort north of Los Barriles, a small town with homemade chocolates and flaky tortillas. The 3000-foot paved runway attracts private King Airs and Turbo Commanders. Buzz the bar and Alberto will hop in a dusty SUV to pick you up. The hotel is a family-friendly place, where construction workers rub elbows with CEOs of Silicon Valley. It’s just an hour on a paved road, and then 30 minutes on dirt along the coast, from the San Jose del Cabo airport through old Mexico.

    With a mason jar margarita in hand, watch whales breach at sunset and dolphin pods play in the morning sunlight. More like this: 8 reasons why I changed my mind about Cabo San Lucas

    GUINEA-BISSAU Country Studies: A brief, comprehensive study of Guinea-Bissau

    CIA

    A brief yet detailed report on the country of Guinea-Bissau with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.

    Lonely Planet Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands (Travel Guide)

    Lonely Planet

    Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

    Lonely Planet Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Dive among luminous coral reefs; watch a traditional singsing festival group; or sleep in a stilt house on the mighty Sepik river, all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and begin your journey now!

    Inside Lonely Planet Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands:

    Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - the Kokoda Trail, history, environment, culture, politics Over 45 maps Covers Port Moresby, Central Province, Oro Province, Milne Bay Province, Morobe Province, Madang Province, the Highlands, the Sepik, Island Provinces, the Solomon Islands and more

    The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands , our most comprehensive guide to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

    About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, gift and lifestyle books and stationery, as well as an award-winning website, magazines, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in. TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 winner in Favorite Travel Guide category 'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times 'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

    Birds of New Guinea: Second Edition (Princeton Field Guides)

    Thane K. Pratt

    This is the completely revised edition of the essential field guide to the birds of New Guinea. The world's largest tropical island, New Guinea boasts a spectacular avifauna characterized by cassowaries, megapodes, pigeons, parrots, cuckoos, kingfishers, and owlet-nightjars, as well as an exceptionally diverse assemblage of songbirds such as the iconic birds of paradise and bowerbirds. Birds of New Guinea is the only guide to cover all 780 bird species reported in the area, including 366 endemics. Expanding its coverage with 111 vibrant color plates--twice as many as the first edition--and the addition of 635 range maps, the book also contains updated species accounts with new information about identification, voice, habits, and range. A must-have for everyone from ecotourists to field researchers, Birds of New Guinea remains an indispensable guide to the diverse birds of this remarkable region.

    780 bird species, including 366 found nowhere else111 stunning color plates, twice the number of the first editionExpanded and updated species accounts provide details on identification, voice, habits, and range635 range mapsRevised classification of birds reflects the latest research

    A Faraway, Familiar Place: An Anthropologist Returns to Papua New Guinea

    Michael French Smith

    A Faraway Familiar Place: An Anthropologist Returns to Papua New Guinea is for readers seeking an excursion deep into little-known terrain but allergic to the wide-eyed superficiality of ordinary travel literature. Author Michael French Smith savors the sometimes gritty romance of his travels to an island village far from roads, electricity, telephone service, and the Internet, but puts to rest the cliché of “Stone Age” Papua New Guinea. He also gives the lie to stereotypes of anthropologists as either machete-wielding swashbucklers or detached observers turning real people into abstractions. Smith uses his anthropological expertise subtly, to illuminate Papua New Guinean lives, to nudge readers to look more closely at ideas they take for granted, and to take a wry look at his own experiences as an anthropologist.

    Although Smith first went to Papua New Guinea in 1973, in 2008 it had been ten years since he had been back to Kragur Village, Kairiru Island, where he was an honorary “citizen.” He went back not only to see people he had known for decades, but also to find out if his desire to return was more than an urge to flee the bureaucracy and recycled indoor air of his job in a large American city. Smith finds in Kragur many things he remembered fondly, including a life immersed in nature and freedom from 9-5 tyranny. And he again encounters the stifling midday heat, the wet tropical sores, and the sometimes excruciating intensity of village social life that he had somehow managed to forget.

    Through practicing Taoist “not doing” Smith continues to learn about villagers’ difficult transition from an older world based on giving to one in which money rules and the potent mix of devotion and innovation that animates Kragur’s pervasive religious life. Becoming entangled in local political events, he gets a closer look at how ancestral loyalties and fear of sorcery influence hotly disputed contemporary elections. In turn, Kragur people practice their own form of anthropology on Smith, questioning him about American work, family, religion, and politics, including Barack Obama’s campaign for president. They ask for help with their financial problems―accounting lessons and advice on attracting tourists―but, poor as they are, they also offer sympathy for the Americans they hear are beset by economic crisis. By the end of the book Smith returns to Kragur again―in 2011―to complete projects begun in 2008, see Kragur’s chief for the last time (he died later that year), and bring Kragur’s story up to date.

    A Faraway Familiar Place provides practical wisdom for anyone leaving well-traveled roads for muddy forest tracks and landings on obscure beaches, as well as asking important questions about wealth and poverty, democracy, and being “modern.”

    Papua New Guinea

    Bill Sumits

    Photographic Journey through the various tribal cultures of Papua New Guinea, from the Sepik River basin to the Huli warriors of the Highlands.

    Four Corners: One Woman's Solo Journey Into the Heart of Papua New Guinea

    Kira Salak

    A story of extraordinary danger and adventure as a very young woman attempts, alone, a trip across Papua New Guinea. After her first taste of the freedom found in travel at age 19, Kira Salak spent the next several years of her youth as a constant, impulsive traveler. Barely old enough to drink, she leaves her life behind - graduate school, a job, a boyfriend who loves her - to attempt the impossible, her dream of following in the footsteps of British explorer Ivan Champion, the first person to successfully cross the island of Papua New Guinea in 1927. She is motivated by something much deeper than simply wanting to be the first woman to make such a crossing, and as she composes this memoir she still searches for answers. Why would a lone traveler, a very young woman at that, want to embark on such a dangerous and mysterious trip? Where was her fear? Or was this all an attempt to court and indulge her fear for some larger purpose? No one, on the road or at home, could quite understand

    Equatorial Guinea (Bradt Travel Guide)

    Oscar Scafidi

    This is the only English language guide to Equatorial Guinea, one of the last truly unexplored corners of sub Saharan Africa. Ranked by the United Nations among the ten least visited countries in the world, this tiny nation is slowly opening up thanks to the discovery of vast oil reserves in the nineties and the resultant influx of foreign workers and capital. In 2004 Equatorial Guinea gained worldwide notoriety following British former SAS Officer Simon Mann's failed coup d'état. However, there is much more to this tiny nation than international political intrigue and mercenaries. From the oil rich capital of Malabo on the volcanic island of Bioko, set out to explore the jungle interior via the Spanish colonial outpost of Bata. Here you will find pristine national parks teeming with wildlife, incredible white sand beaches and a wealth of small, traditional communities. The authorities will not make it easy, but a few shakedowns and the mountains of red tape are a small price to pay for such a unique experience in the heart of tropical Africa's only Spanish speaking nation. With first-hand descriptions of all seven provinces (including the islands and the mainland), plus practical details, this is all the information you need to successfully tackle this challenging but rewarding travel experience.

    Explorations into Highland New Guinea, 1930-1935

    Michael J. Leahy

    In the 1920s and 1930s there were adventures to be lived and fortunes to be made by strong young men in the outback of Australia and the gold fields of New Guinea. This is the diary of five years spent in hot pursuit—not of honor and glory, but of excitement and riches—by one such adventurer, Michael "Mick" Leahy, his brothers Jim and Pat, and friends Mick Dwyer and Jim Taylor. Leahy and his associates explored the unknown interior of New Guinea, seeking gold and making contact for the first time with the aborigines of the interior mountains and valleys.

    White man was unknown to these often cannibalistic, always dangerous, aborigines who thought the seekers of yellow in the streams slightly mad, and thus easy prey. The chronicles of their explorations and their hundreds of photographs brought news of these native peoples to the outside world. In doing so, they changed forever our understanding of the human landscape of New Guinea, and carved a place in history for these explorers who, braving the environment in search of gold, found people.

    AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL

    The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

    The continued instability in neighbouring countries and armed banditry in the region are causing increased tensions and hostilities in Guinea. Exercise a high degree of caution in the areas bordering Senegal (Casamance), Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire, where ongoing cross-border military and rebel activity makes the security situation unsafe. There is a risk of renewed inter-ethnic violence in and around the town of N’Zérékoré, in Guinée Forestière. There have also been confrontations in industrial cities, such as Fria, where access to raw materials and tensions caused by work stoppages are aggravating the security situation.

    Elections

    Parliamentary elections were held in relative calm on September 28, 2013. However, the risk of violence and civil unrest remains as the results are being contested. Rioting and violent demonstrations, which have been taking place for several months, may continue. Local authorities may impose impromptu security measures, including curfews, road blocks and checkpoints, which could disrupt road traffic and services. The international airport in Conakry could also be closed on short notice. Confirm your travel plans prior to departure and avoid all areas where demonstrations are staged, especially the main demonstration route through the Donka, Bellevue, Hamdallaye, Madina, Cosa and Bambeto districts of Conakry. Register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service and monitor local media to stay informed of the latest developments, planned demonstrations and advice from local authorities.

    Increased threat of attacks and kidnappings

    In 2013, the French military assisted the Malian government in efforts to repel armed rebels. Terrorist groups in the region declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. While the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali has been supporting the transitional authorities in stabilizing the region since July 2013, citizens of countries supporting the intervention are still at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance in the region.

    Crime

    Violent crime is prevalent, especially in Conakry, but also in some rural areas such as Kankan. Armed robbery, carjackings, assaults, muggings and break-ins are on the rise in Conakry and the surrounding province. These violent crimes are often perpetrated by men wearing military or police uniforms. Guinean authorities have implemented the restoration of checkpoints (police and gendarmerie) on major roads in Conakry and other cities between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

    Foreigners are often targets of crime, especially at airports. Exercise caution at airports and hotels, where offers of unsolicited assistance may come from persons seeking an opportunity to steal luggage, purses or wallets. You should arrange to arrive at the airport during the day and be met there by reliable contacts.

    Petty crime such as pickpocketing and purse-snatching is common, particularly in the Madina, Niger, and Taouyah markets, and often employs children. Do not show signs of affluence. Ensure personal belongings and travel documents are secure at all times, and remain alert to your surroundings, especially at night.

    Demonstrations

    Demonstrations occur regularly and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Protests over the political deadlock in the country, coupled with the lack of provision of public services have led to violent incidents across the country in the past months, causing deaths and injuries. These protests can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

    Shortages

    The socio-economic situation is also generally unstable in Guinea. Conakry has been experiencing fuel and water shortages in recent months. This has affected transportation as well as the power supply, and has led to civil unrest causing death and injuries.

    Road travel

    Driving habits, the lack of road and traffic signs, poorly maintained vehicles and roads, pedestrians and livestock pose hazards. In the event of an accident, you should proceed to the nearest police station or medical facility, as roadside assistance and ambulance services are not available.

    You should be careful while driving in Conakry and surrounding areas, and when travelling to and from the international airport, due to a reported increase in violent and opportunistic crimes against foreigners. The risk of robberies and armed attacks also increases after dark. Moreover, it is not rare for travellers to encounter improvised roadblocks (including on the airport road) erected by armed groups or military troops. Payment or proof of identity may be required at these roadblocks. The following documents should be carried at all times: copies of identity papers (passport and visa), vaccination record, vehicle registration (grey card), valid driver's licence, proof of road insurance, and vehicle safety check certificate.

    Overland travel outside major centres should only be undertaken during daylight hours and with a four-wheel-drive vehicle with spare tires. The vehicle should also be equipped with water, means of communication, a reflective hazard triangle, a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. We recommend driving in convoy. Road travel outside the capital may be difficult during the rainy season.

    Transportation

    Guinea has no official public transportation system. Although informal means of communal transport exist, such as taxis and buses, they should be used with extreme caution. Airline companies offer regular links from Conakry to the cities of Kankan, Siguiri, Labé and N’zérékoré.

    There is an airport departure tax, which may not be included in the price of the plane ticket. Please check with your air carrier.

    Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

    Fraud

    Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in this country. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.

    Piracy

    Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters, and in some cases, further out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

    General safety information

    In the event of a strike, shops could close for long periods of time with little warning. Ensure that you maintain stores of food, water and emergency supplies, sufficient to last three to four days.

    Power outages are frequent throughout the country and may affect security conditions, especially in large urban centres.

    Tourist facilities are limited outside the capital.

    Health

    Related Travel Health Notices
    Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
    Vaccines

    Routine Vaccines

    Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

    Vaccines to Consider

    You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

    Hepatitis A

    Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

    Hepatitis B

    Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

    Influenza

    Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

    Measles

    Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
     

    Meningitis

    This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.

    Polio

    There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.

    Rabies

    Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

    Typhoid

    Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

    Yellow Fever Vaccination

    Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

    Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

    * It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
    Risk
    • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
    Country Entry Requirement*
    • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
    Recommendation
    • Vaccination is recommended.
    • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
    Food/Water

    Food and Water-borne Diseases

    Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

    In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

    Schistosomiasis

    Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

    Travellers' diarrhea
    • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
    • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
    • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

    Insects

    Insects and Illness

    In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

    Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

    Dengue fever
    • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
    • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

    Malaria

    Malaria

    • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
    • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
    • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.

    Animals

    Animals and Illness

    Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


    Person-to-Person

    Person-to-Person Infections

    Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

    Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

    HIV

    HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

    Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

    Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.

    Tuberculosis

    Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

    For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

    Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

    High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


    Medical services and facilities

    Medical services and facilities

    Medical facilities are limited and medicines are scarce in Conakry and throughout the country. Evacuation may be required for major medical emergencies.

    Keep in Mind...

    The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

    Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

    You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

    A licence is required to export precious gems. Penalties are heavy for those involved in smuggling, particularly when diamonds and other gems are involved.

    Homosexual activity is illegal.

    Videotaping and photography are forbidden in many parts of the country and should be restricted to private gatherings. You must obtain permission from the Guinean government before photographing military and transportation facilities, government buildings or public works.

    An International Driving Permit is required.

    Culture

    Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws and regulations. Common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behaviour. You should dress conservatively; for example, women should wear a headscarf and cover their arms and legs. Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities. The use of drugs and alcohol is prohibited. Transgressions could be punished by detention or other penalties.

    Money

    The currency is the Guinean franc (GNF). The economy is cash-based. The import or export of local currency is prohibited. There are no limits on the import of foreign currency, but it should be declared on arrival. The export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on arrival. Carry no more than 10,000 FG (about C$10) upon departure from Guinea. Automated banking machines are available but not reliable. Credit cards are not often accepted. Traveller’s cheques in U.S. dollars are accepted only at banks and some hotels.

    Climate

    The rainy season extends from June to November. Roads may become impassable during this period. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.