Budget for Travel in Guinea
Money in Guinea is a bit of a tricky thing, mostly because of the currency they use which is only found is insanely small value bills. You end up packing around wads of cash with you everywhere you go. In regard to budgeting, I think that a smart budget for the country is $45 a day. That is, of course, if you can get yourself into the Catholic Mission in Conakry. Other than the mission, accommodation downtown Conakry is pretty expensive. Outside of the capital, accommodation is fairly well valued as is food and transportation.
- Food: $15/Day; This was the point in Africa that I realized I was spending too much money on food. I started eating local meals more often and buying street food as much as I could. This number would be about $10 a day if it didn’t include a couple splurges at the grocery store and an expensive Korean meal in Conkary.
- Accommodation: $13/Day; My prices were all over the place: $8 a night at the Catholic mission in Conakry, $20 in Labe, and I even slept in a shipping container one night for $0.20. Would be hard to spend less than I did in Guinea I think. Like I mentioned in the intro, downtown Conakry is expensive if you can’t get booked into the mission and you usually have to book there a couple weeks in advance.
- Transport: $2/Day; I didn’t spend a lot on transport, mostly because I was stuck in Conakry for a week where I didn’t spend anything. I had a couple shared taxi rides through the interior and then the major transport expense was $20 worth of moto-taxis to get to Sierra Leone
- Activities: $8/Day; I did a hike through the Fouta Djallon which is the main source of this expenditure. The cost of that was $50 a day but included accommodation and food on the trek.
- Misc: $6/Day; a visa for Sierra Leone ($110). Also, Guinea is the first country I spent money for internet.
- Total: $44/Day; I did well on my budget. I’m not sure you could do the things I did and spend less. I’d say the basement budget would be $40 a day and the flashpacker budget around $60 a day.
- Local currency: Be prepared for wads and wads of cash. The local currency is called the Guinea Franc and 1 USD is worth about 5500 francs. That alone makes it a bit crazy, however the fact that the biggest bill they make is only worth 10,000 is worse. Basically, the largest bill you can carry is worth less than $2. Thus, if you want to pack around 200, you need a wad of over 100 bills. Crazy right? If you’re bringing money into the country, pack Euros as they are easy to exchange anywhere in the country.
- Banks and ATMs: There are visa ATMs in the major cities in Guinea. The problem, however, is the fact that they can’t give you much money. Since the bills are so small, the most you can take from a bank machine is usually about $70 worth. If you’re like me and you get charged $5 by your bank each time you withdraw it can get expensive. I ended up sending myself Western Union transfers to save on costs. The other issue is that the ATMs are often empty and unreliable, especially on weekends. If you can, the best option in Guinea is to pack a bunch of Euro with you and avoid the ATM mess all together.
- Traveller’s Cheques: Again, don’t waste your time with traveller’s cheques. They are a waste of time and you’ll be lucky if you’re able to change them. Even if you find someone willing to take them, the commission they’ll charge will be crazy.
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