The capital of Guinea is a little bit difficult to get a grasp on. Its downtown district of Kaloum is actually quite pleasant although there isn’t a whole lot to do for tourists and the prices of hotels borders on extortionate. Moreover, the police and military crawl all over the city and many of them are quite corrupt, especially when it comes to seeing a white foreigner. However, despite the fact that it’s a little bit dull, that you can’t really take pictures of anything, and that the police are everywhere, there is something quite nice and peaceful to downtown Conakry. I was stuck there for a week, and well I was itching to keep moving, I did enjoy my time there.
Time Needed: 2-3 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 40-50USD per day
Things to Do and See in Conakry
As I mentioned in the intro, you’re not going to find all too much to do in the capital. There are a couple museums to check out, and a few interesting buildings, but that’s about it. Also, remember that taking photos without a photo-permit in Guinea is officially illegal so don’t walk around with your camera out. Certainly don’t take pictures of any government or military related buildings.
- National Museum: It’s not great, but it is worth a peak if you have the time, especially when the entry is less than a dollar.
- Grande Mosque : It might not be as impressive as the Sahel-style mosques like that in Djenne, Mali, but it still is a beautiful building and worth a look.
- Marche Niger: The market is a little bit chaotic, but it makes for an interesting wander. Watching your pockets will likely be the only trouble you’ll go through walking around; few people, if any, will hassle you as you go.
- Croc in a Cage: If you’re really board, the Catholic mission has a crocodile in a cage to look at.
Where to Eat in Conakry
In Kaloum, there are actually plenty of decent places to grab grub of all types.
- Chwarma: Around the corner near the Marche Niger there is an amazing Chwarma place that looks a bit like a hole in the wall. Good luck finding this green-tiled building, but if you do “bon apetite!” If you can’t find this place there is also another fast food place down from the market called Billiards which serves chwarma, although not nearly as tasty.
- Iles des Jois: A great place to grab dinner and the staff here is very friendly. The food is a mix of French and local and the price is good. There is also a nice bit of outdoor seating.
- Korean: This no-name restaurant is owned by a Korean woman who doesn’t speak French, or any language but Korean. I’m sure that most of her clients are Korean as even the menu isn’t in French. Still, the food is great although slightly pricey.
Where to Stay in Conakry
There aren’t actually a whole lot of options in regards to where to stay in the city center. Apparently, the hotel Niger which was really the only budget option has been shut down and torn to the ground. Your best bet is to book in at the Catholic mission although you might have to call weeks in advance. I was lucky in just turning up and getting a room. Your next best bet would be Pension les Palmiers although it’s a bit out of town and will run you about $25 a night.
Getting out of Town
Try to time your depart and entry into Conakry against rush hours. There is really only one road into town and it can sometimes take hours just to move a couple kilometers. There are a couple different sept-place taxi stands just outside of town. You’ll easily be able to get to places like Kindia and Labe. If you’re heading on to Sierra Leone there are also frequent sept-places that make the trip to Freetown. Getting to Guinea-Bissau is a much more difficult endeavour and will likely require a full 20-24 hours worth of travel in the best of conditions.
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