Agreeable and peaceful, Labe in itself might not seem like a tourism destination. Aside from the beautiful mosque that pierces the sky in the center of town, there simply aren’t a whole lot of things to do or see in the town itself. However, this is a great base for hiking the Fouta Djallon, visiting nearby villages, and wandering out in search of waterfalls. However, if you are looking for a peaceful setting to get away from the rat-race of west Africa a little bit, this is certainly a nice place to do so. In my days spent in Labe not once was I hassled, and after Senegal and The Gambia, it was certainly nice to go somewhere that the hellos by people as you walk around were just that and not a means of beginning a sale. Thoughts of Labe will always be fond in my mind.
Time Needed: 1-2 days in town + trekking time
Backpacker’s Budget: 40-50USD$ a day
- ATMs: There are a couple banks down town with ATMs. Banks in Guinea, however, don’t give more than about $40 worth of cash at a time. The best thing to do is to bring Euros or you can do as I did and send yourself Western Union transfers which are easy to pick up.
- Internet: The best internet I found was at the place right next to the Hotel Independent. For Guinea, the internet is decent and they’ll let you use their wifi and a plug-in for quite cheap.
Things to do and See in Labe
As I mentioned in the intro, there isn’t a whole lot to do and see in Labe itself. Aside from a couple quick sights, most of the adventure lies outside of town.
- The Mosque: You won’t be allowed in unless you’re Muslim, but even from the outside it’s impressive. You can see the mosque from almost anywhere in town. So it shouldn’t be hard to find.
- Grand Marche: You wonder if the entire town is market after wandering near downtown. However, a couple blocks from the mosque is the busy central market which is well worth a stroll.
- Museum of the Fouta Djallon: If you’re heading into the Fouta Djallon region this makes for a nice visit to gain a bit of a grasp on the history and culture of the region.
- Chutes de Saala: If you don’t have the time to do multiple days in the Fouta Djallon, then do a day trip out here. You can hire a taxi for a couple hours or if you’re more adventurous try the cheaper option of hiring a moto-taxi.
- Fouta Djallon: An incredible place that shouldn’t be missed. The usual trek is 3 days, 2 nights, and includes 3 waterfalls. On the trip you’ll visit three waterfalls, sleep in traditional huts in the villages, and maybe even spot some baboons and great bird life. I went with Fouta Trekking: (http://www.foutatrekking.org). My guide was named Saliou who speaks French but not English and he can be reached directly at 52312318 or by email at email@example.com. He was great and I highly recommend him.
Where to Eat in Labe
Most people eat in either small rice bars or at their hotels. Both are great options. The rice bars are dark and dirty and might not give your stomach much confidence but I never got sick from them. The hotel food is much more western and of course more expensive.
- Auberge la Campagne: Had decent food, but didn’t have a whole lot in terms of options as it was the slow season.
- Hotel Tata: I am told that they serve pizza, but the hotel was shut when I was around because of the off-season.
- Le Petit Dakar: If you’re like me and you love mafe, this is the place to go.
Where to Stay in Labe
I actually had the honour of spending nights in 3 different establishments, all of varying quality. The first night I stayed in a shipping container at the bus depot, although only out of necessity. I then spent one night at the Hotel L’Independence which was dirty, not entirely secured, but definitely a possible option if your budget is small and you want to be close to downtown. I spent the rest of my nights at Auberge la Campagne which had really big rooms, big double beds, and hot water. I paid about $25 a night for the room there.
Getting out of Town
- Conakry: There are quite a few cars making the trip to Conakry each day. The best time to do so is between 7-8am when most people travel. The trip goes via Kindia and takes between 7-10 hours depending on traffic on the outskirts of Conakry.
- Guinea-Bissau. It is possible to get to Guinea-Bissau from town but be prepared for a long journey. I made the trip all the way from Bissau in the rainy season and it took about 24 hours.
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