Fouta Djalon, Guinea:
From Faranah near the Haut Niger National Park, we took the shared taxi towards Dalaba in the Fouta Djalon (for a map click here). Generally, the major roads within Guinea allow good driving, but the journey is interrupted every 30 minutes or so by police checkpoints where passports and vaccination cards are examined as well as obligatory bribes collected. The Fouta Djalon is a hilly region and its beautiful countryside with little villages and picturesque waterfalls offers endless hiking possibilites. Dalaba itself is a pleasant town with some good hostels, few restaurants, and even a number of sights, including the old French governor’s residence, the Villa Sili, and the adjacent Casa a Palabres used by the village elders as a meeting hall. Furthermore, the famous singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba lived in Dalaba for several years while she was banned to enter her home country, South Africa. It is possible to visit her house, but we were satisfied with a quick peek from the outside! Instead, we booked a hiking tour at the tourist information and wandered through the really beautiful countryside surrounding the town.
On the following day, we ventured even deeper into the Fouta Djalon and took the shared taxi to Labé, the region’s administrative centre. However, we stayed here only for one night organizing another hiking tour in the area which brought us first to Pita with the taxi from where we continued to the tiny village Ainguel. Here we stayed overnight in a small hut, enjoyed a great meal cooked by our host family, and visited some impressive waterfalls in the surrounding countryside.
Our journey through Guinea so far showed us a very beautiful country with great potential as a tourist destination. After years of political turmoil, the situation now was stable and peaceful. While we were seemingly two of only a dozen foreign tourists in the entire country, the locals hoped for an increase in visitor numbers. But instead of a growing tourist industry offering jobs and income, the end of 2013 saw the outbreak of an Ebola epidemic causing more than 2,000 deaths in Guinea and obviously deterring tourists from visiting the region. Let’s hope that conditions become better soon and visitors will return to this beautiful country and its welcoming people!
After leaving the Fouta Djalon, we headed to Guinea’s capital Conakry and the neighbouring Iles de Los – why not read about it in the following post?