Labe, Guinea

No home, no beer, no fear.

The real overlanding began over the past week as we headed through Guinea-Bissau and into the highlands of Guinea. Their names may be similar but the two countries are very different. Have you ever heard of Guinea-bissau? I hadn’t until I booked on to this trip. As you will see by the map, it is just below Senegal and we were the first overland truck to head through the country. Well I say the first, another truck pipped us to the boarder a few hours beforehand but that’s a whole other story! I didn’t know what to expect of Guinea-Bissau, the country has been red listed for travel by the British FCO since April thanks to a military coup and so we had to keep half an eye open for any possible riots and resist taking any photos in the capital, Bissau. We were however, made to feel extremely welcome and we had no issues with security or hostility. Quite the opposite, the people are fantastic and the city may not be overly special but it did carry a certain degree of charm. The hotel we stayed at was proper rough but after all our beach and river side camping it was about time we roughed it up a bit! The scenery across the whole country was spectacular, untouched with forests, mangroves, palm trees and lakes everywhere, superbly peaceful.

The fun really began in Guinea. We had an interesting camp on the Guinea-Bissau border before crossing in to Guinea the next day where the roads stopped being tarmac and our progress dipped to an average of 15km/hr for large parts of the day. It was awesome though! Essentially it took three days to get from one major town to the next. Rough red dirt roads, stunning scenery, vast forests with the odd mud hut village dotted around. As soon as we crossed the border we were heading up into the hills and mountains of northern Guinea. Senegal had been very flat with open mangroves and swamps, Guinea-Bissau much more foresty and, Guinea foresty and mountainy (I don’t think some of those words are actual words!). Anyhow, our first day in Guinea was a long one but ended with a super river crossing on a barge and a bush camp with an epic view. It was a day which had everything that I wanted this trip to have. On saying that, half of our beer got smashed up in the esky which was a bit disheartening but really can’t complain! The following day started just as good with a really bad bit of road which could have seen the truck getting rather stuck but luckily she cruised through it. Again the photos tell a better story than what I can portray in words.

This will certainly be one of the last times this can be experienced in Guinea thanks to our Chinese friends who have a major road building project under way across Guinea. Guinea is rich in the mineral Bauxite which the Chinese are rather keen get their hands on. It’s sad for us because we don’t get rough roads, terrible bridges and stuck trucks but good for locals because they can get from A to B easier and faster. But, the Chinese have only just began road building and destruction to the surrounding area is already clearly seen. It’s sad to think what the place will look like once the mines are in full swing. Same old problem, we are desperate for the resources but it will be at a major cost to the remaining beautiful, untouched, and raw natural habitats we have left. I’m doing this tour because I want to see remoteness and a landscape that has been untouched by man, something that is becoming rarer to see at an alarming pace.

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