It appears to be far easier writing this sitting on my own laptop at home in the UK with a cup of tea which is what I am doing thanks to the lack of speedy internet throughout Guinea and Sierra Leone. It has nothing to do with the fact I wasn’t too fussed finding speedy internet because I was too busy doing stuff, probably. However, upon nearly completing this blog I went and deleted it. I don’t know how and I will always hate computers for doing this to me. So now I’m trying again, writing on Word as opposed to directly on the blog site. So much for being easier.
Guinea required a bit of effort if we were to see the real good stuff. This is because there is pretty much bugger all tourism and so few guides, and the roads too are pretty rubbish. We spent the majority of our time around a few towns in the Fouta Djalon region which is remarkably beautiful made up of rocky outcrops known as escarpments which offer spectacular views. The problem is I’m quite a lazy traveller, this is why I do tours and so having to put some effort into doing activities proved a bit of a change which was actually pretty good fun. Firstly I started to embrace street food thanks to my hardcore sidekick, Holly who has the great skill of finding good food in the darkest of little shacks. One such place served a huge bit of chicken which I happily devoured with my non-washed fingers and after hi-fiving a kid several times who sported a terrific snotty nose. I lived, in fact I wasn’t ill once for my whole time in West Africa.
Secondly, to see the real highlights of the area meant getting taxis to remote areas on roads so bad that we couldn’t get the truck to said places, hence the taxis. We had heard of a guide dubbed the African Indiana Jones but we had no way of contacting him. We therefore devised a plan one night to hire a taxi and drive to his local village way out in the bush and hope to get a hike with him. It was a long shot but turned out to be worth the effort. The following morning six of us got a taxi which took us on a two hour bumpy trip out to the village where we hoped to find Dr. Jones. We found his village but not him but. We did stumble across his brother though who was only too happy to take us on a fantastic six hour hike. The photos don’t do justice to what we saw. The views were incredible and one of our first stops was a swimming pool at the top of a 100ft waterfall which proved great fun. Unfortunately for me this is where my waterproof camera stopped being waterproof. I therefore have no photos of the incredible views overlooking a canyon or the fantastic vines and carved out rocks (by wind and water) at the bottom of the canyons. That day we saw dense forest, open grasslands, bush land, rivers, waterfalls, villages, the lot, it was bloody awesome. We finally did meet Dr. Jones whose real name alludes me now but I clearly remember him greeting us back to the village wearing bright pink jogging bottoms, a red jacket and his first words being ‘did my brother give you a kick ass hike?’. He did.
A few days later we headed out on another two hour taxi drive to another 100ft waterfall. This time we could swim at the bottom of it which proved slightly more challenging to the senses. The volume of water coming over the falls provided quite a chilling wind and once in the pool if we strayed too close to the falls then we would get sucked in closer which I can imagine would have been a bit trickier to have gotten out of. It was quite a sight and in the middle of nowhere. What has to be remembered is that the journey to these places is an experience in its self. The roads are almost nonexistent and the taxis are not in the slightest four wheel drive. They’re simply old estate cars that have been shipped over from Europe.
For something different I should mention the tent getting flooded in Conakry, the capital of Guinea. Well that’s what happened, it flooded thanks to us putting it in the wrong place! That’s all there is to say about crazy Conakry and so on to one final little waterfall story. Who thought they could be so much fun! Between Conakry and the Sierra Leone border we set up camp in a little remote forest campsite with its own 50ft waterfall and swimming pool below it. The water was also steady enough to get behind the falls for a different perspective which was novel as was swimming below it in the moonlight. That has been the beauty of this trip, it’s more about the little experiences that you stumble across than any singular highlight. I’ve spent this whole blog talking about bloody waterfalls but how often do you get to swim at the top of a 100ft cliff or, go for an evening swim at the foot of a falls on a warm night lit up with a full moon?
And 99% of the time we are the only visitors.