Guinea - Bus from Conakry to Freetown

Arrival in Guinea with an e-visa was less dramatic than expected. Interestingly, the exit from Guinea was not smooth and that can probably be explained by the corrupt nature of Guinea itself.

My plan was to make a short visit to the capital Conakry and then continue as quickly as possible on the long drive by car to Sierra Leone. 

The political situation in Guinea is very bad, corruption is everywhere and these days there are regular demonstrations on the street that almost always turn violent. Also, it was not clear how the situation was at the borders because it can come to closures without any announcements in advance. 

In addition, I did not have a visa for Sierra Leone and had to get one at the Sierra Leonean border.

The given circumstances on this trip are an accumulation for a perfect set of occasions for corrupt police officers in West Africa - and that made me nervous.

Arrival in Guinea

Guinea is one the only country in West Africa that offers e-visa (for 80 USD) with an application system that actually works (not fine but it works). To my surprise, the officers at immigration at the airport even acknowledged it without any question.

I arrived late in the evening. The hotel shuttle was waiting on time and it was a 45 minutes ride from the airport to Kaloum area, the best area for visitors in the whole of Guinea. As other parts of the country are completely undeveloped.

There was no money exchange at the airport, which is something to experience only in the worst of the worst undeveloped countries in the world.

Sightseeing in Conakry

There is not much to visit in Conakry, but still, it's interesting in its own way.

Hotels are all expensive. Price and value are completely catastrophic. Although the staff and the people do their best, they cannot make up for all of the problems of the infrastructure. And that is not only in the hotel but probably everywhere in such a poor country. 

All of Conakry looks very broken, even by West African standards.

The previous presidents literally rode the country even further into the mud.

No wonder practically every president is couped at the end of his term. It is to be hoped that the new military president will lay the tracks for a good future, even if the hope for this is tiny.

Finding a taxi from Guinea to Sierra Leone!

In the morning first looked around where the cab stations for the trip to Sierra Leone are. There are no direct flights, the only option is by car. 

Basically, the best and cheapest option is by a car shared with others.

I was told I should take a look at the stations called Gare routière "Madina" or the other one "Bambeto". So I went by motorbike to Madina first, which is in the middle of the markets. 

At the markets, there is absolute madness.

After visiting Madina and checking the options for transport, it became clear that Bambeto is the better choice. In any case, there is chaos and the security situation felt noticeably tense. I didn't feel well as there are violent riots all the time these months.

The ride to Bambeto station (Gare Routiere) cost 3 USD, but was worth it to have a look there.

At Bambeto station it was much less hectic. Basically not any hectic at all for a major transport hub like this.

But maybe the taxis have already all departed and that's why. I asked for transport to Sierra Leone and they guided me to a specific area within the Bambeto station. All the cars were parked and probably waiting for tomorrow for the next bunch of people to transport them to all areas of Guinea.

One of the drivers gave me all the information.

Departure at 7am and the ride will have a duration of 7-8 hours. If I want the seat in the front I have to pay double, which is 320 GF (around 35 USD). Well yes, that was like a must, not to think of being squeezed on the back for such a long time.

After I had the information and "reservation" I went back to Kaloum

In the afternoon I went to visit the Museum. I couldn't think of anything else to do in Conakry as for going out of town I was not in the mood at all. It would take hours and hours for getting out of town.

The national museum of Guinea was in catastrophic condition. Everything broken and damaged or at some small areas they attempted to start construction and renovate it. But that probably will take years.

Short tour, with relatively few exhibits but for admission of 50 cents there's nothing to complain.

The promenade along the edge of Conakry has some restaurants facing the beach. 

The restaurants are built of wood and stand on stilts. For Guinean conditions, these are wonderful locations to eat and drink. 

They have refrigerators but unfortunately, there is no electricity for the operation and cooling, not even in one of the many restaurants along the promenade. So the drinks just stand in the fridge without cooling.

I continued wandering the streets but had to be very careful with cameras. I didn't even use my normal camera and only took photos from my mobile phone during the whole visit to Guinea.

Getting detained by corrupt police was the last thing I need for this visit here. No time for such fuss.

Day 3 - The trip from Guinea to Freetown in Sierra Leone

Yesterday I was told by the driver to call at 6am, so that he can tell me if there are already enough people to depart immediately. When I called he only said, "Come, immediately!". 

I hurried as I didn't want to be left behind in Conakry! The taxi to Bambeto station for (3 USD) was like 20 minutes at this time of the day. 

At Bambeto station there was little more activity than yesterday and I almost couldn't find the car and the driver. 

There were already 4 other people waiting around the car and I was wondering "FOUR people, how do you pack them in the back of the small car?". 

Well, I settled myself in the front seat, paid the 320 GF and just tried not to worry about the problems that might occur today. Like, how long does the trip take? Will it surely drive all the way to Freetown? Will I be paying bribe all the time? Will I get the visa on arrival in Sierra Leone?

The driver squeezed the four other people into the back row of the car and off we went.

Departure was at 7am.

The road was recently constructed and completed all by China.

Perfect road conditions are almost all over the way between Conakry and to the Sierra Leonean border. The worst road conditions were in Conakry itself and outside of Conakry, it was almost like on West European roads.

The further away from Conakry the more nature.

And also more police checkpoints. Various checkpoints on Guinea's side with very dubious policemen and they wanted to see passports or other documents. 

So many police checkpoints

Each time the driver had to hand over cash. Interestingly, I was never asked for money. Only at one checkpoint the officer wanted to know how much money I had with me. No idea why they need to know that at the checkpoint. Probably to check me at the border crossing before leaving and to take something of my money there.

Basically, these were pretty scary behaviors of the policemen. The thing with these officials is incalculable and can escalate at any time.

Last stop before the border: Town Pamalap

The drive on the route from Conakry to Pamalap took 4 hours. Pamalap is the last town in Guinea before crossing the border into Sierra Leone. Only a small stretch of the street hasn't been completed by road construction.

In Pamalap there were discussions happening between the driver and a group of other drivers, whether the white tourist (obviously me) must or should stamp out of Guinea or not. 

For some reason, some of the other drivers recommended that I better do not get a stamp for leaving Guinea. I guess they were worried that I will face problems with the corrupt police and that it would take too long for everybody. Although I told them and insisted that I need the stamp.

Under no circumstance do I want to get confronted with false visas or missing stamps in this area of the world.

It seems the driver was finally convinced, but the break and the waiting continued. The driver first went to wash his car. I guess he wanted to make a good impression at the border on the police officers. Maybe that will make them let us pass faster? Who knows.

From Pamalap to the border it took only 5 minutes. Only 5 minutes until the fun with the border police begins!

Leaving Guinea. Just let me get out of here!

At the border, I only wanted to get the exit stamp and leave this country as quick as possible.

Although first, they did not want to stamp my passport. They were looking for any reason. For example, they found that my visa is not a real visa (e-visa) and therefore not valid and I would have to apply for a proper one at the central office back in Conakry. After a tedious back and forth, the official seemed to have enough of it and gave me back the passport. Also, they were looking to find something in the yellow fever certificate or at the Covid vaccine paper. 

Accordingly, it was a big relief after getting the exit stamp of Guinea. Although at this moment I was without permission to re-enter Guinea and didn't have a visa for Sierra Leone. If they do not give me a visa on arrival in Sierra Leone I will have a big problem as wouldn't be entitled to stay in any of them at this moment.

Visa on Arrival at the land border in Sierra Leone?

How complicated will it be to get a visa on arrival in Sierra Leone?

Theoretically, it is possible and I checked all the requirements and rules before I went on this trip. It all looked good. But West African practice is far different than the theory. Bribery is the norm here and that's the most annoying.

Simply said I had no guarantee to get the visa and it was a huge worry. If I won't get it, that will be a huge disaster, and in that case, I have no idea what to do.


  1. Amazing experience

  2. Very detailed and honest account but there's an air of condescension in your writing that you would do well to remove. There's a way to be honest without being disrespectful.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I'm not disrespectful but "air of condescension": exactly, for those it concerns.

  3. There are some places to see around Conakry - the very nice Tayaki Beach, which can be reached by a moto taxi, and which is very good for walking and relaxing (not swimming) and the Cascade de la Soumba near Dubreka which is a really good natural swimming pool also. Also there is a nice Parc du 2 Octobre. Maybe you did not have your entry stamp in the passport and so they tried to blame you for that on the exit?

    1. Yes, I had an entry stamp, would not travel there without. For sure there are many nice places around Conakry and in Guinea in general. But for tourists it seems unsafe, due to the many checkpoints.