Conakry is the capital of Guinea in West Africa. What is there to see and do in Conakry Guinea?
Firstly, did you know the Ebola outbreak started in Guinea? It’s believed a young boy came in close contact with bats. This isn’t hard to believe when you see bats circling the city. They circle the city twice a day, at sunrise and sunset. This is an excellent opportunity for photographers to capture bat silhouettes during golden hour. Where is the best place to view the bats? In the gardens of Maison d’Accueil which is also an economic place to stay in central Conakry.
National Museum of Guinea
Entry to the National Museum costs only $1 for a guided visit. However, there are very few items on display but the couple of masks are interesting. One things for sure, you’ll definitely learn something about the history of Guinea if you decide to visit.
St Mary’s Cathedral
St Mary’s Cathedral was built during French colonial times. As Guinea is a Muslim country, it’s not a busy cathedral. Nonetheless it’s a beautiful building and it’s worth going inside to explore the interior.
Located behind St Mary’s Cathedral is the Presidential Palace. As you would expect this is home to the current President of Guinea. It’s forbidden to photography the palace and there are several soldiers guarding it. It’s also forbidden to photograph the soldiers.
Martyrs Square is effectively the Independence Square of Guinea. The text reads, ‘La Republique de Guinea a tous ses martyrs’ which translates to ‘Guinea has all its martyrs’. A slogan of the first president Ahmed Sekou Toure was ‘we prefer freedom in poverty to wealth in slavery’. In contrast to his slogan, it’s believed Ahmed Sekou Toure killed anyone who opposed him at the infamous Camp Boiro. When I visited Guinea, Martyrs Square was closed due to political unrest.
The Streets of Conakry
It’s likely that Conakry is from a completely different world to any city you’ve visited before. Due to its abrupt end to French rule, things here are a little less French in comparison to Senegal or Morocco. What’s more there are endless opportunities for unique street photography.
Guinea is one of the poorest countries on earth. As a result you’ll see thousands of abandoned buildings, even in the richest part of the city.
If you look at a map of Conakry you may think it’s a city surrounded by beaches. Good news, it is surrounded by beaches. Bad news, those beaches are covered with trash and lots of rats. It’s an extremely sad sight to see and an extreme waste of what could be fine beaches. Not only do you find these piles of trash on the beach but also throughout the city. Some of the roads are in fact on top of trash compacted by cars running over it. Why is it like this? The French chose the location on a peninsular during the Slave Trade. However, when they left a sudden population boom on the peninsula led to the chaos you see today.
Trash and Ruins on the Beaches
Not only do you find trash on the Conakry beaches but also ruins and boats which have been beached for years.
There’s not much street art throughout Conakry. I did find an interesting portrait of Mamadou Antonio Souare. He’s in fact the head of the Guinean Football Foundation. As I took this photo a local was explaining to me how good he is!
Mosques of Conakry
If you’re interested in Islamic art then you must take a short drive north of the center to the Gran Mosque of Conakry. Alternatively, explore the smaller mosques throughout the center.
Stade du 28 Septembre
Guinea national football team play their home games at Stade du 28 Septembre. Additionally, there are a few local teams which play their home games here. Check out the fixture list when you’re in town. Read more about the history of Stade du 28 Septembre on my Travel Blog.
Dancing, Drumming and Acrobats
Adjacent to the National Stadium you can watch dancers, acrobatics and contortionists. Daily from around 10 am until late afternoon it’s free to watch. They take place inside this building.
Statue Nimba Conakry
Anyone familiar with African Art will be familiar with the Nimba Statue. As a matter of fact it was created by the Baga people who are native to this region. For this reason, there’s probably the largest Nimba Statue you’ll ever see in front of the Palais du Peuple.
At Boulbinet Port are boats which take you on a 30 minute journey to Ile de Los. The beaches which you’re missing in Conakry are surely a little cleaner on the islands?
Where to Eat?
Conakry isn’t known for its food. Nonetheless, if you search the old town center between 3rd and 7th Avenue there are plenty of options. I took the opportunity to enjoy some chicken, chips and rice.
Sierra Leone Visa in Conakry
Most importantly, you must go to the correct Sierra Leone Embassy as there are several. Here is the correct location. As you can see, I applied for my Sierra Leone visa in February 2020. The cost was $80 in US cash only. In addition, they required a few documents printed out. I had to provide printed copies of my passport, Guinea visa as well as a hotel booking confirmation in Sierra Leone. Lastly, it’s also possible to get a visa on the Guinea / Sierra Leone border therefore you could explore this option.
How to travel from Conakry to Freetown, Sierra Leone by Land
Firstly, the good news is you can travel from Conakry to Freetown in a direct share taxi. However, other than the direct vehicle nothing else is pleasant about this journey. Direct share taxis leave from Gare Routiere de Bambeto when full. As it’s a share taxi you could have a 5 minute or a 5 hour wait. If you check the Conakry to Freetown route on Google Maps it should take 6 hours. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely you can do this journey in 6 hours. As a matter of fact, 12 hours is the most likely trip duration. Read about my journey from Conakry to Freetown.
Things to do in Freetown