Getting there & away
Boats go from Kamsar to Bissau (Guinea Bissau; US$7) stopping in Cacine and Kamkhonde, where many passengers catch taxis brousses to complete their trip to the capital. There is no set schedule. Talk of restarting the ferry between Conakry and Freetown continues. Ask at the port.
Transport continues to run to and from Côte d’Ivoire, but, until that country’s cease fire becomes a peace deal, you shouldn’t be on any of it. The primary route is between Lola and Man either via Gbakoré and Danané or via Sipilou and Biankouma. From Kankan it’s easiest to go via Bamako because the road to Odienné via Mandiana is so bad. There’s also a seldom-travelled route between Beyla and Odienné (via Sinko).
Horrible roads make travel between these two countries difficult. Most people using public transport get to Bissau via Labé and Gabú. You have to taxi hop beyond Koundara. With your own vehicle you can shave some distance, though not necessarily time, off this journey by going direct from Koumbia to Pitche. Minibuses go a couple of times a week (you might find a truck on other days) from Boké and Kamsar up the horrible road to Québo.
Because of the large number of refugees in Guinea there is a lot of traffic to Liberia, but check the security situation before heading there. The primary route is south from N’zérékoré. Taxis brousses go frequently to the border town of Diéké (US$4.50, three hours), where you can get a taxi-moto (motorcycle taxi) or walk the remaining 2km to Ganta to get a Monrovia-bound taxi. Plan on a full day’s journey. The Macenta to Voinjama, Guéckédou to Foya, Koyama to Zorzor, and Lola to Yekepa routes are all on bad roads and have less reliable connections to Monrovia. For all of these routes you buy a single ticket, but change cars at the border.
The most frequent route to Bamako goes from Kankan (US$15, seven hours) via Siguiri and the border at Kourémalé. The road is sealed and in excellent shape, except for a 50km stretch in Mali that is due to be upgraded soon. If you’re in a hurry, taxis brousses also ply this route from Conakry (US$26, 24 hours), departing from the Gare Voiture Siguiri in the Madina market. With your own 4WD you can also go from Kankan via Mandiana to Bougouni, or Mali-ville through Kita.
Leaving Guinea, there are several taxis brousses daily for Diaoubé (US$23, two days) from both Gare Voiture Bambeto and Gare Voiture Matam in Conakry.
The journey from Conakry to Freetown is pretty straightforward, and the final dirt section should be sealed soon. There are several taxis brousses daily (US$13, seven hours) from both Gare Voiture Bambeto and Gare Voiture Matam in Conakry. A bus also goes to Freetown (US$14) from Gare Voiture Matam on Tuesday and Friday. Taxis waiting at the border town of Pamelap also connect to most other large Sierra Leonean towns. All other routes – from Guéckédou to Koindu and Kailahun (for which we’ve heard reports of Sierra Leone border officials insisting travellers purchase visas even if they already have one), between Faranah and Kabala, and from Kindia to Medina Oula then on to Kamakwie (this route is closed when the Little Scarcies River runs high) – are on rough roads and are sparsely travelled.
Conakry-G’bessia International Airport is one of the most chaotic and exasperating in West Africa. Direct flights from Europe are available with Air France (413657; www.airfrance.com) and SN Brussels (413610; www.flysn.com) for around US$1200 return.
Within Africa, Conakry is connected to Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Accra (Ghana), Bamako (Mali), Banjul (The Gambia), Bissau (Guinea-Bissau), Dakar (Senegal), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Niamey (Niger) and Praia (Cape Verde).