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Travel alert: An outbreak of Ebola virus has been confirmed in Guinea, and as a result most international airlines have suspended flights to the country. Due to the narrowing commercial options for flights and the impact on medical facilities, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office FCO advise against all but essential travel to Guinea, except for those involved in the direct response to the Ebola outbreak.

Introducing Guinea

Guinea’s landscape is spectacular. The country has some of the world’s few remaining tropical dry forests, and the rainforests that remain in the south are lush and verdant and full of wildlife. The waterfall-rich Fouta Djalon Plateau in the west has breathtaking scenery and some of the best hiking in West Africa. Guinea is not well endowed with beaches, but those it has are superb; and often empty. It's capital, Conarky, while not heavy on the must-sees, has a vibrant nightlife and is safer than most other West African capitals.

Geography is a mistress both cruel and kind to Guinea. Cruel because this country is something of an overlander dead end, very tough to reach from the north and blocked by Côte d’Ivoire’s civil war in the south. And kind because Guinea’s landscape is naturally blessed – hence the bottomless love Guineans have for their country and their mystification and anger that it continues to be among the poorest in the world.

Matching Guinea’s beauty is its vibrant culture. Across the country there’s a strong tradition of music and dance, and visitors have many opportunities to see performances. Also, thanks largely to Sekou Touré’s impassioned defiance of the French, most Guineans are as proud of their nationality as they are of their ethnicity. They have stood together through the difficult decades of independence instead of turning on each other.

Guinea is not as prepared for tourism as some other West African countries, and beyond the capital creature comforts are sparse. You won’t always have to rough it upcountry, but as long as you’re prepared for the possibility, a visit here can be very rewarding.