All visitors to Guinea (except residents of ECOWAS nations, Morocco, and Tunisia) are required to obtain a visitors' visa. Both yellow fever vaccinations and certificate are also required for visa application and entry into Guinea.
For Canadians, the Guinean Embassy in Canada has moved to a streamlined online application process. We can help with this once you are ready to apply.
From all other countries, please contact the Embassy of Guinea closest to you to obtain detailed information on how to process your visa.
We recommend that you visit a travel clinic, or your doctor, to chat about your travel plans and see what other vaccinations they recommend you have done (ex. hepatitis a & b, thyphoid fever, menangitis) as well as having your routine vaccinations up to date (measles, mumps, tetanus, etc).
Malaria is an issue - talk to your doctor about the different preventative and/or self-treatment medications available and which, if any, would be best suited to you based on your own medical history and preferences. Please be aware that there are no malaria preventative medications which are 100% effective, and several of the medications available can have very nasty side effects. Research your options and decide what is best for you. We believe that the most important factor in avoiding malaria is to avoid bites from the malaria carrying mosquitos. Malaria carrying mosquitos do not bite during the day - they are nocturnal, and thus covering up in the evenings and sleeping within mosquito nets may prove to be very wise. We will provide mosquito nets for sleeping, and we recommend that you pack some light cotton loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves, full-length legs, and high collars. An effective mosquito repellent will go a long way. Another good precaution is minimizing your use of perfumed products, which actually tend to attract mosquitos - try using unscented shampoos, soaps, deodorants, etc.
We also highly recommend that all participants purchase personal travel insurance with full medical coverage.
TRAVEL & FLIGHTS Looking for an affordable flight into Guinea? We recommend using Expedia (follow the link: http://www.expedia.ca/Flights), as their search engine covers most airlines and carriers - although Air France usually run the cheapest, most direct, and frequent flights into Guinea-Conakry.
Participants in our Guinea Course are responsible for purchasing and arranging their own air flights (although we are happy to help you out as much as we can along the way) and transportation in the country of departure. We will not be travelling with you from Canada (or other country of departure) and it is up to you to ensure that you arrive on time for your flight, and with all of your necessary documentation, which may include visas or other paper for the countries visited in layovers or otherwise along the way. We do ask that you provide us with all of the details of your flight once you have purchased your ticket, and we will arrange to meet, greet, and pick you up at the Conakry international airport upon your arrival. Should you be coming overland, we will arrange an alternative meeting place and time.
You may also want to combine your trip to Guinea with other travels....?
Most flights into Conakry from North America tend to go through Paris [France] and often another African nation (Gambia, Mauritania, & Sierra Leone are common layover spots) - an extended stop-over at any of these destinations could always be arranged. Other lay-over options are also available (ex. in USA, Holland, Germany). There are no direct flights to Conakry from Canada.
You may also wish to plan an extensive tour of West Africa, and check out some of the wonders of the surrounding countries - Mali's dogon country, Sierra Leone's seemingly untouched beaches, Senegal's resort towns, Gambia's rasta movement, the water-labrynth landscape of Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso's mask festival... Overland travel is possible - but only for the truly adventurous...!
WHAT TO BRING
Of course, what you choose to pack and bring with you is entirely up to you- but if you are looking for suggestions, you may find this helpful:
Be sure to bring a flashlight! as blackouts are common - even in the capital city
Guinea is hot & humid - think about bringing light cotton clothing
Guinea does have mosquitos [and malaria, dengue, etc] - think about bringing some long-sleeved, long-legged, high-collared items to cover up in the evenings
Guinea is largely Islamic - although Guineans are very open-minded as well as flexible to other cultures (despite western taboos about Muslims), women travellers especially should consider packing at least one outfit which is non-provocative and covers up well should you be so lucky as to experience a ceremonial date or holiday and wish to participate in the most respectful manner possible
Guineans love to get dressed up (be it for a ceremony, to go out dancing, or simply because it's the weekend!), so if you like to dress it up too, then don't be shy - you could never be too fancy for the locals (who often dress as kings & queens) - pack your glitter, glam, heels, suit, or bling!
a sun-hat will prove very useful
comfortable walking shoes - a must
unscented hygeinic products (soaps, shampoos, deodorants, etc) will help minimize attracting mosquitos (and other perfume-loving insects) to yourself
any medications that you require regularly
any special toiletries / products that you want or need, as you may find it hard to get certain items or brands in Guinea (for example, contact lenses & solution, tampons, sunscreen, etc)
your passport (leave photocopies at home)
your air flight tickets
your yellow fever vaccination certificate
other travel vaccinations history booklet
your travel insurance documentation
cash $$ - ATMs in Guinea are often not compatible with foreign cards, although there are more and more popping up these days that will accept VISA, MCs, or some debit cards for cash withdrawals - might be a good idea to put extra cash on a credit card before departure to avoid cash advance fees from your credit card company. Traveller's cheques are generally NOT accepted, nor are credit or debit cards over counters - best to bring cash along; or, if you don't wish to carry all your $$ than you could have someone send it to you from back home in increments via moneygram or western union - both of which there are plenty of offices in Guinea. Canadian dollars, US dollars, & euros are all very easily exchanged - but do note that the crisper, cleaner, newer and less-creased the bills, the better the rate you will get!!