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Ω2

Guinea: Mountains, waterfalls and hearts of gold!

   The trail through which we crossed the border of Guinea-Bissau and entered Guinea led us to the bank of a wide river. This was the case three times during our savannah crossing. Usually, there would be a wooden raft on which we could load the motorbikes and reach the other side of the river. In one occasion, though, the raft was out of order, so we had to load carefully the motorcycles on a pirogue one by one and cross the river paddling. After having ridden almost 30 kilometers (19 miles) inside the country, we arrived at a village where two police officers stamped our passports.

After so many streams that we had to cross, Christina was quite at home in riding through them!

   Christina’s motorcycle started to stall again. It reached a point that it could not even move. I thought it was a fuel problem. I evacuated the carburetor’s float chamber and engaged the electric starter while keeping the fuel petcocks turned off, in an attempt to clear the carburetor. This didn’t help. When the things got worse, it was clear that the engine would stop by the moment we put it in a gear. That was the sign I was looking for! I immediately realized that it was an electric malfunction and the usual suspect was no other but the sidestand sensor. As soon as I short-circuited it with a piece of metal wire, the motorcycle was finally working again, as good as new! Christina was having a hard time for two days in a row, crossing rivers and deep water pits on a motorcycle that would stall every now and then. Especially when the water was deep enough to cover the whole engine, then it was definitely a problem.

It was by the impressive Kambadaga Waterfalls where we discovered one of the most amazing spots we have ever wild camped at!

   As if this was not enough, Christina had her rear tyre punctured by a nail for third time! Sometimes one problem follows another and everything happens in the middle of nowhere. However, we keep cool no matter what! Wherever we are, we have the proper gear to fix any problem, one at a time.

We had a punctured tyre for the sixth time in all, having ridden 20,000 km (12,428 miles)… Bloody nails!

   This six-day rambling through dirt roads and trails in the savannah was amazing! It gave us the opportunity, not only to enjoy isolated places in this amazing landscape, but also to meet wonderful people who live in huts all over the countryside, almost the same way as their ancestors did ages ago.

In these areas roofs come really low in order to shade properly the interior of the hut.

   In Labé, the first town where we stayed, we were hosted by Julie, a French girl working in Guinea for almost two years. She has a housemate, Aïscha, a Guinean girl full of energy who never stops laughing! They were both quite stunned when they first saw us, as our skin and clothes were covered in red dust! We used to bathe in rivers whenever we had such a luxury available but one day on these dirt tracks was enough to turn us red again… Thank God there was a well in the courtyard outside the house, so we had plenty of water (cold of course) to take a bath and wash our clothes. Labé is one of the most organized cities in the country, so there was even electricity during the night for a few hours!

The kids we came across in the villages were adorable!

   It was New Year’s Eve when we went shopping through the busy market of the town, in order to prepare a Greek dish for the festive dinner. Christina worked her magic once more and made some kind of moussaka. It left both the Guinean and the French friends of Julie’s, with whom we celebrated New Year’s Eve, with their mouth open! It was impossible to find any minced meat or make béchamel, so instead we used tiny pieces of meat and instead of béchamel, we made purée of potatoes and sweet potatoes mixed with milk and nutmeg! Of course we didn’t have an oven, but with a gas stove after five hours dinner was ready.

Fouta Djalon region is famous for the typical indigo cloths, tailored by men and dyed by women, using the tropical plant Indigofera tinctoria.

   The next day, being a holiday for everyone, we went for a two-day excursion up to the north of the country along with Julie and her Guinean friend, Lamine. We visited the mountainous region of Mali-Yemberem by the border with Senegal. The area of Fouta Djalon is very mountainous, therefore blessed with a lovely, cool climate, which we had really missed as much as the mountains themselves! It was like a dream, us sitting around the fire, outside the huts where we spent the night, listening to stories narrated by our elder host and gazing the innumerous stars of the African sky…

With the Quran by hand…

   We would definitely spend a few more days in the stunning and special region of Fouta Djalon. We made more than a few excursions on our motorcycles, as well as some short hiking, in order to explore picturesque settlements and impressive waterfalls that the forests of the region thrive with. With so many rivers around, we could find amazing spots to wild camp!

Dittin Waterfall reaches 80 m (262 ft.) height and is one of the tallest in Guinea!

   Unfortunately, it was time for us to leave the mountains and cross the country’s savannah. Luckily, we knew that we would find some more mountains in the south when we would explore the Forest Region. At some point we left the main dirt road in order to lose ourselves (literally!) through the paths, trying to find the settlement of Koladou, deep into the tropical forest. We spent the night there and we met almost every friendly peasant of this settlement! We sat in the middle of the village, outside some huts, trying to describe Greece to the locals, while they would talk about their everyday life. Over the nearby river we saw a vine bridge for the first time, built traditionally out of natural materials! Instead of wire ropes they use vines and instead of metal sheets to step on, they use bamboos and other tree branches.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!

   Reaching the border with Ivory Coast, we passed through an amazing forest of bamboos. It was the first time we laid eyes on something like this! We could never imagine how high this plant could be. After quite a few hours of nice riding through the dirt tracks of the Forest Region, we arrived outside a hut where we had our passports stamped, leaving behind us a country that undoubtedly became our favorite amongst the ones we have visited in the African continent so far. We always met people smiling, joyful and open-hearted, while the mountainous scenery, rare as it is in this continent, was something we had really missed. In Guinea, like in Mauritania, we crossed the country covering more kilometers in off-road riding than on tarmac. What a thrill…

Our overnight stay at the settlement of Koladou will stay in our heart thanks to its wonderful people…


 

Here you can watch the video about our adventures in Guinea:

Soundtracks (music of Guinea):
Mory Kanté – Nafiya
Mory Kanté – Diananko
Mory Kanté – Sabou
Mory Kanté – Djou
Mory Kanté – Loniya
Famoudou Konate – Damba

 

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