One on the world's poorest countries, Guinea Bissau could be a challenging travel destination. Once viewed as a shining beacon of development potential, now it's largely propped up by international aid. It's not really on the usual African tourist trail nevertheless for adventurous travellers there's plenty to discover, that include the Bijagos - Africa's only archipelago.
But keep in mind, behind the a feeling of adventure lies some real danger. Struggling infrastructure, language barriers, political unrest and widespread smuggling of medicine, arms and the ones mean when you run into trouble here, you may have a hard time finding help. This isn't justification to avoid Guinea Bissau, but grounds for some solid planning, that will help you both avoid trouble and handle any that comes towards you.
Colonel Conflict and General Disarray
Guinea Bissau's poverty is essentially the result of your string of conflicts and power struggles. Since winning independence from Portugal in a very bloody and protracted conflict people have Guinea Bissau have suffered through civil war, countless coups and political assassinations. The political environment can be quite unstable here as well as the very people tasked with maintaining order tend to be the first ones to upset the applecart. Frustrated using the ingrained corruption, this season the EU abandoned its mission for reform the nation's security forces and produce an end towards the political power grabbing. Avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings. They have the possibility to turn violent quickly. You also needs to have an exit strategy just in case things get truly unreasonably out of control. While foreigners aren't generally targeted over these political struggles, you dont want to find yourself stuck during widespread violence. The Bijagos Archipelago is essentially removed from mainland conflict but when you may feel secure and safe, you need to heed travel warnings and produce like a tree. If you will get to Bissau's air port, TAP Air flies direct to Lisbon where there are several services to Dakar. Travelling overland, the highways on the north passage to Senegal can be your most efficient, otherwise your safest route. Guinea Bissau's official language is Portuguese but indigenous languages or creole are only as common, that can make it difficult to assemble information. If you're unsure in the situation or the way to respond, one from the many NGOs doing aid operate in Guinea Bissau will be able to get you current and within the right track. It's a good idea to get some of their numbers written down in addition to their bases of operations.
The beautiful Bijagos Archipelago may be the feather in Guinea Bissau's tourism cap. Now a Unesco Biosphere reserve, there's a good amount of diving and fishing being done whilst you potter relating to the islands. But whether you're there to admire the marine life or conquer it, the relaxed, and insulated atmosphere is intoxicating. Unfortunately the same a sense isolation and privacy that draws adventurers to this particular archipelago also attracts drug smugglers, who utilize it as a platform between Latin America and Europe. Several hundred kilos of cocaine are viewed as to pass through hawaii each week but smugglers undoubtedly are a surreptitious lot and you may be none the wiser. If you see any packages washed up for the beach, never allow your curiosity obtain the better people. This isn't the Hardy Boys. It's best to convert around and head back additional way. The same applies should you stumble upon any strange clearings while wandering. Chances are it's one on the many secret airstrips accustomed to unload wares and doubtless not somewhere you would like to hang around. Don't assume uniforms deserve your trust here either. The nation's corrupt leaders and security staff are viewed as to play many in the drug trade here. In fact the Chiefs of Staff of both Guinea Bissau's Navy and Air Force are around the US State Department's drug kingpin list. For travelling across the coast or between your Bijagos islands much of your choices are the cheap but rickety motorised canoes or more modern and expensive (but safer) boats of the many fishing lodges dotted through the archipelago. Some places hire out boats however the confusing currents that run through beautiful hawaii make for dangerous conditions and it is best when you leave the navigation with a local expert.
Bandits and Black Markets
Despite the crippling poverty, serious crime is pretty low in Guinea Bissau - Relatively. As drug trafficking throughout the country happens to be more prevalent, so has narcotics use and also the crime that is included with it. In short, avoid getting strolling around as you would in your house neighbourhood. There are still a lot of dark corners and shadowed streets to stop. In fact, as a consequence of unreliable public power, the majority of the streets and alleys are dark after dusk.
It's advisable to stay over streets during the night. Tourists are few in number here all of which will inevitably draw attention, mostly friendly and helpful, but flashy displays of wealth could attract a bad kind of interest. Keep any jewellery or expensive gear hidden away and turn into wary of watchful eyes. There are extremely few ATMs in Guinea Bissau and little credit card facilities. It's a cash economy and as a result you'll likely be moving more than you're usually happy with. If possible, attempt to work out what exactly you need for the day, with maybe a little emergency money stashed somewhere on the person. Keep a bit handy for little purchases like food and trinkets. You don't want to get thumbing by using a wad of bills in plain sight. The Bandim Markets can be a trove from the black market by-products of drug and gun smuggling and you could find a weird selection of stuff here (only be careful about taking it home). But with all the produce come the suppliers, that can be rather shady characters. You need to get very cautious about pickpockets or some other interested parties while here. The same goes for other markets or crowded places during the entire country. It's particularly significant to look after your documents in Guinea Bissau. Between anti-trafficking efforts, roving militaries and aid organisations, you're likely to be flashing your I.D. quite a lot. A lack of international embassies and officials means it can be rather hard to replace a lost passport here. (Your best bet could be to duck to Senegal, but this is often tricky with out a passport.) To prevent the inconvenience of your potential Catch 22 you ought to carry copies of most your important documents and make the originals back your accommodation or stashed deep as part of your pack.
Guinea Bissau's transport system could be a little unreliable at best. Minibuses (toca toca) and taxis service the cities, while sept-places (seven seater 4WDs) and candongas (big commercial vehicles) run between cities. However all of these could be a bit of the struggle, especially from the monsoonal wet season, that serves to find a good choice is to employ a 4WD. The roads aren't particularly well maintained, even from the capital, and driving standards here can be a little less controlled that you will be probably used. Its far better to restrict your go to daytime, to cut back the danger of accidents plus because there are installments of banditry on some rural roads. During the wet season plenty of roads become completely impassable. The lack of traffic in Guinea Bissau means in the event you try your luck and find stuck you'll probably be there for many days. Make sure you always have lots of food and water and overestimate the car in dodgy conditions. Landmines certainly are a threat in Guinea Bissau. A legacy in the country's conflicted past, the landmines happen to be cleared from the administrative centre Bissau, but nonetheless lie scattered across the countryside inside Bafata, Oio, Biombo, Quinara and Tombali regions. Stick to driving on paved roads whenever possible and produce sure approach locals in the event you're planning to head off of the beaten path. They obviously won't be able to talk about individual explosives however they will warn you of a typical danger zones or previous accidents.
Parasites and Bacteria and Viruses!
There isn't much inside way of contemporary medical facilities in Guinea Bissau so any sickness is really a serious situation. As they say, prevention provides improvement over cure so lots of preparation on your own behalf is smart. Yellow fever vaccination is critical, just like antimalarials. Both diseases are carried by mosquitos so you should likewise cover up and take an abundance of strong insect repellent. In 2008 there seemed to be a cholera outbreak inside south from the country which then spread with provinces, eventually claiming over 200 lives. For this reason any stomach upsets or diarrhoea must be taken very seriously. There is definitely an oral cholera vaccine Dukoral which has the bonus effect of avoiding traveller's diarrhoea, that could be wise investment. However this doesn't happen provide 100 per-cent immunity and that means you will still need to become very careful with water and then uncooked food.