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Guinée Bisaou


After almost two month in Senegal, obtaining my visa in Ziguenchore was a smooth process, with a fee of $40, I went after 6:00 pm called the number in the door and a friendly embassy staff member handed me my visa in just five minutes.I was ready for the new country Guinea-Bissau. The borders were conveniently not far from Ziguenchore, where I had started my day. 

As I approached the borders, the sight of trucks parked nearby assured me that I reached my destination. Feeling a bit hungry, I decided to stop and enjoy a meal by the roadside. Right there, I noticed a man resting peacefully under a mango tree, while his wife diligently served food under the scorching sun. The man approached me and invited me to try their food, and we struck up a conversation. He inquired if I was French, to which I replied, “Moroccan.” This sparked a friendly exchange as we discussed the borders and the region.

Things changed when the e man made a derogatory comment about his own wife, who was working tirelessly to cook and sell the food. Unable to remain silent, I spoke up, expressing my disapproval of his words. I pointed out the irony of him lounging under the tree while his wife toiled in the heat. He smiled, I kept eating. As I left, I noticed the women were pleased that I had defended their fellow hardworking companion. This experience left me contemplating the immense dedication and effort put by women in this region, who endure different conditions and carry out various roles with admirable strength.


At the border, the police officer spoke English, making things smooth. In Guinea-Bissau, they speak Portuguese, which I don’t . In the first kilometer, I saw lots of bears and kids called me “blanco” (white). I looked for an Orange store to buy a SIM card. The guy there spoke French, so it was easy. The road was paved and the weather was very hot. I stopped for cold drinks and bread to eat my Moroccan tuna. I kept going until 3:00 pm when I hid from the sun under a tree. I met some kids who called my friend Yassine, who speaks Portuguese, to help me. I asked if there are any villages after 20 km. It’s interesting and fun when you don’t know the language but have to figure things out.

It’s truly an adventure when you find yourself in a place where the language is unfamiliar, but there’s an excitement in trying to figure it all out. Embracing the unknown and learning from the experiences along the way make such journeys both challenging and rewarding and I’m looking forward to discovering more about the culture and people

The scenery was pretty with lots of green. I started biking on dusty paths and after going more than 90 km, I decided to find a place to sleep. I passed by a village and asked a man if I could camp in his yard, fortunately he spoke French. He was a teacher but his family wasn’t there. He said I should ask the village chief.

He told me to go to the village chief’s house, and because he was busy, he asked some kids to take me there instead. It was a short walk, about 10 minutes. When I got there, the kids talked to the chief in Portuguese. The teacher came and translated for me. He said I could stay and they could give me a room to which I agreed.

The house smelled strongly of cashews, which was a bit unpleasant. The chief offered me some bread and tuna, but I didn’t take it because I had my own food. They live in a small village with not much money, and I know tuna is expensive here. Their kindness and hospitality was really amazing. I slept really well that night and woke up early at 6 AM. I saw a woman making cashews with her baby on her back. It was May 1st, known as the Day of Work. While many people take the day off, this woman exemplified dedication. At 6 in the morning, with her young child on her back, she began the traditional process of cashew preparation. Her aim was to sell the cashews, enabling her to purchase rice for their meal.

I packed my belongings and informed the woman that I was about to leave. She went to wake up the chief, who was still sleeping. I expressed my gratitude to them for their kindness and then took my leave.

On my way to Bisaou, I met a van with a German couple. They kindly stopped to offer me water or a cold drink and struck up a conversation. They mentioned meeting another cyclist at the borders, who seemed to be traveling around the same time as me. Curious about my plans, they asked where I would be staying, and I mentioned the name of the auberge. We decided to meet up there later.

The road to Bisaou was dusty and challenging, but I managed, hoping to find a mirror for my bike on the way, luck was not on my side, and I couldn’t find one. Arriving to the the capital, the scorching weather left me feeling exhausted. I reunited with the couple from Germany, and we had a pleasant chat, the other cyclist they mentioned was from Slovakia and was cycling to South Africa, he also joined us in the evening. I had planned to explore the islands of Bisaou, and he wanted to go on a kayak tour. We decided to join forces and share the tour together.


The next day, we made our way to the port to catch a ferry to the islands. Unfortunately, the ferry only operated on Fridays, leaving us disappointed. We inquired about other options, but the only available choices were fast ferries, which were quite expensive, costing around 350,000 CFA francs, equivalent to more than 500 dollars.

I asked everyone in the port, but no luck. Then, I approached another man who happened to be Senegalese. Since he spoke French, communication was easy, and he was happy to meet someone from Morocco. The relationship between Senegalese and Moroccans is generally very positive. He informed me that there was a commercial pirogue coming to the port, heading back to the island. This pirogue carried items for hotels and locals. I told the guy we would go to bring our stuff from the auberge and come back.

He called me to inform that the pirogue had arrived, so I returned to the port. We managed to pay only 3000 CFA, and then we had to wait for the pirogue to be filled. During this time, I tried to take some pictures. After a few hours of waiting, we became friends with a family on the pirogue. They were headed to another island and originally came from Gambia, so they spoke English.


It was going to be a long journey on the boat, not very comfortable, but I could manage since I’ve traveled in some very uncomfortable buses in Morocco. I fell asleep in the first 30 minutes. There was a woman from Gambia who kept waking me up to show me some small fishing pirogues and asked me to film them.

The atmosphere was pleasant, and I enjoyed chatting with them. It was hot, but the wind created some free air conditioning. We arrived at Bubaque, a touristy island. We inquired about renting a kayak, but the address we found online was no longer valid. We met another Spanish guy who said he couldn’t rent it to us because it wasn’t safe and too dangerous. We had some amusing conversations with him as he was a funny guy.

The wild pigs were everywhere on the island, and there were many fancy hotels. We met a lady who owns a hotel, and she gave us some information about the islands. After a walk on the island, we decided to go back and see if we could find a pirogue to different one. We discovered that the boat that brought us was heading to a traditional island, and they said we could find a pirogue to return after two days. The Gambian family we met earlier was going to the same island as well. We had to pay more, and the Gambian family didn’t want to pay, complaining with the owner. As it was already late, we captured the sunset on the way. We were only a few passengers in an empty pirogue. We noticed they made a fire to cook, which was surprising. I was sleeping in my corner when they woke me up to share rice and fish that they had cooked with all the passengers. The food was delicious, we arrived at 10:00 PM. The boat had to dock due to high water.

We camped on the beach and woke up in the morning to the sound of waves. The kids there were very nice, and we spent the day with them in this cultural village where people make sacrifices for good health using kitchen ingredients. We also met a person who came here because of his back problems, and they gave him a massage with traditional herbs




When we arrived, we met our Gambian friends, and they took us to the village. We bought a chicken, and the villagers agreed to cook it for us. While buying the chicken, we noticed the chief of the village enjoying some seafood. We approached and chatted with him. Later, our Gambian friend got into an argument with the person who slaughtered the chicken. It turned out to be a dispute over who could benefit from the chicken’s sacrifice, particularly the blood. We left the village for a walk around the island, enjoying the exotic fruits we found along the way. The island was beautiful, and the local children were friendly. After a two-hour walk, we returned to find our Gambian friend had consumed alcohol, which led to his earlier dispute. He apologized, and we shared the chicken with the chief’s household.

We went to camp in another part of the island to prepare for our return pirogue the next day. The place was serene. The following morning, Locals were carrying monkeys, and after minutes, they returned with the cooked monkeys. This explained why we hadn’t seen many monkeys on the islands. We enjoyed baobab fruits while waiting for the local pirogue. When it arrived, it was full, with passengers carrying chickens, kids, and even a cow. Our next destination was Bubaque to catch another pirogue to Bissau the next day.

Arriving to Bubaque island we learned that the ferry will leave tomorrow so we went for a walk in the island and we decided to camp somewhere there, we saw a lot of tent, they were Catholic camps, so we decided to stay with them. They gave us fire to cook, and they even offered us food. We slept early that night. We could only hear some chitchats but after midnight they started dancing, singing and yelling that made it hard for us to sleep. For some reason, they were chanting “Russia”. Recently, African people are more in Russia’s side than French, so they were questioning if Russia will save African countries.

The next morning, we discovered both the official ferry and a commercial pirogue. Opting for the more economical pirogue because it was cheaper, we had lunch at the port, enjoying coffee with milk before returning to check on our bikes. The following day, we planned to cycle together to Guinea. To start, we needed to take a ferry to reach the other side of Bissau, from where we would cycle to the borders.

Loading the bikes onto the ferry was a bit chaotic, involving the use of a rope to secure them in place. We saw two other bicycles belonging to fellow travelers, we realized that we weren’t allowed to purchase regular tickets; as foreigners, we had to buy VIP tickets. While waiting outside, women sold juice, ice-cold drinks, and other items. I went into the VIP area to charge my phone and noticed that the two other white travelers hesitated to join. Returning to the regular seating area, I found myself in a vibrant atmosphere, with a group of adolescents singing and dancing.

At the port, a small market offered various food items, fruits, vegetables, and lot of mangoes. We cycled a few kilometers and met the two cyclists we had seen earlier, Robin and Reda. They were from France, and Reda was Franco-Moroccan. We stopped to chat, and Reda shared his admiration, especially considering the challenges of explaining such adventures to Moroccan parents, especially if you’re a girl. We decided to travel together to the borders.

The journey was hot, with lots of dust, some parts were sandy. The roadside was dotted with cashew fruit and mango trees and locals  making palm oil. Kids along the way affectionately referred to us as “blanco.”

For our first night together, we reached a sizable town where a woman kindly allowed us to sleep in her small restaurant. We enjoyed a meal of rice and fish, communicating easily in French.

With only 40 km remaining to the borders, the last stretch wasn’t great, but it was manageable. In the rainy season, I could imagine it being challenging. One of the highlights of the region was that locals generously offered us mangoes, lots of mangoes. The Bissau borders were situated in a small place resembling a house in a village, and obtaining our exit stamp was easy.

As we passed through Guinean checkpoints, the reception wasn’t particularly warm, with police chef expressing resentment over the historical French colonization that left a lasting negative impact on Guinea’s infrastructure. Robin and Reda faced challenges with their visa approval, but we remained hopeful that a solution could be found at the borders.

Before reaching the official borders, we noticed a fire in the forest, and people were gathered around. Curious, we inquired about the situation, and a man explained that they were burning the area to plant rice. Guinea is unfortunately known for deforestation, and it seemed like a stark reality even as we approached the border.

At the end of the day, we reached a river that needed to be crossed with a pirogue, offering a stunning sunset backdrop. With only 4 km left to the official borders, Tomas and I took a moment to capture some drone footage. My hunger was reaching its peak, and Tomas shared some dates he had brought from Senegal.

Arriving to the borders, we noticed that our friends were encountering difficulties. They tried negotiating, but it seemed unlikely to resolve. On the other hand, I smoothly obtained my entry stamps, benefitting from the positive relations between Guinea and Morocco. The officials even offered me cold water.

After changing money at the borders, we met another Spanish overlander traveling by car. All of us then decided to camp together at the borders. The following morning, we said goodbye to our fellow travelers and continued to explore Guinea.



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