The major attractions of the western interior of Guinea are the Fouta Djalon highlands.
They are the source of the rivers Gambia
and Sénégal and hundreds of others, including some major tributaries of the Niger. Populated mainly by Fula herdsmen, its variety of landscapes range from richly cultivated or jungle-filled valleys (some with sheer
cliffs) to bare, rocky wastelands and sparsely wooded plateaux .. mostly accessible by the excellent main roads.
We eventually left Conakry's crowded streets around 1.30 pm .. helped by the fact that I splashed out double the normal fare of FrG 12,000, both to have the front seat to myself and to speed up the filling
procedure .. in what looked like a fairly new Peugeot 504 Estate.
Our driver was obviously a graduate of the 'Schumacher School of Motoring' and we sped along good roads and through the many villages at top speed, relying more on the car's horn to scatter anyone in our path,
than much thought of braking ! With only the occasional small pothole to avoid, we made good time through the rolling hills and forests. Notable were the large number of broken down trucks .. in various stages of repair
.. on the side of the road.
Factfile 14: By law in many countries, one must place a reflective red triangle a few metres up the road to warn oncoming drivers of such obstructions. In Guinea, they use small bundles of
branches, which are very effective in daylight .. but no doubt lethally invisible at night.
Massive great engines, gearboxes, axles and suspension units from very large trucks were often seen stripped down into
bits and being repaired on the roadside. Tarpaulin bivouacs and mini campsites had been set up for shelter from the sun for the people working on the repairs. Many were lying in the shade .. probably waiting for spare parts to
arrive .. and often looking as though they had been camping there for many days in the 35+ °C temperatures.
Every so often we stopped to stretch our legs and for the driver* to refill the radiator .. which had a small problem .. two holes in it, to be precise. Perhaps not such a new car after all !! Such was his haste, that any drinks or snacks (on offer at each village we
passed through) had to be purchased in double-quick time, before he was sounding his horn to be on our way again. One time, my too-hot to-drink-quickly coffee was literally poured into a plastic bag for me to drink on the move
.. juggling scalding hot liquid in a plastic bag at high speed .. is not easy !!