Fun Fact! People from Guinea-Bissau are called Bissau Guineans.
If you’d like to know more interesting facts about this African country, click here.
So, let’s break this country up into PARTS.
Bissau- Guineans are very multi-ethnic, with the largest groups being the Fulani, Balanta, Mandinga, papel and Manjaco.
The official language is Portuguese. Though a Crioulo (a dialect of Portuguese) is frequently spoken alongside native languages such as Pular.
Roam around the old town. Bissau, the capital is still home to the small old town with Portuguese colonial-style houses, this is a great place to go to really see the get a feel of Guinea’s history.
Kick back. Guinea Bissau has some beautiful beaches and islands, why not bask in the sun sea and sand on one of them.
Visit Poilao, this beautiful uninhabited island, not only has a beach by lush greenery and is home to some beautiful wildlife. The beach too is nothing short of beautiful, here various species of turtles can be seen.
Rituals and Cultures
The country is predominantly Muslim with Christianity being the second largest religion.
The diets of Bissau Guineans usually consist of, cassava, peanuts, fish, rice, plantain and more. Some specialties include jollof rice (Rice cooked with tomato sauce and red palm oil), groundnut soup, fish stew and Raiva cookies (Portuguese cinnamon cookies)
– Strapped with cash. There are few ATMs in the capital Bissau and even fewer in rural areas so it’s always best to carry some West African franc on you.
For more travel advice check out; FCO: Travel Advice
Outside of the UK: Please check your government’s travel advice carefully.
Oddly enough, I planned to skip this country in my initial journey plan.
I flew over this country at first but then heard of Varela festival in Bissau and couldn’t resist going.
With the promise of staying on the beach for 3 days, nonstop sunshine, and good vibes I was sold.
From Conakry, I took the journey to Bissau by car. If I’m honest, This journey was nothing short of torture. I arrived early as I had learned this from my Sierra Leonean experience. (click here to read it)
In Africa, shared cars don’t leave until the car is packed with as many people as possible.
When I arrived, we were just waiting for one more person, the naive me believed this person would come sometime soon. Hours flew by like centuries and me sick of waiting decided to pay for the extra seat. More legroom for me I thought.
This was the best decision I had made during the journey.
The road was nothing short of a nightmare with the rural Guinean roads being so bumpy I began to feel motion sick. We were often stopped by ‘police’ and had to pay bribes to pay. The locals, I assumed took a liking to me and subtly translated and told me how much bribe I would have to pay. After my last experience (Click here to hear my horror story),
I came to accept that corruption was a war in guinea that I wasn’t prepared to fight in. Google stated this was a 10-hour journey which I was fine with, what I wasn’t fine with was a 25 hour one!
Exhausted, once there, I made my way to the second part of my journey to Varela island. This part of the journey was just as difficult, though my ability to speak Portuguese did help, it took a while till I found transport going to Sao Domingo’s-Varela. Once there I was shocked to see nothing. What!?
I couldn’t see any party on sight, and it was already day 2 of said festival.
In hindsight, It probably wasn’t the smartest move on my part as I struggled to find any information about the festival online and I had only heard about it through a friend I met in Gambia who later told me he wouldn’t be going anymore.
All in all, I wasted a lot of time, money and energy trying to get to the festival. A little disappointed and homesick, I didn’t explore much of Guinea Bissau and booked the next available flight back to London.
I did however stay in the capital Bissau a few days before my flight. I enjoyed walking around the city and eating. I ate a lot of good food like rice and fish and avocados with tuna. Delicious! The Cathedral in Bissau Velho was a cute little cathedral to visit.
Overall, I definitely believe that I need a do-over with this country. I truly enjoyed the little time I stayed in Bissau and know that I need to go back again. So, Stay tuned for another travel update!