Like many of its West African neighbors, Guinea-Bissau has been stuck in civil war for the last few decades. Now that long-term peace is a possibility, it seems travel to this fun-loving and laid back destination may be in the cards as well. There are still some areas near the Senegalese border that are unsafe, but in the next few years Guinea-Bissau may be graduating to a perfectly safe and hospitable travel destination.
What to do
The tropical Guinea-Bissau archipelago is the most tempting part of the country for most travelers. The Bijagos islands are home to hippos, waterfowl and other African wildlife and the islands are emerging as an eco-tourism destination.
Also on the coast, the difficult-to-reach city of Varela and the area around the Saltinho Waterfall plays host to many of the Portuguese hunters that come to Guinea-Bissau looking for game.
There is a direct, weekly flight from Portugal each Friday, but your best bet may be to fly to Senegal and travel overland to Bissau. The roads are often unpaved, but you'll avoid the spotty air service and the drive only takes three hours. Plus, you'll get to see Senegal at the same time.
Where to stay
Tourist accommodations in Bissau are top-notch for Africa, which makes it even more of a shame that the political unrest has scared away all but the most hardened travelers. You'll find a variety of hotels and prices in Bissau and if you know where to look, you can even find rooms to rent in local houses. For accommodation on the Bijago islands, several foreign entities run resort hotels.
There are hidden gems in Guinea-Bissau and the rest of Africa to be discovered on your trip. Before you leave, check out the message boards to see if there's something you missed in planning or to find an answer to the toughest Africa questions you can think of.