After hiking up a dusty dirt path, you pause to catch your breath. You’re parched and sweaty. Red soil leaves a mark across your forehead when you try to brush your hair out of your eyes. You take a long sip of water, thought it’s also warm after being out in the sun. Distracted by your appearance, you haven’t even noticed your surroundings. The view is breathtaking.
In front of you, green trees extend as far as the eye can see. There are imposing mountains, high plateaus, and lush valleys. They’re interrupted only by an occasional rushing river, a cluster of houses, or a potato farm. It almost looks like Switzerland.
You’re in Guinea, a country rarely associated with Switzerland. The West African country is better known for its mining sites (bauxite and gold), surprising football victories, and, lately, Ebola. But the country’s former French colonists used to retreat to the mountains in central Guinea’s Mamou Region. Dalaba is the highest town in the country.
While visiting Dalaba, listen for the monkeys coming down the mountains at sunrise. Visit the Barry Gassimou Garden, where pine trees were first planted in the early 1900s. Cool off in the waterfalls: Garaya and Sala. See damask fabrics that the women in the village tie-dyed in detailed patterns—you love the rich indigo hue. Eat freshly picked strawberries, homemade yogurt, and venison from a roadside stand. And follow another hiking trail for more amazing views. Just bring plenty of water along this time.