We got up early knowing we had a long day ahead of us as we needed to travel from Banjul in Gambia back through Senegal, which surrounds Gambia and then onto Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau.
We flagged down a minibus, the main form of transport for locals (some who weren’t too impressed with pour bags as we clambered on), this took us an hour south to the town of Brikama which is the main transport hub for the region. By 0830 we were on the move again after getting yet another sept-place, although this one was the smallest yet with Nick not being able to sit up properly as he was too tall. The rather large lady who occupied the third seat in the boot didn’t make the 3 hour journey to the nearest town to the border, Ziguinchor, any more pleasant.
The main reason for going to Ziguinchor was to get a Guinea-Bissau visa, which we were reliably told you could get quickly. Lonely Planet was once again wrong as it labeled the embassy to be next to the French consulate, in reality it was a 10 minute walk away. When we got there we feared we might have missed the opening time as it was coming up to 12 and the French consulate shut then. Thankfully it was open and after waiting 10 minutes we were served, we paid the 20000 CFA (about £40) and were issued visas on the spot. To celebrate we went for lunch at an expat restaurant where we got access to WiFi for the first time in a day and a half.
We then made a mistake by going for the cheap option of a large minibus at the transport station instead of a more expensive but infinitely quicker sept-place. The bus stopped so frequently it was absurd and very frustrating. Not understanding Portuguese (the language spoke in Guinea-Bissau) we didn’t understand why, there just seemed to be a constant stream of arguing between the driver and everyone else. The border was straight forward but again we had to wait ages for the bus and luggage to be checked and then the 120km route from the border to Bissau took over 5 hours. Partly due to overloading of the bus and poor roads Burr mainly due to the stops which if anything got more frequent. We had been expecting to get to Bissau around 1900 but it was after 2200 by the time we had our luggage off the bus.
The hostel (Pensao Creola) was the first ‘backpacker’ hostel we had found during the trip so far and the Swiss owner spoke English which was a bonus. We went out for dinner and had more shawarmas (local kebabs) and a few beers after a reasonably stressful day.