National parks with virgin forests and wild animals, mountains surrunding Man, Senoufo region, Sassandra, and beaches bordered with palm trees make Ivory Coast a charming country. However, the greatest asset of Ivory Coast is its culture and art. Ivoirian music and art are just exceptional
- Capital city: Yamoussoukro
- Languages: French (official language), Baoulé, Dioula, Bété, Sénoufo
- Time difference: GMT/UTC + 0h
- Entry formalities: Citizens from UE, Canada, and Switzerland are required a visa. If you are a US resident, you won’t need a visa. The visa duration is 3 months
- Electricity: 220 V/ 50Hz
- Telephone: +225
- Health: Vaccine against yellow fever is mandatory. It is strongly recommended to get vaccine against tetanus, polio, diphtheria, meningococcal disease, and hepatitis A and B. A preventative treatment against malaria is also recommended
- Generalities: The bank at the airport offers an exchange rate which is fairly good. You should change your money in the airport if you coming by air. Only major banks of Abidjan will accept credit cards and travelers checks. In chic restaurants you should leave a 10% tip and for cab drivers a well.
- Currency: CFA franc (XOF)
Daily budget food
- Low budget: < 3 000 FCFA
- Average budget: 3 000-10 000 FCFA
- High budget: > 10 000 FCFA
Daily budget accommodation
- Low budget: < 10 000 FCFA
- Average budget: 10 000-50 000 FCFA
- High budget: > 50 000 FCFA
When To Go And Climate
Feasts and festivals: One of the most renowned festivals is the “Festival of Masks” held in November in the region of Man. The other important event is the “carnival of Bouake” held in March at St. Michael’s Cathedral and is known as a celebration of life and friendship. If you are in Gomon (100km going northwest) around March-April, don’t miss the “Dipri Festival” celebrated by the Abidji tribe. First, relatives or neighbors meet on the evening before the celebration to reconcile their differences. Then, during the festival, people go into frenzied trances as they are possessed by sékés —good spirits—and stumble, dazed, in the street. Some people, supposedly led by the spirits, plunge knives into their bodies and then, with the guidance of the sékés, are healed with poultices of raw eggs and herbs. This festival serves several purposes: it resolves conflicts between generations and in the community, it drives away evil spirits, and it purifies the celebrants.
Abidjan: The Ivoirian capital has 4 millions of inhabitants distributed between 4 urbanized peninsulas near the lagoon region. The capital is called the “The Paris of West Africa”because of important community of French expats but also expats from neighboring countries. This makes Abidjan the most cosmopolitan city of the country. Tourists usually visit well-off neighborhoods like “Le Plateau” and “Cocody“. But “Treichville“, “Marcory” and “Adjamé” are far more interesting to visit. At the Hotel Ivoire, the most renowned hotel of West Africa, you will find everything: swimming pool, ice rink, bowling, movie theaters, casino, art gallery etc… You must visit St. Paul’s Cathedral very modern and beautiful, Banco National Park located in the district of Attécoubé and the biggest open air laundry place of Africa.
Man: This area located in the mid-western region of the country, about 450km northwest from Abidjan, will offer you a magnificent spectacle of green hills. Man is also reputed for its excellent market, masks, and dancers mounted on stilts performing acrobatics during the Festival of Masks. The city of Man is a good starting point for an excursion in the region. We recommend you to visit the waterfall located 5km far from the city in the middle of bamboo plantations, Mont Tonkoui the second highest peak of the country from where you can sight Liberia and Guinea, the “Dent de Man” guardian angel of the region, and finally Biankouma, Gouéssésso, Sipitou and Danané villages. Air Ivoire airlines serves the city of Man twice a week, and few buses and bush taxis go there several times a day
Comoé National Park: Comoé is located northeast of the country and 570km from Abidjan. This natural park is the biggest reserve in West Africa. The two main attractions of the park are: the river where most of the animals come to drink, and the “kapkin triangle” with its lions and elephants. There are also hippos, green monkeys, baboons, many species of antelopes, and 21 species of wild pigs, and leopards. The park is open for visit from December to March and is accessible through Kafolo (in the north) or Gansé and Kapkin (in the south)
Language: French is the official language. Other spoken languages are baoulé, and agni in the south, malinké and senoufo in the north. Dioula is largely spoken during trade relations.
Religion: 35% of the population is Christians. Muslims represent 40% of the population (live in the north). Most of Ivoirians have kept their ancestral worship. Dead humans become spirits and stay in close contact with the living people. With many religious rituals, the living people ask protection and blessings to the spirits. Magic is a common practice. White magic casts out the vicious and malignant spirits. Juju priests predict the future and bless the amulets which protect from evil spirits. Senoufo people, in particular, have kept their traditional beliefs.
Geography: Ivory Coast with a combined area equivalent to Germany is bordered in the south by the Atlantic Ocean, in the west by Liberia and Guinea, in the north by Mali and Burkina Faso, and in the east by Ghana. Except for the western side of the country which is mountainous, the country is flat. The coastal area has a 300 km lagoon extending from the Ghanaian border to the eastern coast of the country. The Banco National Park is perfect for trekking. You can also explore the Taï National Park in the southwest of the country. Mont Tonkoui and “Dent de Man” in the mid-region of the country are great for hiking. The most beautiful coasts of the country are near Abidjan; Grand-Lahou is the best spot for surfing. But if you prefer swimming, you should rather go to Poly-Plage beach. For sunbathing, the best beach is Grand-Béréby (340km West of Abidjan) near Liberia border.
Fauna and flora: In the south of the country, is located Yamoussoukro, the capital and plantations of cacao and coffee surrounded by the last remnants of the primary tropical forests. Going further north, you will come across the African savannah. The expansion of the cultivated lands represents a serious problem for the diversity of the fauna and flora. Wood exports of Ivory Coast are equivalent to Brazil which is a country 20 times bigger. Taï National Park (3600km²) in the southwest corner of the country houses the last rain forest of the country.
Arts: Ivoirian art is among the most interesting in West Africa. Each ethnic group has its own traditional style. There are 3 distinct groups: Baoulé, Dan (Yacouba) and Senoufo are well known for their sculptures. For instance, Baoulé masks are very expressive.
Food: In villages and traditional houses, people eat using their fingers. Attiéké (similar to couscous) is very popular. The other famous dishes are Kedjenou (chicken served with vegetables) and alloco (banana cooked with palm oil onions and red peppers often served with fish)
Customs: Ivoirians are very attached to their traditions: religious festivals are always celebrated, and traditional kings are very much respected
Climate: Ivory Coast has a humid tropical weather along the coast, and dry climate in the north of the country. There are 3 distinct seasons: dry and hot season (from November to March), intense dry heat season (from March to May), and humid heat season (from June to October). July is the rainiest month. From December to February, the “Harmattan” (a dust storm from the Sahara Desert) reduces the visibility in mountainous regions in the north
Best time to go Ivory Coast: The cool and dry period extends from November to February which is perfect time to visit the country. But if you are a photographer, you should go during the rainy season. Tourist season starts from December to March. November and April are quiet months.
Sassandra: Located 210km west of Abidjan, the city is known for its beautiful beaches, and the fishermen village from Fanti ethnic group. There is a busy fishing port where you will enjoy a “Bangui” (local palm wine). Beaches are located at the west side of the village: “Plage Le Bivouac», beautiful beach, is accessible by foot. The Marvel of Marvels is “Poly-Plage” beachand the small Fanti village. Sassandra is served daily by buses coming from Abidjan.
Taï National Park: This park, very difficult to access, contains one of the last areas of primary rainforest in West Africa. It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1982. The environment of the park is very peaceful and enchanting. We recommend you visit the park during the dry season between December and February. You will see trees 50m high, huge roots, lianas, massive trunks, turbulent rivers and many chimpanzees.