After long years of civil wars, peace has finally been restored throughout Sierra Leone, opening the door for tourism. This new calm situation is therefore favorable to new discoveries of the country with precious diamonds and stretched beaches. Located in West Africa, bordered by Liberia and Guinea, the country lies at the foot of the Atlantic Ocean. Have you ever seen mangroves?
The trip to Sierra Leone will be ideal for getting to know these exotic trees, growing in salty water. Sierra Leone is abundantly covered with forests of dense foliage, hills and mountains (the highest peak being the Loma Mansa culminating at 1948 meters). The climate being tropical, bear in mind that rains are omnipresent between May and December. The best choice for a trip to Sierra Leone is from December to April. Driving in this environmentally friendly country, it is advisable to get a good 4×4, or even better an experienced local driver. Roads are generally in bad condition. The other weak point is its rail network which is not (yet) set up and its domestic flights nonexistent. However, natural beauties will make you forget about the lack of infrastructure. Powerful waterfalls, lush forest and white sand beaches are the major attractions of your dream vacation. The country has a rich cultural and historical heritage, people are extremely welcoming and friendly, and each of its cities brings a unique story.
To begin with, the port city of Freetown is home to most of the population and is also the largest city in the country. Located on the peninsula at the edge of the Sierra Leone River estuary, it gathers all the important political bodies of the country, as well as many cultural attractions. St. George’s Cathedral is well worth a detour, as is the German cement factory Heidelberg, the National Museum, the De Ruyter Stone, the Maroon Church, the Foulah Town Mosque and the Main Market. Its gigantic natural harbor and Queen Elizabeth II Quay welcome huge cargo ships. Most of the natural resources pass through its harbor before reaching the four corners of the world: oil, diamonds, fish, rice.
For those who want to indulge in the gentle relaxation, nice beaches are at your disposal. Dive in Hamilton, Lumley or Lungi Beach. It is a country of contrasts and sometimes of obvious contradictions. For example, Sierra Leone has one of the oldest universities in Africa, but the illiteracy rate is extremely high. Or, even though the country is intensely exploiting its diamond mines (Kenema, in the North), this country is amongst the poorest in the world. The second city of the country is Bo, located in the south and has a population of nearly 400,000 residents. Kenema, with its diamond industry, represents the “capital” of commerce.
Other cities to visit are Koidu (Sefadu), Makeni and Twai. The three “must see” of the country are Tacugama (sanctuary for chimpanzees), the five-hundred-year-old cotton tree (historical symbol of not only Freetown, but Sierra Leone as a whole), and finally the Outamba-Kilimi National Park. You will love !
Do not drive to the far south and east of the country because the infrastructure is virtually non-existent. Do not think of assistance services in the event of car breakdown. For entry into the country, the visa is required, as well as a valid passport.
Art and culture
The country is known for its traditional festivals throughout the year. One of the most important are the Independence Day (in April), and the Lantern Festival (has great religious and historic significance). Multiple concerts are also given during this festival. The Tangains Festival is celebrated in December and the residents all dress up with their traditional outfits. From your trip to Sierra Leone bring back to your friends and yourself fascinating masks, magnificently carved wooden statues, local crafts and jewelry of all colors and shapes.
What to visit
The capital Freetown has many surprises for you: cemetery, cathedral, cotton tree, museums, Aberdeen district, Banana Island, market … Then, the country also has many natural beauties: the Outamba Kilimi National Park, the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Bunce Island, Loma Mountains, Bintimani Park, Lake Sonfon (fresh water mountain lake with religious and cultural significance) , Peninsula, Tingi Hills Forest Reserve, Kambui Hills Forest Reserve, Gola Rainforest National Park, Mamunta Mayosso Wildlife Sanctuary and Yawri Bay, Tombo, Goderich, Funkia, Conakry- Dee, turtle islands, Lakka beach resort and of course the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Coastal country, Sierra Leone has kept its marine habits and there are still many traditional fishing villages. So you can imagine that seafood is a fundamental element of country’s cuisine. Here are some of its delights: lobster, shrimp, crab, catfish, salmon and barracuda … Why not accompany all this with a good poyo (palm wine) or even a local alcohol free ginger beer? There is also a traditional dish made of vegetables and stew meat (mostly bovine), which differs slightly from one region to another.