After its independence and civil war, the nation was steadily developing. However, the country’s development efforts slowed after an outbreak of Ebola.
Freetown is the capital city and Freetown (Lungi) airport is quite good by African standards. In Sierra Leone the climate is tropical. The best time to visit the country is from October to March while the weather is pleasant for traveling.
Things To Do In Sierra Leone
Primary tourist destinations include Kabala, Bonthe, Bo, Koidu, Kenema, Makeni, the Banana Islands and Magburaka.
- The beaches of the Freetown peninsula are spectacular and world class. Mostly, it is crowd-free so you may have a full beach to just yourself. There are at least a dozen beaches in Freetown peninsula.
- Bonthe Town, on Sherbro Island, is a former British Colonial Town, with several beautiful stone churches, and a rich traditional culture.
- Tiwai Island (in the middle of a river in South East Sierra Leone) is teeming with rare wildlife.
- Rural West African villages: experience hospitality and the tranquility of the bush.
- Snorkeling and scuba diving around Banana Island.
- The Turtle Islands, difficult to get to, but idyllic.
- Outamba-Kilimi National Park is a park consisting of savannas and jungles with diverse wildlife.
- Mount Bintumani is the highest mountain in Sierra Leone with excellent views of the summit.
- Sierra Leone has vast swathes of rainforests. You can explore them by hiring local guides.
- Run the Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon or 5K (usually in May/June). The marathon (also half-marathon and 5k) is organized alongside the beautiful countryside of Makeni in aid of Street Child of Sierra Leone. This is a good opportunity to have both an adventure and contribute to the society.
Stay and Sleep
If you stay in guesthouses and use cheap transport like a poda poda, you can keep your expenses to roughly $70 per day. If you want everything during your trip to be safe and comfy, be ready to pay a hefty amount of $250/ day.
The civil war in Sierra Leone has led to the destruction of many roads. Since the end of the civil war in 2002, the road network has improved. Now, you can even hire a car and drive yourself. The cars drive on the right side of the road here.
By boat, you can take a trip to the Banana Islands. However, visiting these islands is expensive. For cheap transit use a poda poda, these are traditional minibusses common in Sierra Leone and other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
The language most commonly spoken by locals is Krio. However, the vast majority of residents understand English. Regarding religious issues, 40% of the country’s population are animists, the same amount claim to be Muslim, and only 20% are Christians.
Currency & Money
The currency used here is the Sierra Leonean Leone (SLL). One USD is equal to 5,650 SLL. In the major destinations, you can use credit cards, but only Visa. There are a few ATMs in Freetown, so it is better to take cash. You can exchange the currency at banks and airports.
As for electricity, the country uses types D and G sockets. You need to bring a travel adapter to fit the proper socket type. Check out the above-linked page to see the photos and other useful information. The standard voltage is 230 V. Many of your devices may need a step-up transformer to match the electrical voltage.
Health & Safety
Despite the stereotype or incorrect assumptions, Sierra Leone is actually a very safe country (in Africa) to visit. While petty pick-pocketing, bag-snatching, and other non-violent crimes are a problem in parts of Freetown (and the police are non-responsive), violent crime is extremely rare throughout the country by any international standards, even in the capital.
The usual dangers found in undeveloped sub-Saharan Africa are road accidents due to unmanaged traffic, poor road conditions, and disease.
Walking around the cities at night can be hazardous not so much for fear of crime, but rather because the lack of lighting can cause a fall, or a driver might not see you on the road. Always bring a torch with you when out during the night.
Water-borne diseases, such as malaria and other tropical diseases are prevalent. A foreign visitor traveling without antimalarials and possibly a mosquito net is risking her/his health. You should consider taking medication to protect against malaria and using insect repellent. Vaccination against yellow fever is now required and against rabies might be recommended.
HIV/AIDS is prevalent. So please do NOT engage in unsafe sexual activity.
Lassa fever can be contracted in Kenema and the eastern regions. If you have traveled in these regions and should you develop a fever (that is not identified as malaria), seek urgent medical attention.
Medical facilities are very poor. You should carry basic medical supplies. You should take medical advice before traveling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.
Drink only bottled water and be aware of what you eat and how well it is cooked.
August 14, 2016 12:00 am 1 Comment
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