Sierra Leone — Overview
It was not so long ago that Sierra Leone was embroiled in a bloody protracted civil war. While the effects of the war can still be seen in some areas, the country and its people have made valiant strides in proving that Sierra Leone is far more than an archetypical African war zone. Sierra Leone is one of West Africa’s most beautiful and geographically diverse countries, and there is no doubt that it is soon to become one of the continent’s most sought-after travel destinations.
Sierra Leone certainly has no shortage of sights and activities on offer, and there is absolutely no way that travelers will get bored. Whether tourists are looking to engage with the country’s natural beauty, learn more about the region’s socio-economic history, or immerse themselves in local cultures and interact with local people, there is something for everyone here. Some of the most popular activities include hiking through one of the many parks and mountain ranges, as well as exploring the country’s coastline with snorkeling and diving trips.
There are also many exciting sites, including the stunning and serene Banana Islands, where many historical sites can be found, and the Cotton Tree, a Freetown institution and a national symbol of freedom from slavery and oppression. Regardless of where in the country travelers end up, they are certain to learn a great deal about the region and marvel at the beauty of their surroundings.
A decade after a prolonged and brutal civil war, Sierra Leone is finally starting to find its footing by reinstating some of the infrastructure that was inevitably destroyed. With this restoration came an improvement in the tourism industry, and today, there is a range of accommodation and hospitality options available. Whether travelers are looking for large, luxury hotels or simple, family-run guesthouses, they are sure to find something to fit their needs and budget. The cuisine in Sierra Leone is delicious and well worth a try, consisting of rice dishes and plenty of vegetables. However, travelers in search of more variety should not despair, as there are many international options available, especially in the larger cities.
As is evidenced by the plethora of sights and activates set in the country’s natural environment, Sierra Leone does not disappoint when it comes to the outdoors. The country’s geography is so diverse and so beautiful that the north and south almost seem like different countries. With both beaches and mountains to explore, there is little chance for boredom on this trip. Sierra Leone’s neighboring countries, Guinea and Liberia, are also fascinating and are certainly worth a visit for those looking to see more of the west-African region.
The civil war damaged much of the county’s travel infrastructure, but there are still several ways to navigate the country. There are no active train lines, as they were all closed down in 1974, but there are a few private and government-owned bus companies that make the journey between cities. Within cities, the best option for travel is either local taxis known as poda-podas or car hire. Many travelers find poda-podas daunting, as they are generally quite rickety and drivers don’t like to obey the rules of the road. While there are no international car-rental companies in the country, there are several reputable local firms.
- Hike through the gorgeous Loma Mountains Natural Reserve
- Learn about the country at the Sierra Leone National Museum
- Step back in time at the former slave post on Bunce Island
- Experience local cultures at a homestay
- Snorkel off the coast of Sierra Leone at the Banana Islands
- Marvel at the grand nature of the majestic Cotton Tree in Freetown