Sierra Leone is a piece of West Africa, a former British crown colony and a country that has been marked by decades of civil war… and in which reconstruction and restructuring can be seen in many places today. On the one hand, the positive atmosphere of the development can be felt in the country – on the other hand, due to its recent history, Sierra Leone is also a country that as a travel destination has little tourist infrastructure and does not necessarily offer the highest levels of comfort or even luxury. Where the situation has calmed down again in the meantime, you can get to know Africa in a different, more special way in Sierra Leone. Above all individually, because you will not come across overcrowded places in this country. On the other hand, you can enjoy sandy beaches, some of which are deserted. Divers find a diverse underwater world off the coast – especially around the Sierra Leone islands of Turtle Island, Sherbro Island and Banana Islands. Also in the coastal area: the capital Freetown. The city, founded at the end of the 18th century, is located on a peninsula in the far north-west of the country and is surrounded by hills covered with dense rainforest. The Portuguese Steps, the National Museum, the Cotton Tree, Fourah Bay College, which is the oldest university in West Africa, sacred buildings such as the Sacred Heart Cathedral or the Foulah Town Mosque and Freetown in general as a historic port city are all worth seeing. However, Sierra Leone is also worthwhile because of the landscape. In addition to the coast, the country offers mangrove forests, a forest area traversed by the three main rivers Mano, Moro and Rokel, lush rainforest, Plain with wide savannahs and a high plateau a little over 1,800 m high. And the landscape of Sierra Leone’s national parks, in which the species-rich flora and fauna can be explored under local guidance.
Tiwai Island National Park
Tiwai Island is one of the few remaining regions of the ancient rainforest in West Africa. It means “Big Island” in the language of the West African Mende people and is the most popular and accessible nature reserve in Sierra Leone. The entire island sits on the Moa River and is run as a conservation project – known as the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Tiwai covers only 12 square kilometers, but is filled with an amazing variety of flora and fauna and is best known for its primates. Although not part of the island, Gola Rainforest National Park shares the same rainforest as Tiwai Island. The wildlife sanctuary has been proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Tiwai Island has lush rainforest and a unique and rich biodiversity. It is currently a protected area and eco-tourism destination for the local community, the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA) and other local and regional communities. Although the environmental foundation EFA has helped to preserve the island of Tiwai for the past decade, long-term and sustainable conservation is only possible through increased global awareness and regular funding. Recognizing the island of Tiwai as a UNESCO World Heritage Site would give EFA the impetus to achieve its goal of protecting the environment and restoring it in West Africa.
If you want to visit Tiwai Island in the southeast of Sierra Leone, you can go on many exciting hikes. More than 50 kilometers of hiking trails are available for fascinating tours. Guided hikes are also offered to discover the many species of primates and birds, as well as the extremely rare pygmy hippopotamus.
There are tent sites in several places in the reserve, but they are very poorly equipped. Bed linen is not offered, for example, and the water is not suitable for drinking either. There is a small souvenir shop in the visitor center and here you can buy a regularly updated map with the last places where rare animal species have been observed.
Freetown is no longer an insider tip among backpackers and Africa tourists. The capital of the West African state Sierra Leone is located on the Atlantic coast of the country and is one of the most beautiful places in the region for several reasons.
Why is Freetown a popular travel destination?
The location of Freetown in western Africa and south of the Sahara promises one thing above all: sunny weather. The temperature in the capital of Sierra Leone is around 30 ° C all year round. Therefore the region is suitable for sun worshipers.
The location on the Atlantic coast also promises beaches. A beach holiday in Freetown is therefore quite possible. The city’s own Lumley Beach is particularly popular with tourists. But others, like the River No. 2 Beach, Lakka Beach, Toke Beach, Kent Beach and Mamma Beach are within easy reach for vacationers.
There are isolated islands off the coast that can be visited. For example, the ruins of an old military fort can be found on Bunce Island.
For backpackers and hikers, however, the rainforest-covered hills on the edge of the urban area and the delta of the Sierra Leone River are good reasons to spend a spectacular time in Freetown.
Culture and flair
In addition to the scenic advantages, it is above all everyday life that makes Freetown a travel destination worth mentioning. Right next to the Cotton Tree, the city’s landmark, is the Sierra Leone National Museum, which brings interested visitors closer to the history of the country.
Probably the most worth seeing of the West African metropolis is the everyday life on the streets. The traffic, city life and the different culinary and cultural influences find expression in the streets of Freetown.
Architecturally, the Supreme Court of Freetown and the churches and mosques in the religiously mixed capital stand out. The city harbor is also central, especially in the everyday life of the city. The nightlife is also bustling there in the evenings.
A special tip for holidaymakers is the Tacugama chimpanzee breeding station, which is just outside the city and can be visited.
All-inclusive package Freetown
Accordingly, there is something for every type of vacationer. The numerous beaches and the constant temperatures are ideal for bathers and sun worshipers. The natural surroundings are ideal for backpackers and hikers. In the city, holidaymakers interested in culture can learn a lot about the regional way of life and history.