Sierra Leone - Top Tips

Super Seven

1. Freetown City Tour

A city tour of the capital is a must. With an interesting British colonial past, there's plenty to check out. Specific sites worth a look are the Cotton Tree, The Sierra Leone Peace Museum, and St George's Cathedral (all within walking distance of each other).

The local markets are worth a look to people watch and see some of the local tradesmen in action, although keep a close eye on your possessions. The winding roads throughout the city also enable easy birds-eye views.

2. Banana Island

Banana Island is a group of 3 small islands that are surrounded by the Freetown Peninsula and are only accessible by boat. First visited in the 17th Century, and then freed slaves settled there from the Americas in the late 18th and early 19th century. The 900 populated are effectively ancestors of these slaves.

Today, the main use of the island is tourism with a a couple of guest houses in operation, as well as the island being a popular fishing spot for the locals to earn a living. Small and compact, so easy to walk around the local village and relax on the beach. Bafa Resort offer a glamping experience!

3. Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary

Opened in 1195 and used as a rescue and rehabilitation centre for orphaned Chimpanzees. There's currently 92 resident Chimpanzees, with the aim of releasing them back into the wild, but sadly the sanctuary are yet to find an appropriate spot due to industrial development around the city, and a host of poachers in surrounding areas.

There's a couple of educational tours operating each day, plus 6 eco lodges within the site for those wanting an overnight stop.

4. Freetown Peninsula Tour

The peninsula surrounding Freetown is an stunning drive. The road conditions are good and you're surrounded by lush mountain greenery around every corner.

You can stop in the small villages along the peninsula such as Lakka, Hamilton, Sussex, and Kent. There's plenty of historical spots to check out, along with stunning views of the coastline.

5. Beach Time

The biggest surprise in Sierra Leone was the stunning beaches, that are all within close proximity of central Freetown. These are the best beaches I've seen across the entire West Coast of Africa.

Soft white sand, crystal clear water, palm trees, minimal crowds and a backdrop of lush green rainforests.

Of all the beaches I visited, my top spots were River Number 2 Beach, Bureh Beach and Sussex Beach.

6. Tombo Fishing Town

Located on the West Coast around 50km from Freetown is the small fishing town of Tombo. This is the central point of the entire fishing industry in Sierra Leone. Arrive early morning to see the local fishermen reel in the fresh catches of the day, which are then used to feed all of the neighbouring villages, as well as transporting fish to local restaurants in Freetown.

7. Crafts in Action

Along the backstreets of Freetown, there are many local crafts happening on a daily basis. The most popular is the weaving of cotton and wool decorative pieces. These are then used for tables and decorations around local households. This is by no means a tourist stop and not the easiest to find, so best to ask a local. The Sierra Leone flag is a popular design, as you'll see from the below pics.

Accommodation Advice

The Atlantic Lumley Hotel was my accommodation of choice. The location is directly on Lumley Beach and the standard on offer exceeds all other local options. Definitely not the cheapest at $100 a night, but I was mid-way through a long West African road trip, so was in need of a bit of luxury.

Food Factor

The fresh fish served on River Number 2 Beach is just delicious. Cooked and prepared locally, although you are paying a higher price due to the beachfront location. Absolutely worth it though!

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