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Plan to Journey Sierra Leone? 21 Issues to Know!

Earlier than I travelled Sierra Leone, it instantly dawned on me this may simply be the primary nation I’d ever travelled to that not a single different individual I knew had been to.

Even after I visited Ethiopia and Sudan, I knew individuals who had gone earlier than me, however Sierra Leone had me pulling a clean!

And it’s hardly shocking…

I’ve learn a stat that the nation (which is the sixth poorest on this planet when measured by Gross Nationwide Revenue) solely receives 200 vacationers a month.

If that is true, it’s loopy not solely as a result of it’s so low, however as a result of Sierra Leone needs to be getting extra.

With an excellent shoreline that ranks among the many finest in Africa, pleasant locals, an enchanting historical past and a few wonderful wildlife recognizing areas, travelling Sierra Leone is one heck of a trip.

So in case you’re going to make the plunge, listed below are 21 issues I feel it’s worthwhile to know earlier than you head there…

Sierra Leone, Tassso Island, Beach


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My journey to Sierra Leone was sponsored by the Sierra Leone Nationwide Vacationer Board, however as at all times, all views are my very own.

This web page accommodates affiliate hyperlinks that means Large World Small Pockets could obtain a small fee on any purchases at no additional price to you.


#1 When to Go?

Sierra Leone, Boat, Man with Anchor

Realizing the most effective time to journey Sierra Leone is totally in making certain you might have the most effective time potential on this off the crushed observe vacation spot.

As a result of to go to within the unsuitable season and you may end up consistently going through tropical downpours, flooding, landslides, a barrage of mosquitoes, inaccessible street and island closures.

Doesn’t sound attraction, proper?

So belief me on this one, the time to journey Sierra Leone is in the course of the nation’s dry winter season between December and February.

Despite the fact that it’s winter, temperatures are nonetheless of their mid-twenties and the dry, heat, sunny days are the right for seeing the nation’s seashores and cities at their finest.

Study extra on this full information I wrote to Sierra Leone’s climate and local weather.


#2 The right way to Get There?

Sierra Leone, Sea Taxi, Ticket

Should you’re travelling to Sierra Leone from Europe, then you definitely’ll be glad to realize it’s only a 6 hour flight right down to this west African nation and that, from the UK at the least, there’s no time distinction both… unbelievable!

Brussels Airways and Air France from direct from their related capitals, different Royal Air Marco companies a lot of different European capitals with a stopover in Casablanca.

These are usually night time flights, so be ready for some fairly unsociable flight occasions in case you’re heading to Sierra Leone from Europe.

The benefit is that you just get a full day each if you arrive and go away the nation.

When you’ve got a One World Alliance frequent flyer card (consists of British Airways and Iberia), then it’s additionally good to know you may get factors if you fly with Royal Air Maroc and Air France too.

In any other case, in case you’re coming from elsewhere each Kenya Airways and Turkish Airways fly to Sierra Leone too and from elsewhere in west Africa, there are connections to Dakar, Accra and Lagos.

As at all times, irrespective of the place I’m flying to or from, I take advantage of Skyscanner to search out the most effective costs on flight tickets.

For arrivals coming overland from Guinea – it’s potential to journey from Conakry to Freetown in a protracted day.

Freetown to Monrovia in Liberia usually takes 2 days.

As at all times, verify borders are open earlier than you begin this journey.


#3 How Lengthy to Keep There?

Sierra Leone, Tokeh Beach, Sand

Subsequent we come to how lengthy to spend travelling Sierra Leone.

There’s so many variables concerned right here, however typically talking I feel is an efficient period of time to see the nation’s most important highlights.

It’s price making an allowance for that journey in Sierra Leone isn’t at all times probably the most enjoyable nation to journey in – West Africa isn’t for the faint-hearted! – so after every week you might be prepared for some creature comforts.

See level #14 on this article for the right week lengthy itinerary that takes in all of the nation’s prime spots.


#4 Visa Necessities

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Bridge & Boat Club

One of many causes West Africa is among the least visited areas on this planet by vacationers, as a result of the visas necessities for thus a lot of its international locations may be something however easy.

Fortunately Sierra Leone has lately made issues a bit simpler, with Visas on arrival now being granted to some passport holders, together with British ones.

Should you’re British, visas on arrival price $80 USD – finest paid in money in fact!

For all different passport holders, please verify your related international workplace web sites to see your visa necessities for Sierra Leone – there’s more likely to be some, so it’s finest to get ready at the least a month earlier than your date of arrival.

Issues don’t at all times transfer the quickest on this a part of the world!

Should you’re not arriving by air, however travelling to Sierra Leone overland, then once more please verify if visas may be supplied on arrival at land borders, or solely on the airport.


#5 Arrival & Departure Safety Tax

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Monument

Along with a visa, in case you’re arriving into Sierra Leone’s airport, you’ll additionally have to pay an $25 USD airport safety tax.

This may be paid on-line upfront of your arrival – in case you’re travelling right here with a tour group, they’ll possible organise it for you, though do verify. As soon as paid for on-line, you’ll obtain a textual content message affirmation with a transaction quantity, your passport quantity and your flight date.

Guarantee you might have this at hand, as you’ll want to point out authorities on the airport with a purpose to cross immigration.

The airport safety tax can be paid in USD money on the airport itself.

The identical airport safety tax must be paid through the identical strategies when departing from the airport too.


#6 Registration

Sierra Leone, Tombo, Sailing Boats

And the record goes on…

You additionally have to register with the federal government of Sierra Leone of your arrival within the nation.

To be truthful, this isn’t difficult and takes simply 5 minutes, however shouldn’t be forgotten!

You may full the registration on-line right here.


#7 Vaccinations & Malaria

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Old University

And the very last thing it’s worthwhile to guarantee you need to enter Sierra Leone is each a Yellow Fever vaccination and a Covid-19 vaccination.

You’ll want to point out official proof of each once more to enter the nation, so do convey printed copies of those certificates.


#8 Basic Journey Well being

Sierra Leone, Sea Ferry, Me

However it’s not simply Yellow Fever and covid-19 it’s worthwhile to think about if you journey Sierra Leone, as this nation isn’t with out its different well being dangers.

All the time seek the advice of a medical practitioner at the least 6 weeks earlier than your meant date of arrival and verify in case you want any vaccinations or boosters (such typhoid) in addition to malarial remedy.


#9 What to Pack

Sierra Leone, Banana Island, Guide

I’ve written a selected Sierra Leone packing record, which particulars the whole lot it’s worthwhile to convey for a 7 day journey to this nation.

In any other case, right here’s my prime 5 gadgets you shouldn’t neglect…


#10 Forex & Cash

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Money

The foreign money in Sierra Leone is the Leones (Le).

Not too long ago, to attempt to curb the excessive price of inflation within the nation, the nationwide financial institution confusingly knocked 2 zeros off the foreign money and issued a set of latest notes to match.

On the time of writing, each the brand new and outdated notes had been in circulation within the nation, which made issues very complicated

After I travelled to Sierra Leone, the next conversion charges had been correct…

  • 1€ = 2000 outdated Leones / 20 new Leones
  • £1 = 2200 outdated Leones / 22 new Leones
  • $1 USD = 1900 outdated Leones / 19 new Leones

Notes are available varied denominations and varied states of disintegration!

For the most effective charges, change on the black market in Freetown, in any other case head to the banks for much less palatable charges.

ATMs do exist in Freetown, however are sometimes out of use or don’t have any cash left in them.

Even in case you do discover one which works and has cash, you’re nonetheless very restricted as to the quantity you possibly can withdraw.

As such, I extremely counsel bringing all of the money you suppose you may have to Sierra Leone. USD or Euros are inclined to get you the most effective conversion charges.

Paying by card is basically solely obtainable at western model inns and eating places within the metropolis for tour firms and flights – one more reason money is king right here.

For a again up nonetheless, and for the occasions you possibly can pay on card, I extremely advocate bringing a Smart card with you.

The straightforward strategy to spend overseas with actual trade charges, no markups and no sneaky transaction charges, you should use your Smart card identical to a debit card in Sierra Leone… and it hyperlinks simply with Google and Apple pay – bought!

Signal as much as get yours right here.


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#11 Wifi & SIM Card

Sierra Leone, Freetown, Q Cell

As you might anticipate, wifi is patchy at finest in Sierra Leone, particularly when a lot of the nation is but to get entry to the nationwide grid and due to this fact depends on energy equipped by diesel-fuelled mills – largely within the night time for fan-assisted sleeping and lightweight in fact

Freetown goes to provide the finest probability of wifi connection and most western inns and eating places have it, though speeds fluctuate!

In any other case, it’s finest to get a SIM card in Sierra Leone. Africell is the predominant supplier and affords 4G.

Decide up a SIM card in Freetown – a fixer might be finest positioned that can assist you with this and with cash trade on the black market.


#12 Getting Round Sierra Leone?

Sierra Leone, Market, Van

Native minibuses, referred to as poda poda, supply thrilling(!) rides round Sierra Leone, as do native pirogue boat rides, which locals depend on to get to their island properties.

Nevertheless, it’s not at all times simple to get information on these companies.

Subsequently taking a tour or hiring a driver in Sierra Leone comes extremely beneficial.

Go to Sierra Leone (VSL) are an incredible native tour firm who function out of Freetown and supply a variety of companies.

For brief distances, I’d keep away from the native bike taxis referred to as okada – they’re notoriously harmful, particularly when helmets are skinny on the bottom – and stick with the tuk-tuk companies, that are referred to as keke in Sierra Leone.

Most will price you beneath a greenback to get round city.


#13 Airport Sea Ferry

Sierra Leone, Sea Ferry, Boat

The opposite factor you’ll have to find out about in terms of getting round Sierra Leone is easy methods to get from the airport to Freetown as a result of, guess what, this isn’t so simple as take a taxi!

As an alternative, the simplest strategy to get between Freetown and the airport, which is located within the city of Lungi – on a unique peninsula from the capital –  is to take a sea ferry.

Study all it’s worthwhile to know in this text I wrote about arriving in Sierra Leone airport, together with the place to search out the ferry, how a lot tickets prices, easy methods to purchase them and the method of utilizing this service to get to the capital.


#14 The place to Go in Sierra Leone?

Sierra Leone, Tokeh Beach, Chairs on Sand

Right here’s a prime line itinerary that I like to recommend for 7 days in Sierra Leone if you wish to see all of the highlights on this nation.

Day 1: Arrive in Sierra Leone | Discover Bunce Island | Keep Freetown

Day 2: Tour Freetown |Go to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary | Keep Freetown

Day 3: Spend a day and night time on Banana Island

Day 4-5: Go wildlife recognizing at Tiwai Island and keep an evening right here

Day 6-7: Loosen up at Bureh / Tokeh / Quantity 2 Seashore | Depart Sierra Leone


#15 Lodging

Sierra Leone, Tokeh Beach Resort, Chalet

There’s fairly a wide range of lodging obtainable in Sierra Leone – from top-end inns to tenting choices.

Bureh Seashore is the place to move for the backpacker scene, whereas Tokeh Seashore Resort affords comfy lodging for many who wish to benefit from the gorgeous white sands right here.

Over on Banana Island, Bafa Resort with its glamping safari tents is my decide of the bunch, whereas in Freetown, Aberdeen is the place to base your self.

Take a look at my beneficial record of lodging within the capital beneath…


#16 Meals & Drink

Sierra Leone, Tomba, Fish

The meals of the hour in Sierra Leone must be recent fish – from lobster to prawns, crab to barracuda – it’s all on supply right here and extremely low cost, recent and scrumptious.

Locals complement this with rice as their most important carbohydrate and there’s loads of recent fruit obtainable, from papaya to bananas, mango, coconuts and oranges.

Cassava leaf stew is one other native delicacy, normally ready with meat.

For the vegetarians amongst us, fortunately there’s normally a big number of Lebanese and / or Indian dishes on the menu in additional western inns due to Sierra Leon’s 2 most important immigrant communities.

As a veggie, I principally lived on hummus and fattoush salad, plus avocadoes in Sierra Leone, which I used to be very glad about!


#17 Language & Tradition

Sierra Leone, Railway Museum, Man

Issues in Sierra Leone transfer at a sluggish tempo!

That is West Africa and the warmth and common tradition imply practising persistence is vital if you journey right here.

Energy cuts will occur, automobiles will breakdown, issues received’t run on time and there you’ll be a common air of confusion and chaos when viewing life right here via a western lens.

The 6th poorest nation on this planet (as ranked by Gross Nationwide Revenue), the poverty is confronting and visceral, as is the extent of corruption and lack of ample schooling and medical companies.

Be ready. It’s surprising and saddening. However that is actual and uncooked journey.

The opposite factor that may be troublesome is the shortage of water administration and the quantity of plastic trash you’ll see all over the place.

However Sierra Leonians are extremely vibrant, optimistic and resilient.

An enormous swath of the inhabitants is younger and hopefully the longer term seems vivid for this fast-developing African nation.

It’s crammed with ample sources – from the Atlantic Ocean to the plush tropical rainforest and the earth is wealthy with vitamins.

There’s 18 recognised ethnic teams throughout Sierra Leone and a pair of dominant religions – Islam and Christianity.

From what I noticed, individuals appear to stay harmoniously aspect by aspect in a tolerant method.

Maybe that is because of the brutal civil conflict Sierra Leone endured till 2002, when over 50,00 of the inhabitants had been killed.


#18 Historical past

Sierra Leone, Bunce Island, UNESCO

Studying about this tragic historical past is a key a part of travelling on this nation. As is the horrendous years when lethal Ebola struck this nation too, beginning in 2014.

They had been simply getting again on their toes after which alongside got here Covid-19.

To say it’s been a tricky trip could be an understatement.

The opposite darkish historical past chapter is that of colonialism and the slave commerce in West Africa.

UNESCO-listed Bunce Island was a former slave colony and heading right here to find out about this horrendous time in Sierra Leone’s previous, and the function the British performed, is a should.

Sierra Leone turned unbiased in 1961, the yr that Queen Elizabeth I first visited this nation for the primary and final time.

Sierra Leone stays a part of the Commonwealth.


#19 Safety & Security

Sierra Leone, Sea Ferry, Aberdeen Waiting Room

Sierra Leone isn’t with out its risks, however don’t let these put you off.

A few of these are health-related – malaria is current, HIV is current and tropical illnesses comparable to typhoid and yellow fever may be a problem too.

Get vaccinations and defend your self when travelling Sierra Leone, at all times using widespread sense and applicable risk-taking measures.

You’ll additionally wish to make sure you keep hydrated within the sturdy solar and use good sunscreen safety, in addition to cowl up in the course of the hours of 11am – 3pm.

Masking up within the evenings and utilizing repellent is one of the simplest ways to keep away from mosquito bites.

Pickpockets and thefts do happen too in fact – there’s too nice a disparity in wealth of this to not be a problem, so make sure you take a zipped bag the place you possibly can maintain issues protected when strolling round.

In your resort, native up valuables in a cabinet with a key or security deposit field.

I additionally used a cellphone safety lanyard after I travelled Sierra Leone and now suppose it’s the most effective factor since sliced bread and wouldn’t be with out it!

Get your arms on one right here.

Additionally don’t go wandering round anyplace after darkish by your self, particularly seashores and unlit or uncrowded streets.

In Freetown watch out of getting misplaced even in the course of the day and make sure you use a information or have a good map to navigate with.

Solo feminine travellers will possible get a whole lot of consideration, however this will normally be dismissed with a agency however well mannered, no thanks.

Homosexuality is unfortunately unlawful in Sierra Leone and punishable by regulation. Don’t show any indicators of affection between members of the identical intercourse in public throughout your time right here to keep away from any issues.

Take care on the roads – the driving in Sierra Leone may be fascinating to say the least – and when attempting to cross any streets.

And when within the sea, by no means go deep – there are sturdy currents up and down Sierra Leone’s shoreline that may be deadly.

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#20 Solo Feminine Journey

Travelling as a solo feminine westerner in west Africa isn’t for the faint-hearted, let’s put it that approach!

Nevertheless, I’ve completed it, was completely protected and had a good time.

That mentioned, do anticipate undesirable male consideration and a few harassment.

Staying agency, calm and well mannered, in addition to not participating in dialog is one of the simplest ways to cope with issues.

I wouldn’t exit alone after darkish as a solo feminine in Sierra Leone and at all times take taxis of keke (tuk-tuks) to get round.

Use widespread sense, don’t get drunk, don’t settle for medicine if supplied them and costume with a respective air.

Typically lengthy skirts or pants, or 3 quarter size trousers are possibility in cities and cities.

T-Shirts are okay for the highest half, however I’d keep away from something too tight or revealing a) due to the warmth / humidity and b) since you received’t like the eye it attracts.

In vacationer areas and inns on the coast, bikinis and shorts are superb to put on, particularly in case you’re with an area information.

Scarves are additionally an incredible possibility for masking shoulders and chests and may also help defend you from the solar too.


#21 The place to Journey After?

Sierra Leone, Tombo, Boat

After Sierra Leone, there’s an enormous alternative for extra thrilling and adventurous journey throughout Wets Africa extra broadly.

2 widespread choices are Senegal and The Gambia as a result of for a lot of passport holders from Europe, these international locations don’t require visas for entry and you’ll fly to each these international locations from Sierra Leone airport

Study extra about my travels in Senegal right here and my travels in The Gambia right here.



Travelling Sierra Leone 21 Things to Know


So there you might have it, the 21 issues it’s worthwhile to know earlier than you journey Sierra Leone.

I hope this text has proved useful in planning your journey to this implausible west African nation.

Should you do have any extra questions, then don’t hesitate to drop them within the feedback field beneath and I’ll get again to you…




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