I spent the most incredible 9 days in Sierra Leone over the Christmas period. It was my first time travelling to West Africa and going to somewhere other than Nigeria so that in itself was pretty exciting to me. In the weeks leading up to my trip I spent hours watching Sierra Leone travel vlogs and scrolling through blog posts so that I had an idea of what to expect and a list of things to do. I ended up with such an extensive list of activities and attractions that I didn’t manage to get through all of them whilst I was there. It only made sense that I shared it on here so that anyone else hoping to visit Sierra Leone can use it when thinking of what to do.
Sierra Leone is located right on the southwest coast of West Africa, it’s commonly referred to as ‘Sweet Salone’ and within the first few days of my trip I quickly saw why. I couldn’t get over how there could be a country that was dotted with tonnes of idyllic beaches, islands and scenic mountain views and wasn’t being explored or spoken about. Looking for underrated countries to add to your bucketlist? Add Sierra Leone and thank me later.
There’s a long list of things to do but I’ll mostly be focusing on what to do around the capital which is the city of Freetown. Some are activities I actually got up to and others are ones I have on my list for when I return. If you’re into visual and vlog style highlights then I have a full recap of how my trip went over on my Instagram right here (part 1) and here (part 2).
Now let’s get straight into it.
Located away from the city and in the mountains of the Mambo community, this is a trip worth taking. You’ll have to hike for at least 30 minutes through some rocky and hilly terrain so remember to wear appropriate shoes. It’s also best to start your excursion in the morning or early evening so that you can avoid crowds as well as the sun when it’s at it’s hottest.
Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
It was at this sanctuary that I learnt the Chimpanzee is the national animal of Sierra Leone! Tacugama spreads over 10 acres and was built to protect chimpanzees which are being hunted and poached even though it’s illegal to do so. The sanctuary currently houses 97 chimpanzees and their aim is to look after them until it’s safe enough to release them back into the wild. For more information and ticket prices you can check out their website here.
Sierra Leone is home to some gorgeous beaches, each one different in its own way. Let’s take Tokeh Beach for example, it’s there you’ll find a peaceful palm fringed beach covered in clean white sand. At Lumley Beach, the atmosphere is lively and at night you can head to one of the many beach bars or nightclubs on the strip to party with the locals. Oh and don’t forget to try some fresh seafood at one of the beach restaurants! Paul’s at Lakka Beach serves the most succulent lobster and the portion sizes are extremely generous too. Remember to take some Leones (Le) with you as most beaches charge a small entry fee which goes toward maintaining the beaches.
- Lakka Beach
- Bureh Beach
- John Obey Beach
- Lumley Beach
- River Number 2 Beach
- Kent Beach
- Tokeh Beach
Sierra Leone National Museum
Located in the town centre, this is a small museum that gives some overview into Sierra Leone history and culture. You can choose to do a guided or self-guided tour and entry is 5,000 Le.
This is a viewpoint at the top of Leicester Peak mountain which gives you a 360 view of Freetown. The mountain is 564m above sea level and you can either walk or drive up to the top.
Next door to the Sierra Leone National Museum is the iconic Cotton Tree. This landmark has a huge amount of historic significance as it was there when the first freed slaves arrived in Freetown from America and the Caribbean in 1789.
Drive through Freetown Peninsula
The Freetown Peninsula covers the city of Freetown and its surrounding towns. A drive along the Peninsula takes you through a number of villages and you’ll be able to get a glimpse of some dazzling beaches along the way too. The best thing about the drive are the views – you’ll see endless stretches of lush greenery and forest covered mountains.
Day trip to an Island
One of the things I loved about this country was its many islands some just 45 mins away from shore. I was lucky enough to visit the Banana Islands, a group of 3 islands 40km away from Freetown. There’s some history surrounding how they came to be, in the 17th century many of them were used as transit points for slaves from different African countries. If you visit the Banana Islands, you’ll likely start off at Dublin Island which is the biggest of the 3 and I’d recommend doing a tour which gives you some background into how it was discovered and how the community came to settle on it once more. You can also spend a few days there and have a luxury glamping experience at Bafa Resort or do an excursion to the even more secluded Turtle Islands.
- Banana Islands
- Turtle Islands
- Bonthe Island
- Bunce Island
You’ve not been to a market till you’ve been to a one back in the motherland and Lumley Market is a must visit. Based around the junction of Lumley Beach Road and Spur Road you can find anything and everything from jewellery to wooden ornaments to fabric for clothes to fresh fruits.
Here we have another market, similar to Lumley but even bigger! This is over on Wallace Johnson Street which is in the town centre. It’s the best place to visit in Freetown if you’re looking for arts & crafts and local souvenirs
Wara Wara Mountain
Located in Kabala, Wara Wara Mountain is a 5 hour drive from Freetown so you’d be better off spending a few days here as opposed to doing a day trip. Surrounded by the Wara Wara hills, there are many caves about and these come with some traditional and cultural beliefs. It’s been said that those who want to be a Paramount Chief of Kabala must enter one of the caves…
Sierra Leone’s tallest mountain, Mount Bintumani tops out at 1,945m. Hiking up a mountain this high isn’t for the faint hearted or for beginners! The tour group Visit Sierra Leone has a helpful guide for those brave enough to tackle the King of the Loma Mountains.
Makeni is the largest city in the Northern part of Sierra Leone. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking and you can also visit the Bumbuna Falls which is just over an hour away from the city.
Outamba-Kilimi National Park
Situated close to the border of Guinea, here you have the country’s oldest national park.
Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Tiwai Island, Mende for ‘Big Island’, is a sanctuary and home to 11 species of primates, over 135 species of birds and 700 species of plant life. There are also otters, sea turtles and hippopotamuses on the island . If you have an interest in wildlife and ecotourism then Tiwai is the place for you. You can even spend a few nights camping there or head on a boat trip around the island. For more information about the sanctuary and entry fees check out their website.
Rogbonko Village Retreat
This retreat is community-run initiative which encourages guests to step away from the city bustle and immerse themselves in a rural Sierra Leonean village whilst experiencing daily village life and traditions.
Mamunta Mayosso Wildlife Sanctuary
A game reserve in the Tonkolili district, situated in the northern part of Sierra Leone. If you fancy a bit of bird watching, looking for monkeys or just want to catch a glimpse of the rare and endangered dwarf crocodile then head to Mamunta.
Peace, love and flights.