When one hears of Sierra Leone, what comes to mind is the eleven years of civil war; the Ebola epidemic; the deadly landslide that killed hundreds of people; and on top of it all corruption and underdevelopment. All these may be true, but in entirety, they do not define what Sierra Leone looks like.
Sierra Leone is one of Africa’s hidden paradises. The small but beautiful West African nation is one of the most peaceful countries in the world with some of the world’s most welcoming citizens with great hospitality. Sierra Leone, like her sister countries in Africa, has dozens of tourist attractions places. In fact, the country is not only blessed with beautiful landscapes but it is also blessed with some of the world’s most precious mineral gems, which makes it one of the world’s most endowed nations in mineral wealth and natural resources.
Let us take you to this beautiful land and show you the top five places that you should visit in Sierra Leone should you consider visiting the country. Here are the top five places to visit in Sierra Leone.
You probably might have heard of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Freetown is not just the capital of Sierra Leone but also a historic city which holds a place in the history books of Sierra Leone. Freetown is the largest city of Sierra Leone. In 1792, the city was officially made a settlement by British Naval Lieutenant John Clarkson and freed American slaves from Nova Scotia. It is one of the oldest cities in West Africa. Freetown is a city that is filled with merriment, happiness and very hospitable and welcoming people. Freetown never sleeps. It’s a busy city that never rest. The city is home to some of Sierra Leone’s most iconic and famous places like the 500 years old cotton tree which sits at the middle of the city; the shipping port called Queen Elizabeth II Quay which is one of the world’s largest natural harbors in the world; the famous Siaka Steven Stadium; the Sierra Leone National Museum; the National Railway Museum; Freetown Amusement Park; the old Fourah Bay College building which is the first western-style university built in Sub-Saharan Africa and, furthermore, the first university-level institution in Africa; Aberdeen which houses some of the most beautiful hotels, restaurants, beach bars, and guest houses in Freetown. These, among many, makes Freetown a place to visit in Sierra Leone.
4. Gola Forest Reserve
Gola Forest Reserve is perhaps Sierra Leone’s most iconic reserve. It is Sierra Leone’s largest tract of rainforest. It covers 71,070 hectares in the east of the country. The reserve is Sierra Leone’s last remaining swathe of Upper Guinean Tropical Rainforest. It is the largest remnant in Sierra Leone. It is home to more than 300 chimpanzees; over 650 species of butterflies and 49 species of mammals; and 330 bird species. The length of the forest stretches from Sierra Leone to Guinea to Togo. At Gola Forest Reserve, you can enjoy the serenity nature brings. There are many things to do while at Gola Forest Reserve which includes camping, trekking, bird watching, overnight at a lodge and more.
This coastal resort town that lies along the Peninsula in the Western Area Rural district is a thing of beauty and a sight to behold. Located approximately twenty miles away from the capital Freetown, Tokeh holds one of the master keys to Sierra Leone’s heart. As one of the smallest towns in Sierra Leone, Tokeh is one of the most visited places in Sierra Leone; maybe it’s because of its fishing and tourist activities. Tokeh Beach, a popular tourist attraction beach can be located in Tokeh. With its crackling sound, Tokeh beach is said to have one of the finest sands in Sierra Leone. Tokeh is also home to some of the best guest houses and beach resorts in Sierra Leone like the Tokeh Beach Resort, The Place Resort and many more. Aside from having the best resorts, the biggest and sweetest fishes can be found in Tokeh.
2. Banana Island
Snorkelling, boating, sport fishing, scuba diving, water skiing, swimming and lying on the beach, whale watching, historical tours, and forest walking, are among many others of some of the things you could do at Banana Island. Banana Island is Sierra Leone’s top destination Island that gives an unforgettable experience and never-seen-before hospitality. There is a guest house on Banana Island named Dalton Banana Guesthouse that offers affordable accommodation, seafood meals, fishing and snorkelling trips, scuba diving and a wide range of tourist activities and excursions. The Island was one of the main slave trade centres during the slave trade era in Africa. During the height of the slave trade, the Island would hold up to 2,000 African slaves per day waiting to be shipped to the Americas and Europe and never to be returned home to Africa. As historic as Banana Island is, some of the slave landmarks are still there which includes: the slave hole, the old fort, the old St. Luke’s church, the old bell, the iron lamp post from the 1800s, the first residences’ gravestones (some dating from the 1700s), the wharf steps, the big well, the king wharf cannons, etc.
1. Bunce Island
Bunce Island is a historic Island. The Island was a British slave trading post in the 18th century. Tens of thousands of Africans were forcefully shipped to the American colonies from the shores of the Island. It is one of the most authentic slave trading facilities still in existence. The Island is located in the Sierra Leone River, a few miles north of Freetown. On Bunce Island, you will have the opportunity to see slaveholding forts, slave wells and many more. This standing monument to Africa’s intersection with the U.S. and the wider Atlantic world is a place to visit in Sierra Leone.