Photo by Red Morley Hewitt on Unsplash

If you like vibrant, immersive, adventurous travel, the small west African country of Sierra Leone is a dream destination. Tourism is still in its infancy here and most travelers stick to the beaches near Freetown, where you can enjoy palm-lined sand, delicious grilled fish, and cold beer. The dark history of the Atlantic slave trade is evident along the coast, and many travelers pay visits to the old forts to ensure the lessons of history are not forgotten.

For those craving a true off-the-beaten-path experience, Sierra Leone’s villages, jungles, and mountains are only a bumpy and unpredictable bush taxi ride away. Venture into the country’s interior and you’ll meet talkative locals, new friends, and experienced expats. Hike to the top of Mount Bintumani (the tallest peak in West Africa), follow a machete-wielding guide through Gola Rainforest, spot lively monkeys on Tiwai Island, or simply wander around town and see what adventures find you.

English is spoken officially, but you’ll mostly hear the distinctive Sierra Leonean Krio which can be tough to decode. Food is typically spicy and varies widely in quality. Transport is rough without exception. Tourist lodging isn’t cheap or plentiful, and away from the beaches you’ll need to stay in small local guesthouses, but most towns have a few options and locals will be happy to point you to them.

Sierra Leone isn’t the easiest country to travel in, but that’s part of what makes it so rewarding. Pack your patience, flexibility, sense of humor, and an open mind, and you’ll be sure to have a memorable experience.

Excerpt by Exploring Wild

Here’s everything you need to plan a trip to Sierra Leone! So what are you waiting for?

LANGUAGE:  English 

CURRENCY:  Sierra Leonean leone (SLL)