Sierra Leone

All we knew about Sierra Leone was from the 2006 movie “Blood Diamond” which was set during the civil war that raged in the 1990s. From the minute we reached the border crossing into Sierra Leone, we were impressed as the country is desperately trying to shed its past and focus on its future. A boisterous border guard supervisor loudly greeted our group and welcomed us warmly into her country  and we were invited to take a selfie – definitely a first for a border crossing in Africa where photography is normally strongly frowned upon! As part of our welcome to Sierra Leone package, we had a local tour guide for our time in Freetown – a former child soldier named Peter Bassie from Tourism is Life Tours. Peter could be Kevin Hart’s  doppelgänger and his running commentary on Sierra Leone’s fascinating history kept us mesmerized. Our group was also given a military escort for the drive from the border to our first stop at Bureh Beach, located in the southern section of the Freetown Peninsula. We definitely weren’t used to this white glove service and it felt like Sierra Leone was bending over backwards to ensure our group was given VIP treatment. Using Bureh Beach as our base for a couple of days, we spent one full day exploring Freetown. Peter was our guide and took us to the following highlights of the capital city –  National Railway Museum, Old Fouray Bay College, Peace and Cultural Monument, National Museum and the 18th century Big Market. From Freetown, we hopped in a tuk-tuk with Dan for an overnight stay at Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. This haven for rescued and orphaned chimpanzees let us observe chimpanzees in large, outdoor enclosures which was undoubtedly a highlight for our visit to Sierra Leone. From here, we hopped on public transport to River No. 2 which was a white, powdery beach that was used in bounty chocolate bar advertisements in the 1980s. We couldn’t leave Bureh Beach without spending a day enjoying our own private swimming hole there along with trying some fresh seafood – bliss! From Bureh Beach, we made our way to Tiwai Island in hopes of seeing pygmy hippos. Unfortunately, we didn’t get lucky with the hippos but we did see some black and white colobus monkeys. After leaving Tiwai, we met some friendly locals at Kambama Village and that wrapped up our time in Sierra Leone. Overall, we were really impressed by Sierra Leone and are excited to see what great things the future has in store for it!

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