Fishermen at Tombo, Sierre Leone (Katrina Manson)

Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone travel guide, including map of Sierra Leone, top Sierra Leone travel experiences, tips for travel in Sierra Leone, plus the best beaches in Sierra

Sierra Leone may have a few scars but it’s certainly not war-torn anymore. In Sierra Leone, wildlife fans can track monkeys, buffalo and rare pygmy hippos while romantic souls can stroll along empty, star-lit beaches.

Foodies will love Sierra Leone’s super-fresh seafood and haggling for local produce in the markets. With some of the best beaches in Africa, beautiful rugged scenery and a tropical climate, Sierra Leone won’t stay off the tourist map for long. Savvy travellers are heading there now.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Get to know the capital Freetown; vibrant nightlife in bars overlooking the sea, plus beautiful Creole houses and great views from Hill Station
  2. Flake out on Sierra Leone’s beaches. No 2 Beach on the Freetown Peninsula is idyllic
  3. Visit the fortress on Bunce Island – once used to process over 50,000 slaves on their way to Europe and the Americas
  4. Ooh and aah over the chimps at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary set in a semi-wild rainforest
  5. Walk on the wild side at Tiwai Island where butterflies flitter above your head in the rainforest

Wanderlust tips

Sierra Leoneans tend to be warm and friendly. Greetings are important so be sure to smile, shake hands and ask after anyone you meet.

Sierra Leoneans often associate white-skinned visitors with international NGOs and UN agencies. Don’t be surprised if you get asked financial help.

Further Reading

Travel in Sierra Leone: vital statistics

  • Capital of Sierra Leone: Freetown
  • Population of Sierra Leone: 6.4 million
  • Languages in Sierra Leone: English (official); the most widely spoken language is Krio
  • Time in Sierra Leone: GMT
  • International dialing code in Sierra Leone: +232
  • Voltage in Sierra Leone: 220/240 AC, 50 Hz
  • Visas for Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone visa
  • Money in Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone leone (Le). There are no ATMs (except in ProCredit bank in Freetown) and few places accept credit cards. US dollars are useful for changing money and often accepted in shops.
  • Sierra Leone travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Sierra Leone tourist board: Sierra Leone National Tourist Board

When to go to Sierra Leone

May and June and September and October are the rainy season; downpours are heavy. July and August are the wettest months; roads may be washed-out and some areas inaccessible. November to January is the best time to visit, when the harmattan winds cool temperatures.


International airport

Freetown-Lungi International Airport (FNA), separated from the capital Freetown by the river. Passengers have the choice of hovercraft, ferry, helicopter or Pelican Water Taxi to cross the bay to Freetown.


Getting around in Sierra Leone

Although Sierra Leone is small travel is slow because the roads are bad. Shared taxis are an extremely cheap way to get around towns, and minibuses, locally known as poda-podas, operate in Freetown.

For remoter areas, a private vehicle and driver are necessary; these should be arranged in Freetown. There are no scheduled internal flights in Sierra Leone. 

Sierra Leone accommodation

There are few big hotels; those that do exist are in Freetown. Hotels in Sierra Leone are expensive. Outside the capital, you’ll stay in guesthouses. There are no official campsites but there are ample opportunities for bedding down under a mosquito net or camping in the wilderness.


Sierra Leone food & drink

Along the coast fresh fish and lobster are abundant and delicious. The country’s main food is rice; Sierra Leonians will often tell you they have not eaten if they have not yet had rice. Various sauces are available, and cassava, yam and potato leaf are popular.

The local Star beers and poyo (palm wine) wash it all down.

Health & safety in Sierra Leone

Medical facilities are poor so come properly prepared. Consult your GP for required jabs and tablets. Malaria is rife. Petty theft is also a problem.

The heat is sweltering so take plenty of water wherever you go (only drink bottled or purified water).

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