Cote d'Ivoire


Overview

Cote d'Ivoire travel guide, including map of Cote d'Ivoire, top Cote d'Ivoire travel experiences, tips for travel in Cote d'Ivoire and more

Perched between Ghana and Liberia, this once harmonious West African nation has had a tumultuous few years. The 2002 armed rebellion cost thousands of lives and split the country in two. Since the conflict ended there have been tentative steps towards long-term peace punctuated by sporadic violence. The troubles have ensured that, when it comes to African travel destinations, Côte d'Ivoire is well and truly languishing at the bottom of the pile.

But there is far more to this diverse country than pejorative headlines. Sky-skimming modern office blocks collide with baked-mud mosques and the elegant Yamoussoukro basilica. Energetic cities clash with rugged Atlantic beaches and an impressive stretch of rainforest. There are also some 60 tribal groups including Dan, Lobi, Baoulé and Senoufo peoples, each with a fascinating culture – think symbolic art, magic spells and naked spirit cleansing festivals.

Wanderlust recommends

(Check safety advice before heading to these attractions).

  1. Visit modern Abidjan. Experience one of Treichville’s lively markets and see Africa’s largest outdoor launderette at Abobo, where the stream is dotted with hundreds of Fanicos scrubbing clothes.
  2. Keep your eyes peeled for chimpanzees in Park National de Taï’s rainforest.
  3. Be spellbound by Yamoussoukro’s beautiful basilica. Modelled on St Peter's in Rome, it is the largest church in the world behind the Vatican.
  4. Spot elephants, monkeys, hippos and more at Comoë National Park, Côte d'Ivoire's biggest game reserve, before seeing some fine mosques in the homeland of the Lobi people.    
  5. Make a beeline for Man, also known as ‘the city of 18 mountains’. Hikers will find this a great base for exploring the nearby peaks, waterfall and butterfly-filled bamboo forest.

Wanderlust tips

Check that your medical insurance includes evacuation by air ambulance and stay abreast of safety advice. Carry your passport at all times.

Further Reading

Travel in Côte d'Ivoire: vital statistics

  • Capital of Côte d’Ivoire: Yamoussoukro
  • Population of Côte d’Ivoire: 20.6 million
  • Languages in Côte d’Ivoire: French, Dioula
  • Time in Côte d’Ivoire: GMT
  • International dialling code in Côte d’Ivoire: +225
  • Voltage in Côte d’Ivoire: 220 AC, 50 Hz
  • Visas for Côte d’Ivoire: Côte d’Ivoire visa
  • Money in Côte d’Ivoire: West African CFA franc (CFA). Getting your hands on the local currency in Côte d’Ivoire is hard so it's best to take a stash of euros. Credit cards are not widely used. There are some ATMs in Yamoussoukro, Abidjan and San Pédro. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks. There are no banks in the north. Tips of 10-15% are expected. Counterfeit money is common.
  • Côte d’Ivoire travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Office

When to go to Côte d'Ivoire

Avoid the wet months. Côte d'Ivoire sees rain at different times of the year. In the north the wet season is June-October. In the south there are two rainy seasons: May-July and October-November. The best time to visit is in the cool, dry period between November-February although in December Harmattan winds reduce visibility.  

 

International airport

Port Bouet (ABJ) 16 km from Abidjan.

 

Getting around in Côte d'Ivoire

There are internal flights between Abidjan and San Pédro. The Abidjan-Ouagadougou railway has trains linking Abidjan with Bouaké and Ferkessédougou.

The availability of transport is dwindling but buses, taxis and minibuses can be found in most of the major towns. Of the three, buses are comfier and more regular. The roads are poor and as a result it takes a hefty amount of time to get anywhere. The frequent security checkpoints are a real headache and will invariably cause delays.

Côte d'Ivoire accommodation

Abidjan has some large hotels aimed at international guests. Most of the major towns and cities have top end, mid range and budget hotels. In rural areas options are far more limited.

Côte d'Ivoire food & drink

Cote d'Ivoire shares many of the hallmarks of West African cuisine. Meals often consist of braised fish or chicken topped with onions or tomatoes. This is commonly served with a side helping of attiéké (grated cassava). Kedjenou

Aloko (chicken and vegetables made with a mild sauce) is another favourite. (banana with chilli and onions in palm oil) can be picked up as a street snack. Fruits include bananas and pineapples. The locals swig bangui, a palm wine.

Health & safety in Côte d'Ivoire

The areas north of Bouaké and west along a line from the towns of Seguela and Guiglo are plagued by violence. If planning to enter the northern New Force territory, travellers must obtain proper paperwork from rebel leaders. Security checkpoints can involve some tense encounters with soldiers who often ask for bribes. Crime is widespread throughout Côte d'Ivoire and guns are rife.

There are medical facilities in Abidjan but amenities elsewhere are poor. Take precautions against malaria, yellow fever and cholera. Swimming can be dangerous due to strong Atlantic currents and people drown every year.