In West Africa, the Republic of Sierra Leone is situated along the Atlantic Ocean and bordered by Guinea to the north and Liberia to the southeast. This tropical country covers 27,699 square miles (71,740 square kilometers) of rainforest and savannah. Its largest city and economic center is also its capital, Freetown. Other big cities include Kenema, Makeni, and Koidu Town.
Sierra Leone became independent in 1961. Due to government corruption, a civil war broke out and lasted from 1991 until 2002. Consequently, the country’s economy and infrastructure have suffered much damage. The Ebola outbreak in 2014 dealt another blow to the struggling nation.
The people of this country are a melting pot of sixteen different ethnicities. While many different languages are spoken by the citizens, English is their official language. However, most inhabitants converse with each other in Krio, a version of Creole specific to Sierra Leone. Visitors to the country can easily communicate in English with just about everyone.
While 70 percent of the population lives in poverty, the country contains diamond mines which are being exploited. Libya is also a producer of gold, titanium, and bauxite, yet the country’s poor continue to struggle. The wealth is enjoyed by just a small percentage of the population.
Travelers to this region can fly into one of the many airports, including the Freetown International Airport in Lungi. Within the country, highways connect the different areas for easy intercity transit. Upon arrival in Sierra Leone, the best place to find accommodations is in the capital, Freetown. You can find a handful of hostels as well as hotels there.
The hostels in Sierra Leone are much more affordable than in wealthier regions. Guests tend to rate the lodgings as average and acceptable. You can expect beds and facilities to be clean. For the price of a hostel bed, you usually will enjoy complimentary breakfasts, T.V. and fans, included (but unreliable) internet service, nice views and central location. You might even have a gym at your disposal. The drawbacks might be untrained staff members and loud venues in the vicinity.
Sierra Leone is not a major tourist attraction due to the political upheaval of the recent past. However, you will see many business and government persons visiting Freetown. On days off, visitors might take a trip to the beach to enjoy the tropical weather by the water. River Number Two Beach is a favorite destination for beach lovers. Here you can indulge in a delicious meal underneath a beach umbrella, go for a safe swim, enjoy the loud music and watch the throngs of cheerful beachgoers. If you prefer a quiet day of lounging by the white sands, then go on weekdays to avoid the crowds.
Another quiet option is to travel off the beaten path to Bureh Beach. The white sand beach with the backdrop of imposing mountains creates the idyllic ambiance of a relaxing vacation in the tropics. Savor a meal of fresh seafood right by the water as you listen to the splashing waves. Once you are all rested and refueled, you can pursue a bit of surfing or volleyball. When the sun begins to set, maintain the tranquil mood by checking into one of the beachside accommodations. Spend a night in a hut or tent along the beach and feel in union with nature.
If nature is the main reason for your stay, then you also might appreciate a stop at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. There you get to witness chimps in five stages of rehabilitation, with the ultimate phase allowing them to reintegrate into the wild. You can feel good that your entrance fee goes to a wonderful cause. The sanctuary also teaches children about the environment and how to care for it. If you prefer to spend a lot of time in the sanctuary and its museum, you also can book a stay in the onsite lodge.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Sierra Leone hostels. Welcome.