Twitter Papillon Instagram Papillon Facebook Papillon

Sierra Leone

 

Salone, as the country is informally called is our most tropical destination. Good main roads, a capital with a laid-back atmosphere, plenty of beaches to relax, islands, rainforest, mountains and wildlife, Sierra Leone got it all. While much of its culture has been wiped out by a series of past events, there are still a couple of places, to explore the authentic culture.
Share your preferences, and we’ll cater an itinerary for you.

 

Trips and tours

18-day group tour Guinea and Sierra Leone

 

General information

Capital

Freetown

Population

7 million

Surface

71,740 km2

Form of government

republic

National slogan

Unity - Freedom - Justice

National anthem

High We Exalt Thee, Realm of the Free

Neighboring countries

Guinea, Liberia

Time zone

GMT

Religions

Islam, Christianity

Languages

English, Krio and local languages

Currency

Leone, 10,000 SLL equals about 1 Euro

Voltage

220V, three-pin (type G) and two-pin plugs (type F) are both used

Travel documents

Valid passport and visa required

Health

yellow fever vaccination obligatory

Mobile coverage

generally good in cities, poor in rural areas

Internet

generally reasonable in cities, poor in rural areas

 

History

Till 1807 the British used Sierra Leone, especially Bunce island, for slave trading. Over 50,000 humans lost their freedom. From 1808 till 1961 Sierra Leone was a British Crown Colony. Political turbulence marked the first ten years of its independence. In the following decades the country went through several political phases and military coups. A civil war ravaged the country from 1991 to 2001, leaving about 50,000 people killed. An Ebola epidemic hit the country in 2014. The people of Sierra Leone have shown great resilience and mercy, rebuilding the country together.

 

Population

Of the 16 ethnic groups inhabiting Sierra Leone, the Temne in the Northwest and the Mende in the Southeast are the largest and most influential. Other groups include the Fula, Sherbro and Limba. Each of the ethnic groups has its own language. While the Krio are a small minority, their language is spoken by about 98% of the Sierra Leonean population. A total of 23 languages is spoken in the country.

 

Geography

Even though the country is relatively small it offers a geographical variety: beaches, savannah, mountains, mangrove, rivers and rainforests. While still a very green and lush environment, deforestation is happening as a result of agriculture.

 

Climate

Sierra Leone has a tropical climate. During the rainy season, from June till October, rains can be abundant and last from a few hours to days on a row. July and August are the months with the heaviest rainfall.  November till May is the dry season. The country is beautifully lush in September and October, when the rains get less frequent.

 

Economy

Mining is the most important pillar of the country’s economy. Diamonds, titanium, bauxite, gold and rutile are mined in Sierra Leone. Agriculture is another pillar, with coffee, cocoa and palm oil being important products for export.

 

Religions

Islam and Christianity are the two main religions in the country, with a majority of people being Muslim. The country is known for its tolerance between religions. Beside of the religions, secret societies play an important role. Little is known about these societies, as the initiated keep their secrets rather well. On Christian holidays, you may be lucky to get a glimpse of this part of life, when societies bring out their ‘devils’ to dance.

 

Wildlife

Sierra Leone is home to 15 species of primates, including the chimpanzee. Elephants, once wiped out, are nowadays sometimes seen in the northern areas, where they enter from Guinea. Outamba-Kilimi National Park is the best place to give it a try.  Over 600 bird species and about 750 butterfly species have been spotted in the country.

Tiwai Island

Wildlife sanctuary Tiwai Island is situated at about 90 ks from Kenema. The island - in the river - is home to eleven species of primates, including the chimpanzee. Over 100 butterfly species have been counted. A still unknown number of bird species has its habitat on the island too. The island is a good place to spend a few days and set out on walks with a local guide, and for boat trips on the river.

 

Turtle Islands

On the seven Turtle Islands tradition and culture have been well-preserved, thanks to its isolated situation. The boat trip from the mainland to the islands takes about five (or more) hours. A trip to the islands comes with camping, eating the catch of the day and visits to several of the islands, where you meet the village chiefs and the people, and learn about their daily lives. Far away from phone and internet coverage, visiting these islands will be a unique experience. For reasons of the time involved getting to the islands and it being such a special destination, we recommend a minimum of three days for a Turtle Islands trip.

 

Banana Island

Banana Island can serve as a stop on the way to or from the Turtle Islands, or can be visited as a destination in itself. The island is a great place to go walking. Beside nature and beach, it is also a place to get an idea of the slave history of Sierra Leone. Snorkling and diving facilities are available at the island.

 

Freetown

Even though it is the biggest town in the country, Freetown is also one of the most pleasant capitals of West Africa, with a relaxed atmosphere and a great situation on the peninsula. Stroll the streets and visit markets for a good impression of everyday life, shops and trade. Visit the museums and go craft shopping on the Big Market. Taxi motors and kekes (tuktuk) make it easy traveling in town.

 

Beaches

In tropical Sierra Leone beach lovers will have a great town. Freetown and surroundings offer quite a few well-known and some less-known beaches.

 

Flights to Sierra Leone

Multiple airlines run intercontinental flights to Lungi (near Freetown), including KLM-Air France, Royal Air Maroc, Brussels Airlines, Kenya Airways and Turkish Airlines. Ticket prices vary per airline and season.

Last but not least
Sierra Leone’s tourism infrastructure is still limited outside of Freetown. The country has huge potential, and over time facilities will improve. A flexible and somewhat adventurous attitude is advised for travel to Sierra Leone. Electricity and running water may not be available in all places. Mobile and internet connection are limited, and sometimes non-existing, in rural areas. The main roads are good, rural areas are connected by dirt roads. Accommodations are basic in several places.