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Sierra Leone Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

Sierra Leone

travel guide

Sierra Leone, formally the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a West African country. It is bounded on the north by Guinea, on the south by Liberia, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. Sierra Leone has a tropical climate with a varied landscape that includes savannah and jungles. Sierra Leone covers an area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) and has a population of 7,075,641. (based on 2015 national census).

Sierra Leone is split into four geographical regions: the Northern Province, the Eastern Province, the Southern Province, and the Western Area, each of which is further subdivided into fourteen districts. Freetown is the country’s capital, largest metropolis, and economic and political hub. Bo is the country’s second biggest city. Kenema, Makeni, and Koidu Town are the other main cities.

Sierra Leone is home to about sixteen ethnic groups, each with its unique language and culture. The Temne and Mende are the two most populous and powerful groups. The Temne are located mostly in the north of the nation, whereas the Mende are found primarily in the south-east. Although English is the official language of schools and government administration, the Krio language is the most frequently spoken language in Sierra Leone, with 97 percent of the people speaking it. The Krio language unifies all of the country’s ethnic groups, particularly in their commercial and social interactions.

Sierra Leone is a mainly Muslim country with a powerful Christian minority. Sierra Leone is considered as one of the world’s most religiously tolerant countries. Muslims and Christians work together and converse amicably. Religious violence is quite uncommon in the country.

Sierra Leone’s economy has traditionally been based on mining, particularly diamonds. It is also one of the world’s greatest producers of titanium and bauxite, a major producer of gold, and home to one of the world’s largest rutile deposits. Sierra Leone has the world’s third-largest natural harbour. Despite the fact that its natural riches is exploited, 70% of its people live in poverty.

Sierra Leone achieved independence in 1961. Government corruption and mismanagement of the nation’s natural resources contributed to the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002), which ravaged the country for more than a decade. More than 50,000 people were killed in this proxy war, most of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed, and over two million people were displaced as refugees in neighboring countries.

More recently, the 2014 Ebola outbreak overloaded the already under-resourced healthcare system, resulting in more deaths from medical negligence than from Ebola itself. It resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe and a downward spiral of lower economic growth. The country’s life expectancy is exceptionally low, at 57.8 years.

Sierra Leone is a member of several international organizations, including the United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mano River Union, Commonwealth of Nations, African Development Bank, and Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

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Sierra Leone - Info Card

Population

8,059,155

Currency

Leone (SLL)

Time zone

UTC (GMT)

Area

71,740 km2 (27,700 sq mi)

Calling code

+232

Official language

English

Sierra Leone - Introduction

Geography and climate

Sierra Leone is situated on Africa’s west coast, mostly between the latitudes of 7° and 10°N (with a tiny region south of 7°) and longitudes of 10° and 14°W. Guinea to the north and northeast, Liberia to the south and southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west border the nation.

Sierra Leone’s total area is 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi), split into 71,620 km2 (27,653 sq mi) of land and 120 km2 of water (46 sq mi). There are four different geographical areas in the nation. The plateau in eastern Sierra Leone is studded with high mountains, including Mount Bintumani, which rises to 1,948 meters (6,391 feet), the country’s highest peak. In the south of this area lies the upper portion of the Moa River’s drainage basin.

Sierra Leone’s central region is a lowland plains region with woods, bush, and agriculture that covers approximately 43 percent of the country’s geographical area. The World Wildlife Fund has classified the northern portion as part of the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic ecoregion, whereas the southern section is rain-forested plains and agriculture.

Sierra Leone has a 400-kilometer (249-mile) Atlantic coastline in the west, which provides abundant marine resources as well as great tourism potential. Low-lying Guinean mangrove swamps may be found along the coast. Freetown, the country’s capital, is located on a peninsula along the coast, adjacent to the Sierra Leone Harbour, the world’s third biggest natural harbor.

The climate is tropical, with two seasons determining the agricultural cycle: the rainy season, which runs from May to November, and the dry season, which runs from December to May and includes harmattan, when cool, dry winds blow in from the Sahara Desert, and nighttime temperatures can drop to as low as 16 °C (60.8 °F). The average temperature is 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 degrees Fahrenheit), with temperatures ranging from 26 to 36 degrees Celsius (78.8 to 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the year.

Demographics

Sierra Leone’s official population projection for 2013 is 6,190,280 people, with a growth rate of 2.216 percent per year. The country’s population is mainly youthful, with 41.7 percent of the population under the age of 15, and rural, with 62 percent of the population residing outside of cities. The population is growing increasingly urban as a consequence of migration to cities, with an estimated rate of urbanisation growth of 2.9 percent per year.

Sierra Leone’s population density varies considerably. The population density of the Western Area Urban District, which includes Freetown, the capital and biggest city, is 1,224 people per square kilometer. Koinadugu, the physically biggest district, has a considerably lower population density of 21.4 people per square kilometer.

English is the official language, and it is used in schools, government offices, and the media. The Sierra Leone Krio language (derived from English and numerous indigenous African languages, and spoken by the Sierra Leone Krio people) is the most commonly spoken language in the country. Because the Krio language is spoken by 90% of the country’s people, it unifies all of the country’s ethnic groupings, particularly in commerce and contact. In December 2002, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone designated Bengali as an honorary “official language” in appreciation of the contribution of 5,300 Bangladeshi soldiers to the UN peacekeeping mission.

Sierra Leone had 8,700 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2007, according to the World Refugee Survey 2008, released by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Over the course of 2007, almost 20,000 Liberian refugees went home willingly. Liberians made up almost all of the surviving refugees in Sierra Leone.

Religion

Sierra Leone is nominally a secular state, although the country’s two major faiths are Islam and Christianity. Sierra Leone’s constitution guarantees religious freedom, and the government of Sierra Leone usually upholds this right and does not allow its abuse. The government of Sierra Leone is prohibited by law from creating a state religion.

Sierra Leone is a mostly Muslim nation with a sizable Christian minority. According to Pew Research Center estimates from 2010, 78 percent of Sierra Leone’s population are Muslims, mainly Sunni Muslims; 20.9 percent are Christians, mostly Evangelical Protestants; and 1% are Traditional African Religion or other faiths. According to the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone, 77 percent of Sierra Leone’s people are Muslims, 21% are Christians, and 2% are traditional African religionists. According to a 2009 assessment, 71.3 percent of Sierra Leone’s population is Muslim, 26.7 percent is Christian, and 1.9 percent is either animist or has no religious views. The majority of Sierra Leone’s ethnic groupings, including the country’s two biggest ethnic groups, the Mende and Temne, are Muslim.

Sierra Leone is often recognized as one of the world’s most religiously tolerant nations. Muslims and Christians work together and communicate in a friendly manner. In this nation, religious violence is very uncommon. Even the country’s eleven-year civil war (1991–2002) had nothing to do with religion, and individuals were never targeted for their faith throughout the civil war. In politics, the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans, regardless of their religious views, support candidates. Despite the fact that Muslims constitute the majority in Sierra Leone, the bulk of the country’s leaders have been Christians.

The Sierra Leone Inter-Religious Council, which is made up of Christian and Muslim religious leaders, works to promote peace and tolerance throughout the nation. Sierra Leone celebrates the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, and Maulid-un-Nabi (Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad) as national holidays, as do the Christian holidays of Christmas, Boxing Day, Good Friday, and Easter.

In reality, the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Sierra Leone follow the Sunni ideology. There are large numbers of Ahmadi, non-denominational Muslims in Sierra Leone, as well as a small number of Shia Muslims. The majority of Islamic schools of thought in Sierra Leone are Sunni-based.

The United Council of Imams is Sierra Leone’s highest-ranking Islamic religious organization, made up of imams from all across the country. Shekh Alhaji Yayah Deen Kamara is the president of the United Council of Imam. The Freetown Central Mosque and the Ghadafi Central Mosque in Freetown are the two biggest mosques in Sierra Leone. Sheikh Alhaji Umarr S. Kanu, one of Sierra Leone’s most influential Sunni muslim scholars; Sheikh Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Sillah, the chief Imam of the Freetown Central Mosque and a highly influential spiritual leader of Shia Muslims in Sierra Leone; and Sheikh Alhaji Saeedu Rahman, the leader of the Shia Muslims in Sierra Leone, are among the most prominent Sierra Leonean muslim scholars and preachers.

The majority of Sierra Leonean Christians are Protestant, with the Wesleyan-Methodists being the biggest denomination.

Presbyterians, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventist Anglicans, Lutherans, and Pentecostals are among the other Christian Protestant groups having considerable presence in the country. The Council of Congregations is a Christian religious organization in Sierra Leone made up of Protestant churches.

Non-denominational Christians make up a significant portion of the Christian community in Sierra Leone. Catholics make up the majority of Sierra Leone’s non-Protestant Christians, accounting for about 8% of the country’s population and 26% of the Christian population. The two most notable non-Trinitarian Christians in Sierra Leone are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, who make up a tiny but substantial percentage of the Christian community. In the capital, Freetown, there is a tiny Orthodox Christian community.

Ethnic groups

Sierra Leone has about sixteen ethnic groupings, each with their own language. The Temne, with approximately 35 percent of the population, and the Mende, with about 31 percent, are the biggest and most powerful. The Temne people live mostly in Northern Sierra Leone and the regions around Sierra Leone’s capital. In south-eastern Sierra Leone, the Mende are the majority (with the exception of Kono District).

Temne is mostly Muslim, with just a tiny Christian minority. The Mende are mostly Muslim, with a sizable Christian minority. The rivalry between the north-west, controlled by the Temne, and the south-east, dominated by the Mende, is at the heart of Sierra Leone’s national politics. The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is supported by the overwhelming majority of Mende, whereas the All People’s Congress is supported by the vast majority of Temne (APC).

The Mende, who are said to be descendants of the Mane, inhabited the Liberian hinterland at one time. In the eighteenth century, they started gently and amicably settling in Sierra Leone. The Temne are believed to have originated in Futa Jallon, which is now part of Guinea. Ernest Bai Koroma, the current president of Sierra Leone, is the first ethnic Temne to be elected to the position.

The Limba, who make up approximately 8% of the population, are the third biggest ethnic group. Sierra Leone’s Limba people are indigenous to the country. They have no known ancestors and are said to have existed in Sierra Leone since before the European contact. The Limba live mainly in Northern Sierra Leone, especially in the districts of Bombali, Kambia, and Koinadugu. Muslims and Christians are almost evenly split among the Limba. The Limba are strong political friends of the Temne, who they share a border with.

Along with the Mende, the Limba have had a strong influence on Sierra Leone’s politics since independence. The All People’s Congress (APC) is the political party supported by the overwhelming majority of Limba. Siaka Stevens and Joseph Saidu Momoh, Sierra Leone’s first and second presidents, were both ethnic Limba. Alfred Paolo Conteh, Sierra Leone’s current Defense Minister, is of Limba ethnicity.

The Fula, who make up around 7% of the population, are the fourth biggest ethnic group. They are descendants of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Fulani migrant immigrants from Guinea’s Fouta Djalon region, and they reside mainly in Sierra Leone’s northeast and west. The Fula are almost entirely Muslim. The Fula are mostly merchants, and many of them live in middle-class households. Fulas may be found in almost every region of the nation as a result of their trade.

The Mandingo are the other ethnic groupings (also known as Mandinka). They are descended from Guinean merchants who arrived in Sierra Leone in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Mandika are mostly located in the country’s eastern and northern regions. They are concentrated in the country’s major cities, including Karina in the Bombali District in the north, Kabala and Falaba in the Koinadugu District in the north, and Yengema in the Kono District in the east. The Mandinka, like the Fula, are almost entirely Muslim. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, Sierra Leone’s third president, and Sorie Ibrahim Koroma, Sierra Leone’s first vice president, were both Mandingos.

The Kono, who reside mainly in the Kono District of Eastern Sierra Leone, come in second in terms of population. The Kono are descendants of Guinean migrants, and their employees are mostly diamond miners today. The Kono ethnic group is mostly Christian, with a significant Muslim minority. Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana, Sierra Leone’s current Vice-President, is of Kono ethnicity.

Approximately 3% of the population are Krio descendants (descendants of liberated African American, West Indian, and Liberated African slaves who arrived in Freetown between 1787 and about 1885). They mostly live in Freetown, the capital, and the neighboring Western Area. Krio culture reflects the Western culture and values from where many of their ancestors came; they also maintained strong connections with British authorities and colonial government throughout the development years.

The Krio have long controlled Sierra Leone’s judiciary and the elected city council in Freetown. They have historically been selected to posts in the public service, starting during the colonial years, being one of the first ethnic groups to get educated according to Western norms. They continue to wield power in the government. The overwhelming majority of Krios are Christians, although there is a sizable Muslim population.

The Kuranko, who are connected to the Mandingo and are mostly Muslims, are another minority ethnic group. Around 1600, the Kuranko are said to have arrived in Sierra Leone from Guinea and settled in the north, especially in the Koinadugu District. The Kuranko are mainly farmers, and several of their leaders have held high military posts in the past. Kaifala Marah, Sierra Leone’s current Finance Minister, is of Kuranko descent.

The Loko of Sierra Leone’s north are indigenous people who are said to have resided in the country since the arrival of Europeans. The Loko, like the neighboring Temne, has a Muslim population. The Susu and their Yalunka relatives are merchants who live mainly in the extreme north, in the Kambia and Koinadugu Districts, near to Guinea’s border. The Susu and Yalunka are both descendants of Guinean migrants and are almost entirely Muslim.

The Kissi reside in the south-eastern part of Sierra Leone, farther inland. They are mostly found in the Kailahun District’s major town of Koindu and its neighboring regions. Kissi Christians make up the overwhelming majority of the population. The Vai and Kru peoples live mainly in the Kailahun and Pujehun Districts, close to Liberia’s border. In the capital Freetown’s Kroubay neighborhood, the Kru are the majority. The Vai are mostly Muslim, while the Kru are predominantly Christian.

The Sherbro are located on the seashore in the southern district of Bonthe. They are Sierra Leoneans who have lived on Sherbro Island since its inception. The Sherbro are mainly fishermen and farmers who live largely in the Bonthe District. The Sherbro are almost entirely Christian, and its paramount rulers have a long tradition of marrying British colonists and merchants.

A tiny percentage of Sierra Leoneans are of Lebanese origin, descended from merchants who arrived in the country in the 19th century. Sierra Leonean-Lebanese is their native name. The Sierra Leonean-Lebanese population is mainly made up of merchants who reside in middle-class families in metropolitan areas such as Freetown, Bo, Kenema, Koidu Town, and Makeni.

Language

The official language is English, although Krio is the lingua franca. Krio is a full-fledged language with regular syntax and established writing norms, despite what some local snobs may claim. As a result, it’s not unexpected that the minority Krios, who mainly reside on the Freetown Peninsula, speak English as a second language, while the Temnes, Mendes, and other tribes use Krio as a second language. This makes it relatively simple for English speakers to travel about the peninsula, although the remainder of the nation is mostly Krio-only territory. While Krio’s terminology is mostly derived from English, it is incomprehensible to the typical English speaker—though you may be able to follow along if you know some basic vocabulary and are familiar with the topics discussed.

Mende is the main vernacular in the south and Temne is the main vernacular in the north in the provinces; regular Krio usage is mainly confined to provincial centers.

Internet & Communications

Phone

232 is the country code. In Freetown, Bo, and Kenema, Sierra Leone, fixed line phone service is available. The mobile phone network (as in Europe) is based on GSM technology, and it is widely used.The format for dialling is: +232-##-######, where the first “##” designates the area code.

Tigo was purchased by Africell, and its 30 prefix was integrated into the Africell network. In 2014, Comium went bankrupt. When dialing locally, “00” is used to access an international number (followed by the country code) and “0” is used to access a national number (followed by the country code) (followed by the area code). Important cities and industrial regions, as well as several major national highways, have excellent coverage. Airtel is the most established and has the most extensive national coverage. It is possible to use international roaming. Calling from the United States to other countries is quite inexpensive. Certain cell networks charge as low as $0.35 per minute to all countries, with some nations charging as little as $0.15.

Sierra Leone’s Airtel is a member of the One Network Service. This enables the usage of an Airtel SIM card from another nation in Sierra Leone. Receiving incoming calls is free, while local calls are paid at local rates. Keep in mind that calls to the home country of the SIM card will be paid at international rates.

For emergency calls, Sierra Leone currently dials 112 from any phone network. Calls are free of charge and are routed to the appropriate emergency service.

Internet

In general, internet access is sluggish. Wireless networks are generally available at the main hotels in Freetown. FGC Wireless offers a pay-as-you-go wireless internet service in portions of Freetown, but it is sluggish. The situation has improved since February 2013, when the nation was linked to Europe and South Africa through fiber optic cable.

Airtel and Africell both have 3G services that function effectively. Airtel, Africell, and Sierratel all provide wireless internet via USB modem.

Afcom, Onlime (Lime Line), Atlas, IPTEL, and Sierratel all provide fixed internet service.

Economy

By the 1990s, economic activity had slowed and economic infrastructure had deteriorated significantly. The country’s civil conflict devastated most of the official economy during the following decade. Massive inflows of foreign aid have helped Sierra Leone begin to rebuild after the end of the war in January 2002.

Much of the recovery will depend on the government’s ability to curb official corruption, which many believe was the primary cause of the civil war. The efficiency of the government’s diamond industry management will be a crucial metric of success.

Unemployment is widespread, especially among the young and ex-combatants. Authorities have been sluggish to execute civil service changes, and the pace of the privatization initiative has slowed as well, despite donor pressure.

The leone is the local currency. The Bank of Sierra Leone is the country’s central bank. Foreign currencies may be exchanged at any commercial bank, recognized foreign exchange bureaux, and most hotels in Sierra Leone, which operate on a floating exchange rate basis. At Sierra Leone, credit cards are not widely accepted, but they are accepted in certain hotels and restaurants. In Freetown, ProCredit Bank has a few globally connected automated teller machines that take Visa cards.

Entry Requirements For Sierra Leone

Visa & Passport

Yellow Fever vaccination certificates are needed for the majority of nationalities. It’s possible that proof of vaccination is needed to get a visa, and it’ll be verified at the airport when you arrive.

A valid passport or travel document is required for all visitors to Sierra Leone. The nation does not need a visa for citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). All other nations will need a visa, which may be obtained through Sierra Leone’s foreign embassies as well as at the country’s land borders. Visas are not difficult to get, and it is unlikely that anybody will be turned down unless the government has a compelling cause to prevent them from entering the nation.

The cost of a visa varies greatly depending on your citizenship: US people pay about US$160 for one, UK residents pay £109 for a three-month visa obtained in London, German citizens pay €100, and most others pay as low as $40. For current rates, contact the local embassy (UK [www], USA [www]). It takes 72 hours to get a visa in Conakry, and even after that, the consul may ask for more money, so it is best to organize it in Monrovia or elsewhere. The embassy of Sierra Leone in The Gambia is an excellent location to obtain a visa, which costs $100 USD.

How To Travel To Sierra Leone

Get In - By plane

Lungi, on the opposite side of the river from Freetown, is home to the international airport. The majority of individuals choose to use a water taxi. Sea Coach Express (Pelican), which runs to Aberdeen Bridge, and Sea Bird Express, which runs to Murray Town, are the two major firms today. For a single trip, both charge about $40. Air conditioning and WiFi are now available on the bigger boats. Hovercraft and helicopter services have ceased to exist.

Three overcrowded vehicle ferries operate from Tagrin, on the southern point of Lungi, to Kissy Ferry Terminal in Freetown, crossing the sea in 45-70 minutes but taking several hours including waiting and loading periods. Local speedboats (US$1.25) and bigger, slower “pampa” boats (US$0.50) are by far the most cheap, if not the safest, options for individuals with a small load. When they’re full, they travel on the same route as the automobile ferries. Although the landing at Lungi is damp, porters are on hand to help you in and out of the boats for a nominal charge (US$0.25).

By car, it takes 5+ hours to get to the city through Port Loko, which has some bad roads. This would most likely be the most unpleasant option, and it’s unlikely that anybody takes it.

All of the various modes of transportation from the airport to Freetown have raised safety concerns.

Paris is served by Air France (via Conakry). Four times a week, Brussels Airlines[www] flies to Brussels. McPhillips Travel and Fly Salone has closed its doors.

There are flights available to Nairobi (Kenya Airways), Casablanca (Royal Air Maroc), Accra (ASKY Airlines, Kenya Airways), Lagos (Arik Air), Banjul (Arik Air, ASKY Airlines), Conakry (ASKY Airlines), Monrovia (Royal Air Maroc), and Bamako (ASKY Airlines).

Because locals are returning for the Christmas holidays, it may be difficult to obtain seats in December. It is critical to make reservations as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, thefts from carry-on luggage were formerly frequent at airports, particularly on flights out of the nation. Anything valuable should be kept in your cabin baggage.

Get In - By car

Sierra Leone is now accessible by road from Guinea (Conakry) and Liberia. When crossing the border in a private car, certain permissions are needed. Private taxis, buses, and trucks go to and from Conakry/Freetown on a regular basis.

As of January 2013, the border between Guinea (Kopoto) and Sierra Leone (Kambia) was open, as was the border with Liberia at Bo (Waterside).

The ‘Laissez-Passer Pour Vehicule’, available at the Guinea Embassy for US$40, and the ‘Vehicle Clearance Permit,’ available at the Sierra Leone Embassy for US$40, make it feasible to cross with a vehicle or motorbike. For Sierra Leone, an extra ‘Ecowas International Circulation Permit’ will be needed, which may be purchased for Le 100,000 at the border.

For evidence of car insurance, an Ecowas ‘Brown Card’ may be required.

Get In - By bus

Sierra Leone’s Road Transport Authority operates buses that connect the country’s main cities. In Sierra Leone, there are poda poda minibuses that may be utilized. They are operated by private people with among of the country’s poorest driving abilities, and may cost anything from 2500 to 5000 Leones (£0.50-£1). Because there are no marked bus stops, one must stand on a roadway and gesture for the bus to come to a halt. Personal items should be kept safe, since petty theft is prevalent on these buses. They’re typically dangerously overcrowded as well.

Get In - By boat

Sierra Leone boasts the world’s third biggest natural port and is anticipating the arrival of cruise ships. Ships carrying cargo and passengers dock at the Queen Elizabeth II quay, although certain passenger/cargo and private boats may dock at the Government Wharf in downtown Freetown, with the majority of arrivals coming from Conakry and Banjul. Cargo Shipping Agencies should be contacted for further information.

How To Travel Around Sierra Leone

Get Around - By car

During the civil war, the road system deteriorated. However, there has lately been a significant rebuilding effort, resulting in good road conditions in regional cities such as Bo, Kenema, and Makeni. The road to Kabala is mainly smooth asphalt with a few bad potholes. The road to Kono/Koidu is tarred for three-quarters of the way, but the last quarter is in bad shape. It implies that it takes the same amount of time to travel 3/4 of the distance as it does to traverse the remaining 1/4. The government intends to improve the last stretch.

The peninsular road is excellent from Eastern Freetown to Tokeh while traveling clockwise around the peninsular. Work on the final stretch to Lumley has begun, although it is only complete from Lumley to Sussex as of the beginning of 2016, with the section between No. 2 Beach and Tokeh being virtually inaccessible to all except high-clearance 4WD and motorcycles.

Freetown’s roadways are tough to categorize. The major roads in downtown Freetown are generally smooth and pothole-free, having been built from high-quality asphalt many years ago. Side roadways are often made up of a combination of dirt and gravel, with big projecting stones, deep crevasses, and other hazards. Some of the major feeder roads are in terrible shape. Dual carriageways have been built on Wilkinson Road and Spur Road. The Hillside bypass route is also being built, which will make it much simpler to go from east to west. Regent Road over the highlands, Main Motor Road, Wilberforce, Signal Hill Road, Aberdeen/Sir Samuel Lewis Road, and Lumley Beach Road have all been finished. Because of the current repair work, highways may be blocked and other routes must be utilized.

On important thoroughfares such as Wilkinson Road, street parking is prohibited. This also applies to laybys, where halting is only allowed for a certain amount of time. The local cops use wheel clamps, which may be deployed in a matter of seconds. To be freed, they will need a trip to the local police station with Le300,000.

In the past, driving while inebriated was not always regarded severely. Police now have breathalyzers and will test and prosecute anybody suspected of driving while inebriated.

Keep your eyes forward while walking: most sidewalks in Freetown contain “death traps,” which are missing pieces of cement that may lead to a deadly fall into an open gutter. As a result, most Freetown residents choose to stroll in the street rather than on sidewalks, adding to the city’s traffic congestion.

Get Around - By Poda-poda

The Sierra Leonean name for the ancient West African bush cab is Poda-poda. Poda-podas, on the other hand, are much less entertaining than your typical bush taxi, reflecting the country’s relative poverty in comparison to the rest of the area. The cars seem to be sewn together with thread, always on the verge of breaking, six passengers for each row of three seats, blasting hip hop going off and on with the application of the gas pedal, never knowing whose sweat it is, never knowing whether it will make it over the next hill. They are, nevertheless, very inexpensive. Intercity travel costs between 1,500 and 2,500 Leones (US$0.50 in 2011), with any journey inside Freetown costing just 1,000 Leones. Shared taxis are somewhat more comfortable, but they’re still crammed to the gills and cost about the same.

Get Around - By boat

The Sea Coach Express boathouse beneath the Aberdeen-Murray Town bridge in Freetown is delighted to rent the same beautiful speedboats that they use for airport transfers to transport you up and down the Sierra Leone River and along the coast. If you’re traveling with a bigger party, spending $300-400 on a day excursion to the Banana Islands, Bonthe Island, Turtle Islands, or even a random stretch of long-forgotten beach may be well worth it.

Get Around - By motorbike

A moto-taxi is a highly efficient mode of transportation, offering cheap costs, good mobility on poor roads, and the opportunity to avoid traffic. They are, however, hazardous. When driving on dirt roads, you’ll be coated in dust, and you’ll frequently choke on the debris thrown up by bigger cars. The driver must wear a helmet and have one available to give to the passenger. That’s correct. It’s also against the law today to ride a motorbike with more than two persons on it. So, if you’re riding a bike with three people on it and you get to a vehicle checkpoint, one of them will have to dismount and go through the checkpoint…

Purchasing your own motorbike is perhaps the best way to travel alone. In the dry season, even the roughest roads will be passable, and you won’t have to worry about being carried by inattentive drivers. Be warned that riding a bike in large cities may be hazardous due to the insane traffic, but outside of cities, you should be OK as long as you wear a helmet with a visor to keep dust off your face.

Destinations in Sierra Leone

Cities in Sierra Leone

  • Freetown — Freetown is the nation’s capital and is located in the western portion of the country.
  • Bo — second largest city and capital of the southern region
  • Bonthe — A peaceful and beautifully decaying ancient administrative town on Sherbro Island.
  • Kabala — Kabala is a little village in the northern highlands that is secluded from the rest of the world.
  • Kailahun — Furthest East town and district capital
  • Kenema — Kenema is a major city in the country’s eastern region.
  • Koidu — Another town in the east, the Kono district’s diamond mining center.
  • Makeni — Fast developing town in the north
  • Magburaka — Former capital of the northern area and terminus of the defunct railway line is Magburaka.
  • Port Loko — On the major route to Guinea, close to the mining regions.

Other destinations in Sierra Leone

  • Banana Islands — Banana Islands is a popular tourist destination in Sierra Leone, with its beautiful tropical island setting.

Accommodation & Hotels in Sierra Leone

In Freetown, there are a number of high-end hotels and guesthouses, notably the four-star Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko. Other cities’ facilities are very restricted, but progress is being made. There is currently at least one excellent hotel in Makeni. Banana Island and Bonthe Island, in particular, have a few of excellent, modest resort-style retreats.

Overnight stays in Sierra Leone are costly, comparable to those in the United States, but with less facilities. Guesthouses may be found in every major town for $35-$50 per night for a single room, and they nearly always include a common bath/toilet. A single room at an average hotel costs between $100 and $180.

In SL, the cheapest lodging is in the villages—ask for the chief (who should know some Krio, if not English), and then request a guest house (“guest house” is the right term in Krio, so you will be understood). The chief’s hospitality is free, but you should give him $6-8 in the morning to “pay him respects,” and then prepare to be giving over 10,000 leone notes to the guesthouse caretaker, the water-fetcher, and at least one other person for no apparent reason.

Things To See in Sierra Leone

The beaches on the Freetown peninsula are beautiful and empty on most days. At least 10 of them might be considered world-class.

Bonthe Town, on Sherbro Island, is a historic British colonial town with a rich culture and many magnificent stone churches.

Rare fauna abounds on Tiwai Island (located in the midst of a river in SE Sierra Leone).

Experience hospitality and the serenity of the wilderness in rural West African communities.

Scuba diving and snorkeling near Banana Island.

The Turtle Islands are tough to reach yet beautiful.

Outamba-Kilimi National Park is a savanna and jungle park with a wide range of species.

Mount Bintumani is Sierra Leone’s tallest peak, offering spectacular views from the top.

Sierra Leone’s rainforests cover large swaths of the country.

Food & Drinks in Sierra Leone

Food in Sierra Leone

Rice is the mainstay of Sierra Leonean cuisine, which is often served with soups or stews. These stews may include a delectable and sometimes spicy combination of meat, seafood, spices, greens, and other ingredients, and can take hours to make. There are many high-quality restaurants that provide a wide range of regional and international cuisines.

Sierra Leoneans, like many African nations, have a highly nutritious diet. Many people consume fresh fruit that they have harvested from their own trees or that market sellers have picked that day. They also consume seafood, especially in Freetown, the capital, which is located on the Atlantic coast. Local fisherman may be seen bringing in nets from the Atlantic loaded with crabs, lobsters, oysters, snappers, and a variety of other species at places like Lumley Beach.

Sierra Leoneans stay healthy by eating a variety of plant-based meals rich in fiber, such as cassava leaves, potato leaves, okra, and other vegetables.

Drinks in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Breweries Limited, the national brewer, manufactures Star beer and, as of October 2013, premium Mützig beer. Many European beers are also available in the United States. Guinness is quite popular in Africa, as it is in many other nations. Locally manufactured soft drinks include Coca-Cola and Fanta. Restaurants and stores sell wine, although it may be costly. In Sierra Leone, locally made palm wine (known as “poyo” in Krio) is extremely popular. Be cautious of spirits (whisky, gin, etc.) offered in big plastic containers; the quality and safety are unknown.

Money & Shopping in Sierra Leone

The Leone, abbreviated as Le, is the monetary unit. Leone coins come in denominations of Le50, Le100, and Le500. The Le1000, Le2000, Le5000, and Le10000 banknotes are the most common. New bank notes were launched on May 14th, 2010. The new notes are somewhat larger than the old ones and are said to be more durable. There has been no replacement for the previous Le500 note. The designs are eerily similar to those seen on older banknotes. As of the end of May 2010, the new notes greatly exceed the old kind, thus it’s safe to assume that people won’t want to accept the old notes for much longer. For one year after the introduction date of the new notes, the old kind may be exchanged at banks.

It is extremely simple to exchange money, whether on the black market or via institutions. The rates at the airport’s tiny bank are fair. Although additional currencies are available, the most common are the GB£, Euro, and US$.

Only a few stores, restaurants, and hotels accept credit cards (Visa mostly). Major credit cards are accepted at the airport duty-free store. Some of the other hotels want to accept credit cards. Some banks may let you borrow money using a credit card, but the procedure can be lengthy and expensive.

ATMs

In Freetown, ATMs are available. A visa card ATM is available at Rokel Commercial Bank. Ecobank ATMs allow international master card/Visa cards for cash withdrawals.

Money and daily life

Even though Sierra Leone is a poor nation, the high cost of living will surprise you. Many products are twice the price that one would expect to pay in other nations due to a lack of a proper import system, hefty import tariffs, and a 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST).

When it comes to items found on the street, foreigners often pay much more than locals, so be sure to negotiate and reduce the price as much as possible. You can get by in Freetown on a daily budget of LE 220,000 (about $55) if you are willing to stay in inexpensive guest rooms (which implies not a safe location with bed bugs in the bed), travel solely by local bus (poda poda), and eat exclusively on street corners (which is not advised for your health). A more reasonable price is about LE 440,000 (about $110) if you want to eat good restaurant meals every now and then and stay in mid-range accomodation. You can easily munch through LE 880,000 (about $220) each day if you want to eat and sleep properly.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Sierra Leone

Stay Safe in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a relatively safe nation to visit, despite—or maybe because of—the terrible bloodshed of the 1990s. While petty pickpocketing, bag snatching, and other non-violent crimes remain a problem in certain areas of Freetown (and the police are ineffective), violent crime is very uncommon across the country, especially in the capital, by any worldwide standards.

Corruption is no longer as prevalent as it previously was. With a succession of high-level arrests and efforts to prevent police from issuing fake penalties, the current president launched a moderately effective anti-corruption campaign. The airport in Freetown (Lungi) has been renovated and is now very excellent by African standards.

However, the typical hazards of underdeveloped Sub-Saharan Africa remain: traffic and illness. Although traffic accidents are much less frequent than they should be, be warned that packed, barely holding together poda-podas are physics-defying death traps. Moto-taxis, meanwhile, are obsessed with speed, oblivious to the hazards of damaged roads, gaping potholes, and charging vehicles hiding in the dust. A limited number of extremely severe bus accidents have occurred in isolated regions. Walking around cities at night is dangerous not because of crime, but because of the absence of illumination, which may cause a fall or lead a vehicle to miss you in the road. Locals use mobile phones with flash lights; if yours does not, bring a torch with you.

The risks of tropical illness are similar to those seen everywhere in West Africa, but there are no facilities that come close to meeting Western standards. Malaria is, as is customary, the greatest threat, and any foreign tourist who travels without anti-malarial medication and perhaps a mosquito net is putting their life at jeopardy.

The use of narcotics, especially marijuana, is prohibited, and drug prohibitions are strictly enforced by the authorities.

Stay Healthy in Sierra Leone

Malaria, water-borne illnesses, and other tropical ailments are also common. If you want to avoid malaria, you should take malaria medicine and use insect repellent. Yellow fever vaccination is now mandatory, and rabies vaccination may be suggested. HIV/AIDS is widespread. Lassa fever may be acquired in Kenema and the surrounding areas to the east. It has also expanded to the north in 2010, resulting in 48 fatalities between January and November. If you have been to these areas and have a fever that has not been definitively diagnosed as malaria, you should seek medical help immediately.

Medical services are in dire need. You should have some basic medical supplies with you. Before traveling, get medical advice and make sure you have all of the necessary vaccines. Only drink bottled water and be conscious of what you eat and how properly it is prepared.

Ebola

An epidemic of the frequently deadly and generally untreatable Ebola viral haemorrhagic fever spread from Guinea and Liberia in March 2014.

Many airlines cancelled planned flights into Sierra Leone as a result of the measures taken to isolate sick people and limit movement in and out of vulnerable regions. Despite this, approximately 4000 individuals died as a result of the illness. The nation was certified Ebola-free in November 2015. However, a period of increased surveillance will continue for a few months longer. The airport will continue to conduct health inspections till the conclusion of the term.

The virus is transmitted by coming into direct, unprotected contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person (living or dead), or by coming into contact with contaminated items (such as needles). Chills, lower-back discomfort, tiredness, diarrhoea, headaches, and bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and rectum are some of the symptoms.

Avoid making touch with anybody who is displaying these symptoms.

According to medical data, the virus may survive in the sperm for up to 6 months after a person has been pronounced healed. For at least this time, condom usage or abstinence is required. The fatality rate in this epidemic has been about 55 percent for people who were treated early, but it may be as high as 90 percent for those who did not seek treatment early.

For any suspected case/contact, dial 117 from a cell phone for free.

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