Founded in 1792 by British abolitionists as a settlement for freed slaves, Sierra Leone is located on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. Its name means 'lion mountains' after the hills that surround the country’s main harbour. 20 years after the end of its civil war, Sierra Leone is delighted to welcome visitors to experience its stunning scenery, rich cultural and historical heritage and warm, hospitable people. From golden sandy beaches and sparkling lagoons to verdant hills, pristine valleys and lush forests, with an abundance of wildlife, birds and flora, it's a destination that has so much to offer.
Must See / Do
Gola Forest Reserve
East of the city of Kenema, straddling Sierra Leone's border with Liberia is one of West Africa's most important biodiversity hotspots, Gola Forest Reserve.
The highest peak in Sierra Leone at 1.945 metres, Mount Bintumani (also known as Loma Mansa) lies in the Loma Mountains. A popular destination for keen climbers, hikers and trekkers, the peak offers spectacular trails with epic wildlife and bird viewing and panoramic views.
These low-lying sandy islands boast pristine aqua and turquoise waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling, as well as beaches lined by palms and mangroves, ideal for birdwatching and nature trails.
A visit to the Banana Islands is rated one of the best that Sierra Leone has to offer in terms of beach, beauty and culture. Attractions include world class scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing, guided forest walks, historical and cultural tours.
Situated in the west of the country, the capital Freetown, is a major port city on the Atlantic and its harbour is one of the largest deepwater harbours in the world, vital to the region's economic growth. A vibrant city, Freetown offers a number of attractions from the golden beaches of Lumley to the apex of Pickett Hill, the highest mountain in the Western Peninsula. With an array of restaurants, nightclubs and bustling local markets, visitors are invited to take in The Sierra Leone National Museum, the Tacaguma Chimpanzee Sanctuary or to venture off the southern tip to the densely forested Banana Islands, a diver's paradise.
In Tigris Bay, a short ferry ride from Freetown, lies the historic site of Bunce Island. Founded in around 1670, the island was once a major centre of the transatlantic slave trade where British vessels full of captured Africans departed for the colonies of South Carolina and Georgia across the Atlantic. The island offers a cultural monument to the country's past and visitors can see the preserved castle and fort for a sobering, yet important, historical experience.
The Banana Islands are a cluster of three islands off the coast of Yawri Bay, south west of the Freetown Peninsula, only accessible by boat, ferry or helicopter. Dublin and Ricketts islands are linked by a stone causeway. The third island, Mes-Meheux, is the smallest and is uninhabited. Dublin Island is known for its beaches, while Ricketts Island is best known for its forests. A visit to the Banana Islands is rated one of the best that Sierra Leone has to offer in terms of beach, beauty and culture. Attractions include world class scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing, guided forest walks, historical and cultural tours.
Set deep within Sierra Leone’s Upper Guinea Rainforest on the Moa River in the south, Tiwai Island is a veritable jungle escape and is home to the country's last remaining virgin rainforest. The island hosts incredible wildlife species including Diana monkeys and pygmy hippos, tool-using chimpanzees (a truly awesome feat) and curious pangolins. Attractions include guided forest walks, engaging community visits, scenic boat tours, and refreshing swims along Tiwai’s sandy beaches. Experience one of the most famous and enchanting conservation spots in Sierra Leone.
A remote archipelago made up of eight islands, located in the Atlantic just west of Bonthe/Sherbro Island, are the Turtle Islands. These low-lying sandy islands boast pristine aqua and turquoise waters perfect for swimming and snorkelling, as well as beaches lined by palms and mangroves, ideal for birdwatching and nature trails. Baku is the most popular island for tourists and it's not difficult to see why: its remote idyllic location with coconut lined shores, spectacular sand bars and warm inviting crystal clear waters is the literal definition of a tropical paradise.
The highest peak in Sierra Leone at 1.945 metres, Mount Bintumani (also known as Loma Mansa) lies in the Loma Mountains and is named after its resident mythical female spirit. The lower slopes are covered in lush rainforests and host pygmy hippopotamuses, dwarf crocodiles, rufous fishing-owls and numerous primates. A popular destination for keen climbers, hikers, and trekkers, the peak offers spectacular trails with epic wildlife and bird spotting and amazing views at its rocky summit. Kabala is the base for the Loma Mountains, travelling by 4WD to one of the villages – Sinekoro, Sokurala or Yifin – to embark on the Mount Bintumani hike.
East of the city of Kenema, straddling Sierra Leone's border with Liberia is one of West Africa's most important biodiversity hotspots, Gola Forest Reserve. The largest remaining block of Upper Guinean Forest and home to 49 mammal species (including the pygmy hippo and forest elephant) and 327 bird species, (the Nimba flycatcher and Gola Malimbe) this rainforest also has the world’s second-largest population of the Western chimpanzee and 60 globally threatened species such as the western colobus monkey, zebra duiker and rufous fishing-owl. Attractions include forest guided walks and hikes, specialised tours and cultural experiences.