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SIERRA LEONE OPEN TO VISITORS AT ALL TIME -Sierra Leone is blissful 

SIERRA LEONE OPEN TO VISITORS AT ALL TIME

Sierra Leone is blissful

‘Amazing country with receptive people, moreover the peace’ said the head of the 300 Danish tourists. These teenagers, never felt nostalgic, but rather wanting to come back and feel that breath-taking ambiance and sceneries of hope and relax state of mind.

 

Freedom, safety, friendly and hospitality with cultural fusion Sierra Leone explains it all, when the finished line for Budapest Bamako rally ended in Freetown. Participants of the rally had many options how to spend their remaining days in the city of the freed. Well, this speak a volume of sanity and acceptance, none of them experienced theft, no scam, no accident, no crime but in entirety, all they expressed was indeed Sierra Leone is the place to be. The 700 riders including team members, rod in splendid leisure, culture and amazing nightlife, that left them with no thought of going back but to extend their stays.

Sierra Leone in West Africa enjoy an interrupted peace for years and this peace will sustainably be managed for future posterity.

Welcoming you to Freetown, sweep through its historical core. This is an amazing country, tours that takes you through Freetown’s heritage. This is great not just for new visitors to Freetown but also residents who wish to understand the historical significance of many sites they go past on a daily basis.

Sierra Leone, country of western Africa. The country owes its name to the 15th-century Portuguese explorer Pedro De Cintra, the first European to sight and map Freetown harbour. The original Portuguese name, Serra Lyoa (“Lion Mountains”), referred to the range of hills that surrounds the harbour. The capital, Freetown, commands one of the world’s largest natural harbours.

 

The main attractions for tourist in Sierra Leone are the beaches, nature reserves, mountains and the islands (Banana Island and Turtle Islands). … Sierra Leone is considered one of the best places in the world to catch Atlantic tarpon.

For the traveller, Sierra Leone is still West Africa’s secret beach destination. Sweet sands rise from the soft waters of the Atlantic, with the backdrop dressed in sun-stained hues, rainforest green and the red, red roads of the north.

In Freetown, colourful stilted houses remember the days when freed slaves from the Caribbean were resettled upon these shores. In the north, the Loma Mountains form the highest point west of Cameroon. Further east national parks and rainforest shelter endangered species like the black-and-white colobus monkey and the elusive pygmy hippo.

Coming face to face with the enchanting relics of the mastery architectural display that once defined the merciless economical “glory” of the Bunce Island, you’ll know thereon, that this is a place that warrants the visitation of everyone, at least once in our lifetime. If not for the purpose of reflections, empathy, and a sense of history, but for the serene-celestial-leisure and the liberating experiences enveloped in both the boat journey and the tour of the strategic slavery fortress built in the bosom of Temne lands.

Sierra Leone-Sierraously Surprising:  a country known for her beauty with lush sun-sand beaches enticed with enviable mount peaks and valleys located on the West Coast of Africa, sharing friendly borders with the Republic of Guinea to the north and northeast, Liberia to the east and southeast, while the Atlantic Ocean is to the west and south.

Are you a beach lover, or an Eco friendly or more culturally savvy person? Well your melting pot for all of these essentials is Sierra Leone. The country stand to boasts of approximately 600km of coastline, with different sands colours and water waves, as the Freetown peninsula serves as grandeur of leisure attractions with archipelagos of islands with green basket mangroves.

Are you a swimmer, snorkeler, kayaker, otherwise, If you’re enticed  by nature, look no further than the Banana Island- Dalton Guest House, Baffa Resort and the surrounding that  offers natural and exotic beauty unlike anywhere in the world and a bunch of underwater and water activities.

In a way, Sherbro Island has had the same treatment as the rest of Sierra Leone. It’s overlooked; many people are not aware of its existence, let alone its tourist potential. Visitors have been few, but those who do visit return home with diamonds in their eyes. Mesmerised by the exotic sights, the beauty of the people and the unique experiences. VSL has seen the potential of Sherbro, and this article will tell you everything you need to know about visiting this peaceful island.

Located two hours by motor boat from the mainland, Sherbro Island has about 30.000 inhabitants. The main town is Bonthe (not to be confused with Bunce), which is the first access point to the rest of the island. There are barely any motor vehicles on the island, therefore transportation is limited to walking, and using motorbikes and boat rides. All three are appealing, but for deeper explorations motorbikes and boats are recommended.

They say Paris is for lovers, we say Sierra Leone is for lovers. The country is a mixture of vibrant city life, tranquil natural surroundings, and stunning views. Sierra Leone can provide the perfect context to make memories you will not forget. Ah, and of course, a country so picturesque makes that even easier.

 

SIERRA LEONE SAFEST TOURIST DESTINATION SIERRAOUSLY SURPRISING

‘Amazing country with receptive people, moreover the peace’ said the head of the 300 Danish tourists. These teenagers, never felt nostalgic, but rather wanting to come back and feel that breath-taking ambiance and sceneries of hope and relax state of mind.

 

Freedom, safety, friendly and hospitality with cultural fusion Sierra Leone explains it all, when the finished line for Budapest Bamako rally ended in Freetown. Participants of the rally had many options how to spend their remaining days in the city of the freed. Well, this speak a volume of sanity and acceptance, none of them experienced theft, no scam, no accident, no crime but in entirety, all they expressed was indeed Sierra Leone is the place to be. The 700 riders including team members, rod in splendid leisure, culture and amazing nightlife, that left them with no thought of going back but to extend their stays.

Well if this country was known for the negative irony propelled by bloggers and some freelancers. Sierra Leone in West Africa enjoy an interrupted peace for years and this peace will sustainably be managed for future posterity.

 

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone-Sierraously Surprising:  a country known for her beauty with lush sun-sand beaches enticed with enviable mount peaks and valleys located on the West Coast of Africa, sharing friendly borders with the Republic of Guinea to the north and northeast, Liberia to the east and southeast, while the Atlantic Ocean is to the west and south.

Are you a beach lover, or an Eco friendly or more culturally savvy person? Well your melting pot for all of these essentials is Sierra Leone. The country stand to boasts of approximately 600km of coastline, with different sands colours and water waves, as the Freetown peninsula serves as grandeur of leisure attractions with archipelagos of islands with green basket mangroves.

Are you a swimmer, snorkeler, kayaker, otherwise, If you’re enticed  by nature, look no further than the Banana Island- Dalton Guest House, Baffa Resort and the surrounding that  offers natural and exotic beauty unlike anywhere in the world and a bunch of underwater and water activities.

 

 

Sierra Leone is naturally rich and diverse in biodiversity, culture, heritage and eco-friendly.

With tranquillity been at peak, the country to visit in West Africa is Sierra Leone, for the reasons are clear, it’s gorgeous and exotic beaches that transcend a rare colonial heritage ambiance and offer a genuine and fantastic scenery, you can climb its mountainous region, or freely walk along the streets of Freetown and all its touristic areas which is free of taut. The  peninsula’s white sands and splendid coastline, with beaches so perfect they could be described as world-class – as you will probably be most enchanted by this country’s warm and welcoming people that are known for doing the impossible just to make tourists feel comfortable and feel relaxed.

OVERALL RISK: NONE

With all the above description of pleasantry about Sierra Leone, and it has been classed as the a friendly destination, it is indeed, as this destination has much more to offer to its arrivals- no tourist has ever reported theft, crime, rubbery, scam, murder, kidnapping or rape, these actions are not our blood for strangers. But rather we offer our friendly attitudes towards our tourists and friends from other regions. Therefore, have no fear to visit this country of peace and hospitable people.

MOVING ARROUND- TRANSPORT – TAXIS, BUSES, PODA-PODA, KEHKEH, OKADA AND WATER TRANSFERS

Transportation in Sierra Leone is safe at all points, major trunk roads are all tarmac, except for roads leading to villages which are also accessible with  4×4 vehicles, and the cost are reasonable. One can travel by buses, taxis, poda poda, kehkeh, okada, or private hire. However, one is advised to take care of personal items, so you do not forget them on-board. Your travel from point A to point B is always well organized with record passenger manifest especially for provincial trips, for city you can flex with Okada or Kehkeh feel the beats of harmony. You are safe and can work alone without a guide except for other tourist attraction, where you require a step on guide or a hired guide for directions. For water lovers, you can reach Freetown city with water taxis, as we have three water taxis, so you have better options or better still one can use road, which is also friendly.

 

SIERRA LEONE PICKPOCKETS RISK-

One should not be petrified about pickpocketing because it is rare, neither are you on bus or taxi or any means you are fine and you have nothing to fear. However, your concern should be you not losing things by forgetful means. So it’s also advising you always have a waist bag or side bag for your handy items. Carrying your purse or money on you is as well safe, and no one can brutally attack you for your possessions, we do not have such testimonies from tourists.

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK-

It is been tagged as natural, these are unforeseen circumstances, and ever since in our history the records on mudslide just occurred once, we have  nothing like wild fires, earth quakes, tsunamis. For diseases and outbreak, yes, we had Ebola, and every country must have challenges so Sierra Leone is not exceptional.  Sierra Leone is susceptible to flooding and mudslides.  As a nation our sustainable and environmental mitigation and adaptation model suits us well, to manage major environmental shortfalls.

MUGGING RISK: NONE

Mugging in Sierra Leone is never treated as a graving concern, because this act is not seen amongst us or in our public places, rather the people will help to keep your items safe at all time, because we believe; strangers must be treated with care and respect. So one should not be afraid of public gathering because of mugging.

TERRORISM RISK: NONE

There haven’t been any recent terrorist attacks in Sierra Leone’s recent history, but they shouldn’t be ruled out since Sierra Leone contributes to the UN peacekeeping initiative in Mali or around the world should not send threats to categorised the country as a prone terrorist area. This we have never and shall experience it, because none terrorist attacks make us more safe and stable. You can visit any time, and you can travel everywhere at any hour of the night and you are safe and free from every attacks.

SCAMS RISK: NOT RECORED NONE

Scams and robberies are the order of the day for other countries but not Sierra Leone. Our taxi drivers and KehKeh riders are all friendly and take you around and how you to decide what you can pay in most cases. If you are an investors, it is but advice to visit Ministries, Department and Agencies for advice on investment opportunities otherwise you can make the wrong turn. There is no record or report for theft from the use of the ATM or gangs chase for moneys withdrawn. The bank always can advice well how to do your transfers to avoid such, if there are any.

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK:  NORMAL

Sierra Leone is the safest place for a woman to be visiting alone. Women are treated here with high caution and they are always protected against arm and danger. Streets in Freetown are always safe, and passers bye mind their own businesses, except if you need help then they can work up to you for assistance on free of cost.

So… How Safe Is Sierra Leone Really? 100% SAFE

Sierra Leone is safe and the right place to be at all time.

Its tourism potential is intact and well harnessed.

Sierra Leone is, according to some, the friendliest place in Africa, yet according recent visitors claimed Sierra Leone indeed is the best place to be in Africa. With its reach minerals and oil deposit, Sierra Leone is set to surprise the world again.

As expected, the people of Sierra Leone are content, so you do not have to be cautious when traveling to this country and bear in mind that visiting now blend with leisure and adventure.

Keep in mind that traveling anywhere outside Freetown is safe and calm since the roads are accessible and maintained, and the drivers all around can help much – they mostly drive vehicles that are in good driving condition and the roads are well paved now.

                                                    Useful Information

Visa on arrival

As part of government’s commitment to promote tourism and attract foreign direct investment, the Government of Sierra Leone wishes to inform the general public, airline operators, Sierra Leone Embassies and Missions overseas, International Air Transport Association (IATA), international partners and other government bodies that with effect from Thursday 5th September 2019, a new Visa on Arrival policy has been rolled-out for persons from the following countries or blocs:

  • United Kingdom Citizens
  • European Union Citizens
  • United States Citizens
  • Citizens of Commonwealth member countries
  • Citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council member countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman)
  • Citizens of the BRICS Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa)
  • Citizens of the following countries:
    • Lebanon
    • Iran
    • Cambodia
    • Vietnam
    • Singapore
    • Indonesia
    • Thailand
    • Turkey
    • Japan
    • South Korea
    • Norway
    • Israel
    • Bolivia
    • East Timor
    • Macau
    • Samoa
    • Tuvalu

Below are the visa fees for ease of reference:

  • ECOWAS nationals – Visa-free
  • Non-Ecowas AU nationals – USD 25.00
  • All other countries – USD 80.00

Citizens of ECOWAS states and all other countries with which Sierra Leone has visa-free agreements will continue to enjoy visa-free access.

Citizens of countries not listed above are required to visit the nearest Sierra Leone Embassy or Mission abroad to secure visas prior to visiting Sierra Leone. All persons coming to Sierra Leone for the purpose other than tourism, visit or business needs to apply for a visa before undertaken such travel. We wish to reassure all potential visitors of a continuing hassle-free visa processing experience.

Flights and Routings

For all your trips to Sierra Leone, flights are available to connect you from Europe, The Americas, Africa, Asia and any part of the world. The list of available eleven flights for easy connections to Sierra Leone, Air France, Asky Airline, Air Mauritania, Africa World, Air Côte d’Ivoire, Brussels Airlines, Kenya Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Turkish Air Line, Trans Air, Air Peace Limited.

 

Ministry of Tourism hold tourism local governance conference

By Mohamed Faray Kargbo

Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs is set to organize the first national tourism local governance conference.

The two-day event which takes place on Thursday and Friday 12 & 13 March, 2020 is geared towards promoting and developing domestic tourism. The event would attract Paramount Chiefs and local authorities, tribal heads, administrators, wildlife conservationists and many others in the field of tourism and hospitality.

At the end of the conference, Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Memunatu Pratt will designate participants as Tourism Ambassadors while simultaneously challenging them to take action to promote tourism and hospitality management in their communities.

The ministry is aware that action needs to be taken to improve the domestic tourism policy to ensure that more and more Sierra Leoneans engage in domestic tourism.

President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio is expected to deliver the keynote address at the launch of the tourism local governance conference.

The conference is a precursor to the declaration of 2020 as a year of domestic tourism which would be done before the country’s 59th independence anniversary.

The event is jointly organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourist Board, Monuments and Relics Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

The Julius Maada Bio led administration promised to diversify the country’s economy by providing the enabling environment for tourism to thrive.

National Geographic-These African lodges lead the way in wildlife conservation here’s where to see majestic animals and help to preserve their habitat in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and South Africa.

T R AV E L

These African lodges lead the way in wildlife conservation here’s where to see majestic animals and help to preserve their habitat in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and South Africa.

BY KAREN CARMICHAEL

Wildlife excursions in Africa are going deeper, highlighting less-visited regions and ecosystems while also leading the charge for conservation in innovative ways. Here are three unconventional safaris in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and South Africa that reveal as well as protect the extraordinary animals that travelers long to see.

Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Sierra Leone Why go: This pioneering chimpanzee center helps advance the legacy of Jane Goodall. Inspired by a conversation with primatologist and National Geographic explorer Jane Goodall about two chimps he had rescued, Tacugama founder Bala Amarasekaran opened a chimpanzee sanctuary and rehabilitation center in Sierra Leone in 1995.

Since its founding, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary has sheltered hundreds of critically endangered western chimpanzees, many of them orphans rescued from wildlife trafficking or from being hunted for bushmeat. The chimps roam five semi-forested enclosures, some as large as 16 acres, on the sanctuary’s grounds in Western Area Peninsula Park, a biodiversity hotspot. Viewing platforms allow visitors to see the chimps’ human-like behavior up close—they’re our closest living relatives with a 98.6 percent DNA match—and extended stays in the sanctuary’s treehouse lodges showcase life in the rainforest. “You wake up in the canopy, amongst the trees, to the smell of orchid perfume,” says Aram Kazandjian, Tacugama’s development manager.

All proceeds go toward the sanctuary’s operation and other conservation projects. Tacugama has also taken a leading role in national policy and international advocacy, working with the Sierra Leone government, the World Bank, and Interpol to prevent wildlife trafficking, tighten laws on bushmeat hunting, and add environmental workbooks to the school curriculum. “We’re still receiving baby and orphan chimpanzees at an alarming rate,” Kazandjian says. “Species are driven to extinction by human activities, and we have to fight that.”

When Goodall visited in February 2019, the sanctuary had a surprise for her: Due to Tacugama’s initiative, Sierra Leone https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/features/new-safari-trends-africa/ 10/12/2019, 11>15 Page 1 of 4 has now named the chimpanzee its national animal. Safari planner: On September 5, 2019, Sierra Leone launched a visa-on-arrival program, making it much easier for travelers to visit the country. An easy 35-minute drive from Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, the sanctuary offers daily tours or overnight stays in its six ecolodges, which are designed as treehouses or traditional roundhouses and have decks with outdoor hammocks overlooking the rainforest. Tacugama is developing the first ecotourism circuit around the country, to include Jaibui Island and Loma Mountains National Park.

Exhibiting Sierra Leone at the biggest World Travel Market in London

Sierra Leone is set to participate in one of the World’s biggest gathering of the tourism sector, the World Travel Market, London.

World Travel Market London introduces global travel buyers to countries, the biggest destinations and brands in the world. WTM London prides itself on being the hub of travel ideas.

They aim to give sector players, the global travel trade insight into how the industry will look in the next five years, share innovations, and create endless business opportunities over the course of three days.

Sierra Leone was an attractive destination for tourists from across the world but that changed following a decade of civil strife.

The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) led Government of President Julius Maada Bio campaigned to diversify the economy through tourism by improving the policy and legal environment, developing infrastructure, rehabilitating and developing historic and cultural sites, developing skills in tourism and promoting, marketing and improving the international image of Sierra Leone.

Hence the participation in such Exhibitions.

The advantages of participating in these events are manifold.
It gives Sierra Leone an opportunity to engage and connect with her target audience face-to-face. Participating in an event where over 51,000 international travel professionals, from more than 38 sectors of the travel industry are present is no mean feat. It provides an enviable opportunity to meet, network, negotiate and conduct business with key decision-makers in the travel industry.

Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the National Tourist Board and Monuments and Relics Commission would use this exhibition to position the country as a must-visit destination. Her presence would ensure that it is seen by the people that matter and offer an opportunity to truly stand out as a brand in a place where the travel industry congregates.

By participating in such events, the nation grows her exposure and position her brand as a destination that worth travellers’ attention – there’s no better place than the hub of travel ideas to present that brand.

The competitive edge of showcasing the ecotourism and adventure tourism potentials of this great nation cannot be overemphasized. Our brand presence at the show is significant but we also get an insight into what other businesses and countries are doing.

With the newly launched Visa-on-Arrival facility, the country needs to launch that new product to Tour Operators. WTM London gives the perfect platform to launch any new products people may have in front of a large engaged audience. Create your hype.

The event which runs from the 4th-6th November 2019 takes place at ExCel Exhibition Centre in London. Around 300,000 new business connections are made each year at these events where over 3,000 journalists from around the world are present.

The Telegraph – Is Sierra Leone about to become African tourism’s next big thing?

 

Sue Watt, Travel Writer

2 September 2019 • 10:20am

With big ears, brown eyes and a nappy wrapped around him, little Caesar has no idea that he represents his homeland. His mother was killed when he was just eight weeks old (he is now aged seven months) and he has since been cared for by a woman called Mama P.

I watch as she holds the baby chimp in her arms, lulling him with soft “Oooh-ooh-ooh” noises. Tenderly, Caesar strokes her face, pulls down her paper mask and raises his hirsute fingers to her lips to be kissed. Caesar’s home is Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone, a country that has had a rough ride of late. The government recently announced that the chimpanzee is to be its national animal, representing the face of wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism for the future.

With a troubled past, this small West African country doesn’t immediately spring to mind as a tourist destination. Its decade-long civil war, fuelled by the diamond industry, ended in 2002 at the cost of 50,000 lives. In 2014, just as the country was recovering – thanks to remarkable reconciliation efforts and a rejuvenated mining industry – Ebola arrived, killing almost 4,000 people. Sierra Leone went into lockdown for two long and lonely years. Then, in 2017, a horrific mudslide struck the capital Freetown, causing around 1,000 deaths. But Sierra Leone, known locally as Sweet Salone, is shaking off the shackles of its grim past: now peaceful and Ebola-free, it deserves a new narrative.

The chimpanzee is to become the national animal, representing the face of wildlife conservation Credit: GETTY

“Sierra Leone has changed,” George Balassis tells me. He is the general manager of upmarket Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel where I am staying on Lumley Beach, Freetown’s buzzing nightlife strip. “It’s a country that believes in itself now, that’s growing stronger and more confident by the day.”

The country’s revived focus on tourism reflects that new self-belief. Visitor numbers are gradually increasing and new hotels including the Hilton are opening, Silversea cruises are sailing back, and pioneering holiday companies such as Rainbow Tours are returning.

Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, five hours east of Freetown, exemplifies the country’s potential. An idyllic destination for nature lovers, the uninhabited island on the river Moa measures just 4.6 sq miles yet is home to 135 species of birds, around 80 rare pygmy hippos and 11 primate species, one of the highest concentrations in the world, including chimps and Diana monkeys. We are welcomed with warm smiles by the people of Kambama, one of eight neighbouring communities supported by Tiwai.

That afternoon, we explore by kayak as hornbills whoosh past overhead and palm fronds rattle in the breeze. In the stillness, a guide suddenly calls out “Mah-le” in an excited whisper. “Pygmy hippo” our poler translates, rushing us towards the riverbank. Someone in the first kayak sees a backside scurrying into the forest but it’s vanished before we get there. It seems the monkeys have vanished too, save for shadowy figures cavorting in the canopy at dusk.

Kayaking on the Moa Credit: WILL WHITFORD

We stay at Tiwai’s only camp, sleeping on mattresses in dome tents on sheltered platforms. Damaged by storms in 2015, it looks tired but is clean and comfortable, has a solar-powered dining area, hot showers and flushing lavatories.

Next morning, on a dark, pre-dawn walk, guide Kenewa Korma interprets the noises of nature’s alarm clocks. A rolling cackle, like a cranky car revving up, is “black and white colobus saying good morning to each other”. The quiet gulps are red colobus; rapid grunts are sooty mangabeys. And that pungent smell that hits us now and then is simply “monkey aroma”.

As dawn approaches, the rainforest becomes visible – we are walking through bamboo as high as houses, mahoganies, palms and vines, and finally spot monkeys moving in the canopy to sounds like shrieking babies. “That’s the colobus sexing!” Kenewa explains with the noise ascending to a curdling crescendo as the monkey mating reaches its climax.

In dense rainforest, Tiwai’s monkeys can seem elusive despite their high concentration and you probably won’t see pygmy hippos mooching along the riverbank. But the island’s natural beauty, with honey-coloured beaches and towering trees, is truly special.

The Western Peninsula coastline is special too: jungle-clad mountains meet sandy shores in vivid tiers of green, gold and blue. A three-hour drive takes us to Tokeh, lying between Bureh Beach renowned for surfing and the palm-fringed River No 2 Beach, which evoked “the taste of paradise” in Eighties Bounty ads.

“The island’s natural beauty, with honey-coloured beaches and towering trees, is truly special” Credit: GETTY

Our luxury hotel, The Place, has 54 chic chalets, a swimming pool, and a glass-fronted bar and restaurant overlooking the ocean. We amble along the shore, watching children playing football while women balance baskets of bread on their heads and fishermen sail off in wooden dhows. We swim in the warm Atlantic waters, sip chilled wine on sunbeds and dine on fresh lobster, a world away from what most people imagine Sierra Leone to be.

Freetown, an hour away, brings us back to earth. Despite the poverty here – Sierra Leone is one of the world’s poorest countries – it’s a vibrant, frenetic and friendly city squashed between forested hills and the sea. Born of freedom in the late 18th century when slaves returned from England, its name evokes its heritage from slave-trade centre to sanctuary.

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Nowhere is the poignancy of the slave trade more evident than on Bunce Island, 40 minutes by motorboat from Freetown. Between 1668 and 1807, around 50,000 men, women and children were incarcerated in this once-imposing fort before leaving for America’s southern states. Neglected for centuries and smothered by vines and strangler figs, the eerie ruin is finally being restored. Our guide brings the past alive, showing us cannons on the ramparts still pointing out to sea, the graveyard with still-legible tombstones of slave masters, the cells where ordinary people, once sold, were branded with red-hot irons. We walk in silence, immersed in the island’s inhumane brutality and haunting melancholy.

Ruins on Bunce Island Credit: GETTY

In Freetown, we wander past slatted plantation houses on Pademba Road where freed settlers first lived and stand under the 500-year-old Cotton Tree, more than 100ft tall, where slaves prayed under its boughs. Today, fruit bats dangle surreally from branches, their squeals competing with the din of traffic and tuk tuks. We see the worn stone “slave steps” at King Jimmy Wharf, now a manic market selling everything from grains, vegetables and fruit to plastic pots and flip-flops. The city has mellow moments too: back in Lumley, we sip G&Ts at a beach bar listening to smooth reggae as the sun sets.

On our last day, we visit Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary spanning 100 acres of forest near Freetown. Sharing a deep bond with Freetown’s communities, the sanctuary teaches schoolchildren about conservation, offers scholarships and currently employs 40 local people. Founded in 1995, it has endured war and Ebola and today is home to 89 chimps (including that beautiful baby Caesar) orphaned through the illegal bushmeat trade or rescued from captivity.

“We rescued 10 babies last year,” manager Aram Kazandjian explains. “For each one rescued, it’s estimated poachers have killed up to 10 chimps. Sierra Leone has around 5,500 chimpanzees: if we don’t act, they’ll likely be extinct within 10 years.”

In rural areas where chimps are most threatened, Tacugama educates and works with more than 40 communities. It is planning a national ecolodge circuit taking in Loma for West Africa’s highest mountain, Mobondah for rare manatees and Jaibui Island, Tiwai’s neighbour, for those elusive pygmy hippos. And Tacugama Sanctuary itself has six rustic ecolodges with hiking trails, birding tours, jazz nights and yoga retreats. I wish I’d stayed the night here, waking up to chimps’ squeals and birdsong.

The primates live in huge fenced enclosures. As we walk around, one cheeky chimp throws stones at us, then sits by the pond acting all innocent. Nearby, Mortes and Perry groom each other quietly. “Mortes was the alpha male here but Perry has taken over. They’re still friends,” Aram says. “Chimps share 98.6 per cent of human DNA and they show emotions just like us – joy, happiness, I often see them kissing.”

As we leave, we pass Caesar again, still cuddling Mama P. With chimps symbolising the nation’s future, Tacugama has a starring role in the new Sierra Leone. Much like the sanctuary’s homeland and its people, together they have survived the toughest of times but their soul and indomitable spirit shine through.

“Sierra Leone is shaking off the shackles of its grim past. It deserves a new narrative.” Credit: GETTY

How to do it

Rainbow Tours (020 8131 8473; rainbowtours.co.uk) offers an eight-night trip to Sierra Leone with return international flights on Brussels Airlines from £2,795pp sharing. The price includes two nights in Freetown, two nights at Tacugama, two nights at Tiwai Island, one night at Banana Islands, and one night at Tokeh (all on a B&B basis except at Tiwali island, which is full board), plus all transfers and activities including a trip to Bunce Island.

 

Link to this article https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/sierra-leone/articles/sierra-leone-tourism-safari-beaches/

 

Why Sierra Leone should go straight to the top of your must-visit list

Everyone wanted to believe they’d just seen a pygmy hippo. We’d paused our kayaks after a greyish backside was spotted swishing into the forest.

There are fewer than 200 pygmy hippos in Sierra Leone and they’re no easy sighting – but around 80 per cent of them are found in this area. Then again, as someone said later, it could’ve been a pig.

This is Tiwai Island, part of Gola Rainforest National Park in the southeast of Sierra Leone. A six-hour drive from the capital Freetown, its 12 square miles are home to 11 primate species in a setting as serene and green as any.

“Wildlife-viewing isn’t easy,” our guide Kenewa Korona says, “but we have bushbabies, red colobus and green monkeys, black-and-white colobus, sooty mangabeys.”

We do spot red colobus, their exuberant mating session drowning out everything else.

This is one of Sierra Leone’s most promising ecotourism spots. Eight local communities and assorted environmental organisations own or manage Tiwai, but there’s still a way to go. This nation remains synonymous with the 1991-2002 civil war and the blood diamonds that funded it, but that conflict ended 17 years ago. Then, in 2013, came Ebola. “We had researchers here before,” says Korona. “Fewer after the war. After Ebola, almost none.”

Sierra Leone has been Ebola-free for more than three years. Now, under a new government and rejuvenated tourism ministry, there are concerted efforts to get tourism – particularly community tourism – right. At Kambama village, where boats depart for Tiwai, a rarity occurs: a cultural performance that doesn’t invite squirming. The dancing is joyful, the vibe warm, and there’s laughter and chat between us as each element of the ritual dances is explained.

Later that week, in the northern town of Kabala, two village chiefs would give us their blessing to climb the sacred Wara Wara mountain, a moderate hike rewarded by freshly tapped “poyo” palm wine on the way up, panoramic views and, on our descent, traditional dance and acrobatics in the village square before overdosing on cassava, spicy jollof rice, cold beers and 1980s pop in a local bar.

More established than Tiwai is the vast, RSPB-managed Gola Rainforest National Park, the country’s best protected, where there’s been greater investment into lodges, rangers and guides. Wildlife doesn’t appear on-tap at Sierra Leone’s “green diamond”, but you might see habituated Diana monkeys, red colobus and the picathartes bird, one of 333 bird species clocked here. And, if you’re very lucky (or have tired eyes), possibly a pygmy hippo.

A game changer is Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in the Western Area, south of Freetown. During a recent visit by primatologist Jane Goodall, the government declared the chimpanzee the national symbol and face of tourism, replacing diamonds. “This is great for us,” says Aram Kazandjian, Tacugama’s pioneering new manager. “We’re Sierra Leone’s only chimp sanctuary. Around 5,500 wild western chimpanzees remain in the country; they’re critically endangered because of deforestation, logging, encroachment, poaching.”

On the tour (you can overnight here too in treehouse-style lodges), we meet Mama P, a human “surrogate” mum who provides orphaned baby chimps the TLC they need until they turn four. She’s currently swaddling nappy-clad, seven-month-old baby Caesar, who’s gazing at her and touching her nose. Can we hug him? No. What’s it like when your babies leave this enclosure? “I feel sad,” says Mama P. “But I visit when I can.”

“We have a moral obligation to protect chimps,” adds Kazandjian. “They share 98.6 per cent of our DNA and display similar emotional traits. And they love peanuts and popcorn.” Kazandjian is also helping to develop Sierra Leone’s first ecotourism circuit, working with rural communities to promote conservation and sustainable travel around the country.

For all the focus on wildlife, diamonds remain big business; the mining industry in the east is huge. Around the diamond-rich cities of Kenema and Koidu, trades such as farming and carpentry were mostly ditched after gems were discovered in the 1930s. A shame, says tourism expert Bashir Koroma. “We have arable soil, perfect for cassava, pumpkin, corn, bananas. But governments invest more in mining.” It recalls a school song a previous guide sang to us. “We are all going to our classes with clean hands and faces/To pay great attention to what we are told/Or we shall never be happy and clever/For learning is better than silver and gold.”

But the diamond industry is based on hope, one mine-owner tells us. For most, it’s a hard slog, riches reserved for the few, but equally, it’s no longer funding war – many are keen to redirect this “conflict diamond” narrative.

Other narratives need to be shouted from the rooftops, retold, then told again. A boat ride from Freetown is Bunce Island, a place that should be on every history curriculum. From the 17th to 19th centuries, Freetown was one of the biggest hubs for the Atlantic slave trade. Bunce Island, built by a British slave-trading company (Sierra Leone was a British colony from 1808 until its independence in 1961), was where some 50,000 African slaves made the treacherous journey to the Caribbean, and Georgia and South Carolina in the US; many African-Americans can trace their ancestry back here.

Freetown itself is a chaotic, heritage-rich, coastal capital, a towering 400-year-old cotton tree marking its centre, with historic churches, Krio architecture built by the descendants of freed slaves, and souvenir haven Big Market. Its National Museum, which has an excellent Bunce Island exhibition, and the murals and statues of the Peace and Cultural Monument, are good introductions to key players and events in Sierra Leonean history – including the arrival of the first free slaves in 1787 and the founding of today’s “Freetown” five years later.

It’s a fun city too. Along Lumley Beach Road are scores of beach bars and restaurants, and the Freetown Peninsula extending into the mountain-backed Western Area is beach heaven; River Number Two, Tokeh and Mama Beach are some of the choice spots for the country’s higher-end hotels, a Star beer and fresh fish. Off the mainland is Banana Island, keen to welcome tourism, with diving, hikes, beach lodges and community-led tours of its slave-outpost history.

Like many places emerging from a troubled period, life isn’t always easy for its residents. Tourism can help but it’s certainly not the sole answer. But for many visitors, crowd-free hiking, untouristy towns, decent roads, wildlife in varying doses, a capital bursting with history, chimps and beaches will prove irresistible. Like the diamond that’s long symbolised its wealth and woes, Sierra Leone is sparkling again.

Ministry of tourism and cultural affairs and National Tourist Board welcome German and Swiss Press Team on a Tourism Familiarization to Sierra Leone.

Ministry of tourism and cultural affairs and National Tourist Board welcome German and Swiss Press Team on a Tourism Familiarization to Sierra Leone.
The Press team from Germany and Switzerland visit to Sierra Leone is as a result of the aggressive tourism positioning pursued by the dynamic leadership at the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and its sub vented agency National Tourist Board to promote Sierra Leone International (ITB BERLIN 2019) being one of such venture that has yielded this visit.

ITB Berlin is the most popularly attended Travel and Trade Show in Europe by the crème de la crème of tourism worldwide.
The display and engagement of sector players on the potentials of tourism Sierra Leone exhibits outside of the continent is critical to image rebranding process of a competitive and multidisciplinary industry.
The Press team will be in Sierra Leone for seven days familiarizing themselves with our rich, unique and authentic tourism destination, scaling for themselves our niche that will be promoted in the global tourism sphere (destination marketing) a key driver or pull factor that informs tourism growth.
Tourism can contribute substantially to developing the people of our country as it is a highly labour intensive industry accommodating a wide spectrum of skilled and semiskilled labour thus the importance been placed on tourism by government as a priority sector and conduit for economic diversification.
The Acting General Manager National Tourist Board in her opening highlighted the exigency placed by the Ministry to domestically and internationally market Sierra Leone’s vantage tourism potential in the global market. Our engagements gave birth to the historic visit of a German and Swiss Press led by our agent KPRN to get an empirical research of the destination, a critical data that destination marketing Companies will rely on as magnets of travel choice to prospective tourists.
Sierra Leone has strong potentials for tourism development which is the crux of the Fam Tour. It has excellent beaches and islands, mountains and rich biodiversity, interesting wildlife, friendliness and rich social and cultural capital packaged as a surprising tourism destination.
The German Ambassador to Sierra Leone Horst Gruner in his statement welcoming the team emphasized that within a short stay in Sierra Leone, he can authoritatively state that the country is a fantastic tourist destination little known worldwide but with special qualities that will magnetize any visitor. He reiterated that Sierra Leone is a gem for tourists globally that may want to see new trends in the industry.
Such visit by journalists from Europe is a major effort in generating interest and impressions outside of the country which is a viable platform for partnership, trade, investment and the tourism promotion.
Dr. M’baimba Lamin Baryoh the Sierra Leone Ambassador to Germany in his submission noted, that Sierra Leone is ripe for tourism bearing in mind the indicators of political stability, political will to support and leverage the tourism infrastructure for the transformation of the sector.
Germany and Sierra Leone enjoy friendship over decades but tourism is opening new frontiers of development worthy of effective collaboration and entreat the team to be brand ambassadors of our tourism globally.
Sierra Leone under this government is positioning the country as a viable global trade partner that attracts investment in priority sectors tourism being key.
Hanna Kleber is head of KPRN network one of the leading communication, public relation and marketing agencies for the travel industry and Sierra Leone’s tourism representative in Germany and Switzerland also leads the Familiarization mission to Sierra Leone.
My passion for the continent of Africa to realize a valuable market share of the tourism value especially that Sierra Leone to benefits from the tremendous tourism potential is critical to the data sought by this Fam Visit says Hannah.
Knowing well the industry the government inherited, various strides were facilitated by a dedicated team in the ministry and its sub vented agency to upscale our tourism marketing and promotion internationally by attending significant Trade Fairs and Exhibitions thus rebranding Sierra Leone a success we are feeling tonight by this Fam Visit of German and Swiss Press says Madam Memunatu Pratt Sierra Leone’s Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs.
Relaunching Sierra Leone in the global competitive tourism sphere requires a framework developed to match our competitors. That experiential model for travel agents, tour operators and other tourism professionals is Familiarization Visit/Trip or Tours. The visit to Sierra Leone constitute the promotion of the host destination directly to selected and targeted tourism pro’s that are given empirical experience of the vantage pedestal that the specific destination offerings to visitors.

 

GERMAN PRESS TEAM IN SIERRA LEONE

The German and Swiss Press Team explore Bunce Island Slave Castle as part of their Familiarization Visit to asses the tourism potential of Sierra Leone

The team is hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and National Tourist Board.

The group is in Sierra Leone to conduct an empirical and experiential tour of our nation’s rich, unique, and authentic tourism potential that most people refer to as unexplored.

A composite of palm-fringed pristine beaches with hot water for sports and relaxation, breathtaking mountains, tropical rain forests known as the ‘green diamond’ of Sierra Leone and our diverse and vibrant living heritage.

These exemplified resources speak to the character of the nation as one of the most tourism seductive destinations in West Africa that ‘Fam Tours’ like this help to market and promote in a globally competitive industry like tourism that the country is gearing up for.

The Bunce Island Tour conducted by Monuments and Relics Commission for the Press Team is predicated on the fact that it is one of Sierra Leone’s important heritage resource proclaimed in 1948 as National Monument with conservation remit.

The slave fort in the Sierra Leone River is a testament to the monumental significance of the Upper Guinea Coast as a strategic slave export region from the mid 18th Century to the abolition period of the 19th Century.

Bunce Island Slave Castle is a site with great tourism potential especially cultural heritage/root tourism and a channel to mass educate people globally (our African Diaspora included) about the intersection of Sierra Leone specifically and broader Africa and the wider Atlantic world during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade era.

The destination marketing and promotion of the tourism resources after this visit by the team, will further espouse Bunce Island’s Outstanding Universal Value around the world.

Francis Musa Momoh
Research and Development Officer
Monuments and Relics Commission

THE NEW YORK UNIVERSITY HOST SIERRA LEONE’S MINISTER OF TOURISM

THE NEW YORK UNIVERSITY HOST SIERRA LEONE’S MINISTER OF TOURISM

Today the 8th May 2019, the New York University hosted the Sierra Leone Minister of Tourism and Culture- Madam Memunatu B. Pratt to throw experience and expert on the topic “Knowledge Sharing on Sustainable Tourism Development.

The New York University is a private research university originally founded in New York City but now with campuses and locations throughout the world. Founded in 1831.

The Minister of Tourism and Culture was invited to share knowledge on this topic, because this has been her drive since inception: that is sustainable Tourism development with an acute phase of Tourism Governance.

With other experts from the very University on the panel, the Minister of Tourism shared her technical experience on the topic with both academic and practical approach on the topic.

Her main point of discussion was centered on: Using Tourism Governance to uplift Sustainable Tourism Development in countries around the world. She pinned point with her case study Sierra Leone, she was able to convey to the message of sustainability using the right Human knowledge capacity.

The Minister cited according to UNWTO: “Over the last decades, tourism has experienced continued growth and increased diversification, becoming one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. The business volume of tourism today equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles, offering millions of direct entry points into the workforce, particularly for youth and women, and a diversity of investment opportunities for young entrepreneurial talents. Tourism has become one of the major sectors in international trade, at the same time representing one of the main income sources for many developing countries. It is their only service sector with recorded surpluses in trade compared to the rest of the world.”

Against this background she built her opinion that Tourism alone can suffice other sectors, only if countries can manage the challenges and activities of the modern trend