A visit to this tropical rain-forest is undoubtedly one of Sierra Leone’s wildlife highlights. Enriched by the lazily flowing waters of the Moa River you are immersed in the sights and sounds of this safe haven. There is some of the most diverse chimpanzee and monkey populations and more than 700 species of plants life, not to mention the elusive pygmy hippo, a squat little nocturnal beast found only in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The Gola Forest is the largest area of lowland rain forest remaining in Sierra Leone, and is one of the most important sites for the conservation of threatened wildlife in the country. The Gola Forest is the largest tract of closed canopy, lowland rain forest in Sierra Leone.
Arrive to Freetown’s Lungi International Airport, which is one of the world’s most uniquely-situated airports, located on the northern coast of the Freetown Estuary. On arrival, disembark and enter the arrivals hall for baggage reclaim. You will be met by a representative from VSL TRAVEL who will have a signboard with your name on it after customs.
Your experience begins shortly after arrival, with a river-trip of between one and 2.5 hours (depending on the point the animals have chosen to rest) taking you up alongside a pod of around 20 hippos. Here, you can observe the splashes and snorts of these huge animals as they surface, duck under and re-surface again… with perhaps a little trepidation that one isn’t going to pop up too close.
The work of the Sierra Leone Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Programme at Tacugama is definitely worth seeing. They started with a single chimpanzee and are now rehabilitating almost one hundred. There are tour tours at 10:30am and 4:00pm, 7 days a week and this can be easily combined with one of our city tours. The tours are timed to coincide with the feeding of the chimps which gives you the maximum opportunity to see the chimps in action. Tacugama is in Barthurst (20mins from downtown Freetown). Should you wish to stay longer, their eco-lodges are one of the most romantic places to spend the night in Sierra Leone.