SIERRA LEONE & LIBERIA
Be among the elite of international travellers that have discovered the les least visited countries in West Africa.
In Freetown and Monrovia the Kriol culture has expressed a unique architecture and symbols of power in the countries of the freed slaves.
Freetown, a large and colorful town; capital of Sierra Leone the first British colony in Africa with the oldest university in this part of the continent.
Monrovia is the capital of the oldest independent republic in Africa. Liberia has never been a colony, already in 1847 was ruled by a Black president, the Afro-American Roberts born in Virginia and part of the Kriol settlers, considered the founders of the nation.
Discover Freetown peninsula where the forest frame the more spectacular beaches of West Africa and Banana Island is a pristine paradise. Discover secret diamond seekers sites. Witness the animistic ceremonies of the women secret society and a rare female masks dance.
DAY 1: FREETOWN Sierra Leone
Arrival at Lungi airport, car and ferry transfer to Freetown
DAY 02: FREETOWN PENINSULA, A LONG HISTORY Sierra Leone
Freetown origins: in 1786 the first three hundred and eighty freed African slaves arrived in Sierra Leone from America where they have fought in the independence war on the side of the British. After having lost the war the British sent them to Sierra Leone and created the first freed slave settlements. Few months after their arrival, the newcomers were starving, got new and unknown diseases and fought with the locals, who could hardly stand them. A few years after the Napoleonic war, Freetown was displaying the British flag and had been attacked by seven vessels of the French navy and destroyed. Few survivors escaped on the pirogues sent by the slave’s traders.
From 1807, due to the abolition of the slave trade by the British Empire, the ships of the slave’s traders caught by the British navy freed the slaves in Sierra Leone.
In 1808 Freetown became the capital of the first British colony in tropical Africa. At that time the Krio peoples, or ex slaves, were more than 50,000, creating an elite class who put pressure on the administration for better education. In 1845 “Fourah Bay” the first University in West Africa was built. During Colonial time Freetown was known as the “Athens of West Africa”.
Afternoon drive along the coast at the slopes of the Freetown peninsula mountains, only the yellow of the beaches divide the green of the forest from the blue of the ocean. The country has been named after these mountains, the Sierra (mountains) of lion. A local boat will bring us to Banana Island.
Day 03: BANANA ISLAND Sierra Leone
Full day circumnavigating, exploring and walking to discover a pristine paradise such as mountains, large primary forests, villages and remote beaches. For the more active traveller’s a half day hike in the forest or continue the circumnavigation of the island.
Day 04: BUNDO: FEMALE MASKS Sierra Leone
Brief navigation, to join our 4WD vehicles and departure in the north east direction.
In most parts of Africa, the masks are male’s prerogative, however among the Mende people and neighbouring populations the masks Bundo are a female’s domain and they have a crucial role in girls puberty rites. In a tiny village we will experience the exit of these masks, an event that calls for the participation of a colorful crowd.
Day 05: RAW DIAMONDS Sierra Leone – Liberia
We will leave in the morning for a full day dedicated to diamonds.
Diamond seeking is as addictive as gambling and the possibility of finding a “fortune” becomes true just for the few most lucky. Diamonds have played an important role in the past civil war. The quantity and quality of “stones” still to find is important. We will follow a track to reach a village with huts made by clay and straw. After greeting the chief, some villagers will take us to the site where we can meet the diamonds’ seekers in action. A villager will explain us the technics of artisanal mining and “sand washing”. A spectacular road in the forest will bring us to the Mano River and to the border with Liberia. After the formalities, we will continue to reach Monrovia in the evening.
Day 06: “LIBERIA”: THE LAND OF FREEMEN Liberia
Liberia is the only African country which has never been either a colony or a protectorate; Liberia was founded by Krio, freed slaves who came back to Africa from the USA and for this reason was named “Liberia”. Krio are 5% of the population and they are the main actors of the economy and politics, they are considered the creator of the Nation and of the modern economy . 80% of the population speaks the local Krio language, a sort of American-English “Pidgin”. Our ocean-view hotel is the right starting point to have an interesting walking-visit of the town. Freemasonry had a great impact on the history of Liberia and Krio culture, visit of the Grand Masonic Temple imposing building, and if we’re lucky, meeting with the Grand Master. A symbol of Monrovia is what left of the Ducor Palace Hotel, inaugurated in 1960 was one of the first five stars in Africa. Located on a rocky hill in the highest point of Monrovia, dominate the whole town and the gulf. The hotel hosted social events and parties of the African elites at the effervescent time of independence. In the large swimming pool facing the ocean Idi Amin used to swim caring his gun at the belt while his friend Miriam Makeba was singing. After the civil war the building was looted several times, the hotel is now abandoned and closed, but seeking the right permission, we may be able to visit it. In 2008 the government made a deal with Ghaddafi to rebuild it, however the project, as many other Libyan development projects in Africa, never came to conclusion thanks to the regime change war that Europe and America started to overthrow Ghaddafi. The building of the National Museum is itself a display of Krio traditional architecture, within we discover a large collection of ancient masks and ritual objects. The visit includes a photographic show about the civil war which took place between 1989 and 2003. Old colonial buildings, stone Krio churches will be also part of this intriguing town visit.
Lunch and transfer to Roberts international airport.
EXPEDITION LEADERS: with long experience of West Africa, and knowledge of the regions and traditional cultures, assisted by local guides.
EXPLORATORY ITINERARY: This itinerary is an expedition; participants must be flexible and ready to enjoy the unique encounters, but also some unexpected situations that are part of the “African Experience”.
On land: on roads and forest tracks, we will drive in 4WD air-conditioned vehicles.
On water: fishermen boat to Banana island.
Yellow fever: mandatory.
Cholera: not required at the time of editing the program, please check before departure.
Malaria prophylaxis: absolutely recommended.
Sierra Leone: visa available at the airport (cost 100 USD). Please let us know in advance.
Liberia: single entry visa is required.
Lunches: cold meals (picnics) or restaurants.
Dinners: in the hotel restaurants. Vegetarian or specific meals are available on request, please contact us in advance.
HOTELS: carefully chosen, due to a possible lack of rooms’ availability in some hotels, the tour leader may have to replace hotels with others as similar as possible. Four stars hotels in the capitals and more. Best available hotels inland, always with air-conditioned rooms.
LUGGAGE: due to the nature of the itinerary please limit your personal luggage to 45lb (20 kg), soft sacs are recommended.
INSURANCE: mandatory for medical assistance (health care), repatriation, physical and material damages.
TransAfrica will not be held responsible for any material and physical damages during or in consequence of the tour.
Please discover an insurance policy proposal: https://transafrica.biz/en/travel-insurance-en/;
NOTICE: The itinerary is designed to experience fascinating places where foreigners hardly arrive. We need to be tolerant and flexible to fully appreciate the unique nature and wildlife, the spontaneous hospitality of the local populations, the African magic and mystery, the metaphysics, ceremonies, life philosophies and religious beliefs that people are willing to share with us.
Itineraries, visits, overnights and accommodations are subject to changes, improve and adapt to : tides time, recent experiences and news from the fields, force majeure. The changes are decided by the organizer. We are not responsible for any delays and cancellation due to external conditions.