Travel And Tourism In Sierra Leone Is A Hot Topic

Slavery & war. a​ negative view of​ what is​ in​ fact an​ exceptionally positive country. Today,​ I see Sierra Leone from an​ entirely different perspective.

Until a​ few days ago,​ if​ you​ had asked me to​ tell you​ about Sierra Leone,​ I would have had to​ think long & hard to​ tell you​ much about this West African country. I could probably have explained roughly where the​ country is​ located. I may have mentioned something about the​ slave trade being connected to​ Sierra Leone. I could certainly have told you​ that they had experienced a​ brutal civil war. I might even have admitted that I wasn't entirely sure whether the​ war was 100% over. & that is​ about it.

The conflict was officially declared over in​ January 2002,​ & President Kabbah reelected in​ May 2002. Since then,​ the​ people of​ Sierra Leone have been pulling together to​ repair,​ renew & regenerate.

it is​ difficult to​ ignore Sierra Leone's history & focus purely on​ the​ present. one time a​ fertile area inhabited by dozens of​ tribes,​ it​ was settled by the​ Portuguese in​ the​ 1400's who built a​ fort as​ a​ trading post for gold,​ spices,​ ivory & slaves. a​ British protectorate in​ later years,​ Sierra Leone had the​ dubious honour of​ becoming home to​ over 40,​000 freed slaves who gave Freetown its name. as​ a​ protectorate,​ Sierra Leone was exploited for its mineral & diamond wealth in​ the​ 1900's & Sierra Leonean's fought against the​ Germans in​ Cameroon in​ the​ First World War,​ & alongside the​ British in​ the​ Second World War. in​ 1961,​ Sierra Leone achieved independence from Britain & governed itself peacefully for 30 years. the​ peace was not to​ last & was followed by a​ decade of​ brutal civil war that destroyed the​ economy,​ brutalised the​ people & left a​ country that is​ rich in​ resources as​ one of​ the​ poorest in​ the​ world.

Whilst doing research for a​ old website looking at​ travel & tourism in​ Sierra Leone,​ I came into contact with Sierra Leoneans from all manner of​ backgrounds living in​ both Sierra Leone & elsewhere. Their passion for the​ country was infectious: they clearly wanted to​ get the​ message across that Sierra Leone has far more to​ offer than a​ sad recent history & that reconstruction is​ moving ahead at​ a​ speedy pace. & indeed,​ proof of​ reconstruction is​ everywhere - old roads are being built,​ mines are being re-opened,​ dam projects started before the​ war are one time again underway,​ markets are one time again thriving & humming with life. there's also a​ great deal of​ confidence in​ Sierra Leone's potential as​ a​ tourist location: a​ Chinese company has recently invested a​ reputed US$270 million in​ the​ hotel infrastructure; enterprising companies like Kevin McPhillips Travel (based in​ the​ UK,​ USA & the​ Netherlands) offer exclusive six times weekly flights to​ Sierra Leone; African Tour specialists are researching viable package holidays in​ the​ region. the​ exciting thing about investment in​ Sierra Leone is​ that more is​ set to​ follow!

they have a​ right to​ be confident. the​ beaches along Sierra Leone's golden peninsula are said to​ be one of​ the​ world's best kept secrets. Secluded,​ tidy & stretching for miles on​ end,​ beach tourism is​ one of​ the​ top items on​ the​ government's tourism promotion agenda. Beaches with British names like Kent,​ Lumley,​ Sussex & York mix with more African names like Bureh Town,​ Tokey & Mammah beach,​ &

Although many of​ the​ forests & much of​ the​ wildlife has been disturbed & in​ some cases,​ destroyed,​ by the​ war,​ eco-tourism is​ an​ important focus of​ Sierra Leoneans & natural treasures like Outamba-Kilimi National Park,​ populated by game animals such as​ elephants,​ chimpanzees & pigmy hippos,​ & Mount Bintimani,​ the​ highest point in​ West Africa,​ are six of​ the​ worthwhile wildlife attractions on​ offer. Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary rescues orphaned & captured chimps & has been described as​ one of​ the​ most successful Sierra Leonean wildlife endeavours,​ whilst Tiwai Island is​ home to​ over 3000 chimps as​ well as​ other game.

Lakes,​ rivers & dams are perfect for picnics & relaxing. the​ marshlands hide a​ myriad of​ colourful birds - indeed,​ the​ bird life has been less affected by the​ war than the​ animals,​ & everywhere you​ go,​ the​ air is​ filled with birdsong. Sierra Leone is​ a​ bird-watchers dream! Tiwai Island for one boasts over 135 different bird species!

For culture vultures & those with historical interests,​ the​ remnants of​ the​ slave trade make interesting & though-provoking expeditions. Bunce Island,​ a​ slave trading fortress,​ is​ a​ brief boat trip up the​ river; Freetown is​ itself a​ monument to​ freed slaves & its Cotton Tree,​ which stands in​ the​ heart of​ what is​ thought to​ be an​ old slave market,​ is​ now an​ impressive national symbol. Graves,​ monuments & forts are all that remain of​ British & Portuguese power in​ Sierra Leone: each has a​ tale to​ tell. There are over 16 different ethnic groups in​ the​ country,​ including the​ Krio,​ descendents of​ freed slaves who speak an​ English-based Creole called Krio,​ & visiting villages & chatting to​ people in​ markets & in​ the​ streets is​ rewarding for all parties!

Freetown is​ probably the​ most developed of​ the​ cities,​ offering a​ level of​ safety that is​ difficult to​ match even in​ Western countries. Hotels,​ restaurants & nightspots are sprouting like mushrooms,​ & eating out in​ Sierra Leone promises a​ range of​ traditional & international treats,​ & seafood that is​ beyond belief!

For travellers in​ search of​ a​ "diamond in​ the​ rough",​ Sierra Leone offers a​ holiday like no other - my only advice to​ you​ is​ to​ visit sooner than later,​ to​ avoid what is​ sure to​ be a​ stampede one time holiday-makers & tour operators latch on​ to​ this gem of​ a​ location.


One has to​ wonder what attraction will tip the​ scales in​ making Sierra Leone the​ popular location that it​ one time was before the​ civil war. Based on​ my experiences with Sierra Leoneans in​ recent weeks,​ I feel that it​ will be the​ people who make the​ difference. Without exception,​ every Sierra Leonean that i have met or​ worked with has been proud of​ their country,​ proud of​ its progress & excited about the​ future. they are unfailingly welcoming,​ greeting aid-workers & travellers alike with smiles that you​ can only find in​ Africa,​ with an​ optimism - no,​ positivity - that other countries would do well to​ emulate.
Travel And Tourism In Sierra Leone Is A Hot Topic Travel And Tourism In Sierra Leone Is A Hot Topic Reviewed by Henda Yesti on August 22, 2018 Rating: 5

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