Attractions in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone the west African Paradise ! Land of sun sea forests and the most hospitable people!
Land that gives love, and we love.
Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s known for the white-sand beaches lining the Freetown Peninsula. The capital city, Freetown, commemorates the nation’s slave-trade history with the Cotton Tree landmark and King’s Yard Gate. Both were known as places of refuge for returned slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nearby Bunce Island was a key departure point during the slave trade.
1.) Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
In the dense rainforest of Western Area National Park, Sri Lankan founder Bala created Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, a leafy, waterfall-framed hideaway set up with the purpose of rescuing and rehabilitating endangered primates, and in the process educating humans about one of our closest relatives. The passionate and committed staff offer twice-daily tours of the sanctuary, during which you’ll watch rescued chimps frolic in enclosures and spot those who have been released to a larger area in the mountains beyond.
‘Big Island’ in the Mende language, 12-sq-km Tiwai Island certainly packs a punch when it comes to its primate population. Set on the Moa River, the entire island is run as a conservation research project. There are over 700 different plant species, 11 species of primates – including Diana monkeys and chimpanzees – 135 bird species plus otters, sea turtles and the endangered, elusive pygmy hippopotamus.
There are two galleries inside the Sierra Leone National Museum – one housing a collection of cultural and historical artefacts, including Temne Guerrilla leader Bai Bureh’s drum, clothes and sword; and another devoted to temporary exhibitions (at the time of research a fascinating collection of photographs and documents detailing the city’s colonial past).
This wide sweep of beach has lost some of its atmosphere since the 2015 demolition of dozens of bamboo and thatch food shacks, and the numerous, ugly construction projects lining the beach road don’t add to its appeal. During the week it feels deserted, save for a few joggers pounding the paved beach walkway, but it comes into its own on weekends and public holidays, when Freetown’s residents come out to relax and party on the golden sands.
You don’t have to be a rail fan to enjoy this Clinetown museum, where enthusiastic staff guide you around a surprising collection of restored locomotives, including one commissioned for the Queen of England in 1961. Other attractions include a display of model trains, and fascinating photos of the glory days of the Sierra Leone railway. There’s also a small gift shop. Admission is free but donations are encouraged.
Attractions in Sierra Leone
The State House, up on Tower Hill and overlooking the downtown area, is an example of Freetown’s old Krio architecture, which features brightly washed buildings and higgledy-piggledy window frames. This building incorporates the bastions and lion gate from Fort Thornton (built at the turn of the 19th century).
Gutted by fire in 1999, only the stone shell of the Old Fourah Bay College remains, but this 1848 building is graceful even in its decay. The World Monuments Fund lists it as one of the world’s 100 most-endangered historic sites.
Sierra Leone’s most visited natural reserve is home to over 700 different plant species, 135 bird species (including eight species of hornbill), plus otters and sea turtles. Tiwai is most famous for its primate population – the forests are home to the striking black-and-white Diana monkey as well as chimpanzees. The endangered, elusive pygmy hippopotamus is also a resident here – of the estimated 2000 left in the wild, they are only found in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Côte D’Ivoire.
This is a beautiful tract of savannah and jungle, with very diverse wildlife. You’ll find primates such as chimpanzees, colobus monkeys and sooty mangabeys; hippos, bongo antelopes, buffalo, and perhaps even forest elephants, along with over 150 bird species.
A short hop from Tiwai Island, the Gola Rainforest National Park is home to an abundance of creatures great and small, from rare, intricately patterned butterflies to lost, lumbering forest elephants having a hard time locating the rest of their species (as in most parts of West Africa, their numbers are critically low). Multi-day forest walks and canoeing are some of the ways to take in the spectacle.
St John’s Maroon Church is a squat white building with big windows built around 1820. An example of the area’s Krio architecture, it was built by returned slaves from Jamaica. It’s located two blocks southwest of the Cotton Tree.
Dating back to the days of the slave trade, the bell was reputedly used to alert people to important events or emergencies. It is used for the same purpose today.
Attractions in Sierra Leone
The ancestors of nearly all present-day Krios passed through King’s Yard Gate, atop Tower Hill in the strategic military Martello Tower, built in 1805. Now the site of Connaught Hospital, this is where the British brought rescued slaves to begin their new lives, passing through King’s Yard Gate to await resettlement and medical care by the British. Many of these new arrivals climbed the nearby Old Wharf Steps, sometimes erroneously called the Portuguese Steps.
Freetown’s most famous landmark is the fat Cotton Tree, which looms large over the buildings of central Freetown. Rumoured to be hundreds of years old, it is said to have played a key role in the city’s history, when poor black settlers rested in its shadows after landing in Freetown in 1787.
The Old Wharf Steps, sometimes erroneously called the Portuguese Steps, lead up from Government Wharf. The stones were set in 1818. Many of the new arrivals brought here by the British to start a new life climbed these steps.
Over at the junction of Kissy Rd – known locally as ‘Up Gun’ community – you can see one of the three old boundary cannons that were used to mark the mapped-out limes of Freetown. It is believed to date back to about 1805.