Sierra Leone Overview
Sierra Leone spent the latter part of the 20th century embroiled in a decade-long civil war that finally finished in 2002. Since then, the country has begun to flourish, and life—which up until that point consisted of teenagers and others dying on a daily basis over lines on a map—has returned to some semblance of a civilized and structured society. The country has since begun to shine like the diamond it really is, and rightfully so; with plenty of rich forests and Atlantic Ocean coastline, this is a beautiful country of mountains, coasts, and lush forests just waiting to be explored.
The country is best left to veteran travelers at this point in time, given the fact that the tourist infrastructure has not yet had a chance to sufficiently establish itself for first-timers. Yellow fever vaccinations are required to even apply for a visa. English is the official language, although the interior will have a few tribes speaking their own version, which is an English-based Creole called Krio.
The best place to start exploring Sierra Leone, regardless of your status, is Freetown. This coastal town is a busting hive of nightlife and seaside development is rapidly transitioning into a nearly- indistinguishable-from-all-the-others resort town, complete with sandy beaches lined with palm trees and plenty of restaurants and accommodations to suit the need of the weariest traveler. In addition, there are plenty of hiking and swimming activities within reach, from the Outamba-Kilimi National Park to the beaches along the Freetown peninsula, or visitors can head out to Tiwai Island and the world-famous wildlife sanctuary.
While the infrastructure is still developing, the country is a far cry from the dangerous war zone that it was during the 1990s. While some precautions should be taken, the country is considered relatively safe, and with plenty of unexplored countryside available it should definitely be on every traveler’s agenda for the first half of the 21st century before everyone else gets here.