Sierra Leone - Forts, Chimps and Beaches
Sierra Leone - Forts, Chimps and Beaches
This small West African country is starting to emerge from the troubles of the past to offer curious travellers the opportunity to visit a beautiful and unique slice of the continent. One of the few operators to offer Sierra Leone, Undiscovered Destinations is immensely enthusiastic about the diverse attractions to be found here. Our tour starts in Freetown, packed with history and an easy going atmosphere, and visits the renowned slave fort at Bunce Island, scene of so much past misery but an integral part of the nation’s identity. We spend time at the remote Banana Islands, with their historic monuments and gorgeous scenery, visit a chimpanzee sanctuary and camp out on Tiwai Island, one of the country’s best areas for wildlife. Finally we spend time on Sierra Leone’s superb beaches – a perfect end to this trip.
Day 1 - Freetown
Arrive in Freetown and transfer to the hotel. After some time to freshen up, explore Freetown. Visit some of the main sites including the Maroon Church, Big Market and St George’s Cathedral. Overnight Sierra Lighthouse Hotel or similar.
Sierra Leone’s capital was founded back in 1792 by freed American slaves, one of the older sub Saharan African capital cities. Seeing much of the fighting in the country’s vicious civil war, Freetown is today rather dilapidated and run down – but in the right light, delightfully so. The city is divided into a number of different areas, many of them named after the groups of emancipated slaves that settled there. A number of historical monuments dot the city, including the Cotton Tree, which predates Freetown and is where slaves were once sold, the Slave Gate, and several churches dating back to the early 19th century.
Day 2 – Bunce Island - Tacugama - Freetown
This morning you head to Bunce Island. The island was established as a major slave trading fortress and castle in 1670 and is located approximately 20 miles upriver in the Freetown Harbour on the Sierra Leone River. Bunce Island is a powerful experience for anyone interested in the history of the country and the slave trade. After lunch you will visit the Tacugama Chimp Sanctuary, which is located about 40 minutes from the centre of Freetown. The Sanctuary was set up in 1995, and is committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees. The chimps enjoy a semi-wild life within the 100 acre reserve. Overnight Sierra Lighthouse Hotel or similar. (B)
Constructed by the British, the slave fort at Bunce Island is one of the largest on the West African coast. During the 17th and 18th centuries it held tens of thousands of slaves destined to be shipped out to America and the West Indies. Finally closed down by the British government in 1808, it remains a chilling place, and testament to the brutal trade that once haunted these shores. There are substantial ruins on the island including the remains of a factory, storehouse, prison and watchtowers.
Tacugama Chimp Sanctuary
The Tacugama Chimp Sanctuary was set up in 1995, and is committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees. The chimps enjoy a semi-wild life within the 100 acre reserve. The overall aim of the programme is to provide a home for confiscated and rescued chimps, while helping to stop the cruel and wasteful trade of the species - thus securing a future for the wild population. Closely related to humans, chimpanzees live in large communities headed up by an alpha male. Although they eat mainly fruit, there have been cases of them hunting monkeys in groups as well as using tools to catch termites. Once widely spread throughout Africa, their habitat has been reduced by deforestation and the encroachment of human settlements, and chimpanzees can now be found in twenty one countries.
Day 3 - Banana Islands
The Banana Islands lie south west of the Freetown Peninsula. The journey to the islands takes us about 2 hours by a combination of car and boat. Once here, you will be staying in a traditional eco-chalet with mod-cons. There is ample time for you to explore the Island and snorkel in the clear blue seas. Overnight eco-chalets. (BLD)
The Banana Islands are made up of three islands - Dublin Island, Ricketts Island and Mes Meheux, which is uninhabited. The scenery here is spectacular – think deserted beaches, lush rainforest and dramatic rock formations. The islands also host an array of historical monuments and ruins which act as testament to its murky past as a slaving station, including the remains of an old slave fort, colonial buildings, and ruined Anglican churches. The wildlife here includes a variety of reptiles, monkeys and birds, and the snorkelling here is superb, with excellent marine life and shipwrecks to explore.
Day 4 - Banana Islands
A leisurely day to take in the amazing array of fish, flowers and birds the island has to offer. You may get to meet some of the friendly local people who live on the island. Overnight eco-chalet. (BLD)
Day 5 - Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Drive to Tiwai, a unique rainforest island where visitors can camp in prepared tents surrounded by an evergreen forest and the sounds of hornbills and monkeys calling from the canopy. The flora and fauna to be found on Tiwai is stunning. Over 700 different plant species live on Tiwai and there are over 135 different bird species, including 8 types of hornbill. Overnight camping, Tiwai Island. (BLD)
All non alcoholic drinks and camping facilities are provided (tents, bed sheets/blankets)
*On occasions it may not be possible to visit Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary. On these occasions the trip will be replaced with Outamba-Kilimi National Park, which is equally as impressive.
Tiwai, which in the local Mende language means ‘big island’ is Sierra Leone’s first and so far only community conservation programme. It has an astonishing variety of wildlife with one of the highest concentration and diversity of primates in the world - 11 species including wild chimpanzees that use stones as hammers and tree roots as anvils to crack open hard nuts. Tiwai is also home to other intriguing animals such as the rarely seen pygmy hippopotamus, colobus monkeys, otters and the rare white-breasted guinea fowl.
Day 6 - Tiwai Island
We spend today exploring the area, walking through the forest, and travelling on the river by canoe and motorboat as we look for Tiwai’s wildlife. Overnight camping, Tiwai Island. (BLD)
Day 7 – Freetown
Transfer back to Freetown for your final night in Sierra Leone. Overnight Sierra Lighthouse Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 8 – Freetown
Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)
Tour style: Traveller
Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation on twin share basis
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
Any airport taxes
Please note that you should also read the Country Notes in association with this itinerary for practical information about your trip and the destination you will be visiting.
The itinerary and supplementary information has been compiled with care and provided in good faith. However it may be subject to change, and does not form part of a contract between the client and Undiscovered Destinations.