“You’re going to Sierra Leone? Why you going there? They kill people today there!”
These had been the precise words the lady in the bank stated (much more like shrieked, really) to me when I went to spend for my Sierra Leone visa.
“I’m certain I’ll be fine,” I replied with a smile. It is not the 1st time an individual has stated a thing like that to me and I’m certain it will not be the final.
Tiny is written about Sierra Leone without the need of references to the Civil War (1991 – 2002), the Ebola Epidemic (2014 – 2016) or the film Blood Diamond.
I am, myself just naming cliches right here, but these are the 1st 3 issues people today mention when you inform them about to go to Sierra Leone. Typically preceded by the query “Isn’t it risky there?”
I’d wanted to go to Sierra Leone for years and I was due to go in 2014, but of course, that trip was cancelled when the Ebola outbreak occurred and I ended up going back to Kenya and Tanzania rather.
But Sierra Leone has been on my thoughts ever considering that and so I came up with a program for the 1st Rock My Sierra Leone Adventure.
It was a ‘pioneer trip’ for Rock My Adventure and I was joined by six intrepid ladies.
3 of the girls had travelled with Rock My Adventure prior to (to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda & the DRC and South Africa, eSwatini & Mozambique – two had been on their third trip with me), so they type of knew what they had been having themselves in for, a single was a fairly seasoned Africa traveller (who dislikes tours) and two had by no means been to Africa or accomplished something like this prior to, speak about jumping in the deep finish!
But they place their faith in me to give them an awesome trip and I wasn’t about to let them down.
Sierra Leone is incredibly distinctive than what most people today picture.
Yes, there are nevertheless some concerns, but I identified the Sierra Leone I visited to be stunning, vibrant, friendly, unspoilt and complete of prospective. I felt incredibly secure as well.
The locals get in touch with it ‘Sweet Salone’ and now, so do I. I consider we all fell a tiny bit in appreciate with this nation.
I’d heard that Sierra Leone wasn’t precisely the easiest location for a solo traveller, and now obtaining travelled to most of the key ‘tourist hot spots’, I’d possibly agree to that.
Of course, it is probable to travel independently in Sierra Leone, but you can not evaluate it to travelling in East or Southern Africa, in terms of tourist infrastructure. There are not quite a few backpacker hostels and I’d say a lot of the hotels are overpriced for what they are.
If you are seeking to meet mates to travel with, then you may perhaps struggle.
Positive, we went in the shoulder season, but I consider we only met a single other individual (a German girl) who was really on ‘holiday’, in the entire time we had been there, and she was going to with her Sierra Leonian dad (who now lived abroad).
The other people today we met had been either neighborhood Sierra Leonians, expats, company travellers or Sierra Leonians who now lived in elsewhere, returning dwelling to see family members (generally recognisable by the massive bags of stuff they had been bringing dwelling for ‘Auntie’).
We didn’t meet any other backpackers/vacationers, so if that is what you are seeking for, then you could possibly be disappointed.
Even the locals we met seemed a bit confused as to why we had been there.
“You reside in Freetown?”
“No, we’re just on vacation.”
“Here on company?”
“No, we’re just on vacation.”
“Which NGO do you perform for?”
“No, we’re just on vacation.”
“Holiday in Sierra Leone?”
I had this conversation, or some variant of it, possibly at least a couple of instances a day.
Personally, regardless of getting a fairly properly-seasoned solo traveller, I was definitely glad to have been travelling in a compact (and incredibly great) group. Not simply because it was intimidating or something like that, but simply because it was much more exciting and less costly.
We got to do issues that would have been definitely tricky and high priced if we’d been on our personal.
And I couldn’t have asked for improved travel companions.
We had been all ready for the truth that the trip could possibly be a bit rough and prepared, and in some areas, it was, but that was all aspect of the appeal for all of us.
Travelling in Sierra Leone felt like a actual adventure. An old college, crazy, unpredictable and exciting adventure.
I looked as although I’d been dragged via a hedge for half the trip and I recall at a single point, right after a specifically hot evening hike via the jungle, taking off my major to get into bed and acquiring a pair of termite wings (no termite, just it is wings) stuck to my sweaty stomach. Beautiful.
Points weren’t generally great, but the ideal travel adventures by no means are. And… Oh. My. God. We laughed so a great deal.
Hands down, a single of the ideal trips of my life.
Oh, the issues we did…
Sailing across the Atlantic to the remote Turtle Islands, meeting the neighborhood people today, consuming fresh fish and coconuts, camping out on the beach (with no toilets), having into what we affectionately referred to as ‘Beef With the Chief’ (I’ll clarify that a different time)…
Shakin’ what our mama’s gave us in a neighborhood village…
Acquiring invited to a boat launch on the Banana Islands, exactly where we stated prayers, threw meals, whiskey and income into the boat (if you watch my Instagram Stories, you will see how bonkers that was), got baptised by the neighborhood minister (nevertheless not definitely certain how that even occurred)…
Cruising down the stunning River Moa, in the middle of a rainforest in a dugout canoe (and swimming in there as well)…
Partying in Freetown…
Staying in tree homes and seeing the chimps at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary…
Chilling and surfing on the stunning beaches of the Freetown Peninsular…
Mastering about the history of Freetown, the slave trade and the distinctive tribes of Sierra Leone…
Getting waaaay as well quite a few of these baskets then obtaining to carry them about with me…
Taking the world’s (I’m guessing) shortest ‘ferry ride’ – we believed we had been getting sailed down the river, rather, I swear we went about 10 metres across to the other aspect of the beach…
Hiking via the jungle…
Here’s what the girls believed:
“I had an awesome time on the Rock My Adventure, Sierra Leone trip. I commonly appreciate to travel solo, but I knew a nation with as handful of vacationers as Sierra Leone would be lonely to travel and tricky to program (specially in a restricted time frame). Rock My Adventure was exceptional simply because it seemed much more like a bunch of adventurous mates traveling with each other to a location exactly where no a single else we know wanted to go, rather than on a strict inflexible tour. Helen produced the not possible probable: developing a exciting, adventurous itinerary for a compact group of people today in a nation that is not but prepared for vacationers. We had been not only in a position to see a lot of the nation but also to encounter the type of “unexpected adventures” much more prevalent to solo travel – all inside a two week period, a feat that would most likely have been pretty much not possible to achieve alone. I consider you definitely nailed the “Flashpacker” notion. The Rock My Adventure Sierra Leone tour was definitely specific and I can not wait to attempt the subsequent location. This is a exceptional tour and I hugely advocate it” (Pamela, USA)
“Helen you had been a fantastic and organised group leader while nevertheless immersing oneself as just a single of the group. I wanted a trip that would give me new experiences and adventures led by an individual committed and trusted to provide this in a compact friendly group. This was precisely what I got. I generally felt secure. The truth that various other group members had previously accomplished trips and had been back to encounter a different trip speaks for itself. I am currently seeking at other trips to go on.” (Sue, UK)
“This trip is a correct “off the beaten path” adventure. It was almost everything I hoped for. I loved completely almost everything we did! I loved the wide variety of the landscapes we visited, from chaotic and colourful Freetown to the steaming jungles of Tiwai to the glorious warm waters of the shoreline, there is so a great deal to encounter in Sierra Leone. Some of the areas felt definitely remote and due to the lack of tourism, it was a incredibly genuine encounter. I will by no means overlook my dance-offs with the Temne females of Rogbonko and the Mende of Tiwai. Without the need of speaking we understood every single other and had exciting. These are definitely valuable moments. Nature was spectacular and simply because we had camping and ecolodge accommodation, I could really feel definitely at a single with the planet about me. Seeking up at a star-strewn sky at Turtle Island while going for a nighttime pee was stunning. I will by no means overlook the glorious complete moon lighting up the midnight clouds more than Tiwai Island, or the lazy green river Moa snaking its way via the jungle, flanked by yellow sand. Sierra Leone is fortunate to have a great quantity of untouched nature preserved and I urge every person to go and see this hidden gem.” (Katja, Germany)
“The trip exceeded my expectations and it was precisely what I had hoped it would be! It is provided me the travelling encounter I felt I missed out on by not obtaining a gap year when I was younger and has also provided me the self-assurance to have adventures of my personal! I completely loved going to Sierra Leone with Rock My Adventure and I would absolutely advocate any of the tours to my mates! Obtaining by no means accomplished any travel in Africa prior to and obtaining only ever travelled with people today I currently knew, to say I was anxious at the begin of the trip was a total understatement. Even so, inside a handful of hours I couldn’t have been happier and by the finish of the trip not only had my self-assurance grown immeasurably but I had also produced six mates for life. This trip exceeded all my expectations by far and I have produced the most amazing memories that I absolutely will not overlook! The hardest point now is how to make a decision which tour to book next…” (Debbie, UK)
“I’ve been on two Rock My Adventure tours previously, but I didn’t definitely know what to anticipate from Sierra Leone. But it was completely awesome and a single of my ideal ever holidays. It felt like a suitable adventure. I loved that it was a bit unknown for all of us – it felt like a genuine adventure with a group of mates.” (Vicki, UK)
“This is the third Rock My Adventure tour I have accomplished. I preserve coming back for much more simply because Helen delivers precisely what I want from travel, to immerse myself in neighborhood culture and encounter what that nation has to give. This is not just a vacation it is a lifetime encounter, a possibility to challenge oneself and definitely see the actual “Africa” of what ever nation you make a decision to go to. Sierra Leone was my major bucket list location for private factors and what a nation to go to. I can not advocate Rock My Adventure much more, I’ve met some awesome people today, produced mates for life, skilled the highs and lows of African travel and loved each and every second. Do not consider about these trips as well lengthy, just book a single, I guarantee you will not regret it!” (Karen, UK)
And me? What do I consider of Sierra Leone? I bloody appreciate it and can not wait to go back. Far more posts on the way quickly!
Have any concerns about travelling in Sierra Leone? Leave them in the comments under!
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What to encounter Sierra Leone for oneself? Then come with us on the subsequent Rock My Sierra Leone Adventure taking location in late January/early February 2020!