Where to stay in Sierra Leone
There are a number of hotels in Sierra Leone of international standard with air conditioning and swimming pools, based in Freetown and its suburbs. It is always advisable to make reservations in advance. Additionally, there are luxury hotels located on the peninsula at Lakka and Tokay. Hotels in the interior are rare, although in Bo there is now a hotel which is of international standard. There are also government rest houses, for which application must be made to the Ministry of the Interior; guests must bring their own linen.
Options in Freetown include Country Lodge Hotel (www.countrylodgesl.com) which has a swimming pool and dining area overlooking Freetown’s Lumley Beach area and Aberdeen Creek. It is slightly pricey, but this is compensated by the location and VIP feel.
Family Kingdom (www.freewebs.com/family-kingdom-hotel) is another resort located near Lumley Beach and offers a variety of accommodation options with views on the main beach stretch. It has a restaurant, entertainment facilities and is near to many of the beach bars where you can sip on ‘sundowners’ whilst watching the locals play football on the beach.
In Bo, Hotel Madam Wokie (tel: 7692 1774 or 7660 0868) offers relatively good quality rooms with a nice restaurant serving local and European food. Sir Milton is also in the centre of Bo, and has an internet café, restaurant and good quality rooms.
Bed and breakfast
A number of guest houses can be found in Sierra Leone, with many located in and around Freetown, particularly in the Aberdeen neighbourhood. Lakka Beach Resort (www.lakkabeachresort.com) is a small guesthouse located on an island just off Lakka Beach. At a distance of 3-5km (2-3 miles) outside of Freetown, along the Peninsula, the resort is an idyllic place to rest away from the hustle and bustle of the capital.
Camping is uncommon but it can be done in Sierra Leone. Guma Dam campsite (www.guma-lagoon.com)is located high up by the Guma Reservoir, which provides a fresh water supply for Freetown, and was once a jungle warfare training ground for the Sierra Leone army. It is now a hotbed for birds both big and small, which makes it a paradise for birdwatchers.
Tours can be organised all through the year to join the campsite. For more information contact the River No. 2 community-run tourism project (http://rivernumbertwo.com), or the National Tourism Board (www.welcometosierraleone.sl).
Beaches along the peninsula are also a great option for camping. There are several options available like the white sandy stretches of River No.2, the sustainable tourism project at John Obey Beach (www.tribewanted.com), the secluded tropical paradise at Black Johnson Beach (www.jaysbar.net) or the backpackers’ hangout, complete with surf school, at Bureh Beach.
It is also possible to camp in local communities around Sierra Leone, providing that you visit the village chief first to ask him/her for their permission, with a gift (usually a Kola nut.)
Tiwai Wildlife Sanctuary (www.tiwaiisland.org) also offers camping possibilities in a jungle setting, from where you can explore the primary rainforest to look for chimpanzees, endangered monkeys and the elusive pygmy hippo.
The YMCA in Freetown offers clean, cheap accommodation with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities at a reasonable rate.
Wildlife-centred retreats and eco-tourism options are more limited than in some of Sierra Leone's neighbouring countries, but accommodation is available in lodges at Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary (www.tacugama.com) or in camping grounds at Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary.