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Travel to Sierra Leone

Flying to Sierra Leone

Flights to Sierra Leone depart from a variety of European and African destinations and are operated by several airlines. Carriers including Air France (www.airfrance.com) and Brussels Airlines (www.brusselsairlines.com). British Airways flights from the UK are currently suspended due to concerns about the public health situation in Sierra Leone.

Within Africa, Arik Air (www.arikair.com) flies to Sierra Leone directly from Lagos, Nigeria. Royal Air Maroc (www.royalairmaroc.com) flies from Casablanca.

Flight times

If arriving in Freetown after dark, you might want to spend the night in Lungi before continuing on to Freetown the next day, as you’ll have to cross the Rokel River to enter the capital. There are several options for crossing this waterway.

The best methods of transit can book up rapidly, so it’s best to make your arrangements in as far as possible in advance or as soon as possible after disembarking the plane.

A private speedboat charter is one of the more expensive ways to get to Freetown, albeit one of the most fun too. VSL Travel (www.vsltravel.com) can charter these. Journey time is around 20-30 minutes.

Water taxis (basically, large speedboats) and are one of the safest ways to transfer to Freetown.

The cheapest option and one popular with locals is to take the ferry to Freetown. Two ferries operate at scheduled times of day with a later ferry running in sync with the last flight.

Lastly, it is possible to drive from Lungi to Freetown via Port Loko, but the drive takes over four hours and makes more sense if you're heading up country rather than to Freetown. Hiring a car while in Lungi may be difficult, so it’s best to pre-arrange all transport whilst at the airport.

Airport Guides

Freetown-Lungi International Airport

Code

FNA

Location

The airport is 13km (8 miles) north of the city (journey time - 45 minutes).

TelAddress

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Flight times

From London - 9 hours (including stopover); New York - 16 hours 30 minutes (including stopover).

Departure tax

Usually included in the air fare.

Travelling to Sierra Leone by Rail

There are no public passenger services at present connecting Sierra Leone to neighbouring countries; the only railways are privately owned by the mining companies.

Driving to Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is accessible by road via its two borders with Guinea and Liberia. It is possible to reach Sierra Leone by road from Europe and the rest of Africa. The best route for overland travel from Europe is via Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea and takes approximately six days.

It is possible to cross the continent from East Africa or South Africa to West Africa, overland, in two weeks.

There are no restrictions on the type of vehicles that enter Sierra Leone, and it is common to see both left-hand and right-hand drive cars on the roads.

Driving note

Road conditions across West Africa vary, but it takes several days to travel overland from Europe to Sierra Leone. We recommend you take into consideration the advice from the Foreign Commonwealth Office (www.fco.gov.uk) before undertaking such a journey.

Getting to Sierra Leone by boat

The main commercial port is Freetown, from where there are services to Guinea and Liberia. A number of cargo ships, including Grimaldi Lines (www.grimaldi.co.uk) advertise passenger cabins and offer the possibility of travelling to other countries in West Africa via boat.

Ferry operators

Because of the need to cross the Rokel River when arriving at Lungi Airport, a number of commercial ferry options are available and cater for a variety of budgets (see Air notes).

River Routes

Sierra Leone has a large number of waterways meandering across the country and acting as trade routes for rural villages that are not accessible by road. It is possible, along some of the larger rivers, to charter dugout canoes and boatmen from local communities. The best time of year for travel by river is between December and April.