Today, I have something a little different for you: Tom from the HeadingThere UK website is here with a guest post about his trip to Sierra Leone. Enjoy his tales and his great photos! -Wandering Justin
As the doors opened, a smell started to fill the plane. Not unpleasant, but sweet and hot with a hint of spice. It was unfamiliar and exciting, the smell of Africa. I felt beads of sweat forming on my brow as the temperature rose. We didn’t know what to expect from Sierra Leone.
Once we got over our trepidation at visiting such an unusual destination, the thing that really struck us was what a fantastic holiday destination the country is. Sierra Leone beaches, for example, are some of the best in Africa. We were lucky enough to get the chance to have a beach barbecue while we were in Freetown. We got chatting to one of the lads who sold beads outside our hotel, he was friends with a chef and told me that they sometimes organised barbecues on the beach for tourists. He asked if we were interested and I thought, “why not?”
I’m so glad we did. as it was one of the highlights of our visit. We ate delicious fresh fish as we watched the sun go down, and then enjoyed a few cold beers by the light of a bonfire. Remarkably, the Sierra Leone national dance troupe also performed at our BBQ!
Our friend the bead seller clearly had connections all over Freetown – he was also friends with one of the dancers. For a small fee they came along and sang and danced for us; the music and drumming was amazing. They sang us a song of welcome to open their show and the noise drew attention from a lot of locals who had been passing by. One lady enjoyed it so much she joined in, dancing past singing “Welcome to Freetown!”
I found out later that when Prince Charles visited Sierra Leone he was also welcomed by the national dance troupe. It really is a testament to how relaxed things are in Sierra Leone. Can you imagine having the Royal Shakespeare Company coming to perform at your picnic if you visited London?!
For the bulk of our visit we travelled south to the beaches of the Freetown Peninsula. They are absolutely stunning, and our experience of staying in a small eco-village in John Obey was amazing.
Sierra Leone is one of the most exciting places I have ever been, so don’t let shocked looks from your friend’s put you off visiting! Flights to Freetown are quite straightforward to organise from the UK, there are flights via several major European cities. If you are travelling from the United States, it can be hard to find flights when you search for the whole journey. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it, though: We met lots of Americans in Sierra Leone. Try looking at flights separately. Think about flying Delta (as they work with Air France, who fly to Freetown from Paris) or any of the Star Alliance airlines. If you are flying Star Alliance you could change in London to BMI or in Brussels to Brussels Airlines.
For more information about life in Sierra Leone, why not read my article on the week I spent with Tribe Wanted?
If you are interested in Sierra Leone, you will also find more information in the HeadingThere guide.