Sierra Leone: My Spontaneous Getaway, By Afiya Frank

Sierra Leone “isn’t that a dangerous country, haven’t they recently been at war?” The same questioned I am asked when I tell anyone of my Christmas vacation last year. I had the pleasure of visiting this interesting and historic country in December 2012. It may have had its troubles in the past but it has moved onwards and upwards- I had the pleasure of travelling with a Sierra Leonean friend who was going for the festive season to experience the local city life. Stepping off the plane in Sierra Leone there is the normal rush of heated air to greet you. You unload into a simple airport and make your way through customs. Bag collection and organising transportation into the city is hectic and I would advise to look into it before you arrive or have someone who has done it many times before with you like I did.

There are four options to get across the river into the city –driving (I was told it would take several hours), helicopter (expensive), ferry and hover craft. Our flight was delayed by 5 hours so we arrived at 3am instead of the 10pm scheduled time so the only option we had was the hover craft – 30 minute drive from the airport to where it was docked and 30 minute ride on the hover craft into the city. We stayed in a large family home opposite Lumley market, colours, culture, characters, and buzz from sun up to sun down. Freetown is a lively city – the people are welcoming and are eager to include. Sierra Leone is a country that hasn’t become overly westernised- you can still find local, freshly made dishes in nearly every restaurant, you can meet and talk to local Sierra Leoneans in all the hotel lobbies and beach bars and don’t be surprised if you’re invited to local charity events as a guest of honour!

Sierra Leone is a great place for beaches and sun worshipers. The beaches are beautiful; each unique in its own right – my favourite being the beach called Number 2. We visited it both during the day and at night; it will be a place that I will always remember.

From what I saw money is being invested back into the country and it is developing. I feel there is a lot of potential for business growth as the country is becoming stable, the next generation of Sierra Leoneans have a lot to look forward too as I think it will be a popular travel destination for many people.

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