Tourism: What Can Sierra Leone Offer You?
Sierra Leone, the only country in the sub-region classified as a top 10 tourist destination for 2009 by Lonely Planet is a small, beautiful country with a varied and impressive landscape of white sand and golden beaches with dramatic tropical backdrops on the elbow of Africa, on the west of the continent.
The country got it rather poetic name from the Portuguese ship captain, Pedro da Sintra, who sailed southwards down the coast of West Africa and saw the long range of mountains of what is now the Freetown peninsula, which he called Sierra Lyoa, meaning lion mountains. In the sixteenth century an English sailor changed the name to Sierraliona; which later became Sierra Leone.
Only a three-hour flight away the major regional market of Lagos, a six-hour flight from London and Brussels, and eight-hour flight from the United States, Sierra Leone is described by visitors, and its people as a lush tropical paradise with a unique cultural heritage, un-spoilt natural landscapes characterize by exotic flora and fauna.
Coast line of white clean sandy beaches stretches over 360 kilometers starting from the peninsular in Freetown along the Atlantic Ocean, down to the interior of the country. Sierra Leone is an emerging Tourism Market with a lot of investment opportunities.
The country’s beach asset is one of the finest in the sub region. Beach areas of Sierra Leone fall into several groups:
The Freetown peninsular where presently all Major tourism activities and facilities are based is a very beautiful 40km long coastline from Aberdeen to Kent. Lungi beaches along the bullom peninsular very close to the international airport. Sulima area between the Mao and Mano Rivers. Tuner’s peninsular, an immense beach of over 100 km. Shenge Beach, andScarciesEstuaryanother 8 km longbeach.
Eco tourism is also another important tourism development focus of government as the country is very rich in biodiversity. The country is home to chimps, piggy hippos, colorful birds, rare and endangered species of Monkey, baboons.
Sierra Leone is bird watchers paradise with the unique rainforest Tiwai Island where visitors/researchers can camp in tents and hostels, surrounded by evergreen forest. The island has one of the highest concentration and diversity of unique primates species in the world (11 species), over 135 different bird species (including 8 types of hornbill) and over 700 plant species. The OutambaKilimi National Park in the Northern Province is a magic place embedded between the rivers little scarcies, Lolo and mango: home to some rare elephants, buffalos and hippos. Itis also rich in birdlifeandotherprimates.
For culture enthusiasts especially those interested in history and the slave trade. Freetown the nation’s capital itself is a Monument to free slaves. An expedition to Bunce Island would definitely take visitors back into the history of the slave trade.
Historical relics illustrating the country’s early contact with the outside world especially with Europe and Europeans remain visible all over the country. Monuments, graves, and forts dating back to pre-colonial and colonial times, scattered all over the country are treasures worth seeing.
Fine beaches and natural habitats like natural parks, games sanctuaries and reserves. Non hunting forest reserves and strict nature reserves plus our rich cultural heritage form the back bone of the countries tourism assets.
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The Tingi Hills is the easternmost outlying forest in Sierra Leone. It has the second highest peak in Sierra Leone, the SankanBirriwa. The scenic undulating nature of the topography and the rich game and plant diversity are attractive to visitors and scientists.
Location of Tingi Hills Forest Reserve
Tingi Hills Forest Reserve is located close to Sierra Leone’s eastern border with the Republic of Guinea. It occurs between the Nieya Chiefdom, Koinadugu District, Northern Province and the Sando and Lei Chiefdoms in the Kono District, Eastern Province, about 470 km east of Freetown.
The Tingi Hills is the easternmost mountain range in Sierra Leone. The forest reserve includes areas encompassing the massif called SankanBirriwa, which has two peaks separated by a narrow gorge.
Both peaks stand over 1800m, but the northernmost which is 1850m high, is the second highest in Sierra Leone. The terrain is generally rocky, with numerous streams, which have their sources from the massif. These streams are the tributaries of two major rivers in the country; the Mano River, which runs along the border with the Republic of Liberia and Sewa River.