Few things you need to know when embarking on your trip to Sierra Leone (The Freedom to Explore). Travelling to Sierra Leone is quite interesting, the only country believed you can use three modes of transportations, Air, Land and Sea (ALS) however there are requirement to meet before planning trip. For ease and flexibility we advise you start arranging as much as possible in advance. Keep in mind that Sierra Leone peaceful now but yet there some challenges you will face, therefore do not expect everything to work as it would in more developed countries. But these you can overcome on arrival.
For Holidays, especially for luxury it is probably not the place if you always desire the finest things in life with other destinations but nevertheless, one thing that is certain is Hospitality, Sierra Leoneans have the culture of welcoming visitors/tourist with open arms and unending smiles. It is a beautiful and dazzling country with physical history and cultures.
Visas and Travel Documents
It is incumbent on all persons entering Sierra Leone to have a valid passport or travel document. However, Citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) do not require a visa to enter the country, but citizens of all other countries do. Working in Sierra Leone every person’s needs a work permit. Bear in mind that it is not advisable to try and get a visa on arrival as some flights will not allow you to board for Sierra Leone in the first place. Visas are issued at Sierra Leone’s overseas missions but if you cannot find one in nearest proximity then search on Visit Sierra Leone Visa Page on (https://www.visitsierraleone.org/online-visa/) or Tourism Is Life Tours (http://www.tourismislife.com/) also have a look on IPC tours visa page (http://www.ipctravel.com/visa-application.html) these pages will help you find your way out.
For all travelers please check the CDC Website on (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/sierra-leone) a vaccination certificate for yellow fever is required if traveling to and from certain areas. For traveling to tropical regions. If you travel outside of Freetown, there will be fewer opportunities for health care, particularly in remote regions. Even in Freetown services are significantly more limited than you would have at home.
Travel Insurance / Medical Insurance
Some of the reasons you are advised to take travel and medical insurance. Health is wealth but still one cannot predict when you fall sick or injured on your trip
You and your friends have planned a hiking trip to climb Wara Wara Mountains or the Bintumani hills. After your first night in Kabala, you wake with severe stomach pains and a high fever. You cannot start your hike. Instead, you need emergency medical care – and quick.
With travel medical coverage TMC, you won’t be paying a huge medical bill. You’ll also have assistance services – by IPC Tours – to locate a suitable medical facility and arrange transportation.
Your baggage is delayed, lost or missing, what to do?
Your special day has finally arrived – a wedding at a beach side resort. Unfortunately, the airline made a mistake and your baggage will be delayed. Luckily you’ve got the dress and the rings, but what about your other clothes, shoes, toothpaste, and personal items?
With coverage for delayed bags, you can relax. The service hot-line will help you recover your bags. You’ll also be reimbursed for the essential items you need to start enjoying your trip.
Or, you are required to speak at a business conference in Radisson or Country Lodge, but somewhere in transit, your baggage is lost. Your presentation is tomorrow, how will you get ready in time?
With coverage for luggage that is lost, stolen, or damaged, you’ll be reimbursed for new clothes and personal items. You can even get reimbursed for a suitcase so you can take your new stuff home.
Your passport is lost
You are at a conference in Freetown, and you realize you left your passport at a local restaurant.
With coverage for lost passports, you’ll have help expediting the process of replacing and paying for a new passport, there you go easy.
You need an emergency medical evacuation
You and your daughter have planned a Heritage tour to Freetown, within the Bunce Island your daughter is overcome with dizziness and a dangerously high fever. She needs immediate medical attention. How will you get her to safety? IPC those as well
With medical evacuation coverage, you can arrange safe transportation to a medical facility. Medical evacuations typically cost tens of thousands of dollars, but with trip insurance you won’t break the bank to save your daughter.
Your travel company files bankruptcy
You’ve planned a two-week honeymoon cruise to Alaska, but a week before the trip you see on the news that your cruise is canceled due to financial default of the cruise company. How will you recover your money?
You need emergency assistance services
We advise that visitors purchase comprehensive travel insurance covering injury, illness, death, delayed lost or damaged baggage and personal belongings. A medical evacuation policy should be added to your coverage.
Credit Card Use in Sierra Leone
Credit card use in Sierra Leone is now encouring. You can now withdraw cash at ATMs for some major banks (Ecobank, Access Bank, UBA, Rokel Bank, FIBank) and visa machines (POS) are being installed at some select business and supper markets. However, the majority of transactions are done in cash. When bringing cash, big denominations of the Dollar are better and it is best to bring recent series. Also some hotels, restaurants accepts visa card reader.
Looking at Hotels and Other Accommodation Options
The accommodation sector is rapidly growing, and this is adding more value to the destination, recently the country can now boast of chain hotels like Radisson Blu is now operational whilst the Cape Sierra Hilton Hotel is under construction and other domestic hotels, apartment, guest houses, inns. We now having hotels providing necessarily the major basic like 3* hotel will provide in other destinations. Considering the prices, some are really high while still you can sail through for rest. Better still we recommend you search VSL (https://www.visitsierraleone.org/category/hotels-in-sierra-leone/hotels-in-freetown/)
Local People and Customs believes
On your arrival, you will begin to experience beauty of Sierra Leone from the people welcoming you with smiles and handshakes, it our culture to welcome our visitors through handshakes. The people of Sierra Leone welcome visitors and are proud to showcase their country. Traditions and respect for cultures keep us together as a nation. However, there are few social restrictions, though sensitivity is suggested in the more rural areas. For communication within Sierra Leone English is widely spoken in Freetown though Krio and tribal languages are more prevalent in the countryside. This should prevent you from translators are available.
Taking pictures or video recording, we advise you have local guide otherwise always ask permission before taking pictures of nationals. In most cases they will be happy to comply, especially if you promise to send them a copy of the picture! But if you promise, be sure to follow through!
Crossing from Lungi to Freetown
Sanity restored now Lungi Airport cannot be noisy as used to be, that noise and bustling used to mostly cause by porters falling over themselves to provide some sort of assistance that will hand them a tip. One dollars some cents which equivalent to Le 10,000 will get you trolley to handle your pile of luggage, but if you are a back packer then off you gone. Better still if you do not require any assistance then a smile and stern “I’m fine”,”Tenkee” should work just fine. If you do not have Leones, make sure you have small dollar bills to say kaboh.
The National Tourist Board recommend options is the Pelican Water Taxi which cost $40 dollars, the Sea Bird Express which will cost you $35 dollars or the Ferry service, all these decisions are yours to take. Consider speed and timely arrival but it is your decision which mode of transfer you choose. The main things to measure are speed, safety and reliability.
Several options for crossing this waterway
Key Tip: We advise you arrange your tickets in advance that can reduce the amount of time it takes to get you out of the airport.
Crossing on Water Taxis
The water taxis are slightly bigger than your average speedboat and run on dual engines. Sea Coach Express are the only company currently offering this service. The ride is sometimes bumpy so you must prepare yourself for that. Price is $40 with journey time around 25-30 minutes. Sea Coach Express can be booked online here. Another boat service is the Sea Bird Express $35. All these can be booked Visit Sierra Leone Website, Tourism is Life and IPC Travel and Tours respectively
Are you a student or a low budget traveler? Then there is a way out for you. The ferries services operating from Kissy Eastern end are properly the cheapest option of all. Ok, taking the Ferry to Freetown is ok but it is certainly not the rocket option neither the most comfortable. But be rest assured this is how most Sierra Leoneans travel to the historic city Freetown. There is a ‘VIP’ seat for Le5, 000 less than $1 but this excludes vehicle costs.
Well travelling by road brings you too many scenic and exotic views. Driving from Lungi to Freetown on Airport shuttle or private vehicles will last for (4+ hours) through Port Loko, the Northern city. Bear in mind that sometimes it might prove difficult to rent vehicles from Lungi, so it is advisable for private transport from the airport be pre-arranged by grand handlers like VSL, TILT, IPC.