Advice for Freetown, Sierra Leone Please

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  ImissConcorde 4 Mar 2018
at 18:26

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  • JohnnyG

    In Feb I am off to Freetown for a few weeks, having looked at the selection of airlines etc and our dates I have booked KLM from LHR via AMS.

    Can anyone give any advice or tips on the following please.

    I have booked a selection of hotels as we intend to move around the place. I have also booked a stay at the Monkey Sanctuary and a couple of days at Banana Island.

    I have been advised by a friend, who admittedly hasn’t been there for a few years, to take large denomination notes, mainly USD.

    Any help would be appreciated.



    I have never been there, but judging my another thread on here make sure your connection time in AMS is sufficient or you may never see your luggage again!!


    Whilst I go to West Africa quite a bit, I have never been to Sierra Leone (although colleagues whom have visited all agree that this is by far one of the least developed countries on the continent). Getting to/from the airport in Freetown is famously a bit of a mare:

    Apparently, if you are going to Makeni region, you can avoid going into Freetown and just go straight from the airport.

    I would recommend getting a guide book. (They are sometimes a bit more catered to backpackers but they do contain good logistical advise. I just had a disaster with the terrible Lonely Plant West Africa guide… I’ve included the recently released Bradt one – the previous edition has good reviews).

    Also some general West Africa advice (sorry I am not sure if you have been elsewhere on the continent):

    – Relax…things do happen a bit more slowly. Drink beer and have something to read.
    – Stay away from exotic Western food that has possibly defrosted 6 times on its way to the middle of the country 🙂
    – Brush your teeth with bottled water
    – Cover up at night to avoid mosquitos and other insects.
    – Use a mosquito net
    – Don’t travel around with lots of expensive gear/jewelery. Leave it at home.
    – Be careful in the streets
    – Take sufficient currency; out of large cities ATMs/credit card machines are often non-existant. I’m not sure about USD – in some African countries it can become a real pain always having to change money (and risk getting ripped off)

    Finally…enjoy yourself. Africa is friendly, loud, fun and quite an experience. People are overwhelmingly hospitable and courteous to visitors. I love it.


    Don’t go! Been there many times….


    +1 openfly… I wanted to say that but decided against it, but I second that thought!


    Okay guys, I get the drift, as Trump would say, it’s a shithole, however my step daughter has recently moved there on a 2 year research programme, and naturally we would like to see her and the area itself.

    She hasn’t been there long enough to get to know the area and that is why I have asked for advice from fellow BT’s who might have been there.

    Anything positive would be helpful



    to be fair, I’ve not been there (although I have been to much of West Africa). I’m surprised about the reference to taking large denomination notes, especially US dollars. My experience generally is that large value US dollars are not welcome- but smaller one certainly are. I always have in my travel wallet a bundle of single US dollar bills which are great for tips etc. virtually anywhere.


    Thanks miningguy, appreciate it,


    miningguy, thanks for your advice. Just returned from the most amazing break I have ever had. 3 weeks of total extremes.

    The dollar was the preferred currency and I was offered better exchange rates than the hotels or banks. The new dollar notes of $50 or preferably $100 got the best rates. (2013 or after, the ones with the purple strip on)

    The banks especially were total rip offs sometimes offering only 55% available anywhere else.
    Freetown itself was crazy / madness and I loved every minute of it. The beaches were amazing.

    Although great poverty is visible everywhere the locals had great manners, took pride in their appearance and were helpful.
    Hotel bills or large hospitality bills could be paind in either dollars, leones or sterling, or a combination of both.
    Leones get a bit of getting used to especially when a charge for a few nights stay costs just over le 10million and the largest notes available are le10,000

    Ams luggage transit worked fine both ways and although Lungi isn’t the most luxurious of airports it sufficed.

    KLM A330 could have had better seating but as the return was a night flight via Monrovia I managed to sleep.

    When I visit again I will look at Brussels or RAM.

    The Brandt book was also helpful,



    Thanks for that JohnnyG!
    What a wonderful opportunity to go to a place where most of us wouldn’t dare!

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