Tiwai is a 1200-hectare island reserve in the middle of the Moa River in the southeast of the country. It is Sierra Leone’s only community conservation programme, designated a national park is 1987 at the request of the Barri and Koya people.
The reserve protects one of the richest concentrations of flora and fauna in Sierra Leone. Over 130 bird species have been recorded, including the rare white-breasted guinea fowl; and Tiwai holds a wealth of primates - eleven species - including the endangered colobus and Diana monkeys. One of the first observations of chimpanzees using stones as tools for opening nuts came from Tiwai Island.
The park is also notable as one of the last refuges of the extremely rare and solitary pygmy hippo. The waters around the island are home to river turtles and otters.
The island has 50km of walking trails from which to seek primates and birds with your guide. Visitors are encouraged to contribute to the on-going research by recording their sightings on the map in the visitor centre.
Trips on the river either by canoe or motorboat offer the best chance of seeing the water-based wildlife, including turtles. If you want to try to spot the pygmy hippos, you will need to take a night trip on the river.
Access & accommodation
Tiwai is about 2–3 hours drive from Bo, the nearest big town, itself about 3 hours overland from Freetown.
We offer full-equipped camping on Tiwai island, (simple, open huts are the only alternative accommodation), to enable you to fall asleep to the sounds of hornbills and monkeys squabbling in the treetops.