A Beach Adventure in Sierra Leone

Most people don’t think of Sierra Leone as a family destination. It’s a wonderful option for those who love adventure, are happy to ‘rough it’ when it comes to accommodation and don’t mind being flexible when plans change. However, the Wynter Bee family recently discovered its deserted white sand beaches, compelling history and welcoming people. On their return they emailed me such gripping and heart-warming feedback.
Sarah and Peter Wynter Bee got in touch with us as they wanted to travel to Sierra Leone to see their daughter Jessie who was carrying out part of her medical training there to become a doctor. This is what they wrote:
“The highlight of our trip was the remote Turtle Islands, which have no mobile phone connection or electricity – brilliant. Getting there was a big adventure – a six-hour boat ride with no navigation equipment other than a compass on the dashboard. We stayed in a basic bungalow. Evenings were very sociable. At times, there were so many islanders hanging out with us and helping it felt like a tropical version of Downton Abbey! We paid for evening meals – excellent fish stews and rice – but you need to bring everything, including all food except fish, along with tea/coffee, beer and water, plates and cutlery, and even a cooking pot if you want to self-cater.

Later, we treated ourselves to a couple of nights at Franco’s, on an unspoilt beach not far from the capital Freetown. It’s an amazing set-up, straight out of Somerset Maugham. Our room had hot water – which seemed like an indulgence – and the food was excellent. Watch out for rip currents off the ocean beach. Freetown was both friendly and fascinating. The trip upriver to Bunce Island, a slaving station whose haunting remains are still very much visible, was an unmissable experience.
Sierra Leone does present challenges. For example, checking in at Lungi Airport for the return flight was horrendous, with everyone bribing officials to avoid queuing.
However, Rainbow’s team on the ground organised everything excellently. We got used to jumping on and off boats with our rucksacks, not being sure where we were going or who was going to meet us, but someone always appeared.
Be open-minded and flexible, and you will have a wonderful time.”

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