Travelling to Sierra Leone
Travel, transportation and traffic
Since the end of the civil war, travel in the country has basically been possible without restrictions. However, the road conditions are sometimes very bad. Most of the road network consists of unpaved slopes, many of which become impassable in the rainy season. Even in and around the capital, Freetown, the streets are only partially tarred and can turn into mud slopes in the rainy season.
Possible means of transport are: cars, buses, taxis and minibuses, which are called Poda-Podas in Sierra Leone, one of 16 countries located in Western Africa according to watchtutorials. Public transportation in the country is limited. There is no train, and regular bus routes only run between the big cities. Otherwise you have to rely on minibuses or taxis and motorcycle taxis (Okada), although the use of Okadas is not recommended for safety reasons. Overland trips on pick-ups and trucks are used by the local population. However, these rarely meet our security standards. Cars with a driver can also be rented. The state of road safetyis low, many of the vehicles are driving faster than their condition allows on newly built roads. For safety reasons, it is not recommended to drive on country roads after dark.
The transfer from Lungi International Airport (FNA) to Freetown is relatively time-consuming or costly. The speedboat to the west of Freetown costs 40 dollars and takes about an hour including the bus transfer. Taking a taxi and ferry to the east of Freetown is much cheaper, but it takes two to three times as long and is only recommended for those who know their way around or who are picked up.
The beaches in Sierra Leone are gorgeous. The beaches in the Western Area are particularly suitable for weekend trips. Most beaches are good for swimming, but for your own safety you should ask whether there are currents at the location. When the local fishermen pull in their nets, it is worth buying fresh fish. However, there are also many local restaurants on the beaches that offer seafood dishes.
There are three national parks, the Outamba-Kilimi National Park in the northwest of the country, the Gola Rainforest National Park in the southeast and, since 2013, the Western Area Peninsula National Park on the Freetown Peninsula.
Other beautiful excursion destinations include the Tacugama Sanctuary near Freetown, Tiwai Island in the south of the country or the highest mountain in West Africa, Mount Bintumani in the north of the country. There are also cultural and historical sights to see, for example on Bunce Island and the Banana Islands.
Afrika-Travel offers information and background reports for travelers, the national tourism authority a good impression of the tourist highlights and possibilities.
Lakka near Freetown
With children in Sierra Leone
For foreigners with school-age children, there are a number of private schools outside of state schools such as Sierra Leone International School, Limount College, British International School, American International School, Lebanese International School, Ayoub International School and others.
Security for foreigners
The German embassy in Freetown has been reopened since 2003 (with a limited area of responsibility – no legal and consular duties – only emergency aid, no visa issuance).
Recommended addresses for up-to-date security information:
- The German Foreign Office
- The Austrian Foreign Ministry
- The British Foreign Office
- The US Embassy in Freetown
The ” Crime and Safety Report ” of the US Department of State provides detailed safety information.
A yellow fever vaccination is required for a trip to Sierra Leone and is usually checked upon arrival. Cholera epidemics occur frequently during the rainy season, but the risk of infection is relatively low. Since hepatitis A and B are widespread, vaccination against both pathogens is recommended. A vaccination against rabies should also be considered, depending on the area of application and work.
Due to the tropical climate, Sierra Leone is a risk area for various diseases. Malaria is a problem all year round and in all parts of the country; the dangerous malaria tropica is responsible for most cases of illness. A tropical medical consultation is required for a stay.
Further current recommendations about the most common diseases, preventive measures and vaccination advice are given:
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (Hamburg)
- Institute for Tropical Medicine at Charité (Berlin)
- Tropical Institute (University of Munich)
In March 2014, an outbreak of the dangerous Ebola began in neighboring Guinea, which is very easily transmitted and causes a hemorrhagic fever that is often fatal. The epidemic in West Africa has confirmed more than 15,215 and claimed many more suspected deaths. In Sierra Leone, there were 14,122 assumed cases as of November 2015. At least 3955 patients died, the number of unreported cases is estimated to be high – there were unregistered cases in many villages. After 42 days no new infection was reported, Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free by the WHO on November 7, 2015.
The international community reacted very hesitantly to the epidemic. The USA and EU countries did not intervene to a greater extent until mid-September 2015, although ” Doctors Without Borders ” had been warning of an epidemic of unprecedented proportions since April of that year.
A medical care in Sierra Leone limited available. Pharmacies are widespread, but the quality of the drugs offered varies widely. Modern drugs for malaria prophylaxis such as Malarone are hardly available locally. There are simple hospitals in the district capitals and in some smaller towns. In Freetown there is the Connaught Hospital with special departments, the Emergency Hospital, an accident hospital, the Choithram’s Memorial Hospital and the Aspen Clinic, in many cases with the best, but also the most expensive care. In addition, there are many small private ones in FreetownClinics and resident doctors. Most treatments have to be paid for privately. In the case of serious illnesses, patients should be transferred to Europe as soon as possible.
Based on the experience with the Ebola epidemic, the Sierra Leonean government has quickly taken security measures in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. On March 25, 2020, before the country’s first case was confirmed, the government declared a state of emergency in the country for 12 months, restricting entry into the country and banning religious gatherings. After a second case, the government announced a three-day curfew in early April, followed by more in May, including a continuous night curfew from 11pm to 5am.
Despite the low numbers by international comparison, from the end of March to August 26th there were proven Covid-19 infections in Sierra Leone in 2001, 69 people died from them, the Covid-19 pandemic represents a major challenge for the weak health system.
Freetown International Airport has been open again since July 22, 2020. A negative COVID-19 test that is not older than 72 hours is required to enter Sierra Leone. Upon arrival in Sierra Leone, a rapid test and another test will be performed. Self-isolation must be maintained until the result of the second test is known. If the stay in the country is longer than five days, a test must also be taken before departure. A fee-based permit from the government of Sierra Leone is also required. The approval must be presented to the airline at the airport of departure at the check-in.
Within the country, all people are required to adhere to the basic hygiene and distance rules, avoid large gatherings and wear mouth and nose protection in public.
Small pharmacy in Freetown