Best things to do in Sierra Leone
Find out more about those top places in Sierra Leone
The city of Freetown might not be as popular as other city in Western Africa but it is one with a great history. Freetown is the largest city in Sierra Leone and the nation’s capital with over one million inhabitants. The city shares its borders with western area rural district and the Atlantic Ocean. It has a very symbolic past, it was once a place of settlement for freed slaves coming from the Caribbean and North America. When in Freetown you can visit the great Cotton Tree, famous King’s Yard Gate and Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
The Cotton Tree holds a special place in the heart of Sierra Leoneans. Commonly called Kapok tree, it is a symbol of freedom in Freetown. Popular Legend says the tree was the location for a thanksgiving service by former slaves who gained their freedom by fighting for Great Britain during the America War for Independence. The Cotton Tree is at the center of Freetown, said to be over 500 years old with the exact age unknown. Many locals believe the tree has special magical properties and healing powers.
The historical landmark played an important part at the end of slavery. After the law for the abolition of slavery had been passed, there were still some acts of slavery occurring secretly. The British Navy often intercepted some of this slave trade deals and the rescued victims were taken to King Jimmy Wharf referred to as King’s Yard where they were housed before moved to different locations for resettlement. Constructed in 1805, it is currently the location for Connaught hospital.
Started by Dr. Easmon in 1957 in a bid to preserve the country’s cultural artifacts, the Sierra Leone National Museum as grown to be the major tourist attraction for visitors looking to learn about the history of the nation and its people. The museum is separated into two halls that consist of several painting, sculptures and masks. The major attractions of the museum are the “Odeday” one of the collections of full-body masks and Nomoli a 500-year stone sculpture.
The National Railway Museum is unlike most museums you will see on your travels; it is mostly filled with trains from the Sierra Leone Government Railway that closed down in 1974. Some items displayed include a hunslet tank, Garratt and the main attraction the Governor’s coach, designed for Queen Elizabeth II in 1961. There are also tickets, old photographs and time table for visitors to view as well.
Founded in 1997, the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary was created to safe guard Chimpanzees orphaned by illegal poaching. Owned by Nala and Sharmila Amerasekaran, they started the Sanctuary when they bought a sick chimpanzee on the street and cared for it. Since then, they have been several others rescued from the hands of poachers. The Tacugama Chipanzee Sanctuary covers over 100 acres and it is located just 4 minutes away from Freetown.