Sierra Leone is emerging as a new destination for adventurous travellers, with Tony Blair visiting this week to raise the country’s profile in the tourism market and UK operators beginning to offer holidays there. Rainbow Tours has just launched a 10-day group tour, Sierra Leone Highlights, which includes visiting the historic capital, Freetown, the scene of frequent fighting during the civil war which lasted until 2002, and Tiwai Island, which teems with wildlife. The trip costs from £2,285, including flights, accommodation, meals and guide.
“It’s at the early stages of development, but the welcome to tourists is stupendous and people working in tourism are hugely energetic and positive,” says Judith de Witt of Rainbow Tours. “The country has breathtaking empty beaches, riveting history and offers the chance to meet local people and get an insight into Africa.”
Specialist operator Undiscovered Destinations also offers itineraries in Sierra Leone, while Peter Eshelby at adventure specialist Explore says: “It is very much on the shortlist for the future.”
Meanwhile, it may not be too long before Iraq becomes accessible to Britons. Last week, BMI announced it was keen to re-establish flights between Heathrow and Baghdad as soon as the British government allows. “A small number of scheduled services are being launched within the region,” says BMI boss Nigel Turner, “and it makes geographical and economic sense to add Iraq to our network.”