Bomi Lake © Wikimedia Commons
One of the poorest nations in Africa, and only recently emerging from a bloody civil war in which 300,000 of its people died, Liberia is a land boasting 350 miles (563 km) of tropical beaches juxtaposed by pristine wildernesses and verdant rainforests. It may be on the mend under the highly regarded President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, re-elected in peaceful elections in 2011, but sadly travel to Liberia is currently not recommended due to the political situation and lack of infrastructure.
Originally founded as a refuge for liberated American slaves, it's not hard to find reflections of the historical ties between the United States and this struggling country, located just north of the equator on the western bulge of Africa. The capital of Monrovia is named after the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe, and the country's flag closely resembles the American flag.
There are several worthwhile attractions outside of the dilapidated capital Monrovia. The city of Buchanan offers breathtaking beaches, a modest selection of restaurants and a handful of guesthouses. A day trip to Robertsport is a must; here visitors can take a peek into the cultural history of Liberia and relax on some of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the country. A tent camp for those wishing to spend the night on the beach has been set up by a group of South Africans while the UN also offers accommodation on a first-come basis.
Liberia's key attraction is the Sapo National Park, the largest untouched tract of rainforest in Western Africa, incorporating the Nimba Mountains, which are abundant in spectacular wildlife such as elephants, leopards, buffalo, pygmy hippos and monkeys. Game viewing by taking a boating trip along the Sinoe River is a popular activity.
Foreigners are advised to travel only in an organised tour and never venture out alone. Gangs of former combatants are known to walk around the poorer areas of Monrovia while women should prepare themselves for plenty of unwanted attention and marriage proposals from local men. Health care facilities are sparse and diseases such as typhoid and malaria are very common. Travellers are advised to take care with their personal hygiene, as there are many health risks involved in everyday situations.
Not a typical or ideal tourist destination right now, but when the political turmoil clears Liberia is sure to be top on the list of West African destinations to visit due to its natural splendour and off-the-beaten-track allure.
Become our Liberia Travel Expert
We are looking for contributors for our Liberia travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Liberia or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.