Discovering Tiwai Island, travelling to Sierra Leone
The Tiwai Island Sanctuary in Sierra Leone is one of the great highlights of a journey through this exciting West African country.
Tiwai Island ( Big Island in Mende) is an inland island in the Moa River, about 12 km², located inside the Upper Guinea Tropical Rainforest in southeastern Sierra Leone, about 80 km from the border with Liberia.
This beautiful island is covered by a lush rainforest and has an impressive biodiversity and a high concentration of endemic species.
Fauna of Tiwai Island
Tiwai Island has one of the highest densities of primates in the world with a good number of species such as the Diana monkey, red colobus, black and white colobus, olive colobus, Campbell's monkey (of which interesting studies have been done) and chimpanzees.
Tiwai Island is also a paradise for bird lovers with more than 135 species and walking along some of its more than 50 kilometres of trails we can see many of the 700 varieties of plants. The waters of the Moa River are also home to the rare pygmy hippopotamus, a solitary, nocturnal animal that can only be found in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Guinea. This pygmy hippopotamus is very difficult to see, you would have to stay several days to have more chances of sighting it.
Visiting Tiwai Island
There is a camping area on the island in a clearing in the forest with shared shower and toilet facilities. In Tiwai there is an ecotourism project shared between different local chiefs and several conservation organisations.
It is possible to do great guided walks around the island in search of wildlife and enjoy pleasant boat trips around the island, enjoying the magnificent tropical scenery.
Experience of rural Africa
Just as fascinating as the visit to Tiwai Island is the visit to Kambama. Kambama is a small village in the countryside where the narrow road from Poturu ends. From Kambama you embark towards Tiwai Island.
Kambama is a very picturesque and traditional village with very friendly and hospitable inhabitants always ready to show us their way of life and customs and to guide us through the surroundings where we can find some beautiful corners. We love this village and that is why one of the nights we sleep in it, allowing the traveller to get to know the lifestyle of rural Africa while at the same time helping to develop its economy.
Getting to Tiwai Island
While it is true that getting to Tiwai Island from Freetown is much easier than it used to be due to the construction of the new road, getting to or from Liberia via Kenema and through Gola National Park offers one of the most spectacular, hardest and most difficult road journeys in West Africa. This is an unforgettable stretch of just over 200 kilometres, which can take several days to complete and where we will camp in remote villages or spectacular locations.
On our next trip to Sierra Leone we will be able to enjoy Tiwai Island for two nights, one inside the shrine and the other in Kambama village.
Travel to Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone is a very pleasant destination to visit. The warmth of its inhabitants, its paradisiacal beaches and a few very attractive visits, make it one of our favourite countries in West Africa
Here you will find some good reasons not to miss this country.