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Make sure you possess Job-like reserves of patience (and charm) to deal with ubiquitous police checkpoints, the only thing south of Tangiers more prominent than Premiership football shirts.
The high-level presence of UN ground troops in Liberia arguably makes it an easier country to travel in than Guinea, where corruption has reached endemic levels.
You can generally pick up a return from the UK for about £700, although deals at certain times of the year can see them drop below that – for example, a month-long return from Freetown at Christmas might go for as little as £500 – while in summer months prices can rocket.
Most international flight tickets already include US departure tax, but local flights tend not to, so be prepared to stump up the extra cash at the airport.
’ Crossing into Sierra Leone itself is relatively straightforward.
The simplest way from the north is via Conakry, the Guinean capital, from where the border is a couple of hours away at Pamelap, on a poorly maintained tarred road that continues to the Sierra Leone town of Kambia.
If you are going to visit a friend or contact in Sierra Leone ask for a short letter from them.
If you are going on a genuine holiday, then arrange one through your tour operator or hotel.
Should they resume, direct flight time between the UK and Sierra Leone is only about 6 hours.
Not the most favoured of worldwide destinations, many planes depart Freetown horribly late at night, leading many a confused ticket-holder to arrive a day late for their 02.00 flight. In 2006, the EU banned many African carriers from landing in Europe, although that obviously doesn’t stop airlines that don’t meet European safety standards from flying within their own region – something to bear in mind when you book your tickets. Long eschewed by overland travellers thanks to years of turmoil in neighbouring Liberia and Guinea, the newfound political calm in the Mano River neighbourhood means it’s now easier than it’s been for decades to enter Sierra Leone by land.
Heading into the east of Sierra Leone, the main border crossing from Liberia is at Jendema, linked to the Liberian town of Bo-Waterside by the Mano River Bridge.
From here the road to Monrovia is tarred and in a good state of repair, and you can reach the capital in a couple of hours.
The Bradt guide has some good advice about kit and other essentials.