A simple life in Rogbonko Village

1041 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type



Date of travel

January, 2023

Product name


Product country

Sierra Leone

Product city


Travelled with


Reasons for trip


Whilst on a tour of Sierra Leone we visited the village of Rogbonko. The name means ‘village in the forest’ and getting there from the nearest town of Makeni, was quite a journey. The first 30 minutes was a paved road, but after turning off at Magburaka, the next 30 minutes involved a bumpy dirt track. However, it was interesting, and the area used to be the highest producer of sugar in the country, until Ebola ended the Chinese operation and the land returned to the community who now use it for growing rice.

Ebola and Covid also ended Rogbonko’s attempts to provide a taste of life in an African village, as we found the tourist accommodation of two brick built sleeping huts, each with two bedrooms and a shared bathroom, was in a state of disrepair, although some attempts were being made to restore the thatched roofs.

The Rogbonko Village Retreat was the idea of Sheka Forna, a British-Sierra Leonean whose father, a prominent politician, was born in the village. His sister, Aminatta is the country’s most famous author with her best seller, The Devil that Danced on the Water (which I read on my return home).

We walked through the village with mud homes on both sides and were immediately assailed by a barrage of children hoping for candies from Abdulai our guide, who was obviously well known. The children loved touching our white skin, and having their photograph taken.

Our village tour took us past women weaving coloured raffia into placemats and baskets, but it wasn’t clear whether they were for sale, and there wasn’t the hard sell which often comes with this kind of enterprise. Other women were pounding casava, cooking palm kernels to extract the oil, or preparing the evening meal on an open fire. We also saw the temporary Médecins Sans Frontières clinic, who are attempting to treat and educate the 500 villagers about malaria and diarrhoea.

Subsistence farming is the way of life, and as the sheep and goats were in the surrounding hills, there were few men around. However, this was all set to change as a chalkboard advertised the Wolverhampton v Liverpool FA cup match later that evening and we learned that one person in the village has a TV and satellite dish, and everyone gathers round.

Having told the children to race to the mango tree, and wait for him, it became apparent that Abdulai would not have enough sweets for the 50 or so children (families of up to nine children are common), and we expected a scrum down. However, along with the village elders, who provided additional sweets, the children were marshalled into a large circle to sing songs. As guest of honour, I was summoned into the middle, for the distribution of the sweets, with children randomly being invited to come and take one from me, before being ushered outside the circle to avoid them returning. It was amazing to see how one single boiled sweet brought so much joy to a child, and to the adults who slipped through the net!

Helen Jackson

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.