Our tour of Sierra Leone took in the Gola Rainforest where we stayed at the Conservation Centre for two nights. The 10 brick-built rooms were in an L shape, and we were allocated room 10. Whilst it was the closest to the shower block, you could hear everything.
A covered veranda ran in front, and simple wooden tables and plastic chairs were put out for us and this is where we ate.
The basic room had a double bed pushed up against one wall, a bedside table, and a rattan cupboard. The pillows were a little hard, and there was only a folded sheet, although we found this was sufficient. There was no mirror, or any other fripperies and we had to open our suitcases on the floor. We asked for towels and were given a bath size one to share. There was only solar power, and no charging points available. However, as we were aware of this, we’d charged camera batteries before we arrived. There was only one dimmish light in the room, and as it was very dark, head torches were essential.
The bathroom block consisted of one basin, two showers with cold water only, and two toilets (one didn’t flush, and the light bulb was missing in the other). We quickly discovered there was nowhere to hang your towel in the shower room, so it had to be left on the floor outside which flooded as water seeped under the door. I found a bucket next to a huge tub of water and decided to appropriate it and create an ensuite in our room to avoid having to negotiate the door lock in the night.
Sierra Leone’s tourist industry is still in its infancy and there was only a group of four on our first night, and on the second, we were the only visitors. If it had been fully booked, the bathroom facilities would have felt the strain of twenty people.
Although community cooks could be hired, we took Suzanne, a young girl from the nearest town with us. Before picking Suzanne up, we shopped for provisions in the local market at Bo. Our guide, Abdulai, bought a seemingly random set of ingredients which included a tray of 36 eggs, chicken pieces, dried spaghetti, vegetables, spices and herbs and we wondered how Suzanne would create three meals a day for two days.
On arrival, the ‘kitchen’ was set up: a table in the middle of a forest clearing, with a single gas burner. Despite Abdulai forgetting to pack the box with the cooking equipment, crockery and cutlery which had to be borrowed from the village, Suzanne fed us well. Breakfast was a delicious flat omelette, served with fried plantain, followed by bananas and pineapple boats with black coffee. Our first night’s dinner was chicken in a vibrant green casava leaf sauce whilst on our second night, the spaghetti was cooked with chicken and vegetables. Whilst the food was simple, the seasonings used, made it incredibly tasty. Lunches were left overs from the night before, with a few more spices added.
This was obviously not the most luxurious accommodation we’ve ever stayed in, and although a spirit of adventure is required, it was certainly an interesting experience.
See also the review of Gola Rainforest National Park.