Liberia is known as the only Black state in Africa that was never colonized and the continent’s oldest republic. It was established by freed slaves from the United States, hence the name of the country. This West African nation is bordered by the less-traveled Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Liberia is a liberating place, thanks to its rolling plateau, low mountains, coastal plains, and tropical rainforests where travelers can be one with nature. Its tourism industry is yet to boom, but it’s more than ready to accept visitors who want to explore its urban areas and natural wonders.
The capital Monrovia was named after former US president James Monroe, a supporter of the migration of freed slaves to what is now Liberia. This coastal city is the country’s cultural hotspot, making it a paradise for sightseers. One of its notable landmarks is the National Museum, where tourists can dive deep into Liberian history. They can also stroll past the architectural wonder of the Masonic Temple and the monument of the country’s first president. Travelers should not miss checking out the ruins of EJ Roye and Hotel Ducor, which they can freely enter. They are in Liberia, after all.
*SAPO NATIONAL PARK
Sapo National Park’s claim to fame is its resident pygmy hippopotamuses. They are cute and if that’s not enough to entice tourists, here are other reasons to visit this destination. Firstly, it’s home to the remaining primary rainforest of West Africa. Secondly, the area is so biodiverse that spotting an elephant is a guarantee. Lastly, its forest is so lush that it has many endemic species. The list goes on, and this park is excited to share its brimming wilderness.
*GOLA RAINFOREST NATIONAL FOREST
If nature lovers can’t get enough of Liberia’s wild side, they must pay a visit to the Gola National Forest. Not only is this area a birdwatcher’s paradise, but it’s also a global biodiversity hotspot. It is one of the remaining intact areas of seasonal dense, moist evergreen and semi-deciduous forest in the region, so nature lovers will have a field day enjoying its sights and sounds. As tourists trek along this lush destination, they will realize that freedom is always attainable with Mother Nature.
Hikers who want to take their legs on a challenging trip must visit Mt. Nimba, Liberia’s highest peak. Standing 1,362 meters above sea level, this misty mountain is home to an amazing set of wildlife, like the largest butterfly in Africa. As trekkers go deep into the rainforest, they will be welcomed by the relaxing smell of orchids. Along the way, they will chance upon old mining sites slowly being retaken by nature. There’s even an old mining pit called the Blue Lake. Atop, it’s pure bliss. Nimba is number one, indeed.
Liberia’s Monkey Island has a sad story. It is home to chimpanzees infected with various diseases so they can be studied for possible cures and vaccines – like a real-life Planet of the Apes. When the testing was halted due to concerns of abuse, the primates were left in an archipelago and thrived with the help of animal activists and the community. The area can be visited but having a guide is a must as the chimpanzees are territorial. A visit to the freed primates is not for the faint-hearted.
The Atlantic breeze is calling for those who want to spend their day in Liberia on the sand and under the sun. It has crowd-free beaches, thanks partly to the fact that the country is the least-explored in West Africa. In Monrovia, there’s the party beach of Thinker’s, plus Silver, which has a famous snack joint. CeeCee, meanwhile, is perfect for those who want a quieter beach day. What takes the cake, however, is the golden coast of Marshall, where visitors can kayak, dive, swim in the lagoon, or join a sea turtle patrol.
Though a fishing town, Robertsport is famous for its breaks where surfers play all day long. Surfing enthusiasts flock to this destination to hang ten and challenge the waves. Its most famous point breaks are Cotton Trees near a shallow sandbar, the beginner-friendly Fisherman’s Point, and Cassava Point, where experts conquer huge swells. From morning to dusk, Robersport is a surfing mecca, and when the evening bites, the beachside is the perfect place to unwind and be ready for another day of crashing with the waves.
*EAST NIMBA NATURE RESERVE and PROVIDENCE ISLAND
Two Liberian spots are tentatively listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites: East Nimba Nature Reserve and Providence Island. The former is an extension of Mount Nimba Strict Reserve (already a WHS) and is filled to the brim with amazing wildlife, ecoregions, and vegetation. The latter, meanwhile, is historical because it’s where the freed slaves first disembarked when they reached what is now Monrovia. The reserve and the island are places where tourists can always have a humbling experience — something easily attainable in Liberia.
*GBARNGA, CUTTINGTON UNIVERSITY & CAPE PALMAS LIGHTHOUSE
History buffs can explore areas beyond the capital to check out more historical spots. In the city of Gbarnga, they can drop by Cuttington University, one of the oldest in West Africa. The coastal town of Harper, meanwhile, has the defunct Cape Palmas Lighthouse and the mansion of William Tubman, the nation’s longest-serving leader. Travelers can also drop by two controversial spots: the farm of former president and convicted warlord Charles Taylor and Firestone, the world’s largest rubber plantation leased from the government for almost a century.
Gbarnga is home to the majestic Kpatawee Waterfall, a famous picnic site. The trek to the cascades will take an hour, but if tourists want the full experience, they can conquer the over 10-mile trail that will take more than four hours to complete. Whether trekkers take the short trail or experience the long one, they will always have a rewarding journey. Taking a dip in the cool waters of Kpatawee will erase not just the day’s stress but their seemingly endless worries. Liberia is indeed a lively place.