Liberia is a country with a tumultuous history. The country, founded by freed African American slaves in 1847, is the oldest republic in Africa. However, the last few decades have been marred by conflict. In fact, the Second Liberian Civil War ended just 15 years ago, in 2003.
Despite the country’s recent history, it sits in a beautiful countryside, and there are some striking things to be seen both in the wild and in the country’s urban centers. Here are three unforgettable sites in Liberia that highlight the country’s past, present, and hopes for the future.
Sapo National Park
Located in the heart of Liberia’s sparsely populated Sineo region, Sapo National Park is the country’s first and only protected forest. The nature reserve, created in 1983, covers about 700 square miles and is the largest section of the Upper Guinean ecosystem that remains.
The park is rich in biodiversity and is home to some of the rarest mammal species in the world. This includes African Forest Elephants and Pygmy hippos – both of which are listed as endangered. There are also 600 different species of birds living in the park including African Eagles and many species of parrots.
The park’s interior is relatively undeveloped which helps protect it from illegal mining, hunting and logging. Plus, the lack of easy transit across the region helps to preserve the area’s fragile ecosystem but make it difficult to access by all but the most dedicated nature enthusiasts. If you can find your way to the heart of Sapo National Park, however, you will find a vibrant world unlike any other on the continent.
When Ducor Hotel opened in 1960, it was the first five-star hotel in Liberia’s capital of Monrovia. The hotel welcomed visiting politicians, business leaders and travelers for decades and was the crown jewel of the city.
Hotel Ducor closed its doors when the First Liberian Civil War broke out in 1989. During the conflict, the building was used as a military base of operations. Once the military left, citizens displaced by the conflict took over the hotel.
The hotel now sits in disrepair despite attempts to renovate it in 2007. While Hotel Ducor is not open to the public, it remains one of the most visited tourist destinations in Monrovia because of the striking sight of the towering ruins.
Mount Nimba is a celebration of the beauty of Liberia. This UNESCO World Heritage Site towers over the surrounding jungle landscape at 5,750 feet in elevation. In addition, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve protects 17,540 hectares forest.
Mount Nimba is the source for many of West Africa’s most important rivers. The ecosystem surrounding the mountain is composed of hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects.
While the infrastructure of the park cannot handle too much tourism, dedicated travelers can reach the mountain. Those who do will have the chance to see one of the lushest jungle environments in West Africa.
Since Liberia is a country stabilizing from a difficult period, there are necessary safety precautions that must be considered. Make sure permits are in order, guides are arranged, and know when it’s safe to be at various locations. If you can set up a safe journey, Liberia holds some unforgettable sights for you to see.