Tokeh, Sierra Leone

Photo: Stay at the Place
Photo: Stay at the Place

Sierra Leone is off-limits right now. The country was declared a state of public emergency back in July. Flights were canceled, hotels closed, and non-emergency travel was banned. Six months later, the Ebola outbreak still isn’t under control. One of the country’s senior-most physicians even succumbed to the disease a few weeks ago. So your dream of visiting the country’s gorgeous coastline may have to wait another year.

This is a huge setback for the West African country. After a civil war that lasted more than a decade, Sierra Leone was finally at peace. Freetown, the capital, quickly charmed visitors. Religious tolerance was expected throughout the largely Muslim country. While new resorts started popping up along the rainforest-lined beaches.

The Place at Tokeh Beach is one of those beachfront hotels. It’s freestanding chalets and pool face Tokeh Beach, which is known for its soft sand, warm water, and views of the Banana Islands. The spacious chalets have rainfall showers, air conditioning, and Molton Brown products. Aquarelle is elegant, with white lights and slipcovers decorating the upstairs restaurant. High Tide, in the garden, is more casual and lively. While Nar Pala offers sunset views and al fresco dining right on the beach. A modern hotel, indeed.

Photo: Stay at the Place
Photo: Stay at the Place

Besides relaxing on Tokeh Beach—a given—visitors come to explore the coastline. Tokeh is full of friendly people and fishing boats. The church, the mosque, the school, and the community center all welcome travelers. Uninhabited Tokeh Island is a popular fishing and snorkeling spot. Night jungle walks are arranged at dawn and dusk to see the monkeys in the rainforest. While rescued chimps are taken care of at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Plus, a trip to Bunce Island shouldn’t be missed. The ruined fort, with ramparts and cannons, is a haunting reminder of the slaves shipped to North America and the West Indies until the early 19th century.

This is the trip you were dreaming of taking in 2015. But The Place is closed. Tokeh Beach is empty. And Tokeh is quiet. So you’ll wait. You’ll dream. And you’ll keep planning for a future trip to Sierra Leone.

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