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8 places that are no longer off-limits to travelers

By: Josh Lew on Aug. 9, 2013, 4:24 p.m.
Chimpanzee in Sierra Leone

Photo: Brendan van Son/Shutterstock

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Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone came out of a brutal civil war in 2002. The country is still lacking in terms of infrastructure, but is beginning to realize some of its vast tourism potential. Contrary to the image it had only a decade ago, Sierra Leone is now a reasonably safe country by West African standards. Accommodations are easy to find, though often quite basic. The beaches near the capitol city of Freetown are not crowded and used mostly by locals, not tourists.

The forests of Banana Island, off the coast, are pristine and filled with wildlife, while inland attractions like Outamba-Kilimi National Park boast classic African savannahs, dense forests and abundant wildlife. Sierra Leone is not quite as tourist-ready as some of the other destinations on this list, but its friendly people and unspoilt nature make it a viable option for travelers seeking adventure in West Africa. It is possible to combine a trip here with a visit to nearby Gambia, a tiny West Coast nation that has a great tourist infrastructure and sees hundreds of thousands of international arrivals each year.