Liberia Travel

Liberia is one of a few African countries that have not only unique history, but also close ties with the U.S., which makes it a great vacation destination. Liberian capital Monrovia is a stable and cosmopolitan city, but the situation is a lot less certain outside of it, so check with the U.S. State Department’s International Travel before making any definite plans.

Geography and History

Liberia is situated in the southwest corner of African continent, bordered by Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Atlantic Ocean on the south. The country covers about 43,000 square miles and is similar in size to the state of Virginia.

Close ties with U.S. come from freed slaves that settled in the current Liberian territory in 1822. By 1837 the colony was able to establish a Liberian republic. While there are some descendants of those early American and Caribbean slaves still living there, they now make only 5% off population. The rest of Liberia inhabitants are indigenous African.

How to get there

The main Liberia’s airport is located about 35 miles away from Monrovia, in Harbel. In 2010 there were no direct flights between U.S. and Liberia. Some European and African carriers have connections and flights to this small West African country. Direct flights are available from Brussels, London, and many African cities.

When is the best time to go?

Liberia’s climate is tropical and humidity is high most of the time. Temperatures range from low 37 to high 90s in Monrovia. You will experience higher temperatures inland, further from the ocean. Rainy season is from May to October, so traveling is discouraged during that time. 1990s and 2000s were really bad for the transportation infrastructure, roads were badly damaged. To this day the roads are mediocre, but can become completely unpassable during the wet season. The best time to visit Liberia is in winter and spring, from November to April.

Practical tips

If you want to travel to Liberia, you will have to have a valid U.S. passport and a visa. Tourists also have to have certification that they received vaccination against yellow fever. You can apply for visa at Liberian embassy in Washington D.C. or at smaller consular offices in other cities. Many places in Liberia accept American dollar, but the official currency is Liberian dollar, worth 0.01369 U.S. cents as of July 2010. You will have really hard time paying with credit cards or travelers checks, so always have cash handy. English is an official language and widely spoken in all major cities, but in rural areas you will be able to hear plenty of indigenous African languages.

What to see and do?

Liberia is a melting pot, where indigenous African culture is mixing with imported American values. To get a better idea of how it really works, visit Monrovia’s National Museum. You will be wowed by arts and crafts expositions and impressed by ritual masks.

If you are looking to escape city heat, visit Silver Beach, which is very close to the capital and invites for refreshing relaxation by the ocean and among palm trees. Sapo National Forest preserves a large area of tropical forest that once covered the entire country. The park is scarred by years of civil strife, but is still very important to indigenous environment and many animal and plant species.