Freetown was established in the 1780s as a home for slaves freed from the US and Caribbean. For locals, the Cotton Tree is a historic symbol and landmark because when a group of former slaves arrived in 1792, they held a thanksgiving service underneath it.
Although there have been civil wars in Sierra Leone, it is now one of the safest West African states to visit. The best way to explore it is by arranging car hire from Freetown Lungi International Airport (FNA).
Freetown is a bustling city that is home to around one million residents and is very busy with traffic and people during the day and at night. The Sierra Leone National Museum, located under the branches of the Cotton Tree, details the history of the city. There are many popular markets selling fresh foods, crafts, herbal medicines and more. The Big Market on Wallace Johnson Street offers crafts and souvenirs for visitors.
The Old Wharf Steps at Government Wharf were the steps that ex-slaves arriving in Freetown climbed up to start their new lives. Most arrivals would also pass through the King's Yard Gate, which is now the site of Connaught Hospital. There are many impressive buildings remaining in the city from its colonial days and the newly restored Law Courts are well worth seeing.
There are many beautiful beaches around Freetown and in the rest of the country, with stretches of white sand and backdrops of palm trees and mountains. The beaches of Aberdeen and Lumley are easily accessible by car and also provide the opportunity to surf and windsurf.
Freetown car hire is ideal for exploring the varied flora and fauna of Sierra Leone. The Outamba-Kilimi National Park is around 300 km from the city and this savannah is home to many species of birds and animals, including chimpanzees, monkeys and elephants.
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