We (Cor and Grietje van NoFear Travel), travel with our Toyota Hilux 4×4 camper by Africa. The African continent is the Mecca for 'overlanding' with many challenging routes and beautiful destinations. The first African country we visited during our trip to South Africa is Morocco, followed by Mauritania en Senegal. From Guinea en Sierra Leone we travel to Liberia. You can read all about it in this article.
Naturally, you can also start watching the video again.
Table of contents
About Liberia, a few facts
Liberia is almost 3x the size of the Netherlands and consists mainly of tropical rainforest. The capital Monrovia (Location here ) is located on the coast and has about 1 million inhabitants. About 5 million nationwide. And unfortunately Liberia also ranks high in the world ranking of poorest countries.
The big difference with the countries we passed so far is the religion. Here the vast majority (86%) of the population is Christian. You see churches appearing everywhere in various guises. The people we spoke to are fairly strict in doctrine. On taxi vans, tuktuks etc. you see many Christian sayings.
In the past, Liberia has become the new free country of ex-slaves who came back from America. You therefore see many similarities and derivations from the US. They call their money Liberian dollars, but you can also pay with US dollars everywhere. The flag is very similar to the American one and they speak it (Liberian) English as a language. You have to prick your ears extra for that.
The country has suffered from two civil wars in recent years that have destroyed much, but now the people live in peace. Just like in Sierra Leone, Ebola has left huge marks here too.
Border crossing Sierra Leone – Liberia
From Sierra Leone we take the southernmost border crossing to Liberia. At customs everything is very friendly and we can immediately exchange Liberian dollars and buy a SIM card.
The road towards Monrovia is perfectly paved, but we soon take a right turn which leads us to the coast. At the village of Robertsport we settle under the almond trees. It is a restaurant/surf club with some apartments and a few pitches for campers. We are about 20 meters from the waterline and have a fantastic view. It is wonderfully quiet and we promise ourselves to relax here for a few days.
In countries like Liberia they have a different view on privacy. While we are still in bed at 7 o'clock in the morning and we don't show any sign of life, people stiffly pass by the camper with a friendly “good morning” or “nice car”.
A little later, when the door of the camper is slightly open and Grietje gets dressed, two people unabashedly follow her actions for minutes.
A little later a fire is made 20 meters away to burn some junk, probably not realizing that we have to eat our yoghurt breakfast in the thick black smoke.
But anyway, our place under the almond trees with a view over the Atlantic Ocean gets 5 stars according to our own standards.
When visiting Monrovia - which as a city is in many ways similar to other major West African cities - we spend the night in a very special place. Namely on the grounds of an abandoned hotel. Hotel Ducor (location here ) is located on top of a hill and has a breathtaking view of the city. In the last civil war it was used as a shelter for refugees.
After that it fell into disrepair and was actually completely stripped. Yet it is clearly visible that it used to be extremely luxurious for the time. A swimming pool with a diving board, the marble stairs, the casino and the fantastic view ensured that only people with money could afford an overnight stay. The whole is now owned by the government and there are plans for rebuilding/renovation. The grounds are fully guarded and the guards are happy to give you a tour, so that we too were presented with a beautiful view of Monrovia.
Did you know: In the 80s, Michel Jackson celebrated a birthday here and performed in the hotel. The song “Liberian girl” on the album “Bad” originated here.
Nimba Nature Reserve
We continue our way to the north of Liberia. The road towards 'Mont Nimba' is surprisingly paved. “It is the Chinese who have done this job,” we are told on all sides. “It used to take you three days to reach Monrovia, now it takes three hours,” says a local.
At the entrance of the Nimba Nature Reserve (location here ) do we have to pay an entrance fee. In the reserve is a mining area that was abandoned during the war. Tons of iron ore were mined here until 1993. In the deep center of the old mine, ground and rainwater has created a beautiful clear lake, named “Blue Lake”. But due to the glare of the vegetation, it is mainly green. Wonderfully clean, clear water in which we can swim.
We find a phenomenal spot on the edge of the lake and enjoy the swimming possibility and the tranquility. We are alone, and we now know that is quite unique in Africa.
We try to imagine how things used to work here. We are helped by the ranger who takes us up the next day to the top, Mont Nimba, which rises high above the water surface.
After a partly steep climb, we still see the camper as a small dot on the shore of the lake.
In Liberia we had to get used to dealing with the people. A considerable part of the population is reluctant. They don't immediately greet you with a smile, others would like to sell something, but they are not pushy.
The average young population is quite preoccupied with itself. Hair style, appearance and clothing are important to them. Apparently there is time and money to pay attention to this.
We found the enormous noise that is produced striking. Loud music, megaphones at the market stalls and the many horns sometimes hurt your ears. If there is also a generator roaring, because there is no electricity, you will hear it completely.
Liberia is an expensive country, even by European standards. We often look for a Western-oriented supermarket in a capital city where we can find products that cannot be found on local markets. Imported products such as cheese, yoghurt, muesli and meat are extremely expensive. We are glad to have discovered Liberia and some of its peculiarities. But - of course depending on your own needs - we will not directly recommend the country for an ordinary tourist. Perhaps the country is still reeling from the atrocities of the civil wars.