After almost two decades of war, Liberia – a lush, rainforested country draped across West Africa’s southern flank – seems at last to have found some breathing room. With Africa’s first woman president at the helm, the peace, while still fragile, is holding and Liberians have thrown themselves with gusto into the work of rebuilding their shattered land.
If Liberia does stabilise and open up for travel, it will offer intrepid adventurers a fascinating glimpse into what was previously a wonderfully hospitable and fascinatingly enigmatic society. Liberia’s artistic traditions – especially carved masks, dance and storytelling – rivalled those of anywhere on the continent, and traditional culture was strong. This was especially true in the country’s interior, where secret initiation societies played a central role in growing up, and today still serve as important repositories of traditional knowledge and life skills. For now though, most of this cultural wealth remains inaccessible to visitors, and independent travel outside of the country's capital Monrovia is not considered safe.
Liberia’s dense, humid rainforests – some of the most extensive in West Africa – are alive with the screeching and twittering of hundreds of birds, who are kept company by forest elephants, pygmy hippos and other wildlife padding around the forest floor. Along the coast, deserted white-sand beaches alternate with humid river deltas and tranquil tidal lagoons, while inland plateaus rise to verdant hill country on the borders of Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea.
Though the situation is definitely looking up, it's advisable to get an update on local security conditions before setting your plans.