Located in the western side of Africa, Ivory Coast (Cote D’Ivoire) is a stunning country with a southern coast on the Atlantic Ocean. The country became a protectorate of France in 1843 and was established as a French colony in 1893. In 1960 the country gained independence, though maintains close relations with France politically and economically.
The dry season in Cote D’Ivoire runs from mid-November to April, making this the nicest time to visit the country. With the dry climate brings less worries about flooded roads or mosquitoes, and many festivals are held throughout the country in these months.
Between December and March, the wind blows from the Sahara and brings with it slightly cooler temperatures, and with it dust and increased dryness in the air. Visibility at scenic sites may also be reduced at this time.
May to October is considered the rainy season, with heavier rains in the south from May to July. It is not recommended to visit the west between June and October, as the heavy rains quickly erode trails and roads and can cause headaches for travellers.
Tai National Park
Tai National Park is one of the last areas of primary rainforest in West Africa, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Located in the southwestern corner of Cote D’Ivoire, it covers more than 3,000km with lush evergreen forest. It is the best preserved remnant of the Upper Guinea rainforest of West Africa.
Travellers will enjoy a visit to Tai National Park to explore hiking trails. The forest is also home to endemic species such as the pygmy rhinoceros as well as 12 bird species which are found only in this area of West Africa. The chimpanzees of the Tai National Park are globally recognized after television footage aired of them hunting monkeys and cracking open wild nuts with stone tools.
Basilica of Our Lady of Peace
Covering an area of 30,000 square meters, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace is listed as the World’s Largest Church in the Guinness Book of World Records. The church accommodates up to 18,000 worshippers, despite only a third of the Cote D’Ivoire’s population declaring themselves to be of Christian faith.
Visitors will notice a stained glass window within the Basilica displaying the likeness of President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who had the structure built as a monument to himself, completed in 1989. The church is located in Yamoussoukro and remains the main place of worship for Catholics in the area.
Dubbed “Little Manhattan” or “Little Paris” (a nod perhaps to the French heritage of the country), The Plateau is the business heart of the Ivory Coast, located in Abidjan. The area is a nice place to wander along the waterfront of the Baie du Banco, admiring landmark buildings, visiting numerous parks, and perhaps taking in a bit of shopping.
Abokouamekro Game Reserve
When in Yamoussoukro, a nice family-friendly option is to visit the Abokouamekro Game Reserve. Established in 1993, the reserve is a protected area of rich grassland. Abokouamekro provides refuge to the region’s endangered wildlife including rhinos, giraffe, buffalo, monkeys, hippos, and more. Bring the kids and follow a ranger on an animal-spotting expedition through the bush, field, forest habitats to get as close as possible to these incredible creatures.
By car, visitors can travel by car nearly to the peak of Mont Tonkoui. Parking and walking the remainder of the way, there is a chance to take in the scenery of the area. Visible from the top are expansive views of the natural surroundings. There are fruits to pick, and a nearby coffee plantation via a short detour. It is advised to pack water and snacks for the road trip as there aren’t any restaurants available in the area.
Located near Abidjan, Grand-Bassam is a resort town known for it’s lively palm-lined beach stretching along the Atlantic coast. Formerly the country’s capitol, the town center is now filled with original – and decaying – 19th and 20th century architecture.
Grand-Bassam is on the shore of the Comoé River where it meets the sea. Nearby is the village of Assinie, filled with water sports and luxury villages. A short trip from Grand-Bassam is Ehotilé Islands National Park, a beautiful place to visit lagoons and estuaries and a great opportunity to spot rare birds. The park also houses manatees and bat colonies.