We are so happy you’d like to learn more about visiting Outamba Kilimi National Park. Accommodation there is basic, but the atmosphere is unbeatable. The accommodation is run by the Government of Sierra Leone’s National Protected Areas Authority. Some of the work is done by unpaid national volunteers, so don’t be afraid to tip. Relax in the Little Scarcies River, take a canoe ride down to see Sierra Leone’s common hippopotamus (bigger than pygmy hippos, but not as big as the common hippos found in East Africa!) and go on a hike either up to the top of a scenic lookout point or to the perennial Lake Idrissa (more of a seasonally flooded plain, but a good place to spot wildlife like warthogs, waterbuck or birds!). Visit the new Outamba Kilimi National Park Education Centre and Community Library to learn about the history of the park and wildlife that lives there.
How to get there:
From Freetown: Take a taxi from Hill Station Taxi Park to Makeni, then take another taxi from Makeni to Kamakwie. You may need to travel to a different taxi park to find a taxi to Kamakwie. Once you arrive in Kamakwie you will need to hire a bike to take you the rest of the way, as it is only navigable by 4WD vehicle or motorbike. You will want to start your journey quite early in the morning, or have a stopover night in Makeni. If you need to stay in Makeni we recommend Alisam’s Guest House just a few minutes walk from ClubHouse Restaurant (100,000-150,000 per night depending on room size). You can also visit Wusum’s pool for a cold drink and swim in their pool!
For more details on where to stay and eat in Makeni, see the bottom of the page.
Private Car Hire/Drive Yourself
We recommend hiring a car from Makeni, as it will have a drastic price reduction from those in Freetown. If you need assistance finding a private 4WD vehicle please send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can provide some phone numbers for reliable drivers.
To drive to the park follow the road to Makeni, then head towards Kabala Highway. Just a few minutes after the Makeni Clocktower, you will turn left at Panlap Junction and head straight on this road until you reach Kamakwie. Follow the road through Kamakwie (this is a good place to stop at the market to do any last minute shopping if you didn’t stop in Makeni. The basics can be found like rice, groundnut paste, coffee, tea, sugar, etc.). If you need to ask for directions ask for “wildlife” or “hippos”. You will then continue out of Kamakwie until you reach the Kaba Ferry. Don’t be alarmed about putting your car on the ferry! It’s new as of 2019. After the ferry continue straight for about an hour and a half, until you reach a small junction with a sign for the park, turn right. There are a few steep hills on this road, so keep an eye out. You will pass through a few villages, the final village before the park is called Kotor. They have a small shop if you want to buy some soft drinks or biscuits, and sometimes fresh bread. Continue through Kotor until you reach the camp! Then enjoy a cold drink with your toes in the river, you deserve it!
What to bring:
We recommend you bring your own food and definitely bring your own water. If you are a small group you can buy food from the park staff, but they have to travel to Kamakwie to go to the market, so unless you’ve called ahead to book (not usually necessary) they might not have enough food available. You can hire someone to cook for you though! Or they can help you start a three-stone fire by your accommodation (tent or cabin) and you can cook for yourself!
Toilet paper is provided, but electricity is scarce. Bathing is in the river so bring a swimming costume, and the toilet is a classic camping pit toilet (with a raised seat). We recommend brining a flashlight or head torch as there is currently no electric lighting at the tourist camp. Enjoy the quiet and the sounds of the bushbabies and owls in the trees at night, and wake to the sounds of monkeys playing overhead! Bring hiking shoes and long socks to keep your ankles safe from biting black flies if you take a canoe trip to see the hippos (worth it, but wear bug spray!).
If you want to bring any books to donate to the education centre and community library, all are welcome!
Most importantly, bring a sense of adventure…
If you want to overnight in Makeni:
Getting all the way to the park from Freetown is do-able in a single day, but it makes the drive much easier if you stop in Makeni for the night.
If you need a kehkeh in Makeni, there is only one. The drivers name is Augustine and he will happily pick you up and take you where you need to go in the city. Taxis are there, but they are few and far between. Most transport is by bike, which can be dangerous. We recommend Augustine: +232 099 33 66 01
If you need a reasonably priced guesthouse with clean sheets and the best African omelette in the city we recommend Alisam’s Guest House. Rooms start at 120k per night for a single room with a fan, and go up to 180k for a room with air conditioning. It is on Magburaka Road just down the street from the Clubhouse Restaurant (Street Child affiliated) which is an easy place to get a well priced bite to eat. The fence around Alisam’s is white and pink, everyone is very friendly and it’s a very safe place. This is Pan Verus Project’s accommodation of choice in Makeni! WiFi on request for 25,000 per day (unlimited).
If you want something higher end we recommend Wusum’s Hotel, also locally called Apex, where you can visit the poolside bar (even if you’re not staying there!) to relax and cool down. The rooms here are 600k+ but negotiable.
To eat the easiest places that have both African and international dishes are:
Clubhouse Restaurant on Magburaka road (they deliver for 5,000le) for a well priced mix of African and international dishes. The most expensive dish on the menu is 60k (meat feast pizza). African dishes range from 10-35,000.
The pool side restaurant at Apex has a mix of African and international dishes but is significantly more expensive.
For well priced African food and good atmosphere we recommend Country Bar (Country Friends Bar) which is across from the NP station, next to a car wash, and the WorldRemit/Western Union cash pick up centre on Azzolin Highway.