A sophisticated culture; an abundance of French cafés, skyscrapers and elegant buildings in the towns and vast plains and plateaus in the countryside all characterise Cote d’Ivoire.
With a distinctive French atmosphere prevalent in the buildings, food and culture, Cote d’Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast, seems more “Western” than its neighbours. A view of Abidjan from the plane window on a flight to Cote d’Ivoire may be surprising: a mass of skyscrapers point upwards, and dark, well-made roads wind off across the country. Compared with much of West Africa, Cote d’Ivoire is well-advanced technologically. Venture outside the towns and the countryside is equally striking. The coast has beautiful fishing villages, the interior has numerous national parks and some stunning forested mountains, dotted with waterfalls. Beachcombing, hiking or spotting game are all possible for an intrepid traveller.
Bear in mind, however, that some governments advise against travel to the country due to an underlying threat from terrorism. Make sure you check the current travel advice before booking your flights.
The coastal region averages temperatures between 23 and 27 degrees. Rainfall varies greatly in the country, fluctuating between the seasons and geographic locations. The rainforests are wet and humid, reaching temperatures as high as 32 degrees. The desert is the hottest and driest part of the country.
Because of the cooler temperatures, November to March is the best time to visit. Two popular festivals take place during this period – the Fetes des Masques near Man and the Fete du Dipri in Gomon.
The least popular time to visit is the wet season, between May and November. Temperatures still remain extremely hot.
Taxis are available from the airport at Abidjan to the city centre and are much safer than the buses. Travel on the public buses or shared taxis is not advised for tourists.
Trains run daily on the line to Ougadougou in Burkina Faso from various points and the journey takes about 30 hours. Service is often slow or disrupted, though it is among the best available in West Africa. Most travel outside Abidjan is considered unsafe, and if needed should be carried out in convoy. There are many military check-points around the country, which can slow down your journey.
(prices quotes are from London)