IVORY COAST TRAVEL GUIDE
Welcome to Ivory Coast, a vibrant West African country known for its diverse culture, stunning landscapes, and bustling cities. Ivory Coast, also known as Cote d'Ivoire, is located on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea and is bordered by Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, and Liberia.
The country is home to over 25 million people who speak over 60 different languages, making Ivory Coast one of the most diverse countries in Africa. The official language is French, but many Ivorians also speak local dialects such as Baoule, Dioula, and Abidji.
Ivory Coast is renowned for its rich history and culture, with influences from various ethnic groups including the Baoule, Senoufo, and Akan. Visitors can experience traditional dance and music performances, sample local cuisine, and shop for handmade crafts at bustling markets.
In addition to its cultural offerings, Ivory Coast is also home to breathtaking natural wonders, including the UNESCO-listed Tai National Park, the Comoé National Park, and the stunning beaches of Grand Bassam and Assinie.
Whether you're interested in history, culture, or nature, Ivory Coast has something to offer every type of traveler. So pack your bags and come explore this vibrant and diverse country for an unforgettable experience.
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IVORY COAST QUICK FACTS
Capital: Yamoussoukro; Abidjan remains administrative centre (moved from Grand-Bassam in 1893 then Bingerville in 1933)
Currency: CFA franc (XOF)
Area: 322,460 km²
Population: 25,07 million (2018)
Language: French (official), 60 native dialects with Dioula the most widely spoken
Religion: Christian 20-30%, Muslim 35-40%, indigenous 25-40%
Electricity: 220V/50Hz (European plug)
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IVORY COAST PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 1 May, Labor Day
- 7 August, Independence Day
- 15 August, Assumption
- 1 November, All Saints Day
- 15 November, Peace Day
- 7 December, Félix Houphouët-Boigny Remembrance Day
Also, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, the day after Maulid an-Nabi, the day after Laylat al-Qadr, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha.
Holidays that fall on a Sunday are often observed on the Monday following.
FESTIVALS IN IVORY COAST
BEST TIME TO VISIT IVORY COAST
The best time to visit Ivory Coast depends on your travel preferences and itinerary. Generally, the country has a tropical climate with two main seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.
The dry season runs from November to March, and it is generally considered the best time to visit Ivory Coast. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, with less humidity and rainfall. This season is ideal for outdoor activities such as exploring national parks, hiking, and visiting the beaches.
The rainy season, from April to October, brings higher temperatures and humidity, and frequent rainfall. While the rains can make some areas difficult to access, this season can be a great time to experience the lush greenery of the country, witness spectacular thunderstorms, and enjoy lower travel costs.
It's important to note that the north of the country experiences a longer dry season and a shorter rainy season, while the south has a shorter dry season and a longer rainy season. So depending on your itinerary, you may want to plan your visit accordingly.
Overall, Ivory Coast can be visited year-round, but the dry season is generally considered the best time to visit for optimal weather conditions and outdoor activities.
SAFETY IN THE IVORY COAST
Ivory Coast has made significant progress in recent years to improve security and stability, but it is still important for travelers to exercise caution and stay aware of their surroundings when traveling in the country.
Petty crime such as pickpocketing, theft, and scams can occur in busy areas such as markets and public transport hubs. Visitors are advised to take precautions such as avoiding carrying large amounts of cash, keeping valuable belongings out of sight, and being vigilant when using public transportation.
There have been occasional incidents of civil unrest and political protests in the country, particularly in Abidjan and other major cities. Visitors should stay up-to-date on current events and avoid large gatherings or demonstrations.
Certain areas of the country, particularly in the western and northern regions, have seen sporadic violence and clashes between armed groups in the past. Visitors are advised to avoid travel to these areas and check with local authorities before venturing into remote or rural areas.
Overall, Ivory Coast can be a safe and rewarding travel destination for those who exercise caution and stay aware of their surroundings. Visitors are encouraged to take sensible precautions and follow local advice to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
IVORY COAST WEATHER SYNOPSIS
Cote d’Ivoire is located in the transition zone between the humid equatorial climate that characterises the southern part of the country, and the dry tropical climate of the north. The country generally experiences a rainy season from June to October and average annual temperatures range from 24-28°C. In the north, the rainy season occurs from June to October, while the dry season is between the months of November to May. The southern region of Cote d’Ivoire generally experiences four seasons. May to June brings heavy rains while shorter rains occur during August and September. A shorter dry season occurs during October to November and the main dry season occurring from December to April.
IVORY COAST TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN IVORY COAST
HIKING & CYCLING IN IVORY COAST
November through March is the best time for outdoor activities in the Ivory Coast. During this time, temperatures are bearable, it's the dry season, parks are abloom and wildlife is abundant.
BEACH OPTIONS IN IVORY COAST
The Ivory Coast is home to some of the world's most exotic beaches, such as Monogaga Beach, Sassandra Beach and Assini Beach. The dry season is from December to April.
SURFING IN IVORY COAST
Don't expect big and clean world class waves in the Ivory Coast, but there is swell almost year round. November to April is generally the best time for surfing in Ivory Coast although the biggest swells hit from April to September. You can check the followign surf spots: Assini, Monogaga, Grand-Lahou, Sassandra & Dabego.
KITESURF IN IVORY COAST
Although not a kitesurfing destination, theoretically you can kitesurf at Grand Bassam in the Ivory Coast. There are small waves and a limited launching area.
For more details on kite surfing in Ivory Coast expand this section!
HEALTH RISKS IN IVORY COAST
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
IVORY COAST TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to Ivory Coast can vary greatly depending on your travel style, itinerary, and the time of year you visit. Here is a breakdown of some common expenses you may encounter when traveling in Ivory Coast:
- Accommodation: Budget accommodation such as hostels and guesthouses can cost around 10-30 USD per night. Mid-range hotels and lodges can cost between 30-80 USD per night, while luxury hotels and resorts can cost upwards of 100 USD per night.
- Transportation: Taxis and shared minivans are common modes of transportation in Ivory Coast and can cost anywhere from a few dollars for short trips to 30-50 USD for longer journeys. Rental cars are also available but can be expensive. Domestic flights are available between major cities but can also be pricey.
- Food: Local street food and market stalls offer inexpensive options for meals, with prices ranging from 1-5 USD. Restaurants and cafes in tourist areas may charge more, with prices ranging from 5-20 USD per meal.
- Activities: Many of Ivory Coast's cultural and natural attractions, such as museums and national parks, charge an entrance fee. These fees can range from a few dollars to around 20 USD per person.
Overall, travelers can expect to spend around 30-60 USD per day for a budget trip, 60-100 USD per day for mid-range travel, and upwards of 150 USD per day for luxury travel. However, it's important to keep in mind that prices can vary greatly depending on your itinerary and travel style, so it's always best to research specific costs and budget accordingly.
IVORY COAST TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some travel tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable trip to Ivory Coast:
- Get vaccinated: Make sure to visit a doctor before your trip to get vaccinated against common illnesses such as yellow fever and hepatitis A.
- Dress appropriately: Ivory Coast is a conservative country, so it's important to dress modestly and respectfully, especially when visiting religious or cultural sites.
- Carry small bills: Many places in Ivory Coast, such as markets and public transport, may not accept large bills, so it's a good idea to carry small bills and change.
- Learn some French: French is the official language of Ivory Coast, so learning some basic French phrases can be helpful when communicating with locals.
- Be cautious with street food: While street food can be delicious and inexpensive, it's important to be cautious with hygiene and food safety. Look for stalls with a high turnover of food and avoid anything that looks unhygienic.
- Avoid drinking tap water: It's best to drink bottled water in Ivory Coast to avoid the risk of water-borne illnesses.
- Be aware of your surroundings: While Ivory Coast has made significant progress in recent years in improving security, it's still important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions against petty crime such as pickpocketing.
- Respect local customs: Ivorian culture is diverse and rich, so it's important to respect local customs and traditions, especially when visiting religious or cultural sites.
- Plan ahead: Ivory Coast is a large country, so it's a good idea to plan your itinerary ahead of time and allow for plenty of travel time between destinations.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF IVORY COAST
Ivory Coast is a diverse and culturally rich country with many regions and attractions worth visiting. Here are some of the main regions and their highlights:
- Abidjan: Abidjan is the economic capital and largest city of Ivory Coast. It's known for its vibrant nightlife, beaches, and cultural landmarks like the St. Paul's Cathedral, the Plateau Mosque, and the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d'Ivoire.
- Yamoussoukro: Yamoussoukro is the political capital of Ivory Coast and home to the stunning Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, one of the largest churches in the world. Other notable attractions in Yamoussoukro include the Presidential Palace and the Foundation Félix Houphouët-Boigny.
- Grand-Bassam: Grand-Bassam is a historic town and former colonial capital located on the coast, known for its beautiful beaches, architecture, and museums like the Costume Museum and the National Museum of Costume.
- Korhogo: Korhogo is a city in the north of Ivory Coast, known for its traditional arts and crafts. Visitors can explore the Musée des Arts de la Côte d'Ivoire or attend the annual Fêtes de la Moisson, a festival celebrating the harvest season.
- Man: Man is a region in western Ivory Coast, known for its stunning natural beauty, including the Mont Tonkoui waterfall and the Dent de Man mountain. Visitors can also explore the traditional village of Danansé or attend the Fêtes des Masques, a festival featuring traditional dances and masks.
- Sassandra: Sassandra is a coastal region known for its beaches, fishing villages, and lagoons. Visitors can take a boat tour of the lagoons or visit the Parc National de Taï, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to chimpanzees, elephants, and other wildlife.
- Comoe National Park: Comoe National Park is a large protected area in the northeast of Ivory Coast, known for its diverse wildlife, including elephants, lions, and antelopes. Visitors can go on guided tours or safaris to explore the park.
These are just a few of the many regions and attractions worth visiting in Ivory Coast. Whether you're interested in culture, history, nature, or wildlife, there's something for everyone in this vibrant and welcoming country.
Ivory Coast is a vibrant and culturally rich country with many things to see and do. Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Ivory Coast:
- Visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace: The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace is located in Yamoussoukro and is one of the largest churches in the world. The impressive structure is a must-see when visiting Ivory Coast.
- Explore the Abidjan National Museum: The Abidjan National Museum is a great place to learn about Ivorian culture and history. The museum houses an impressive collection of art and artifacts, including traditional masks and sculptures.
- Take a boat tour of the Sassandra Lagoons: The Sassandra Lagoons are a series of interconnected waterways located along the Ivory Coast coast. Visitors can take a boat tour of the lagoons to see fishing villages, wildlife, and beautiful scenery.
- Attend a festival: Ivory Coast is known for its lively festivals, such as the Fêtes des Masques in Man and the Fêtes de la Moisson in Korhogo. These festivals feature traditional dances, music, and masks, and are a great way to experience Ivorian culture.
- Visit the Parc National de Taï: The Parc National de Taï is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a diverse range of wildlife, including chimpanzees, elephants, and monkeys. Visitors can take guided tours of the park to see the animals and explore the beautiful scenery.
- Relax on the beaches: Ivory Coast has many beautiful beaches, such as Grand-Bassam and Assinie. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy water sports like surfing and jet skiing.
- Explore the markets: Ivory Coast is known for its colorful and bustling markets, such as the Treichville Market in Abidjan. Visitors can shop for souvenirs, clothing, and local products, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of these markets.
- Learn about traditional arts and crafts: Ivory Coast has a rich tradition of arts and crafts, such as pottery, weaving, and wood carving. Visitors can explore workshops and markets to learn about these crafts and purchase handmade products.
These are just a few of the many things to see and do when visiting Ivory Coast. Whether you're interested in culture, history, nature, or simply relaxing on the beach, Ivory Coast has something for everyone.
WHAT TO EAT IN IVORY COAST
Ivorian cuisine is diverse and flavorful, and there are many delicious dishes to try when visiting Ivory Coast. Here are some of the must-try dishes:
- Attiéké: Attiéké is a traditional Ivorian dish made from cassava that is grated, dried, and then steamed. It's often served with grilled fish or chicken and a spicy tomato sauce.
- Fufu: Fufu is a starchy side dish made from cassava or plantains that is mashed into a dough-like consistency. It's often served with a soup or stew and eaten with the hands.
- Kedjenou: Kedjenou is a slow-cooked stew made with chicken or goat, onions, tomatoes, and spices. It's often served with rice or attiéké.
- Aloco: Aloco is a popular street food snack made from fried plantains that are seasoned with spices and served with a spicy tomato sauce.
- Bangui: Bangui is a spicy fish soup made with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and other spices. It's often served with rice or fufu.
- Grilled Fish: Ivory Coast is known for its fresh seafood, and grilled fish is a popular dish. It's often served with attiéké and a spicy tomato sauce.
- Poulet braisé: Poulet braisé is a grilled chicken dish that is marinated in spices and grilled over charcoal. It's often served with attiéké, aloco, or rice.
- Maquis Platters: Maquis Platters are a popular dining experience in Ivory Coast, where diners can choose from a selection of grilled meats and sides served on a large platter.
These are just a few of the many delicious dishes to try when visiting Ivory Coast. Be sure to also try the local drinks, such as palm wine and bissap juice (hibiscus tea).
LGBTQ IN IVORY COAST
WHERE TO STAY IN IVORY COAST
When visiting Ivory Coast for the first time, it's a good idea to stay in the country's main city, Abidjan. Abidjan is the economic and cultural capital of Ivory Coast and has a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. Here are some recommended areas to stay in Abidjan:
- Plateau: Plateau is the central business district of Abidjan and is a good location for business travelers. It's home to many government buildings, banks, and corporate offices, as well as some high-end hotels.
- Cocody: Cocody is a residential area in Abidjan that is popular with expats and middle-class Ivorians. It has a range of accommodation options, from budget guesthouses to luxury hotels.
- Marcory: Marcory is a neighborhood in Abidjan that is known for its lively markets and street food. It's a good option for budget travelers who want to experience the local culture.
- Yopougon: Yopougon is a large suburb of Abidjan that is known for its nightlife and entertainment. It's a good option for younger travelers who want to experience the local nightlife.
- Treichville: Treichville is a historic neighborhood in Abidjan that is known for its lively markets and street food. It's a good option for budget travelers who want to experience the local culture.
Regardless of where you choose to stay in Abidjan, be sure to research the area and read reviews from previous guests to ensure that the accommodation meets your needs and expectations.
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