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 traveler.
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.
Ivory Coast climate
The coastal region averages temperatures between 73 and 80 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 90 degrees. The desert is the hottest and driest part of the country.
Best Time to Fly to Ivory Coast
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.
Getting around Ivory Coast
Taxis are available from the airport at Abidjan to downtown 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.
Ivory Coast Travel Information
- Visiting Cote d’Ivoire after spending any time in the surrounding West African countries can be something of a shock. Compared to Ghana or Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast seems far more built-up and technologically advanced – even the construction of the roads seems better here. The apparent sophistication of the country can be something of an illusion though, as the violent riots of recent years showed. Travellers should take extreme caution when visiting the country and be sure to check advice from relevant foreign offices before their trip.
- Abidjan is the country’s main city and administrative center, though not its official capital. Far more developed than the cities of surrounding countries, its resemblance was closer to a French town, with cafés and boulevards, before the unrest and riots of the late 1990s and 2000s struck.
- Grand Bassam is a small city on the coast to the east of Abidjan, with a tropical and lush feel. Old and often crumbling colonial buildings and jungle vegetation are housed in the middle of a stunning lagoon. Finding a café – often on stilts in the water – and sitting back to watch the sun go down will offer one of the most peaceful and stunning views you’re likely to find in the entire country.
- Yamoussoukro is the country’s capital and a lively city worth visiting (safety allowing). The city contains a giant Catholic basilica (consecrated by the Pope as a “minor basilica” though it is actually taller than St Peter’s in Rome) surrounded by lush jungle, which V. S. Naipaul described as one of the “wonders of Black Africa”.
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More useful information about Ivory Coast
- South Africa retains strong influences from Dutch and British culture.
- Because you need a return or onward ticket to enter the country, one way flights to Africa are not ideal.
- Direct flights from American cities to African cities are rare.
- The entire continent of Africa is generally warm year-round, with North Africa being the hottest.
- Africa’s history is as vast and rich as the continent itself.
- For a breath taking beach experience, visit the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar.
- Booking a last minute flight to Africa is not advisable, since much preparation is usually needed.
- Kenya offers an extraordinary Safari experience.