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. Sadly, in recent years, the country has been characterised by civil unrest.
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 in current circumstances the UK government advises against all travel to the country. Until the situation improves, it may be wise to hold off booking a flight to Cote d’Ivoire and indulge in some armchair travel instead…
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The coastal region averages temperatures between 23 and 27 degrees. Rainfall varies greatly in the country, varying with 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.
There is only one internal Cote d’Ivoire flight available in the country – from Abidjan to San Pedro.
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. Service is often slow or disrupted, though it is among the best available in West Africa. Most travel outside Abidjan is considered unsafe in the current climate, and if needed should be carried out in convoy. There are many roadblocks, especially in the north of the country.
(prices quotes are from London)