Backpacking Ivory Coast

Looking for important travel information while backpacking around Ivory Coast? Here you will find information on working in Ivory Coast, entry visas, Ivory Coast hostels, and much more.

Table of Contents

Facts About Ivory Coast

The Ivory coast is an excellent place to find out more about Africa’s history art and culture, the tense political situation has unfortunately made it somewhat difficult to take advantage of all that the country has to offer. The country is also blessed with some fantastic natural beauty including the Comoe National Park which is the largest in Africa.

The FCO currently advises against any non-essential travel to the Ivory Coast due to a tense political situation in the country. Reconciliation talks suffered a setback in September 2003 when the rebel movement suspended its participation in the government of national reconciliation. A comprehensive ceasefire has been holding but the situation remains tense particularly in areas west of Daloa and around Yamoussoukro which are not fully under governmental control.

  • Currency: CFA Franc (CFAFr) = 100 centimes
  • Time Zone: GMT
  • Language: French
  • Telephone Services: Country code +225, International access code 00
  • Emergency Numbers: Not present

Climate

The Ivory Coast has a largely tropical climate. There are four distinct seasons with the dry seasons occurring during December to April and August to September. The two rainy seasons run during May to July and October to November. The temperature is hot all year round reaching a peak around February and March.

Ivory Coast climate map including average rainfall and temperature by month. Find the best time to backpack Ivory Coast based on your climate preferences.

Things to see and do

Abidjan is the biggest city in the Ivory Coast and until 1983 was the capital of the country. The city is however informally considered to still be the capital city, a fact shown by its bustling atmosphere and enormous population. There is a considerable proportion of French ex-pats which has lead to the city acquiring the nickname of the “Paris of West Africa”. Sights worth seeing include the spectacular Hotel Ivoire which is an enormous hotel complex containing swimming pools, an ice rink and even a cinema within its confines. Also of interest is the St Paul’s Cathedral whose tower boasts the best view in the city. The cathedral was built in 1985 and was consecrated by the Pope himself. When the city gets all too much there is a fantastic rainforest reserve just out of town called the Parc du Banco which is one of the essential sights of the region.

Yamoussoukro conjures up images of typical European beaurocracy with its unfinished roads, deserted eight lane highways and concrete block dwellings. This result was achieved when President Houphouet-Boigny came to power in the sixties and subsequently began spending enormous sums of money developing his native village. The most extreme and beautiful example of this insane spending spree is the three million dollar Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix which is an exact replica of Rome’s St Peter’s Cathedral. The basilica was constructed in only three years and the fantastic stained windows were hand made in France. The city’s nightlife is impressive with a good range of bars and nightclubs and a lively population to make a night out in this city unforgettable.

Note that the current political situation makes travelling alone after dark somewhat dangerous due to criminals which take advantage of the political tension. Always walk in a group and take a taxi wherever possible.

Travel

Air Ivoire runs a domestic air service between Abidjan and all major towns. Although this may be prohibitively expensive for short journeys it is useful when combining the Ivory Coast as part of a larger African Tour.

There is a rail link between Abidjan and Ouagadougou, happily this is one of the most efficient rail links in Africa and runs daily trains stopping at Bouak, and Ferkessedougou. Fares are generally cheap with the “rapide” service which only runs as far as Bouak, costing about a third less than the full express train. Children under 4 enjoy free travel while those between four and 9 pay half fares.

The roads in the Ivory Coast are very good by African standards and there are numerous bush taxi’s and bus services available. There are small privately owned buses available cheaply for short distance travel, they are generally well maintained as well as comfortable and affordable. For longer journeys there is generally at least one company offering a coach service with air conditioning.

Accommodation

There are a reasonable number of hotels in major cities, particularly in Abidjan which boasts several of international standard. In general most towns will offer three classes of accommodation ranging from luxury right down to economy which are pretty basic. Hotels are busy so it is advisable to book your stay in advance.

There isn’t much bed and breakfast or hostel style accommodation available in the country and due to the current political climate we would recommend travellers to stay in a reputable hotel rather than the more tradition lodging used by backpackers.

Health

Healthcare in major towns is up to international standards if not western ones. You will be required to pay for any medical care you receive so comprehensive travel insurance is essential. In addition it is recommended that you purchase a policy which will cover the cost of repatriation if necessary.

Vaccinations are required for yellow fever, cholera and typhoid when visiting the Ivory Coast. These can be obtained from your local GP who should also advise you against any other vaccinations which are recommended. There is a serious malaria risk in the country, even in urban areas. There have been reported cases of resistance to chloroquine so mefloquine is the recommended treatment. You should consult your GP about malaria and its treatment before you take any medication however.

All water should be treated as potentially contaminated and should be sterilised before use for any purpose. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled before use, dairy products should be avoided due to the high probability of having been made from improperly sterilised milk. Meat should be well cooked all of the way through and eaten hot, fruits and vegetables should be washed and where appropriate cooked or peeled before consumption.

Useful Links

Air Ivoire runs the domestic air service in the country

Africa Guide offers some good travel advice for those visiting the Ivory Coast

Entry Visas for Ivory Coast

All visitors to the Ivory Coast require a passport valid for 6 months after the duration of intended stay as well as evidence of a return ticket and a visa. Visas are available from the nearest local Embassy or Consulate. The price of visas varies considerably according to nationality but UK citizens can obtain a single entry tourist visa for CFA35 or a multiple entry visa for CFA45. In addition all travellers over 1 years of age require a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever.

Addresses

Visa applications and enquiries should be directed towards the local Embassy of the Repblic of the Cote d’Ivoire:

Embassy of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire 
2 Upper Belgrave Street 
London 
SW1X 8BJ 
Tel: (020) 7 235 6991 
Fax: (020) 7 259 5320

If you require UK representation while abroad you should contact the British Embassy:

British Embassy 
3rd Floor 
Immeuble 
Les Harmonies
Angle Boulevard Carde et Avenue Dr Jamot
Plateau 
Abidjan 
Tel: + [225] 226850/1/2 or 218209 
Fax: + [225] 220438 
email: britemb.a@africaonline.co.ci

Tourist information is dispensed locally by the Office Ivoirien du Tourisme et de l’Hotellerie:

Office Ivoirien du Tourisme et de l'Hotellerie 
BP 8538 
2nd Floor 
EECI Building 
Place De La Republique 
Abidjan 
Côte d'Ivoire 
Tel: 206 528
Fax 225 624

How to Say Common French Phrases

Methods of Transport

English
French
Where is…?
Où se trouve…?
How much is the fare?
Quel est le prix du billet?
Ticket
billet
A ticket to…, please
Un billet pour …, s’il vous plaît
Where are you going?
Où est-ce que vous allez?
Where do you live?
Où habitez-vous?
Train
le train
bus
un autobus
underground
le métro
airport
un aéroport
train station
la gare
bus station
la gare de bus
underground station
la station de métro
departure
le départ
arrival
une arrivée
parking
le parking

Time

English
French
What time is it?
Quelle heure est-il?
Today
aujourd’hui
yesterday
hier
tomorrow
demain

Accommodation

English
French
hotel
un hôtel
room
une chambre
reservation
la réservation
Are there any vacancies?
Avez-vous des chambres disponibles?
No vacancies
Complet
Passport
le passeport

Places

English
French
post office
la poste
bank
la banque
police station
le poste de police
hospital
hôpital
chemist
la pharmacie
shop
le magasin
restaurant
le restaurant
museum
le musée
church
une église
square
la place
street
la rue

Shopping

English
French
How much does this cost?
Combien cela coûte?
I will buy it
Je le prends
I would like to buy…
Je voudrais acheter…
Do you have…?
Avez-vous…?
open
ouvert
closed
fermé
postcard
la carte postale
stamps
des timbres
little
un peu
lot
beaucoup
all
tout

Meals

English
French
breakfast
petit déjeuner
lunch
le déjeuner
dinner
le dîner
vegetarian
végétarien
cheers!
à votre santé!
the bill please
l’addition s’il vous plait

Drinks

English
French
drink
la boisson
coffee
le café
tea
le thé
juice
le jus
water
l’eau
beer
la bière
wine
le vin

Food

English
French
meat
la viande
fish
le poisson
vegetable
le légume
fruit
le fruit
potato
la pomme de terre
salad
la salade
dessert
la dessert

Buy phrasebooks online at Amazon.co.uk

Ivory Coast Hostels

Hostels are a cheap form of accomodation, and so they are essential to backpackers and other budget travellers.

Sorry, no hostels have been registered for this country yet.

There you have it, the ultimate Ivory Coast backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Ivory Coast.

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