Saturday, February 8, 2014

Turtle Islands, Sierra Leone

Turtle Islands
The village on Bakie Island (in the Turtle Islands, off the coast of Sierra Leone) has recently refurbished a guest house that was built decades ago by a Frenchman, but which had fallen into ruin during the war. There are now four very comfortable rooms, with in-suite facilities. They will prepare meals for you at a very reasonable rate. I can't remember what the price per night was, but I paid $100 for three full days and nights, room and board all inclusive, other than drinks. The particularly nice thing about it (and the reason I'm putting together this page) is that the proceeds from the guest house are shared by the whole village, I know that the profits from 2010 were used to purchase a new communal fishing net. Because the income is shared, you get a very warm welcome from everybody in the village.

It's a stunningly beautiful location, you can spend your days lazing about swimming and reading, hiring local boys to climb a tree and pick you fresh coconuts, or hiring a dugout to paddle you around for a few hours (there wasn't a set price, but I offered the same $10 price I had paid for a canoe ride on Tiwai, which was gratefully accepted). I didn't occur to me while I was there, so I didn't do it, but I'm sure you could arrange to go out fishing with somebody from the village.

There's no phone reception on Bakie Island, but the fellow there who coordinates things (Isagah Jalloh, who became a friend) takes a boat out every day to a spot where there is reception to check his messages. The best plan is to text him, and then he will call you back when he gets the message. His number is 076 440 230. He knows a boat captain in Tombo who is reliable, so can arrange a safe (but likely a bit expensive) trip out to the islands. You can also take the weekly boat from Shenge or Plaintain Island, agan, contact Isagah for the details of the schedule. 

There's really no reason you can't just show up (slim chance that they will be booked up), but it's probably best to email Isagah before at: 

Although he certainly checks his email more intermittently than his phone, so texting is best.

When I went, I wasn't sure what facilities and services were going to be available (I just rocked up on the beach and got lucky) so I had brought my own water packets with me. It turned out that this was a good thing, because packets of water were not available on the island. You should plan on bringing your own, which is easy enough, ask for a "gross" before you leave the mainland.

Here are a few pictures I took while I was there:


  1. absolutely great pics, i think i will go there soon
    thanks a lot for sharing

  2. Hi, I was just in Freetown, and I was looking for some postcards, there are not alot around - your pictures are stunning, have you thought of contacting the ministry of tourism, they may be interested in using them? What are your technical specs btw?

  3. Jeez, this reads and looks like a dream trip! Thanks for reporting, and eyewatering pics too.

    I might want to go there by boat from Tombo, but not return, but insteat move on to Sherbro island.

    I just wonder: Did you get a lot of (maybe) requests for support? I had that kind of situation in neighboring countries, and could get awkward if you're the only westerner around.

  4. I've neglected this for a while, sorry.

    Pics were taken with a first gen Canon 5D, using mostly a 16-35mm and 200mm lens, both Canon Ls.

    I didn't get that many requests for support, or maybe i just don't remember them, because I've gotten pretty good at fielding such requests over the years.

    I am still toying with ideas of how to help the village on Bakie island obtain an outboard motor so that they can have their own transport to the mainland, both generally and for guests. Not sure it's going to be feasible for me though.

    Really was a great place/trip!

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  6. I spend few days there in 1991, the place was wonderfull. Good to know that it is alive again!
    Visit my group "Hobie Cat aventure Sierra Léone" on facebook, i talk about theese islands, a pure dream.