tasso island salone

Tasso Island: on the way to paradise

If you want to visit Sierra Leone, don’t plan all ahead. You will miss unique chances you’ll run into while you’re already travelling on ‘Salone’s’ roads. But plan your first steps. Plan them wisely. You don’t have to let Freetown’s hustle and bustle swallow you immediately after a long, exhausting flight. There’s an alternative. It’s called ‘Gladi Gladi’ (meaning ‘Happy Happy’ in Krio language), and it will bring you within 50 minutes from Lungi International Airport into the calmness, serenity and beauty of Tasso Island.

Gladi Gladi is a motorized canoe, designed and crafted by Tasso’s skilled community members, who also set up campsite, restaurant, timber chalets and vegetable garden of the Tasso Ecotourism Project. If you are lucky, your flight to Sierra Leone arrives before six o’clock. You can then take the canoe to Tasso Island the same evening and watch the sun set over a country that will capture your heart within the following days, its last rays painting the sky and sea purple, green, red and orange.

The rustling of the wind in the palm leaves, the songs of cicadas, the murmur of the waves splashing onto the beach will clear your mind. The drumming and singing of the island’s communities will cradle you into your first night in Salone. Tasso’s campsite is a paradise. But it also is an ecotourism project designed to improve the lives of around 5000 people whose home is the island, and who have only three schools and no hospital.

Tasso Island Ecotourism Project is in its infancy – the official opening of the camp was in the first half of 2017 –, the island yet to evolve from a blank spot in tourist’s travel guides into a recognized paradise on earth. Tasso Island Ecotourism Project will offer canoe tours, for example to Bunce Island, and you can do birdwatching, hold workshops and even celebrate parties. Tasso’s communities will be as excited about your visit as you are yourself. During an evening at the campfire, the Islanders will proudly introduce you to their dances, arts and culture. During a stroll through the villages, you will learn about Tasso’s history. Take time and listen. Understand what ecotourism is about. That it is about the country and it’s people, about conservation, sustainability, and responsibility. That it is – in this respect – the opposite of most five star hotels.

Now you’re ready. Pack your bag, hop into the boat and take your next step on Salone’s ground.

 

Text: Claudia Christine Wolf

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