In Liberia you will feel like you’re the only tourist in the country. It wouldn’t suprise me if you actually will be. So, why pedalling over there, you might ask?

Well, here are 5 very good reasons.

Not in any particular order (How could you compare The forests of Liberia to The people of Liberia?), but still 5 good reasons to get there!

1. Yekepa and Mount Nimba.

Imagine yourself riding along a lonely dirtroad in northern Liberia. All of a sudden the red dirt turns to old asphalt and the wireless poles are joining the road. After a few more minutes, old rusty machines make their presence at the right side of your handle bar. A small distance behind the machines are large rusty warehouses. On the left side there is a large field full of old houses with no roofs nor windows. These evidence of the former mining town of Yekepa countinue to be your company as the old road makes it turnes up on a small hill. This abandoned town has has a spooky feeling and with the impressive Mount Nimba as a backdrop it gives you a surely surreal feeling…

To get to Yekepa, you have to make your way throught the…

Yekepa - Some really big machines that has seen better days.

2. Forest of Liberia

It´s thick, it´s green and it seems like no-one knows anything about the area from Buchanan to Gbarnga. It´s  not totally another matter from when Graham Greene did his famous hike in the country in 1936. In neighboring countries, people in the villages knew the names and distance to the next town. In Liberia, if you are lucky, the people know the name of the next village.

There are some trucks and a few UN vehicles passing as you pedal up and down the hills along the roads of orange mud. The roadside is a green wall. A kind of forest you may not have seen since you took a rest at Tiwai-Island some weeks ago. In the nightime it´s  you and nature. Only the weak lights from the torches interrupt the stars. The torches lighting up the villages for…

The forest - Just crossing St. Johns river. The rainy-season made it massive.

3. The Liberian people

You may find the Liberians quite rough.

They are for sure not as overwhelmingly friendly as you are used to from cycling in Guinea, and some officials might be suspicious and a bit uneasy with your presence. The rough accent might even scare you off a bit. But, and notice this, as soon as you chat with them they get as friendly as you´d might expect from visiting other countries around the continent.

Most of the police and military are curious and friendly as are the people in the villages. I slept for free at two different police stations and had two great evenings being taught how to prepare bushmeat and other food the local way. Another place where there are friendly locals is at the small village of Sawilo, while you are waiting for the boat to cross…

 

4. Lake Piso

The boat from Sawilo do show up, but there´s not enough people in Sawilo to make the way back profitable. Well, instead of waiting in Sawilo you´ll take a small boat.

A very small plank-boat indeed. It’s a little less space than enough for you, your bike and a the paddling guy, but you´ll fit in with some balancing skills. The boat is making its progress slowly up a river. Then it makes a turn facing a massive, but low, mangrove forest. You´ll enter the forest through a small channel. If you´ll let your hands out you´ll touch the trees and bushes which are growing like walls and ceilings around you.

The sun shines through the branches and you´ll see small fish playing around in the shallow water. The only thing you can hear are the birds singing and the monotone low splashes from the paddle. After almost an hour of delight from  Mother Nature you´ll leave the forest behind and in front of you is the magical Lake Piso. You´ll see fishermen catching today’s fish and in the horizon you´ll see a tiny string of beach. Just a few meters of sand seperating Lake Piso from the ocean. At the left end of the string you´ll see a village. Slowly but surely the village grows while you get closer. After an hour or so you´ll enter the natural harbour of…

4. Lake Piso - On the way to the lake from Sawilo

 

5. Robertsport

The colourful fishing boats are waiting on a row for the right time to sail. On the other side of the town, which you´ll feel is more like a village, is the beach. Small houses are spread out between the old concrete road and the beach.

Do you want to cycle to Robertsport to experience a beach, you might ask yourself. Well, if you’re into beaches, you will. The beach seems to go on forever and you won’t find many people around. But, if you’re like me, you´ll go here to experience the small surfing scene of Liberia. The local surfing hero, Alfred, is studying in Monrovia at the moment, and after the movie “Sliding Liberia” he has become a bit of a legend in this area. You´ll find a few guys surfing quite well and some small boys playing around with old boards and under the big silk tree at the beach you  can  rent a board. After drinking a few litres of salt water you´ll realise why you are a cyclist and not a surfer…

Upperhill Robertsport has a few large abandoned buildings that can tell it is a former holiday destination, and a few houses giving you the South America vibe. The feeling of Robertsport’s past as a holiday resort and the idea that tourism might be growing, will certainly give you the feeling that you´re there at just about the right time…

A young guy 'surfing'

 

About the author: Ulrik Malmberg is a Swedish traveller who has spent about a year in east, south and central Africa as a backpacker. As a student he spent his summer breaks cycling. He made his first trip in the saddle in 2010, cycling from the Finnish town of Åbo to Istanbul. He put himself and his bicycle on a train going to eastern Turkey from where he spent his last weeks pedalling to, and around, Georgia. In total, he cycled 5590 km before going back to school.

He went back to Africa in 2011, bringing his bike with him. Gambia, Casamance-Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra-Leone, Liberia and Mali were enjoyed in the wet rainy season. 3500 km later it was time to get back to school again.What´s next? Who knows…

 

You can follow his adventures at: www.blondinulrik.blogg.se/

 

Top 5 Reasons to Go Bicycle Touring in Liberia
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