Budgeting for Sierra Leone is all about your style of life. The truth is, if you don’t mind roughing it, you could probably travel Sierra Leone for about $30 a day. However, if you’re looking for nice meals and good accommodation it can get expensive, especially in Freetown. Outside of the capital and the nearby beaches, Sierra Leone can be travelled for extremely cheap. Rooms, meals and even national parks are an absolute bargain and amazing value. My best recommendation, is to budget about $55 a day for Sierra Leone. This will give you enough cash to splurge on the beach and in Freetown and ample cash for the countryside as well.
- Food: $25/Day; Freetown’s quality restaurants destroyed my usual food budget of $20 a day. It would have been even more if I hadn’t made my own meals a quarter of the time in Freetown and had $5 day meals in Tiwai Island and OKNP. If you’re hanging out a lot in Freetown and planning on eating nothing but expat meals, be prepared for about $30 a day worth of food… good food!
- Accommodation: $12/Day; The funny thing is the most expensive accommodation I paid was to put up my own tent on the beach in No. 2 River which was $20 a night. In Freetown, I paid $15 a night. I paid as little as $3 a night in OKNP and Tiwai Island. I cut corners for sure to save money on accommodation. I stayed downtown Freetown and on River No. 2 It would have been about $60 a night had I not camped on the beach.
- Transport: $5/Day; the price is slightly inflated thanks to a boat trip to the Banana Islands and a moto-taxis into the country from Guinea. Shared transport from town to town will only cost about $1 per hour on the road.
- Activities: $2/Day;I went to 1 Chimpanzee sanctuary, two national parks, and one museum. The national parks were cheap as chips. OKNP, for example, I paid $20 a day for a guide, food, accommodation and water.
- Misc: $7/Day; Visa for Liberia ($100), a cell phone ($12), and internet and phone credit. I also had to spend money to send myself a couple of Western Union money transfers.
- Total:: $51/Day; I’m sure that if I spent more time in Freetown it would be much higher thanks to so much good food. However, in places like Tiwai Island and OKNP my daily budget was about $15. It evens out in the end. I think the stingiest people would spend about $45 a day. The flashpackers would spend about $60 a day.
- Local currency: The local currency in Sierra Leone is Leones and is about 1 USD to 3,300 Leones. Since the biggest bill printed is 10,000 and only worth about $3 it makes it a bit hard to pack around a lot of cash. The easiest foreign currency to change are Pounds. You can also change Euros and USD pretty easily.
- Banks and ATMs: You’ll find ATMs in the major cities but nowhere else. The big issue is the fact that the biggest bill is 10,000 Leones so the bank machines in Sierra Leone only dispense a maximum of about $140 at a time. Since my bank charges me $5 a transaction, I decided to send myself Western Union transfers which were about $20 for $500 worth of cash.
- Traveller’s Cheques: A couple of the banks in town change them for an extortionate price. Don’t bother bringing them, just bring cash and bank cards.