Cote d'Ivoire Travel Guide

Known also as the Ivory Coast, French-speaking Cote d’Ivoire is one of the richest tropical states in Western Africa. It’s also one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa, and its ethnic diversity and expat population as well as its mix of architectural styles, beaches and lively markets combine to make this a unique and rewarding destination. Political instability puts a damper on things, with some areas to avoid.

When to Go

The climate in Cote d’Ivoire depends on the area—tropical along the coastline and semiarid towards the North. It generally has three seasons: hot and wet from June to October, warm and dry from November to March, and hot and dry from March to May.

Getting There & Away

Cote d’Ivoire is accessible by air and road travel. The country has seven paved runways and many urban and intercity roads. However, the majority of roads remain unpaved and can only be accessed if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle. Traveling in and around the country unaccompanied and at night is not recommended. Rail travel can offer more than you bargained for, with some routes passing through rebel territory. It’s wise to plan your trip carefully if you want to avoid any unplanned rebel encounters.

Health & Safety

In the middle of 2006, thousands of Abidjan’s inhabitants became sick and in need of medical attention thanks to the dumping of toxic waste in the city. Places in the city have had different exposure levels to hydrogen sulphide which can lead to respiratory problems, eye irritation and aggravated lung disease and asthma symptoms. Abidjan, Cocody, Marcory and Koumassi present security and health risks to foreign travelers, and information on the current situation should be sought from your foreign office before leaving home. If you were looking forward to attending demonstrations here, think twice. The political situation in Cote d’Ivoire remains unstable with occasional violent outbreaks and anti-western acts. Violent crime levels have also gone up, but na├»ve travelers should find locals helpful should they be a victim of crime.

Food & Hospitality

A few cases of avian influenza have been reported in Cote d’Ivoire making eating raw foods, especially egg and poultry dishes, unwise. Drink only bottled, purified or filtered water. Tap water may give you a waterborne disease like hepatitis A, typhoid fever or diarrhea. The good hotels are located along the beach strip of Assini and the European-style capital of Abidjan. Rates vary depending on location and proximity to tourist destinations, but you should be prepared to pay some of the highest rates in West Africa.

Itineraries

Three days in Abidjan
Two days in Bouake
One day each in Grand bassam and Bongouanou
Half a day in Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix

Highlights

Abidjan: it is considered the most European city of Cote d’Ivoire and is where some of the wealthiest parts of the country can be found including Cocody, Les Deux Plateaux and Le Plateau.

Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix: an architectural attraction, the Basilique was fashioned after St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It was once the largest Christian worship place in the world.

Bongouanou: houses several cultural and historical structures such as Abongoua and Kotobi as well as boasting a sacred lake.

Man: surrounded by green hills, Man is strategically located near the Cascade waterfall and Mount Tonkoui.

Bouake: is a market center at the heart of Cote d’Ivoire and sells agricultural products including rice, coffee, cotton, tobacco and yams.

Grand Bassam: once the French colonial power capital, the city is now home to architectural structures like the Mairie, the old Post Office and the Governor’s House. Some of these structures have been preserved while others are left in ruins.

Activities

Shopping: take some of the country’s agricultural and indigenous products home after exploring the markets of Bouake.

Sightseeing: take photos of the architectural structures in Grand Bassam, Man and the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix. But first, make sure taking photos is allowed.

Water sports: swim and soak up the sun in Assini located 40kms from Grand Bassam.

Safaris: check out the local wildlife in or Tai or Comoe national parks, both listed by UNESCO World Heritage.