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Surfing Robertsport

About a two hour drive West of the capital, towards the Sierra Leone border you find a quiet and peaceful beach called Robertsport. The second half of the drive was bumpy dirt roads leading down to a small village by the beach, where there were just a few bungalows and one restaurants, a true paradise known for having some of West Africas best waves for surfing.

Taxis run the whole way from the Douala district in Monrovia for just over 4 US dollars, but I was lucky enough to catch a ride with some American expats who were going there on a weekend escape.

Nanas Lodge had tents for rent and let me pitch my own tent for 5 dollars a night. I negotiated a surf board rent for 5 dollars a day and spent the mornings and afternoons, when the waves were at their peaks, surfing with a few local kids who used surfboards that had been left behind by travelers or simply simple home made wooden boards.

There was a beach break called Fisherman’s which would be perfect for beginners with whitewater waves in shallow water, but I spent my time by the rocks next to the camp sites which was a fantastic left hand break.

In the evening we went over to another lodge which was being built by some good guys who made bonfires every evening. They told me that they would open their surf camp in November with a pool, cheap air conditioned sleeping pods and even a woodfired pizza oven which will turn Robertsport into a backpackers Mecca. I can’t wait to get back to this place to see what it is like when it is done!

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Liberia’s Monkey Island

It is hard to find any information other than scientific articles about the monkey island in Liberia. There is almost no information about people who have visited it, probably for the reason that it is in fact not a tourist site.

What it is: Monkey island is just a nickname for several islands about a 100km drive from Monrovia where chimpanzees from science labs were released out into the wild about twenty years ago. This was due to pressure from the growing number of people protesting on animal testing.

How to get there: From Broad Street in Monrovia you need to take a shared taxi (45mins/80cent) to the LRA building. From there you need to take another shared taxi (50mins/1,20$) to the airport. From the airport you hail down a motorcycle taxi and haggle hard for the last 35km on a bumpy dirt road, in my case I got it for 250 Liberian dollar which is 1,75$).

The boat ride: You can either go with a speedboat which feeds them mornings and afternoons for 30$ or you can ask one of the fishermen in a canoo like I did. I paid 10$ for a 30min ride at 1pm so that we made it there to the second feeding at 1.30pm.

Taking pictures: is not allowed. Probably because this, like I mentioned, is not a tourist attraction, but money always talks in Africa so you could ask the locals not to tell anyone if you want to take some pictures once the workers who are feeding the animals have gone.

The experience: was incredible. It was absolutely exhilarating watching them from a boat just a couple of meeters away, knowing that they can tear you apart if they would get angry and jump on your boat.

Be prepared if you are going there. Most people will not know where the place is, but you can find it on Google maps and just be persistent when trying to make the local fishermen take you. Chimpanzees are an endangered species with less than 100 000 of them left the world and everywhere else you would have to pay hundreds of dollars to see them in the wild. Seeing them walk around on two legs, stretching their hands out with humanlike expressions is something truly unique. I feel really lucky to have experienced it and if you read this I would urge you too to go see them while it is still possible.

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A Week in Monrovia

The New Market near Mamba Point

Oh how I had longed to come back to a West African city. To the lovely chaos, dirty streets and water served in plastic bags. To the simplest shack restaurants were people were drinking beer from the morning on and all you could order was rice with whatever sauce they were cooking that day. Liberia was my last country to be visited in West Africa and had all of that, but with a little bit of an American twist. This is probably as the country was given to people who had been freed from the slavery in the US.

A monument next to the Duncor Hotel

For some reason I had imagined there being american diners and maybe some Miami style art deco architecture, but after walking around the city for hours every day I did not see any of that. Instead I found the Liberians to speak a bit different English than the British colonies of Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria, they used the US dollar in addition to the local liberty dollar and a lot of big american automatic gear cars driving around on the road.

Most of the time I was couchsurfing with a local guy called Henry who ran a simple shack bar on Mamba Beach, but after a couple of nights sleeping on his floor I decided to move into the 5$ Chief’s lodge on Miami beach. The best time spent was sitting with locals in the evening chatting and drinking local beer while the widespread marijuana smell and the sound of loud afro beats and crushing waves in the background. The last nights I got to spend couchsurfing in a more comfortable upscale apartment, relaxing and reflecting on my experiences in the last months traveling in Africa.

For anyone visiting Monrovia, a couple of days should be enough to see the markets, the huge Duncor hotel constructed by Gadaffi and enjoying the view from the hilltop, but another extra days could also be relaxing hanging out with friendly English speaking locals around the beaches.