A nation founded by freed slaves, Liberia has experienced many challenges since its founding during the 19th century, such as multiple coups and civil wars. Yet, it has progressed and become an influential African nation in many ways. For instance, in 2005, it became the first country in Africa to elect a female head of state. Filled with incredible cultural and natural attractions, Liberia offers visitors a wide array of things to see and do. If you’re planning to visit Western Africa, be sure to include Liberia on your travel itinerary.

01Monrovia

A view of Monrovia, the Liberian capital city. BethanyFank / Getty Images

The capital city of Monrovia is situated on Cape Mesurado’s Atlantic coast. As the country’s cultural and economic hub, the city is filled with a diverse range of sites that include its bustling Waterside Market, its National Museum, and stunning beaches like Silver Beach and Thinker’s Beach. Visitors to the city will note many architectural attractions, too, like the once-luxuriant Hotel Ducor that is currently in a state of decay but still remains a popular tourist hot spot. Be sure to explore Broad Street to get a glimpse of the city’s vibrant everyday life.

02Gola National Forest

A view of the Gola National Forest region. World-Travel / Getty Images

Located near the border with Sierra Leone, the Gola National Forest is a veritable wilderness of primeval rainforest. The park is home to many species of dragonflies and frogs that have only recently been discovered. Various endangered species like western chimpanzees, pygmy hippos, and red colobus monkeys also live here. If you plan to visit the forest, it’s best to go during the dry season. Traveling from the capital takes about 8 hours on rough roads. Guides may be procured at the park and may prove to be indispensable for travelers who are unused to rainforest terrain.

03Sapo National Park

The endangered pygmy hippopotamus who make their home in the region. wrangel / Getty Images

World-famous for its diverse flora and fauna, Sapo National Park is home to chimpanzees, leopards, crocodiles, and more. Various endangered species like pangolins and African golden cats also live there. The park contains Liberia’s largest protected area of the Upper Guinean Rainforest. While civil wars have damaged the park’s infrastructure, travelers will note the absence of amenities they might otherwise expect to find at a national park. However, if the absence of lodging and trails does not deter you, you can expect the eco-trip of a lifetime. Getting to the park from the capital is no easy feat either, and typically requires about a day of hard travel on rough roads and treks through the jungle and across rivers.

04Mt. Nimba

Mount Nimba, Liberia: an abandoned mining site and the highest point in West Africa mbrand85 / Getty Images

Mt. Nimba is the highest peak in Liberia and is part of the Nimba Mountain range that extends into Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea. The peak is more than 4,265 feet above sea level and typically requires a few days of hiking to climb to its summit. Hikers typically set off from the Yekepa but will need to bring their own camping supplies. The views of the surrounding landscapes and mountains make the climb well worth the effort.

05Greenville

Many travelers stock up on supplies at Greenville before trekking into nearby rainforests. Konoplytska / Getty Images

As a gateway to Liberia’s rainforests, Greenville is a popular stop for tourists. Located on a lagoon and the Atlantic coast, the town is about 150 miles from the capital. After stocking up on supplies for a trek into the forests, many travelers will set aside some time to enjoy its unspoiled beaches and marvelous views of the Sinoe River. The town is known for its friendly people and natural beauty. It's also a great place to hire a guide for your rainforest journey.

06Buchanan

Buchanan is home to tranquil Atlantic beaches.

The city of Buchanan is Liberia’s third largest and is located on Waterhouse Bay close to the mouth of the Saint John River. The city’s biggest draws are its undeveloped beaches that showcase the pristine beauty of the region’s Atlantic coasts. Visitors may find cafes or bars near the beaches, but don’t expect much more. There are some guesthouses in the city, but many visitors prefer to camp near the seaside.

Konoplytska / Getty Images

07Sanniquellie

"Hilltop shot of a small town in Liberia, West Africa." MissHibiscus / Getty Images

Located near the borders with Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea, the town of Sanniquellie is located near the Strict Nimba National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lands near Sanniquellie are characterized by their breathtaking savannahs and lowland rainforests. The area’s biodiversity is rich and includes species like the elusive Western African lion. The town features a hospital and marketplaces where travelers can purchase traditional West African handicrafts.

08Voinjama

Many of Voinjama's homes are roofed with thatch. Konoplytska / Getty Images

Venture to Voinjama, located on the north-eastern edge of Liberian jungle, to witness traditional life in a West African village. The surrounding area is filled with swinging bridges and rough terrain, so exploring the rainforest requires some know-how. However, adventurous eco-travelers may want to include this village and other nearby timber villages on their adventure bucket list.

09Monkey Island

A resident chimp of Monkey Island Eric_Buller_Photography / Getty Images

If you fancy being pelted with a mango by a feisty chimpanzee, plan to visit Monkey Island, which lies just off the coast from the town of Marshall. The island is home to about 60 chimps that were abandoned after being used in medical tests for decades. The chimps are highly aggressive to protect their territory, so don’t plan to actually step onto the island. Local fisherman row visitors along the shore to witness the mango-throwing chimps. Nearby Marshall is known for its tranquil and remote beaches and attracts many visitors as well.

10Cape Palmas Lighthouse

No view of the lighthouse is available. Konoplytska / Getty Images

Cape Palmas is located on the southeastern coast of Liberia and is home to the area’s iconic lighthouse. Although the light is no longer in use, visitors enjoy climbing to its heights to enjoy its majestic sea views. During the rainy seasons, the steep steps are quite slippery so it’s best to venture upward here during the dry season. The nearby beach is palm-fringed and a great place to relax, but the shoal-filled waters off the coast are known for their dangerous currents so swimming should be avoided.