Located on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire is a country with rich soil and tropical climate. Its mild weather has made it one of the largest producers of coffee and cocoa in the world, a factor of its economic success. Cote d'Ivoire, also known as Ivory Coast, is home to more than 60 ethnic groups that characterize the country's diverse culture. If you're planning to visit this remarkable nation, you don't want to miss the following unforgettable attractions.
Containing some of the last remaining primary rainforests in Western Africa, Tai National Park is celebrated for its rich flora and fauna. The park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to leopards, chimpanzees, and the rare pygmy hippopotamus and encompasses more than 1,300 square miles. Park visitors enjoy guided tours, hiking, and camping at the Ecotel Touraco, which is located near the park's entrance. During your visit, you'll want to look out for any of the 12 birds that make their home there, and also for green mambas and giant scorpions. The best time to visit Tai National Park is during its dry season between November and April.
Once the French colonial capital city, Grand-Bassam lies to the east of Abidjan. Owing to its rich history and colonial architecture, the town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cathedrale Sacre Coeur is one of its most celebrated attractions. Grand-Bassam lost its capital status in 1896 after a bout of yellow fever plagued its residents. Though it remained an important seaport, it suffered from deterioration over subsequent decades. In recent years, however, it has reinvented itself as an important tourist center. It is famous for its handicrafts and tours of its Parisian-style mansions. Be sure you visit the town’s famous Museum of Costume too.
The capital city of Cote d’Ivoire, Yamoussoukro is a unique destination for visitors to the country. Centrally located in the Lacs region of the nation, Yamoussoukro has only enjoyed capital city status since 1983. Nevertheless, the city has been occupied since ancient times. During the French colonial period, its name was changed from its original N’Gokro. There are many important attractions located in the city, including the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, the largest Christian church in the entire world. Other sites worth checking out include the Presidential Palace, Kossou Damn, and the Yamoussoukro Public Gardens.
Abidjan is often referred to as the heart of Cote d’Ivoire. It's the country’s economic center and, as such, is home to a wealth of attractions all its own. A coastal city, Abidjan features a wide array of hotels and restaurants with dazzling sea views. Visitors enjoy lounging on its Gulf of Guinea beaches as well as its stunning lagoon beaches. Owing to the Gulf’s notorious rip-tides, swimming in it is not typically recommended. If you’re planning to visit Abidjan, you’ll want to make time to visit its National Museum, Paul’s Cathedral, and enjoy its vibrant nightlife. Other city attractions include the Parc du Banco, the French Cultural Center, The Goethe Institute, the Cultural Palace, and the Sports Palace.
Comoe National Park is located in the northeastern section of Cote d’Ivoire. The park encompasses more than 4,400 square miles of savannas, rocky outcrops, and forest islands. The area has long been sparsely populated due to tsetse flies. However, because it's regarded as the most biodiverse savanna in the world, the park still attracts tourists. Many animal species make their homes in the park, such as crocodiles, African elephants, baboons, giant pangolins, and more than 500 species of birds. The park is also home to the Comoe National Park Research Station that specializes in conservation and tropical ecology.
The Cascade de Man is a picturesque waterfall that is located outside the city of Man. Man is located west-central Cote d’Ivoire and is situated between Mount Toura and Mount Tonkoui. The waterfall is surrounded by a serene bamboo forest that is home to dragonflies and colorful species of butterflies. Nearby is also a popular monkey forest that attracts many tourists. Be sure to spend some time in Man, as well, which is known for its markets filled with traditional Yacouba masks and traditional clothes, nearby coffee plantations, and tourist-friendly hotels.
The National Zoo of Abidjan sets areas aside for free-ranging animals like elephants, as well as enclosures for zoo highlights like lions and hippos. The zoo is also home to Western Africa’s largest captive collection of snout-nosed crocodiles. Although the zoo fell into considerable disrepair during the nation’s recent civil war, it has rebounded to become a leading conservation center for Western Africa. During the period of civil unrest, the zoo animals greatly suffered. The zoo with the help of various international partnerships is working to repair its reputation and provide a better experience for its animal residents and visitors.
The Abokouamekro Game Reserve is located about an hour away from the nation’s capital of Yamoussoukro. The reserve plays an important role in the country’s conservation efforts and is home to many endangered species like rhinos. The protected area is not especially large, as it only encompasses over 164 feet. However, it is home to many large species of predators like lions that attract tourists who are visiting the capital city. The reserve is also known for its verdant green landscapes.
The Lacs des Caimans are located near the capital city of Yamoussoukro in central Cote d’Ivoire. The lakes surround the Presidential Palace and, in a somewhat controversial move, were stocked with large caimans. The lakes have become a major tourist attraction—especially during feeding times. Fortunately, visitors can get amazing views of the creatures without any risks, as the caimans are kept well separated. Sadly, there have been croc attacks involving staff. If you are visiting the capital city, the lakes are every bit as much a draw as the presidential palace itself.
A visit to Cote d’Ivoire is not complete without a visit to the coastal town of Jacqueville for a taste of its famous white-fleshed pineapples. Historically a French colonial slave port, Jacqueville is a fishing port and resort area. The town, which is nearly separated from the mainland by the Ebrie Lagoon, is famous for its enchanting beaches that are fringed by deep green palms and dotted with huts. Visitors will also find plenty of French colonial architecture to check out and delightful eateries and cafes that serve fresh seafood. As the town is located near Abidjan, it's definitely worth adding to your travel itinerary if you're spending time on the coast.