All visitors to Sierra Leone will use their national currency which is the appropriately named leone! The plural is leones and you’ll often see the letters Le before the actual amount.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
This is a decimal currency and each leone is split into 100 cents. However as is the case with some other world currencies the subunit isn’t actually in use anymore.
There aren’t very many coins or banknotes for this currency. There are four coins available and these are the 10, 50, 100 and 500 leone coins. There are only four banknotes too, which range from the 1,000 leone note to the 10,000 leone note. In between you will find the 2,000 and 5,000 leone notes.
From past to present – the history of the Sierra Leonean leone
Before the country introduced the Sierra Leone leone, it used the British West African pound. The exchange rate upon introduction was two leones to every pound. The reason for the change was the country had been granted independence and it needed a new currency of its own. The name may not be that creative but it is easy to remember!
How to get hold of the Sierra Leonean leone
You can exchange your money for the leone once you get to the country. You will probably not be able to get hold of it prior to that, since it is not an easy currency to find. Make sure you use a proper currency exchange outlet though. There are lots that are not genuine and if you approach one of these on the street you could end up with less cash than you started with. Fake banknotes and other scams are common and you can easily find yourself taken in.
You’ll probably find it difficult to get hold of the leone in any other way. While there are cash machines around they tend to be available only to people who are residents. They rarely take cards from people in other countries, although you may be lucky if you are in a city that is popular with tourists. Sierra Leone has only started to develop in terms of tourism in recent years, so you shouldn’t expect the same services you would see in other countries.
For the same reasons you shouldn’t rely on traveller’s cheques either since these are only cashed in a tiny number of places, not really enough to warrant taking them. Rely on cash and make sure you have good clean notes that are not torn or too old. The larger the denomination the more likely it is you will be able to change it.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Sierra Leonean leone
This is relatively easy to do, even though actually getting hold of the currency itself can be something of a pain. All you have to do is to locate a good quality currency converter online. It should be one that has lots of world currencies in its database and not just the most familiar ones. Use the ISO code SLL to find it more easily, and remember you can do this to find your own currency as well. It’s easy to get a unit for unit conversion but you can also search for a conversion for a specific amount of money if you wish.
For those wanting to learn more about the country and what might be expected when visiting Sierra Leone, a visit to their official website in the UK might be a good idea. You can find the Sierra Leone High Commission London website at http://www.slhc-uk.org/.
Travelling safely with the Sierra Leonean leone
Mostly visits to this part of the world take place without problems. It is one of the countries that has been in the middle of the Ebola outbreak of 2014. Because of its location in terms of this illness it is always wise to check the latest UK government advice before you travel to the country. The situation with regard to Ebola can change at any time, regardless of when you read this article.
Carrying the currency itself is obviously something to be aware of, since you will need to consider your ongoing safety. While you will be relying largely on cash you shouldn’t carry any more of it than you really need to. Anything you do carry can be divided into separate amounts to be carried on different parts of your person. A money belt is a great idea and can be used for jewellery too if you want to carry it with you rather than leaving it in your room. If you can rent a hotel room that has good security and a safe, so much the better.
The main problems you will need to be aware of concern pickpocketing and the potential to be mugged. By carrying less cash and making sure you don’t flaunt what you have you can be safer than you might otherwise be. In addition you shouldn’t wear any jewellery or carry any expensive possessions with you, as these will be tempting for someone to take. Make sure you have company whenever you can too, and don’t go out without a friend when it gets dark.
Where to spend your leones in Sierra Leone – and what to spend them on
Sierra Leone is located in West Africa. It is only bordered by two other countries – Liberia to the south-east and Guinea from the north-west around to the eastern part of Sierra Leone. The entire left-hand side of Sierra Leone looks out onto the Atlantic Ocean.
The capital of the country is called Freetown and this is situated on the Atlantic coastline. It has a history which stretches back over 200 years so there is a lot to appreciate here. Of course the area has been around much longer than that, a fact that is borne out by the presence of the famous Cotton Tree. This is estimated to be around 500 years old although the exact age is impossible to tell. It is also thought to be where settlers landed when the town itself was originally founded. This may not be true but it does make a nice story anyway!
As you might expect of a city on the ocean, there are some great beaches here. If you do get a chance to visit the city you should check out the likes of Lakka Beach among others. There are also a number of resorts here where you can stay and enjoy the beach right on your doorstep.
If you would like to see a slice of nature while you are in Sierra Leone you should consider going to the Outamba-Kilimi National Park. This is in the northern reaches of the country and the double-barrelled name refers to two specific areas of the park. The first is actually a mountain and the second is a river. The park has many animals that call it home, and indeed it did start life as a game reserve. Among them are hippos, chimps and elephants.
Elsewhere in Sierra Leone you can find Tiwai Islands. As the name suggests this is indeed an island, but it isn’t in the Atlantic Ocean. Instead it is located inland, in the middle of Moa River. The river splits and goes around either side of the island itself. The island is a wildlife sanctuary and plays host to hippos among other species, not to mention plenty of birds. It is a popular attraction for lots of tourists to see if they come to the country.
Another natural option you might want to see is the Loma Mountains. These play host to plenty of animals that make their homes here – something you may notice is quite common in Sierra Leone. The mountains are stunning to see, soaring nearly 2,000 metres above sea level. The tallest peak of them all is known as Loma Mansa.
Sierra Leone does have a generous number of naturally-occurring sights in the country that are more than just stunning to see. The capital is far removed from these sights but each offers further insight into the country as a whole. If you have an interest in the natural world this is a country that is good to visit provided it is safe to do so. Ebola tends to occur in this country along with others in Africa, so you should always be apprised of the latest health information before you pay a visit. The situation in this respect can change all the time, so regardless of when you read this you should pay close attention to the latest news regarding the country.
If you do get the chance to book a trip to Sierra Leone plan ahead and work out which parts of the country you would like to see most. This will ensure you make the best of the time you have in the country and you see many of the natural sights and areas that are worth exploring.