Don't Miss Places In Ivory Coast
The Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) got its name in the 1480’s when sailors from France first came there to trade goods for ivory. They would have sailed past the cliffs of the western coast to the beaches and lagoons of the east and arrived at this lush area in what is now known as French West Africa.
Tropical rain forests lay inland, stretching for hundreds of miles and rising to the central highlands and northern savanna. Today, much of the landscape of the country remains almost untouched by modernity. The majority of the people still live in small villages and work the land, just as they have done for many centuries. Since the 1960s, however, there has been a growing move toward the larger towns and cities.
Here are the top ten not to be missed places in the Ivory Coast:
Basilica of Our Lady of Peace
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It is imperative to see the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro city. It is the world's largest basilica (higher than that of Rome) and was a gift from the state of the Vatican. The late Ivory Coast President Felix Houphouet Boigny expended great effort to oversee its construction and chose to have it built at his own birthplace. Completed in 1989, this 518 ft (158 meters) Roman Catholic cathedral is the most famous landmark of the city. Designed by Spanish architects, it is very impressive to see. It is considered a marvel of ingenuity and technology with its elevators in the pillars of the building, air conditioned floors, silencers, removable windows, and other unique features. There is a huge park to accommodate the faithful which is equally charming and complements the character of this imposing structure.
You will be interested to learn about the “Pharaonic” achievement which is attributed to the late president who grew up here and fought for the rights of his people. Once you get inside, the basilica is a fascinating spectacle. The elevators reach the roof and have an observation deck to admire the panoramic view of the entire city of Yamoussoukro. The most beautiful photos are possible from here in good weather. It is a unique structure that must not be missed by anyone in the Ivory Coast.
Le Plateau is the city center of Abidjan. This is the the pride of this city and even the whole country. You will be amazed by the area's majestic skyline and high skyscrapers. You'll find everything here- all the administration offices (Presidency, Ministries, Directions, Consulates, and Bureaus), major hotels, shops and storefronts, luxury restaurants, and attractions can be found here. Visit St Paul's Cathedral, the Place de la République and the "Abidjan Beach "at the edge of the lagoon.
With its tall and modern buildings that define the skyline of Abidjan, the Plateau appears as the most modern part of the city. But when you get closer and you enter the neighborhood, you will notice the signs of the recent war that has broken out following the presidential elections in late 2010.
Several buildings were damaged in the city and the country have other priorities on which to concentrate all resources and energies. Despite the transfer of the capital to Yamoussoukro, Plateau remains the commercial and financial center of Côte d'Ivoire. The scenic surroundings of Le Plateau add to the general atmosphere of the modernized city of Abidjan. With its shops staying busy and the presence of tourists, the city stands tall even though it is still under reconstruction after a war that left serious scars on its society. Abidjan enjoys a thriving tourism industry and is considered a prosperous trading center.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral is an unusual attraction in Abidjan especially for fans of original architecture. This structure stands proud and draws many Catholics to visit here and attend the service. The cathedral is located on one of the highest points of Abidjan and opens its wings as if it were protecting the city. The cathedral is made in a mix of architectural styles with beautiful stained glass windows. A guide can go with you to climb the bell tower (300 steps) where you can see an exciting view of the city. Sadly, the roof was damaged by bombs during the recent war.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is a place of pilgrimage for many devoted faithful and this is the second place, after the Basilica of Yamoussoukro, that is not to be missed for any Catholic tourist in Côte d'Ivoire. It is easily accessible and very near the open area called "Le Plateau" in downtown. The religious structure shows off a very unique architecture, even if the building has taken a serious hit and is still ruined inside by the recent bombs that hit this part of the city. While a cathedral is ideal for meditation and excellent to visit, due to the damage, you will likely enjoy this site and for its very gothic style with modern coatings.
A visit to an African city is not complete without being immersed in its local market. In Abidjan, one of the most vibrant markets is the Treichville Market. Visit and witness a wide variety of goods, a crowd of vendors, a myriad of people and a riot of colors and scents. The covered space deserves a climb to the first floor for a quick look out into the rest of the market. See the stalls of fruit and vegetables, spices, baskets, pottery, and calabash (emptied and extracted pumpkins that are made into a container) and be amazed by its incredible size.
If you are looking for woven African fabrics, this is the place. You will never see so much variety and quality in one location again. The colorful textiles are well positioned on the shelves, many of the Vlisco and Woodin styles. In addition to these, you can also make purchases of handicrafts, wooden statuettes, and silver jewelry. Of course, as in all markets, the price must be discussed and you must learn to haggle and not settle for the given price. When you do this, you will see that the price will drop significantly when compared to the first request. But this is part of the pleasure of diving into the African markets.
Dipi Crocodile Farm
The Dipi Crocodile Farm in Assinie is undoubtedly a place that is necessary to visit while in Côte d'Ivoire. It is a quiet, comfortable and clean place that will not make you feel squeamish at all. The small crocodiles can be given gentle touches and amuse the tourists here. The crocodile babies look like small lizards and do not fail to cause delight, especially after you hold them in your hands. There is a desire to indulge them, perhaps even a chance to pet or kiss them.
This is because you feel they are in complete safety, thanks to the guides, farm workers, and the caretakers who have tamed theses creature in a wonderful way. The giant crocodiles cannot be seen or disturbed. They are located in another part of the farm where they can breed and thrive in their enclosed habitat.
The Crocodile Farm is pleasant in all aspects and carefully maintained in excellent condition. There are lots of crocodiles of all age and sizes. Touching the live reptiles is very exciting and informative. There are other animals present inside this small farm, including ostriches, monkeys, vipers, cobras, and black mambas in their glass enclosures. There is a souvenir shop with cute animal hats. French- and English-speaking guides share interesting facts about the habits of reptiles and the effort to save them from extinction. This farm must be included on your itinerary when visiting the Ivory Coast.
The 396 meter high Mount Nienokue is an ideal summit to conquer by avid mountaineers in the Ivory Coast. In 1982, it was formally declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will need walking sticks, drinking water, snacks, and strong determination to reach the peak after passing through a jungle filled with the wild animals native to the Ivory Coast and lots of vegetation. You can arrange to summit with other skilled climbers (solo climbing is not allowed) and travel in groups as you all take the treacherous hike that starts at the southern jump off point of the Tai National Park. Wear good hiking shoes and warm clothing as you pass the rough terrain landscape of this mountain.
The protected wildlife consists of forest elephants (the African elephants here are greatly at risk because of the ivory trade), funny-looking chimpanzees, buffaloes, local snakes, and bongos. Once you reach the top, the reward is entirely worth the trek. The view of the greens and the nearby mountain tops will take your breath away. The Ivory Coast is laced with rainforests in every town and most of it provides income and livelihood for the country’s people. On this mountain, there are farms where you can see the locals extracting sticky latex liquid that oozes out of a rubber tree as the bark is slit. This process is called tapping. The liquid latex is collected in metal tins and then processed to make mineral rubber, one of the Ivory Coast’s important exports.
The Grand Bassam was the previous capital city of the Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). But now, it’s a residential area near the ocean - an hour from Abidjan. It is ideal for families who want to enjoy a magnificent excursion in the Ivory Coast. As you walk through this town, you can see fascinating colonial structures that connect the visitor to its rich and colorful history. There are heaps of artworks available for purchase along the road while heading into the center of the town. In 1893, Grand Bassam was proclaimed to be the capital of the then French-dependent state.
However, six years after the declaration, a yellow fever pandemic broke out and the French individuals left the region and moved to Bingerville. Even now, the remainders of the short French period are still evident and can be seen in the style of houses, name of the streets, and other important landmarks. The locals visit the town because of its sun, sand and shore. The beach resorts in this area are truly beautiful. The locals here are very cordial and will make you feel exceptionally welcome.
Le Wharf du Sassandra
Le Wharf du Sassandra is the only existing port or breakwater in the Ivory Coast and more commonly called the "Wharf" here in West Africa. Established in 1951, the dock (wharf) made Sassandra the primary port of Cote d'Ivoire, until the Port Autonome of Abidjan was made with the cutting of the Vridi Canal, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Lagoons of Abidjan.
Sassandra then remained the secondary port until, at last, San Pedro was finished, in the 1970s. Both Grand Bassam and Port Bouet had piers and jetties. However, none were as significant as Sassandra, with its four steam driven coaches and the old railway. This dock ought to be at any rate a piece of the National Heritage, and a piece of an international marine and engineering legacy. It is a unique relic of another time that is impossible to pass by without observing and learning about its history.
Tai National Park
The Tai National Park is situated close to the town of Djiroutou and recognized as one of the last enduring areas of virgin rainforest regions in West Africa. Trees reaching up to an enormous height of 50 meters with giant trunks and massive roots abound here. Strolling through the lush woodland is a remarkable experience; the imposing trees, lianas, quiet rivers, and the untamed wildlife join together to make a serene and calming atmosphere inside the jungle.
Animal conservationists continually study the odd behaviors of the chimpanzees in this area. These long-tailed animals have a unique way of hunting and chasing down other monkeys that enter their area.
San Pedro Harbor
The San Pedro Harbor is the second largest port in this country and located in the southwestern portion of its territory.
When you're strolling through the downtown area to the Tai National Park Headquarters, you'll pass through the huge harbor territory. The large container yard holds coffee, cocoa, and timber shipments which are the top revenue earning products of the nation.