Sierra Leone is known for the white-sand beaches lining the Freetown Peninsula. The capital city, Freetown, commemorates the nation’s slave-trade history with the Cotton Tree landmark and King’s Yard Gate. Both were known as places of refuge for returned slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nearby Bunce Island was a key departure point during the slave trade. The interior has lush landscapes, jungle and reserves abundant with wildlife.

Guinea-Bissau is a gem for those prepared to seek it out. The forested, sparsely populated Bijagós archipelago is a protected biosphere reserve. Its main island, Bubaque, forms part of the Orango Islands National Park, a habitat for saltwater hippos. On the mainland, the capital, Bissau, is a port with Portuguese colonial buildings in its old city centre. There are many nearby sleep towns and quiet beaches. Guinea-Bissau is tragically poor, even by African standards, but it is peaceful and its people are some of the most unconditionally hospital in West Africa.

Guinea exudes a marked energy and growing economic vitality. It’s known for the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, in the southeast. The reserve protects a forested mountain range rich in native plants and animals, including chimpanzees and the viviparous toad. On the coast, the capital city, Conakry, with many bustling markets, is home to the modern Grand Mosque and the National Museum, with its regional artefacts.

Liberia is a diamond rich country on the Atlantic coast. The capital city of Monrovia is home to the Liberia National Museum with its exhibits on national culture and history. Around Monrovia are palm-lined beaches like Silver and CeCe. Along the coast, beach towns include the port of Buchanan, as well as laid-back Robertsport, known for its strong surf. Wildlife includes elephants, pygmy hippopotami, chimpanzees and antelopes. Visitors can experience the cultures of over a dozen different ethnic groups.