Cote d’ Ivoire Travel Guide
Despite obtaining its independence from France in 1960, Cote d’ Ivoire has maintained close ties to its former colonial overlord, enabling it to remain mostly stable over the balance of the 20th century.
Despite a coup that occurred near the turn of the 21st Century, it has been a nation that has achieved prosperity above and beyond its neighbours, thanks in large part to a thriving cocoa trade.
From a long history of vibrant tribes to possessing what is said to be the largest church in the world, there are many amazing sights and experiences that await you within the borders of Cote d’ Ivoire.
Currency: CFA Francs
Languages: French, Dioula, various indigenous languages
What To Do
The most interesting cultural attraction in Cote d’ Ivoire by far is the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. A massive Basilica that was constructed starting in 1985 and was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1990, this Christian Church is one of the largest of its kind in Africa, and one of the largest in the entire world.
Despite this hall of worship’s impressive and imposing appearance, it has attracted more than its share of controversy. Although it was built to accommodate 18,000 worshippers, it has only attracted several hundred people at its largest gathering so far, and though the Pope only agreed to consecrate the basilica if a hospital was built in conjunction with its construction, the church builders never followed through with their end of the bargain.
Costing $1.5 million to maintain each year, it’s ongoing cost and its initial expense has caused the national debt of Cote d’ Ivoire to double since its construction.
Despite the massive size of the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, it is not a sole representative of this nation’s religious identity, two-thirds of the people in this nation are adherents of Islam or one of several indigenous religions.
For those that fall into the former category, Grande Mosquee du Plateau is the most significant place of worship in Cote d’ Ivoire. Known locally as the Blue Mosque, it attracts thousands of worshippers for Friday prayers. If you ask nicely, the locals may give you a tour of the inside of this magnificent structure.
If you are looking to learn about the culture and tribal history of Cote d’ Ivoire, be sure to drop by the Musee National des Costumes while you are in Grand Bassam. Situated in an old colonial mansion, there are displays that show off various tribal costumes, black and white photographs stretching back into the late 19th and early 20th century, and various traditional sculptures.
When you’re passing through the city of Abidjan, get away from the noise and chaos of the centre by spending some time within the boundaries of Reserve Naturelle du Banco. A virgin tract of forest lying in the middle of the city, this natural Preserve is filled with birds, various primates, and other animals.
Although hiking through this jungle can prove to be a sweaty endeavour, do not be put off this activity on this account alone, as the park wardens have put together a makeshift bar at the center of this park or you can purchase a cold refreshing beer to reward yourself for getting out and discovering some of the most accessible nature in Cote d’ Ivoire.
Arguably one of the most beautiful natural attractions that you will encounter during your time in the country, Les Cascades de Man is a waterfall that will make for a seriously beautiful photographic opportunity.
Spilling over a series of terraced rocks, this picturesque waterfall is situated within an easy drive of the city of Man. Those wishing to escape the tropical heat can go for a swim in the pool that lies at its base, and if you can’t tear yourself away from this paradise in the jungle, there is a hotel on-site where you can spend the night.
What to Eat
A familiar side throughout much of West and Central Africa, Fufu is the leading source of starch for local throughout Cote d’ Ivoire. Made by boiling a cassava root until it is soft, then pounding it until it achieves a porridge-like consistency, this side sits alongside various meat, vegetable, and soup dishes on the dinner tables of this country. It is eaten by pinching it off and rolling into a ball before dipping it into the soup that often comes along with this dish.
Those looking to banish their hunger while walking the streets of towns and cities in Cote d’ Ivoire will want to order some Alloco. There are many street vendors that serve this fried savoury plantain snack, who cook it up with plenty of chilli peppers and onions. We suggest having this with grilled meat, as locals like to have this dish along with a well-cooked brochette.
If you are looking for something unique from the culinary scene of Cote d’ Ivoire will want to try some Kedjenou. A spicy stew made from chicken, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, chilli peppers, and other vegetables, this meal will enliven your taste buds like few other dishes in Western Africa will.