Visiting Gola Rainforest
IMPORTANT INFORMATION. In order to prevent negative impacts on the park and to ensure availability of accommodation and services for all guests, visitors are required make an advanced booking prior to their trip to arrange for permits, food, accommodation, camping equipment and guides. All visitors entering the park and on all camping trips must be accompanied by a national park staff and community guide. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
Entry Points (listed north to south)
There are currently three main areas at Gola open to visitors: Belebu, Lalehun, and Sileti.
Lalehun is located 40 km (approx. 1.5 hours) from Kenema in Gola Central. Here there is a network of trails that offers opportunities for trekking and camping in the forest and viewing rare wildlife such as the White-necked Picarthartes, Gola Malimbe and African Buffalo, as well as various primate species. Visitors are also able to visit an incredible viewpoint overlooking the primary forest. Don’t miss the `Gola’ masked devil dance performed by Lalehun villagers, arranged for upon request.
Belebu Community is located 40 km from Kenema (1.5-2 hrs.) just south of Lalehun in Gola Central. The landscape is notable for its mountain climbs and panoramic views. Belebu village guides have extensive indigenous knowledge about medicinal plants and will help you to spot wildlife, including a Picathartes nesting site and various monkey species. Chimpanzees are perhaps more common here and may be seen with some luck. The Belebu community guesthouse is owned and managed by the villagers and all fees go back to the community. All visits to Belebu include a least one night stay at the community guesthouse, which can accommodate eight people, and has a fire pit for relaxing under the stars. All stays include a cultural dance.
Sileti Substation is located in Gola South and is the most convenient area to visit for those travelling to/from Liberia, situated 75 km south of Kenema (approx. 3 hours). The new road being contructed from Bo to Zimmi will also make it easier for those wishing to come from Freetown There are two half-day nature trails accessible from the park substation that provide an opportunity to see Diana Monkeys and other primates such as the Red Colobus and Black and White Colobus. A 2-day/1-night camping trip along the Mahoi River is also available that requires easy to moderate walking along the Mahoi River, an area known to have the rare and elusive pygmy hippo. For those looking for a more rugged adventure that combines camping and a village homestay, a 3-day trek through the Gola South to Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary is available. Accommodation and food are also available at the Sileti Lodge, which has three rooms and is surrounded by the sounds of the forest and prime Diana Monkey habitat.
For those tourists that want a little extra we can arrange specialized tours. For example, mammal and bird watchers may want to try and catch a glimpse of elusive species. Our specially trained staff will prepare the ground for you, go on scoping trips to assess the best locations and then accompany you into the forest. If you are interested in specific mammals, birds, plants please contact us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.