There are basically three ways to get to Freetown from the International airport in Lungi. Schedules vary and often change at the last moment.
1. Helicopter: Paramount Airlines runs a helicopter service to Freetown, the less than 10min. flight will run you $101,500 leones or about $35 U.S.
2. Hovercraft: This recent option was added this year and costs $30 U.S. It leaves from Mahera Beach and any taxi or shuttle service will take you to their departure place.
3. Mahera Ferry: This is the cheapest option and the one I take the most often. 1st class tickets cost 3000 leones (a little more than $1U.S.) 2nd class tickets cost 1500 leones
The Ferry leaves from Tagrin terminal and arrives at the Kissy Terminal.
To get to the Tagrin terminal from the airport, hail a taxi on the Airport / Ferry Road and for about 1500 leones you can get to Tagrin.
From Kissy to the center of Freetown take a taxi or mini-van called a "Poda Poda" and for 1000 leones or less they will drop you off at the clock tower.
This could probably fall under "Packing List" also, but your most valuable mode of transportation is--YOUR OWN FEET!! When we were in the villages we walked basically everywhere. The locals don't drive and there will only be large taxis. So if you can and get the chance, especially if you're in a village or something...just walk. :-) Make sure you have good, comfortable walking shoes (mine fell apart) because it's just the way to go. Also have a guide with you or someone that knows where you're going if you're not already familiar with the area. I probably wouldn't walk around too much in Freetown. Just seems a little bit more dangerous--perhaps moreso for foreigners. Be careful and have a great walk (expect some little people as company)... [Jan. 03]
The white vehicle is actually the Mattru Hospital Vehicle. The point of view is from ours in the "poda poda" (a 16 passenger van--African style!) We were just leaving from Freetown to travel to Mattru. The countryside is gorgeous. Most of the world's palm oil comes from this area. We used the hospital vehicle around the "bush" and then we used the poda poda on the trips up and back and around Freetown as well. [Jan. 03]
The West African Lorry is the only way to go. If you want to go to any other town in the country, to Makeni, Bo, Kenema, Kabala you go out to the main road and catch one of the lorries. One's first impression of the lorries is how charming and raggle-taggle they are. The lorry is a pick-up truck which had been modified by putting a metal roof over the bed, bench running down each side, and the sides above the pick-up bed are open.
The charm of the lorry is the proverb, saying or name that is painted across the top part at the front, back or sides of the metal canopy. I use to keep a list of lorry paintings. "Believe in God Shall Never Perish", "Save Us Oh God City Boy" "Got Bless Allah" "Baby Rose Power," "Take Care of My Back," "Who the Cap Fit", "God Bless OFO" , "Sweetie Come Kiss Me," "Professional Again;" "Boss Man;" "Simplicity Cool Cat;" "Correct Man Again;" and “Road Master” to name a few. And to keep naming -- "aMaRaDa;" "Surprise Dem" and "No True They Las #2" are partly in Krio. Sierra Leoneons are very religious. You can tell this when you see "God is Merciful" coming up the road, or "By God Power" or "The Lord is My Guide" stopped at the roadside.” No Body Like Friend;" The Evil that Men Do;" and "No Condition is Permanent" or "Think Twice" are opinions that are probably shared by lots of people here.
It's sometimes the only way people have to travel from place to place here, so people rely on this lorry system for transport. The lorry can go fast on the straight paved stretches of road, and there are some. The driver might slip out of gear and coast down-hill to save fuel, and he might pass a slower moving truck to save time. The driver's decision to pass has never, in my experience, been based on what was coming from the opposite direction or whether he could see ahead. The roads are for the most part are in very bad condition; packed earth, gravel and pot holes can go on for miles and miles and miles.
Maybe you can imagine it; or well maybe not.
Take Sierra National Airways directly from London and you are on the save side and not beeing bothered of countless stopovers all over Westafrica.
make friends with the UN-troops and they will take you where and how you like