Sierra Leone offers plenty of options for people in from fitness levels. From serious hikes that leave the most advanced hiker sore afterwards, to gentle beach walks and aerobics classes for those who are beginning their fitness journey. Sierra Leone is a fitness Valhalla; endless stretches of beach, plenty of water to swim in, unexplored hiking trails through tropical forests, and a large community of people who connect through WhatsApp groups to meet up and break a sweat.
Last year, we posted the first edition of Get Your Fit On, a short guide which highlighted exercise options. As the offer and demand for sports are increasing, we have done research and present to you the second edition. It’s not a list of all options available (we might do a third one soon), but we have checked and tested these and found them worthy of a highlight.
New in the scene is the Climb Salone in Hill Station, hand-built by the passionate climbing fanatics Ed, Sophie and Matthew. The hall is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 5.30pm- 8.30pm and is accessible to (non)climbers of any level. To clarify, this type of climbing is called bouldering, and does not have the ropes attached to you to catch you when you fall. Instead, the walls are less high and have thick mats right underneath them.
What makes Climb Salone a great experience is the low key vibe; the house music playing softly in the background, a mix of nationalities trying out their skills and cheering each other on, and the lounge area where you can let go of the day over a cold beer. If you worry about your (lack of) climbing experience, fear not! The managers of the space provide you with the proper shoes and are keen to help you through your first climb. Rest assured, this is a full body workout that gets your adrenaline pumping. Oh, and children are more than welcome too.
A proper gym with proper gear, entirely in the fitness fashion we are used to in the west. This gym has two floors stacked with a variety of equipment that will help you accomplish whichever goal you have. Bodybuilders, yogi and regular people from all shapes and colours come here to increase their fitness levels. For those looking for a cardio kick, the spinning class will leave even the more advanced cyclist dripping in sweat, and those aiming for a more moderate approach can try their luck on one of the cardio machines. For muscle building there are weights of all sizes and styles, and personal trainers can help you create a plan based on your goals and current fitness state. Group classes are accompanied by (very) loud upbeat music, taught by highly qualified instructors.
Working out here comes with a price tag, but there is no other gym in the country that offers this wide variety of group classes equipment. The gym is welcoming to all, and the staff is super helpful. For a short visit you can pay per day, and it costs 600.000 per month for unlimited access. Don’t forget to bring your towel!
Dance/yoga/aerobics club in Quincy’s
One of the cheapest workout options in Freetown is this funky workout club at Quincy’s. Every Saturday morning (apart from the first on the month) a big group of people get together for a three-fold workout. You start off with yoga, continue with aerobics and finalise with a sweaty afrobeat dance class. This is for all levels and a lot of fun in the Sierra Leonean fashion. Expect to laugh as the instructors push you to good sweat, and the students collectively groan during tough yoga poses.
What makes this class special is that it is the perfect place to meet and interact with young Sierra Leoneans who share their love for movement. On Wednesday evenings, the organisers offer a dance-only class, which attracts more international clients. Then on Friday, there’s a real party vibe going on during class as the instructors dance you into the weekend.
Location: Quincy’s (Aberdeen)
Prices and classes:
Wednesday -6.00pm- 8.35pm : 20.000SLL
Friday- 6.00pm- 8.35pm : 20.000SLL
Saturday- 9.30am- 11.00am: 25.000SLL
We always brag about our beautiful Atlantic Ocean, so what about water activities?
Surfing- The main surf spot in Sierra Leone is at the Bureh Beach Surf Club (insert link to surfclub article), about an hour ride from Freetown. The local surfers can offer you classes, hire out boards, and are trained to come save you when the sea surprises you with the infamous riptide. Less common surf spots are River No. 2, Sussex and Sulima, of which the latter has pretty swell waves.
Canoeing- You can rent a canoe at Cockle Point (in River No. 2). It’s about 20 minutes into the mangroves, leading you to the waterfall and, if you’re lucky enough to the crocodiles as well. You can also canoe at Banana Islands, Outamba Kilimi National Parks and at Tiwai Island.
Diving- Banana Islands is the main starting point for diving in Sierra Leone. Dalton’s Banana Guesthouse has the proper equipment and instructors to lead you too the wonders of the underwater. The biggest attraction is a sunken ship, inhabited by tropical fish and algae.
Sierra Leone is a dream for hikers, strollers and runners. Near Freetown, the Western Area Peninsular forest has trails that range from easy to very challenging. The waterfall hike, for example, takes half an hour and leads you to a stunning cascade over massive black rocks. The most advanced hike is that up Picket Hill, which covers a 3,5 ascent through uneven forest terrain. VSL offers this hike; read more about it here (insert link to Picket Hill article).
Outside of Freetown there are countless hikes through a variety of landscapes. Rangers can guide take you on jungle treks, mountain hikes and forest walks through national parks and protected areas. The hikes at Outamba Kilimi National Park and up Bintumani require quality gear and some preparation. Local guides can show you medicinal plants, wildlife tracks and explain which sound belongs to what bird or primate. Always make sure you trek with a ranger or a local guide, some trails are dangerous and most are outside of phone reception.
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Esther Kamara is a Dutch-Sierra Leonean that was born and raised in Amsterdam. After finishing her bachelor Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam she moved to Freetown, where she now works as a freelance writer and artist manager. Her brainchildren are otherworldly short stories and peculiar drawings of non-existing characters.