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Most people who visit sub-Saharan Africa go to Southern Africa (esp. South Africa) and Eastern Africa (esp. Kenya and Tanzania). Few visit West Africa. West Africa has many small countries (and populous Nigeria) and is the ancestral origin of many of the people in America and the Caribbean of African descent. The region is the home of Voodoo (visit Voodoo markets in Togo).

West Africa is also a region plagued with instability and poverty. But some countries are relatively more developed and stable than others. Two of the better countries to visit in West Africa include Senegal and the Ivory Coast. A trip to the Ivory Coast can be very rewarding if it is planned properly.

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Ivory Coast - One Of The Leading West African Nations

Ivory Coast, also called Côte d'Ivoire in French, is one of the leading countries in West Africa. Its official language is French, while most people speak a mosaic of around 78 indigenous languages. Ivory Coast borders the countries of Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.

  • Capital: Yamoussoukro
  • Largest City: Abidjan
  • Population: 30 Million
  • Size: 125,000 sq Miles

Today Ivory Coast is the world's largest exporter of cocoa beans and is comparatively developed compared to some other countries in the region.

Travelers to the Ivory Coast discover virgin tropical beaches studded with starfish and palm trees. Beach resorts can be found in Assinie and Grand Bassam. Ivory Coast is home to soaring grass-clad mountains of Mount Nimba and mist-topped rainforests where chimpanzees live in their family troops.

First-time visitors to West Africa and Ivory Coast are advised to take organized tours of the country. People who have not visited African countries before may find it overwhelming to travel. Discover Ivory Coast offers a full range of fully-guided tours that really open up the country. They have a selection of 9 to 11 days tours around the country.

  • 9-Day Tour: From $1,500 Per Person

All Western passport holders require a visa or an e-visa in advance to visit Ivory Coast - so plan ahead.

Related: Togo: Travel Off The Beaten Track & See The Home Of African Traditions

National Parks Of Ivory Coast

There are plenty of national parks on the Ivory Coast that are home to some of Africa's most iconic wildlife. There Comoe National Park has 500 kilometers (300 miles) of grade trails and is filled with elephants, buffalo, Cobe Buffon, lions, hippos, and more. Other national parks have rhinos, hartebeests, and chimpanzees.

One of the most famous national parks in the country is Tai National Park. The park encompasses 3,000 sq km and is one of the greatest protected areas of what remains of the Upper Guinean rainforests (these rainforests once dominated all of West Africa).

The last is carved with massive river valleys and fringed with rolling savannah. In these otherworldly landscapes live pygmy hippopotamus, swinging olive colobus monkeys, duikers, and chimpanzees. These five species are on the Red List of Threatened Species. Its remarkable biodiversity has given it the status of a biosphere reserve.

  • Inscribed: As A World Heritage Site Since 1982

Ivory Coast is home to nine national parks - Assagny, Banco, Comoe, Iles Ehotiles, Marahoue, Mont Peko, Mont Sangbe, and Tai National Parks.

Related: West African Dishes Are The Top Trending For 2020, And These Dishes Are Why

Visit The Rustic Town Of Man

Another notable destination is the rustic town of Man, deep in the heartlands of the rugged edges of the Toura Mountains. Here one can get some reprieve from the tropical climate in the highland climate of Man among the peaks and valleys. There are fantastic hiking opportunities and endless swathes of cocoa plantations and farms.

The main attractions around Man are the La Cascade waterfall, the monkey forest, and a rock outcrop overlooking the town called La Den de Man (or the tooth of Man). The La Cascade waterfall is surrounded by a bamboo forest and is home to many colorful dragonflies and many kinds of butterflies.

Besides exploring the wildlife and landscapes of the Ivory Coast, take the time to learn about the local cultures of the country. Visit the local markets and look for any traditional events and celebrations.

While Ivory Coast may be one of the better countries to visit in West Africa, it is still not a regular destination. Travelers should check with current conditions and travel advice by the Department of State before traveling.