Fast Facts

  • Location: On the Moa River in the southern province
  • Attraction Type: Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Significance: Wildlife sanctuary home to rare wildlife
  • Best time to Visit: November, after the rainy season
  • Visiting Hours: Throughout the day
  • How to Reach: Take a boat ride up the Moa river to the island. Enter Sierra Leone through Freetown and then take a boat ride to Banana island and further up to Tiwai.
  • Nearest Airport: Freetown International Airport

Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary is the best-known tourist spot and wildlife conservation area in Sierra Leone. Situated on one of the largest river islands on the Moa river, this place is home to rare wildlife. There are more than 135 bird species, 700 different plant species, 11 types of chimpanzees and the unique pygmy hippopotamus. The island was once the property of the Barri people. In the late 19th century they shared it with the Koya people. Starting from 1970, a concerted effort was made to convert the area into a conservation area. The wildlife sanctuary status was finally granted in 1987. An active conservation program, wildlife and forestry management, and ecological research activities go on throughout the year in this place. Research activities are actively funded by multiple universities. It is a tourist spot of repute and visitors are required to abide by certain rules in order to preserve the ecosystem. The number of tourists came down to zero during the years of civil war in the 1990s. However, the numbers have increased afterward.

Things to Do

There are 135 different species of birds, 700 plant species, 11 types of chimpanzees at the sanctuary. This is the only place where you find the endangered pygmy hippopotamus. There are 8 different types of hornbills to see. The unique white-breasted guinea fowl, the black and white or red and olive colobus monkey, and the Diana monkey can be found nowhere but here. You need to camp here for a day to appreciate the flora and fauna and wonder at the dexterity with which chimpanzees use stones as hammers and tree roots as anvils to crack open nuts. White water rafting on the Moa River is also very popular.

Other Activities

There are many tourist spots nearby and you can visit them if it is part of a tour package. Fishing, snorkeling, surfing can be done at Lakka beach. Guma Nature Trail offers diverse wildlife, canoe rides can be arranged at Tokeh fishing village.


Accommodation at the Tiwai island requires camping in the middle of the forest. Camping facilities come with bed sheets/blankets, water, torchlight, and other amenities. Visitors are required to take all non-biodegradable material back with them in order to conserve the ecosystem of the place. Contact the sanctuary authorities at the following:

Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Phone: +232-76 755 146

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