How This Black Woman Is Opening Sierra Leone's Travel Doors
Photo Credit: Photo credit: Annie Spratt

Photo Credit: Photo credit: Annie Spratt

How This Black Woman Is Opening Sierra Leone's Travel Doors

freetown , Sierra Leone
Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Jul 20, 2023

“Well, I’m happy that you survived.”

These words were from Jacqueline Tschinkel’s co-worker, following her first trip back to Sierra Leone after leaving the country to escape the violence during the civil war. Tschinkel was only 15 years old when she left home.

“I found that I was rediscovering Sierra Leone during my first time back,” she tells Travel Noire.

“Sierra Leone is stunning. I realized on the trip we’re blessed with a landscape you don’t see anywhere else in the world. The people are also special. It’s a welcoming place with friendly people.”

Her trip was full of excitement, adventure, great food, and welcoming people, so she found her colleague’s comments surprising.

“People associate Sierra Leone with war and Ebola,” says Tschinkel. “If you do an internet search, these are some of the first topics that come up. I knew I had to do something.”

Seeing Sierra Leone Through A New Lens

Tschinkel posted pictures from her trip on social media to show a different side of the country. She called the platform Hello, Sierra Leone.

“The platform was initially created as a photo album to show the good side of Freetown, especially our beaches because they’re some of the world’s most beautiful beaches,” Tschinkel says.

Hello, Sierra Leone has become a tourism company connecting visitors with the local culture.

“There’s a lot of work to do ahead but Sierra Leone needs a chance,” she adds. “People need to come and see what it’s like, and often, they are surprised.”

Tschinkel offers accommodations, excursions, and car rentals through HSL Tours. She recently opened what feels like a bed and breakfast in Adjacent Lakka Junction. The home can be rented on Airbnb.

“Sierra Leone is one of those places that you probably have seen a picture of and was moved by it, but in the back of your mind, you think of the negative things hindering you,” says Tschinkel. “Don’t let what you hear stop you. You will surprisingly be left amazed after visiting.”

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