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Visiting Sapo National Park: A Sustainable Travel Guide

Posted on Thu May 25, 2023.

Welcome to Sapo National Park, Liberia's largest protected area with incredible biodiversity, located in the southeastern part of the country. The park covers over 1,800 square kilometers of tropical rainforest. It is home to many animals, such as the West African chimpanzee, the pygmy hippopotamus, the African forest elephant, and many incredible bird species. As part of the Upper Guinean Forest, Sapo National Park is the second largest area of tropical rainforest in West Africa, behind Taï National Park in Côte d'Ivoire.

Exploring Sapo National Park’s must-do activities

Although difficult to spot, Sapo National Park is home to the endangered Pygmy hippopotamus 

Outdoor and Nature Activities

Sapo National Park is the place to be for nature adventurers! The Liberian government's Forestry Development Authority (FDA) rangers and local community members are trained as nature guides. They can lead you to an unforgettable exploration of the park and increase your chances of spotting the park's wildlife. At Sapo Ecolodge, visitors can arrange guided excursions by foot or canoe into the park during the booking process or when arriving at the ecolodge. Kayaks are also available for rent at the ecolodge, so you can paddle down the nearby Sinoe River, immersing yourself in the rainforest while watching for any animals that might be hiding nearby. 

As the roads to the park are dirt and can be impassable in the rainy season, the dry season from November to April is typically the best time to visit Sapo National Park. Wildlife is easier to spot during these months as well. However, remember that wildlife sightings aren't guaranteed, but the sheer thrill of exploring the park will make your trip worthwhile. 

Preparing for a canoe ride on the Sinoe River, photo courtesy of Solimar International. 

Cultural Activities 

You can also experience elements of the local culture and learn about the rich history of the Sapo people through the Sapo Cultural Group. Visitors can organize a performance through the Sapo Ecolodge and enjoy traditional drumming, dancing, and performances. The experience also includes a dramatic retelling of the Sapo people's history, showcasing their close relationship with the chimpanzees that live in the Sapo landscape. 

This experience is an excellent opportunity to gain insight into Liberia's cultural heritage and appreciate the stories, music, and dance that make this country so unique. It's an incredible opportunity to engage with the local community in a way that benefits the local community and celebrates local culture. 

Sapo Cultural Group performance, photo courtesy of Solimar International. 

Sapo National Park’s Diverse Wildlife

Sapo National Park is an adventurer's paradise and the epitome of ecotourism. This biodiverse park is home to many small and medium-sized mammals, including seven species of duikers, pygmy hippos, and forest elephants. Ten-plus species of primates are also found here, including the Western Chimpanzees, Diana monkeys, and Western Black and White Colobus monkeys. 

The park also boasts an impressive variety of birdlife, with over 200 species within its borders. As you hike through the park, keep an eye out for these fantastic creatures and get lost in the beauty of ecotourism at its finest. 

Check out this video to catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring wildlife found in Liberia!

Where to Stay in Sapo National Park

To experience the beauty of Sapo in a sustainable way, Sapo Ecolodge is a must stay. This small and eco-friendly lodge is located just outside the park's borders. Sapo Ecolodge is the only lodge around the park and offers unparalleled access to the wonders of Sapo. Nestled amidst the rainforest and next to a river, this lodge provides a unique opportunity to connect with nature and indulge in a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Here’s everything you need to know about Sapo Ecolodge!  

Sapo Ecolodge has three chalets with their own bathrooms; photo courtesy of Matt Humke

Sapo Ecolodge’s community empowerment 

A local guide leading a hike through Sapo National Park; Photo courtesy of Matt Humke

Sapo Ecolodge is partially community-led and was built with a focus on preserving the rainforest and providing financial benefits to local communities. The lodge was created through a collaborative effort between the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF), the Liberian Forestry Development Authority, and six local communities. 

The ecolodge provides employment opportunities for the local communities and trains community members in hospitality and nature guiding. Built in harmony with the rainforest, Sapo Ecolodge uses locally sourced materials. The result is a stunning accommodation that blends seamlessly into its surroundings. Staying at Sapo Ecolodge is a chance to experience the magic of the rainforest while supporting sustainable tourism and local communities.

Spending the night in Sapo Ecolodge’s cabins 

Sapo Ecolodge consists of three charming chalets, each with a double bed and space for an additional twin cot, accommodating a maximum of three guests. The chalets are equipped with private bathrooms while campers can enjoy two tent platforms and shared bathrooms. Solar panels provide 24-hour electricity, ensuring a comfortable stay. Guests will enjoy traditional Liberian cuisine, such as rice and fish or chicken with various sauces, served for lunch or dinner. 

As an ecotourism destination, the ecolodge promotes sustainability, evident in their use of solar panels, sourcing of local materials, and community co-management. During the booking process, guests can provide dietary restrictions and make any special requests to enhance their experience. Keep in mind that this is a remote area, so certain things may be inaccessible

A meal at Sapo Ecolodge, photo courtesy of Solimar International

Getting to Sapo National Park and Sapo Ecolodge 

Getting to Sapo National Park from Monrovia, or Roberts International Airport, is an adventure in its own right. The journey takes about half a day, or more, depending on road conditions, and involves traveling through some of Liberia's most beautiful rural landscapes. The route crosses several rivers, including the impressive St. John River. It's best to hire a private vehicle and driver who knows how to navigate through rural Liberia. The Sapo Ecolodge staff can assist with hiring private drivers during the booking process. While the journey may be long, the reward is worth it, as Sapo National Park and the surrounding area are some of Liberia's most beautiful and biodiverse regions.

Ready to book your Sapo National Park eco-tourism adventure? 

There are additional costs for these various activities and nature guides, as well as park entrance fees. These fees will be paid during the booking process with Sapo Ecolodge. For bookings and inquiries about price and availability contact Sapo Ecoldoge at [email protected]. The amazing Sapo Ecolodge team will take it from there to ensure all details for your trip are arranged. 

Enjoying the chalets, photo courtesy of Solimar International

Curious about what other adventures await you in Liberia? Check out the EnjoyLiberia.Travel website for more in-depth travel tips! And follow us on Instagram @enjoy_liberia_travel for more behind the scenes information.