The roads don't improve much heading into Liberia, if anything the use of the term roads in our first parts of Liberia is a bit of a stretch, just dirt with lots of potholes and ditches sort of positioned in a road or at least dirt track type fashion. I really enjoyed Liberia it has a feeling of being 'untouched', definitely no tourism infrastructure her or "big sights" just stunning landscapes and scenery, it also feels less populated, although I haven't done any population comparisons.
We enter into Liberia near Yepeka which used to be a thriving iron ore mining town run by Lamco who were forced to move out during the civil war, all the equipment they used remains abandoned as you'd expect once the war started they literally just up and left. It's a beautiful part of Liberia with soaring mountain vistas and a man made lake and it's really interesting to see nature doing what it does best, claiming back the land gradually removing the evidence of damage to the natural environment that was caused through the mining. The locals are now trying to preserve the area and have declared it a national park to try and protect it. We bushcamp at the old quarry, next to the man made river surrounded by mountains and fall asleep to the very loud but peaceful sound of a million frogs, it's probably up there as one of my favourite camping spots.
We drive further into Liberia and whilst the roads continue to not be great the surrounding forest and lack of tro-tros and street sellers make for a scenic and peaceful drive, we finally hit Tarmac at Gbaranga making the drive quicker and even more enjoyable. Again we are a bit of a novelty and get stopped a few times by officials wanting to see all our passports and amusing themselves by asking who is the oldest, who is the youngest?, at one they made us all pile off the truck but once we piled into their tiny building they suddenly asked why we all got off, all of a sudden there were too many of us and it all just looked like too much hard work. The Tarmac was short lived as we approached our destination for the night Kpatawee falls,
it was only about a 25km drive but with the small dirt track took well over an hour drives, but it was worth it with us pitching our tents right next to the cascading falls, this time not being drowned out by the sound of frogs but the crashing of the water. It's also nice to be camping by another bit of water where we can freshen up in the absence of showers.
Civilisation beckons and we enter into the capital Monrovia probably via one of the busiest routes, through the Red Light Market where the traffic is insane with the sprawling market, tuk-tuks, cabs, pedestrians, walking sellers, cars all travelling whichever way they feel, stopping whenever, turning whenever, it's just a heaving wall that is almost impossible to drive through, aside from the chaos it's an interesting African/European mix, with lots of people in traditional African dress but with an equal mix of Africans in more western (expensive) clothes, as we get into Monrovia proper the city is like that too a real blend of the old shanty town feel mixed with modern european influenced buildings and businesses. We get a real taste of this when we stop at a supermarket to shop, it's got an incredible range but is ridiculously expensive, $8USD for a small cabbage, $6 for eggs, where we've been paying under a dollar, it really stretches the $3 per person per day that we are allocated to feed everyone. Monrovia itself, like most of Liberia doesn't have any real sights as such, although we are encouraged to visit what remains of the Hotel Ducor, which back in the 70s was the place to be seen and apparently a favourite of Idi Amin, they seem quite proud of the fact he loved swimming in the pool there, now it's a decaying building that presumably was evacuated during the civil war, it does offer spectacular views across Monrovia though.
It would be remiss of me if I didn't mention Liberia also provided the best non western style toilet of the trip (even better than most western toilets we've had) at Libassa Eco lodge near Marshall, which provided us with a dry toilet that uses saw dust to keep it clean and smelling lovely they almost were better than the half dozen pools and lagoon we were able to use whilst camping there.
Our final stop in Liberia was the sleepy fishing village and surfing hotspot of Robertsport about 10miles from the Sierra Leone border, we spent two lazy days and nights here camping on the beach and not doing much but relaxing and swimming, just a perfect way to,round out our time in Liberia before heading into Sierra Leone.