A country with a significant tourist potential, Côte d’Ivoire gives you the desire to travel in order to discover this astonishing part of Africa whose richness is often ignored.
Côte d’Ivoire offers a wide range of tourist attractions, including some interesting things to see in Abidjan or within a narrow radius, satisfying the most eclectic tastes.
The ‘Guide du Routard’ (Globetrotter’s Guide) describes Côte d’Ivoire as follows:
‘Seen from an aircraft, Côte d’Ivoire is a little like an artist’s pallet: a big splash of ecolo-green to represent the density of the forest, a dash of white for its coastal belt, straw-coloured streaks for the Mandinka and Senoufou savannahs, with a touch of brown for the hilly areas, ochre ribbons for the laterite roads and gray for asphalt, blue for its lakes...
‘Seen from the ground, we are immediately struck by its socio-cultural, economic and architectural contrasts. Between the ultra-modernity even futuristic style of some Abidjan neighbourhoods, the neo-classicism of Yamoussoukro and the traditional housing of remote villages, like those of the Yacouba territory of the Man region or the Senoufou territory around Korhogo, there is a chasm!!
‘In Côte d’Ivoire, there is something to satisfy everyone’s interests: leisure, fishing, photogenic landscapes and ethnological, artisanal or agricultural discoveries...’
- Abidjan: Cocody Market; Museum of Civilisations…
- Grand-Bassam: Old Bassam (the colonial district); the beach
- amoussoukro: The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace; The Crocodile Lake surrounding Presidential Palace;
- Safaris and nature reserves
Several travel agencies organise guided tours from a few hours to several days. For travel outside Abidjan, there are several possible options:
- Water bus:
- To reach coastal destinations such as Grand Bassam, Assinie…
- Or to organise group excursions to Billionaires’ Bay or Boulay Island (in Abidjan). For information, contact SOTRA : 01 07 58 65
- To reach coastal destinations such as Grand Bassam, Assinie…
- Taxi: Hiring a taxi for a full day to travel to Grand Bassam (40 Km from Abidjan) and return costs an average of CFAF 45,000.
- Plane: to reach towns like Yamoussoukro (240 Km from Abidjan)
For further information contact:
Côte d’Ivoire Tourisme
Place de la République
01 P.O.Box 8538 ABIDJAN 01
Tel: +225 20 25 16 00
Fax: +225 20 32 03 88
Abidjan is, above all, the Plateau district, the business centre combining modernity and simplicity, where it is not unusual among all the modern buildings to see workers coming to relax at lunchtime under trees by playing draughts and awale. It is also possible to visit the Museum of Civilisations.
Cocody, for its part, offers you its market and flower market, a neighbourhood of handicrafts where artisanal pottery and sculptures match each other in beauty. In Treichville, the Cultural Palace rises up proudly: the centre for all types of cultural events (concerts, shows, exhibitions, etc.).
A stone’s throw from the city centre lies Boulay Island where leisure lovers could spend precious moments
Around Abidjan, there are several options for excursions: the historic town of Grand-Bassam, the unrivalled beaches of Assinie, the Bonoua pineapple plantations stretch as far as the eye can see.
The Unrivalled Beaches of Assinie
Situated 80 km east of Abidjan, Assinie is a seaside resort on the edge of the Gulf of Guinea. Two holiday villages have been built there: Assinie and Assouindé (Valtur).
It was the location for the filming of ‘Les Bronzés’ starring Thierry Lhermitte, Josiane Balasko, Michel Blanc, Gérard Jugnot, Michel Creton, Christian Clavier, Marie-Anne Chazel, Dominique Lavanant, Luis Rego, etc.
There is the Assinie zone to the west bounded only by the ocean and accessible by road, Assinie Mafia to the east which is a peninsula between the ocean and lagoon. About 15 kilometres long this very narrow peninsula (between 100m and 1000m wide) is thronged by luxury villas and straw huts. Access is only by private boats or dug-out canoes across the lagoon.
The mouth of the lagoon which marks the end of the Assinie Mafia peninsula is called ‘La Passe’. This zone is the most popular weekend destination of well-off Abidjanese.
Historic Town of Grand-Bassam (40 Km from Abidjan)
The first capital of what was then the French colony of Côte d’Ivoire from 1893-1900, the historic town of Grand-Bassam, also known as ‘quartier France’, is built on a strip of land between the Ouladine lagoon to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The site was chosen to meet security and defence requirements. Grand Bassam is about 40 km from Abidjan, the economic capital.
Stretching over two kilometres along the coastal belt, the 350-metre-wide district covers a surface area of 70 hectares. It also contains private residences, commemorative monuments, impressive public buildings and large commercial houses. The France district is dedicated to tourism which is why 90% of the seaside area is occupied by hotel infrastructure.
Vegetation consists of mangrove swamps, marshy forest, coconut groves, and grassy savannah. The relief is composed of low plateaus (8 to 12 m), sandbars (3 to 8 m) and depressions which are floodable during the rainy season.
A Rich Site
The site is linked to the rest of the town by the Victory Bridge. Historically, it is subdivided into four zones from West to East: the Residential Zone, the Administrative Zone, the Commercial Zone and the N’Zima or Appollo neigbourhood.
The Residential Zone is characterised by the presence of houses in varied architectural styles influenced by neoclassicism and many hotel establishments, especially in the seaside part of the zone.
The administrative zone corresponds to that part of the Quartier France which contained the administrative services and religious institutions. It is marked by monument-type buildings in large wooded plots giving the urban landscape the appearance of a developed park. This zone contains most of the classified buildings on the national heritage list.
The commercial zone owes its name to colonial era trading activities. These activities were carried out in large houses with their austere brickwork façades, making them seem huge; most of these buildings comprise a ground floor for warehouses and shops, and an upper floor for the living quarters of personnel or the owner of the trading company. This part of the district, many of whose buildings are threatened contains three classified buildings on the national heritage list.
The main feature of the N’zima neighbourhood is the density of its simple residential buildings. This neighbourhood has a public square: ‘la Place Abyssa’. It’s a festival held each year in the first week of November. Fishing, the principal activity of this neighbourhood, is mainly carried out by the Fanti, a people originally from neighbouring Ghana.
Overall, the historic town of Grand Bassam has retained its authenticity due to the presence of the dominant features of the period. The whole site should, however, be urgently classified, to complement the existing legal provisions concerning the classification of certain buildings.
A Unique Site
The historic town of Grand-Bassam may be compared to the Island of St. Louis in Senegal. Like Saint-Louis, the historic town of Grand-Bassam is a coastal town with colonial architecture, a space for cultural exchanges. It is the first capital with a specific space occupancy plan (European district separated from the indigenous neighbourhood by a strip of land).
However, the specificity of the historic town of Grand-Bassam lies on the presence of one intangible element on the site (the living tradition of Abyssa) and a historical element relating to decolonisation. Its architecture is full facade without wrought iron, but dominated by decorative woodwork.
National Costume Museum
Located in the Quartier France of Grand Bassam, the National Costume Museum which covers an area of 3500 m2, and which is under the oversight of the Ministry of Culture and La Francophonie, displays the various costumes of the different peoples of Côte d’Ivoire.
The museum also displays costumes, models of traditional houses and ornaments, miniature masks, documents, photographs and cultural heritage archives. This fills the building with examples of Côte d’Ivoire’s cultural heritage. The permanent exhibition is called ‘‘Regard Pluriel’’ (Pluralistic Approach).
Museum business hours: daily except Monday and Tuesday morning, from 9 a.m to noon and from 3 p.m. to 5.45 p.m. It is possible to organise visits or come in groups.
Yamoussoukro, the New Capital
Situated 240 km from Abidjan, the district of Yamoussoukro is part of the greater lakes region of which Yamoussoukro is the capital.
The Our Lady of Peace Basilica in Yamoussoukro is visited by tourists living in the region. It is the biggest Christian edifice in the world, a slightly larger version of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome. Its site was chosen by the country’s first President, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, in 1983. The Guinness Book of Records recognised it in 1989 as the world’s largest Christian religion edifice. With its cupola rising to 158m, Our Lady of Peace is the world’s highest basilica. It also has the world’s highest stained glass window.
After passing through the portal of the estate, the visitor is welcomed by French-style symmetrical gardens, inspired by the gardens of Versailles. Two golden statues of the Virgin Mary sparkle in the sun, on either side of a one-kilometre long marble alley. These lush spaces can be reached by alleys at right angles decorated with thousands of shrubs and flowers. To better appreciate them, leave by one of the twenty-four doors which link the apostles’ ambulatory and the broad terraces around the vestibule. From these terraces, you may visit the exhibition rooms, two of which are open, one presenting the Bethlehem crib carved in wood by M. Basile, an Ivoirian sculptor. In the second room, there is a collection of photographs, all of which belong to the architect.
Like most African towns, Yamoussoukro has many hotels with reasonable rates, maquis and allocodromes, especially around the motor park. There are an estimated 1,000 hotel rooms ranging from luxury to neighbourhood hotels. The President Hotel with its 285 rooms and with internal accommodation capacity for 800 people, a panoramic restaurant on top of the hotel, a shopping arcade, a cinema, a solarium and a discotheque, dominates the entire region and enjoys a semi-official status since it is used to accommodate many visiting personalities. It also comprises two tennis courts and an 18-hole international golf course. Near this hotel, there is a Conference Centre with a capacity of 1,500 seats.
The Crocodile Lake
The crocodiles of Yamoussoukro live in the lake surrounding the Yamoussoukro Presidential Palace, built on the site of N’Gokro. These are Nile crocodiles each weighing up to a ton or more and can be up to six metres long. They can leap up to several metres to seize their food which is provided daily (at 5 pm).
The Lake and its crocodiles are a well-known tourist attraction throughout West Africa. They are also associated with Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s political power and their prestige relates to African symbolism.
‘The Crocodiles of Yamoussoukro’ is also the title of a short story by the British author V S Naipaul, Nobel Prize winner for Literature, for the ‘Sacrifices’ collection (1984).
Nature Reserves and Photo Safaris
Côte d’Ivoire has several nature reserves protecting amazing wildlife, living in the midst of luxuriant plant life. Some of these nature reserves are in Abidjan or nearby.
The Banco National Park (Abidjan)
Right in the heart of Abidjan, beside the north motorway the Banco National Park is an example of primary forest (Arboretum), with rare wood species such as ajaco and avodire.. Many birds and monkeys live in the Banco forest. According to a study conducted in 2004 and 2005 by the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, about a dozen chimpanzees are still thought to live there. Tracks have been built for walkers and there are many hotels of all categories offering comfortable accommodation.
Aboukouamekro Game Reserve
At a distance of 60km from Yamoussoukro, the Aboukouamekro game reserve has 21,000 ha for photosafaris in search of rhinoceroses, elephants, water buffaloes, hippopotamuses, hartebeests, hippotragues, Buffon’s kobs, defasa waterbucks, bushbucks, rollers, crocodiles and various other animals. The reserve allows you to discover many plant species and has unobstructed views. Its lodge which is under construction and easy access, by road (north motorway) or by air (Charter flights or Air Ivoire), make it one of the main attractions of the Centre region.
Asagny National Park (100 Km from Abidjan)
100 km from Abidjan at the mouth of the Bandama, the Asagny National Park extends over 19,400 ha. With 60 per cent of its area surrounded by water, plant life is mainly that of marshy savannah with palm trees. Elephants, wild pigs, water buffalo, monkeys (Chimpanzee Islands) and several bird species all live in perfect harmony. The navigable Asagny canal permits boat trips and has look-out towers, providing unobstructed views of the surrounding nature. Easily accessed by road (Coastal Road), or by air (Kossou airport), there are numerous options for tourist accommodation, at the lodge, not far from the park, or in Grand-Lahou.
The Comoe National Park
Founded in 1968 under the name of "Bouna Reserve", the Comoe National Park in Bonoua is undoubtedly the oldest and largest reserve in Côte d’Ivoire, because of its surface area of 1,150,000 ha, with 500 km of tracks suitable for vehicles, and also because of the diversity of its wildlife: elephants, water buffaloes, Buffon’s kobs, lions, hippopotamuses, dog-faced baboons, and several species of birds. Many charming hotels have been built in the villages around the park: in Kaffalo, Wangofitini, Kapkin, Ganser... Access to the park is facilitated by the construction of a landing strip near the park. There is an asphalt road to Bondoukou, 180 km from Bouna.
The Ehotile island Marine Park
Near Adiake, on the Aby lagoon, to the East of Abidjan, the Ehotile Islands are made up of six islands: Monobahas, Niamoan, Bitouate, Elouame, N’Gremon and Bossou Assouan. In 1974 a marine park was created on these islands primarily to enable historians and archaeologists from all over the world to carry out scientific research in complete tranquillity. Covering a total area of 500 ha, the wildlife is mainly aquatic. Access is by road (Adiake) and by the lagoon Ebrie.
La Marahoue National Park
Covering an area of 101,000 ha, and in the Bouafle region, north of the tarred road (from Yamoussoukro to Daloa), the Marahoue Park offers its visitors a high quality and fully developed environment; the park has a reception centre and lodge, several look-out towers, ponds for crocodiles, buffaloes, hippopotamuses, etc. Here forest and savannah animals coexist harmoniously: elephants, bongos, buffaloes, dog-faced baboons, etc.
The Mount Peko Park
Reputed for its plant life (mountain and primary forest plants) and only a few kilometres from Duekoue, this park derives its name from Mount Peko, which has an altitude of above 1000 metres. With a surface area of over 34,000 hectares, the Mount Peko Park has considerable varied wildlife including elephants, panthers, water buffaloes, duikers, monkeys, etc. Several hotels in Duekoue and the asphalt road from Abidjan-Duekoue, or by air to Man, will provide tourists with easy access and high quality accommodation.
Mount Sangbe National Park
To the north of Man and to the west of the River Sassandra, between Biankouman and Touba, the Mount Sangbe National Park, covering an area of 95,000 ha, is the tourist extension of Man ad nits region. Entirely located in the mountainous zone (14 peaks in the Toura mountains), this park is covered with very dense plant life. The wildlife consists mainly of elephants, buffaloes, antelopes and monkeys. The Mount Sangbe park is accessible by land, (asphalt road to Biankouma and Touba), and by air to Man (Air Ivoire).
The Tai National Park
The Taï National Park (350,000 ha) derives its name from the town of Taï, along the western border, south of Guiglo and about one hundred km north of Tabou. Classified as a world heritage site in the United Nations MAB Programme, it contains many high quality forest species and is well known centre for scientific and medicinal research. Populated by several animal species, pygmy hippopotamuses, zebra duikers, Jentink’s duiker, bogons, elephants, etc., the Taï national park is being rehabilitated. There are accommodation facilities in Taï itself, and also in Guiglo and Soubre. The route is asphalted to Guiglo and Soubre and it is possible to travel by air to San Pedro.
- Governors' Working Documents (restricted access)
2010 AM Press Kit (5.0 MB)
2010 AM Information Bulletin (663 kB)
AfDB Group Annual Report 2009 (7.4 MB)