Before we continue with this unbelievable “West Africa” hopper itinerary I’m on, for Liberia you need to arrange visas way ahead of schedule. Unfortunately unlike Sierra Leone’s visa on arrival or Guinea’s E-visa on arrival, Libera requires an appointment scheduled in advance at their consulate for their visa.
E-mailing my local consulate in NYC, I was set up for an appointment at their midtown east offices within the week at 10am in the morning.
It was just the two of us there and they only allow 3 visitors at a time.
They took about 10 minutes setting up after their 10am opening before someone finally appeared at the desk to call us one by one. I waited for another 15 minutes before I was summoned to the desk so they could inspect my documents. Their website says they only need to see copies of your:
- Yellow Fever vaccine
- COVID-19 vaccine
- 2 passport sized photos of yourself in front of a white background
- A Money order for $160 made out to the Liberia consulate
- Copy of roundtrip itinerary/onward flight home
- Application Form filled out and signed with 2 references
…without any mention of a copy of a hotel stay. However, I was still asked for proof of a hotel reservation, after which I had to show my booking at Mamba Point Hotel on my phone which was enough for them. Therefore if you’re reading this might as well print that out for them as well to save the drama.
They’re also strict about having 2 references listed on the application form before proceeding. Thankfully after my booking at Mamba Point Hotel last month, their front office manager Sree had sent me a What’sApp message to confirm the reservation. Therefore, I wrote on the application form not only my hotel’s official property contact info and address, but also scribbled in on the spot Sree’s name and What’sApp number. The consulate seemed fine with that.
After another 4 minutes of back office inspections, the man returned with my yellow fever card, COVID-19 vaccine card and a receipt informing me that my visa would be ready in exactly 1 week.
After returning from my weekend trip last week in Cote d’Ivoire, I had a week back in NYC to work a few shifts and return to the Liberian Consulate so I could retrieve my second passport and visa.
Then jumping back into where we last left off in Sierra Leone, I departed this evening on a direct one hour Brussels Airlines flight from Freetown, arriving an hour later at ROB airport, located about another hour and half’s drive away from Monrovia.
Showing my health forms . . .
. . . and pre-arranged Liberian visa at passports . . .
. . . I then proceeded through customs where I was promptly picked up by an airport transfer (the standard rate at the time of positing is approximately $80-$85 USD each way) arranged by my accommodations at Mamba Point Hotel.
I hope you brought something to do because from door to door an airport transfer can take up to an hour and half to reach Monrovia. After checking in and given a fantastic tour around the property, I then enjoyed a dinner on their terrace before heading to bed at 11pm.
The next morning I confirmed with the hotel to fit in a quick tour around this harbor city once named Ducor and then Christopolis.
Established in 1822 shortly before Liberia’s 1847 declaration of independence, Christopolis was home to about 3200 former enslaved persons and their descendants who resettled here by the American Colonization Society. Christopolis was then renamed to Monrovia in 1824 after US President James Monroe, who was a staunch supporter of the colony.
There aren’t many “sights” per se in Monrovia, unless you count the derelict Ducor Hotel, abandoned since the first Liberian Civil War in 1989. Presidents from Nelson Mandela to Gaddafi used to stay at this hotel, Michael Jackson’s “Liberian Girl” was inspired from his stay here, and it is said that Idi Amin would swim in its pool while carrying a gun.
Well, like Michael Jackson I came here to dance.
They used to charge tourists $5 as recently as 2019 for a visit, but it was then shuttered to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic.
We spoke to the 3 guards outside to let me in anyway.
If yesterday’s Farouh Bay College in Freetown wasn’t fun enough of a place to wander, this is next level:
The nicest bedrooms are usually at the top:
The best views of Monrovia may be from here as well:
If you look around you can see the Grand Masonic Temple sitting right next door:
After half an hour here they got word another tourist had arrived and wanted to check out the place so I headed back down and even quipped “your turn!” to the man waiting downstairs.
Getting back into my car, the hotel’s driver and I headed up and down the streets of Monrovia:
While on my way back to the airport, I asked to hop out for a quick 10 minute visit at the National Museum of Liberia for a $5 admission fee:
After 10 minutes here I then asked my driver if there was anything else in Monrovia to see and he said: “nah.” Settled on that, we then drove the 90 minutes back to the airport for my one hour flight to Conarky via Air Cote d’ivoire.
Once we arrived I darted inside asking to pee after literally holding in Noah’s Flood for the entire 90 minute car ride. After parting the Red Sea inside the airport bathroom, I then walked over to the check-in desk with a hop in my step to grab my flight ticket. However, because I had earlier ran inside without first checking in with security, I was then asked to step back outside to go through the initial entry process with security to see if I was indeed a traveler even though I had already checked in with my ticket in front of them. They’re run things by the book here!
I then headed upstairs after security and paid the $30 USD fee to sit inside the air-conditioned Sabra VIP Lounge located right by the gates.
Remarkably unlike the night before getting to Freetown, we boarded right on time!
Just to give you an idea how I could make a great magician…or spy (and so I never forget how cool I felt doing it): While I was leaving Sierra Leone yesterday afternoon, I swapped to my second passport that had my Liberian visa to check into my flight into Liberia.
I then swapped to my primary passport to stamp out of Sierra Leone at security, then swapped again to board my flight and showed it once I landed at Monrovia ROB airport to stamp into Liberia.
Upon leaving, I’d then swap to my primary passport to check into my flight out of Liberia, but then swap again to my second passport with my Liberian visa to stamp out of the country at security, then finally swapping one last time to my primary passport to board my flight out of Liberia. I felt like I was performing magic tricks aka sleight of hands swapping identical looking passports every 5 minutes.
Nobody noticed. At least I think nobody did.
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- At time of posting in Monrovia, it was 27 °C - Humidity: 98% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear