Westerners and Europeans alike have second thoughts about visiting Africa and there are plenty of reasons why they are reluctant to go there, at least until they’ve made 100% that they’ll be safe.
For us, Africa is basically a conglomerate of developing countries that struggle with poverty, high crime rates, poor healthcare systems, violence and rape, and of course, the endemics that we all see on the TV.
Liberia is one of the most visited countries in Western Africa. Is Liberia safe to visit? Are there are Liberia safety travel tips one ought to take into account prior to embarking on the plane? Yes, of course, one must be extremely careful when traveling to Liberia.
In this Liberia safety guide that we’ve compiled for all those that might want to visit this country, you’ll find all the risks affiliated with it. We will give each of these risks a rating from Low to High in order for you to get a sense of what you’ll be exposing yourself to in Liberia.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Liberia
Overall Risks in Liberia: HIGH
We don’t even know where to begin explaining the risks visitors expose themselves to in Liberia, as they are political, environmental, medical, and social. For starters, you should know, right off the bat, that Liberia had multiple Ebola outbreaks. On top of that, the country is in terrible need of doctors.
More than 80% of the Liberian hospitals are in a deficit of doctors, proper equipment, and proper medication. If you bet your money on the fact that you have Medicare, you’ll lose, because Medicare isn’t taken into consideration in Liberia.
When it comes to politics, Liberia is known for quite frequent clashes between rival parties and all sorts of rebel militias. Due to the scarce Police forces, visitors are at an extremely high risk of being caught in the maelstrom. You should exert all the caution in the book if you’re English since Liberia and the U.K. have a less-than-pleasing history.
Thankfully, the United Nations have balanced the situation out, so armed clashes are a bit scarcer than they used to be. This doesn’t mean that they’re ruled out completely, so don’t throw caution to the wind.
Violence, robberies, and rape have skyrocketed in Liberia in the past few years and made it one of the least safe countries for women tourists. Unfortunately, Liberia is at the moment a destination that you should think thrice before visiting.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Liberia: HIGH
How safe is Liberia for tourists when it comes to theft and classic pickpocketing? Well, we know for a fact that it could be a lot safer. The slums are a haven for thieves that have no problem whatsoever with using violence in order to get what they want.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Liberia?
Avoid red light neighborhoods at all costs, even during the day. Thieves will not blow past the opportunity to steal your valuables. Don’t walk around with jewelry on display, your camera around your neck, or a bag in your hand.
A pretty high percentage of robberies occur in taxis and public transportation in general. If possible, consider renting a car. During the night, theft is prevalent, especially on remote roads. These aren’t full of your petty criminals that make do with your bracelet, rings, and necklaces, but by armed thieves that won’t hesitate to use their weapons.
Do not, by any means, travel at night, especially if you don’t know where you’re going. The road conditions are absolutely awful and there’s no way that you can know who is going to stop you on the side of the road.
Scam Risk in Liberia: HIGH
Unsurprisingly, scamming is on the rise in Liberia and it doesn’t seem like there will be an ending to it as of yet. Most of the scamming occur in public transportation, primarily in taxis.
If you have only large bills on you, drivers might tell you that they don’t have any change or that you won’t be getting any change, because the fare costs precisely the amount that you handed them. We advise you to keep a pouch of change in your bag.
Taxi drivers have a habit of charging foreigners twice or thrice the normal sum. Since you have no idea what the usual tariff is, you will obviously think that they’re telling the truth. Do some quick research in order to find out what the usual tariff is; this way, they won’t be able to scam you.
If the driver doesn’t turn the meter on, you’ve got an issue. If that happens, ask the driver to turn it on or to stop the car. You can clearly see now that the answer to Is Liberia safe to visit could have been a lot brighter.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Liberia?
Besides the aforementioned ways through which you can avoid being scammed, we recommend you get acquainted with Liberia's local currency, as most, if not all types of scams revolve around currency and are based on the fact that the tourists are not familiar with the said currency.
You should also be careful when eating at a restaurant, as waiters will try to either recommend you something or try to take your order without bringing you any menus. They do so only to overcharge you later, as you never knew the price of what you ordered. Make sure to always ask for the menu and double-check the prices of the things you wish to order.
Kidnapping Risk in Liberia: LOW
There are plenty of issues in Liberia, but kidnapping isn’t one of them, especially if you travel only to the larger cities and stay away from the slums. There are a lot of thefts going on, as are armed robberies, political unrest, and medical emergencies, but thanks to the strong presence of the UN forces in Liberia, the risk of being kidnapped for ransom is almost 0.
Again, this doesn’t mean that you should feel safe to go wherever you want, be it day or night. If you travel through an agency, ask for a guide that knows the cities intimately. This will keep you safe from all the problems that might arise during your strolls.
The slums are the most hellish places in Liberia. The people that live there are desperate and sadly, there’s no way of knowing what they’ll do to get money. Even though there aren’t official reports of tourists being kidnapped for money, Liberia is a highly volatile place to be in as a visitor, so better to be safe than sorry.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Liberia?
As mentioned above, you should avoid any areas that look dangerous to you - such as the city slums, outskirts, shady alleys, remote areas, and so on. You should also avoid displaying any valuables that could lead to you being assaulted/ attacked. Leave your jewelry and your expensive gadgets back at your hotel unless you really need them.
If you stick to the tourist-recommended areas and are aware of your surroundings, you should not have to face any unpleasant situations.
Terrorism Risk in Liberia: Medium
In the past years, terrorism was a really huge problem in Liberia. Nowadays, thanks to the intervention of the UN, the rate of terrorism has dropped but evidently, it can’t be ruled out completely.
Rebel groups are very much at large and clashes with rival groups aren’t uncommon. Foreigners might be sometimes targeted, but most of the time, the rebel groups have a bone to pick with others and have no issues with foreigners.
- How to avoid terrorism in Liberia?
Make sure that you won’t be caught in the middle of anything. If there’s any sign that a terrorist group is on the premises, leave immediately and stay away from the large crowds. You have no business there and it might save your life.
English tourists are in real danger in Liberia, due to the implication of the UK in the country. We’ve already mentioned that Englishmen can be targeted by terrorist groups so be extremely cautious if you decide to go to Liberia.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Liberia: HIGH
We’ve tackled this aspect previously and we gave a couple of Liberia safety travel tips that encompassed safety and potential threats but this can’t be repeated enough times: Liberia is not a destination for solo women travelers.
The rape rate is extremely high and offenders don’t care if they rape locals or tourists. Please stay safe and at least consider going to Liberia with a group of people that you trust and who can help you in case there’s any threat of violence or rape.
We’re not saying that all men in Liberia are sexual offenders; what we’re saying is that a high percentage of them are, particularly in isolated rural areas. Do everything you can to steer attention from yourself. Don’t make it painfully obvious that you’re a solo traveler that has no idea where she is and where she should go.
Is Liberia safe for solo women travelers? NO, it is not.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Liberia?
First of all, it is important that you get familiar with the country's local laws and customs so that you'll avoid offending any of the locals you might meet. Then, a decent outfit is highly recommended. You should try to blend in with the rest of the people in Liberia and draw as little attention to yourself as possible.
In this respect, expensive items, jewelry, and such, should be left back in your hotel room, unless you really need those items. Obviously, walking/ traveling alone is not recommended. Also, keep in mind to avoid the slums, outskirts, shady alleys, and remote areas that look dangerous.
Avoid walking alone during the night, even if you are in the city's center or close to your accommodation.
Rape Risk in Liberia: HIGH
Now we need to address the elephant in the room: is Liberia safe for solo women travelers? No, no, and no. Liberia has one of the highest rape rates in the world. We felt like that last part had to be italicized.
Due to poor sexual education, rape is commonplace and so is AIDS. There have been numerous reports of female tourists being raped. “Okay, but I can still visit Liberia as a woman, right?” You can, sure, but many agencies advise that you don’t.
It’s one of the least safe countries for women to go to. The UN has made efforts in tackling the rape problem through sexual education and more severe punishments for offenders, but the situation is far from being great.
- How to avoid getting raped in Liberia?
If you want to visit Liberia, please consider going there with a group. You can visit any other country on your own, but Liberia isn’t one. We know that there’s a particular charm in traveling alone, but again – this country shouldn’t be on your list.
We don’t mean to scare you away, but maybe we should do it. We’re talking about real statistics and reports, we’re not inventing for the sake of making Liberia look like a huge slum.
If you still plan on going there alone, do not travel at night, refrain from going in clubs, stay away from people that are too friendly, call the Police if you feel followed and if there’s any threat from anyone, stay at a hotel that’s known for being safe, let someone know your whereabouts at any given time and don’t go into remote rural areas.
This is without a doubt the most nightmarish part of our Liberia safety guide, but it’s all true.
Risks for People Traveling With Children in Liberia: HIGH
The road conditions are extremely poor and so is the healthcare system. If you plan on taking your children with you, make sure they get all the compulsory vaccines for Liberia. Do not travel at night because you might get in an ambush and you’ll have not only your most valuable items stolen but also your car.
Liberia isn’t exactly the place that you might want to take your children to. We feel like everything we say about Liberia is negative, but this is the reality, it’s not an exaggeration. We’ve got no advantage from exaggerating. Liberia is a highly dangerous place, in spite of the “civilizing” efforts made by charitable groups and the UN.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
Any unwanted scenarios can be easily avoided by deciding to not bring your children with you on this trip. There are already a lot of things you have to consider and care about without having to keep an eye on them at all times. As mentioned, Liberia is really not the country you could have a great time with your family.
If you decide to travel with them here, you will most likely be on your toes for the entire trip and have a really hard time calming yourself and reducing your stress levels, so to say. In short - Liberia is currently not fit for children.
Natural Disaster Risks in Liberia: MEDIUM
Flash floods, stray fires, and storms are common in Liberia, but other natural disasters are scarce. Take a look at the weather predictions for the areas you plan on visiting prior to you getting there.
In Monrovia, for instance, heavy rains might fall all summer and most autumn. This can bring flash floods about, so it’s certainly better to have an idea of what you’re getting into than to find yourself in the midst of a natural disaster.
Tornadoes and earthquakes are not an issue in Liberia.
Transportation Risks in Liberia: HIGH
If you plan on traveling to Liberia in the near future, then keep in mind that a large protest march is planned for the 7th of June 2019. It will most likely disrupt the traffic in and around Monrovia. Moreover, the routes from the town to the airport may be blocked as well.
Avoid traveling too close to the border with Code d'Ivoire, as clashes between armed groups have been recently reported there. Also, be aware of the fact that the national authorities may not be able to provide you with any emergency help if you are outside of Monrovia - they may either get hard on you or may not be able to do so at all.
In terms of road travel, several roads of Monrovia - to the international airports and a couple of cities/ districts - are overall paved and in a good condition. However, most roads outside of Monrovia are not paved, leading to deteriorated driving and road conditions, especially during the rainy season, which runs from May to November. In this time, most unpaved roads are known to become impassable.
Unless you are going to the Roberts International Airport, you should avoid traveling outside of Monrovia during the night. Reportedly all roads are unlit, most vehicles do not have lights, and you risk being robbed while stopping at an illegal checkpoint.
Driving standards are poor, erratic in some cases - taxis are known to stop or slow without any notice, most vehicles swerve to avoid potholes on short notice, and so on. If you really want to go on a field trip, it is recommended that you hire a local driver outside of Monrovia, as driving yourself is not the best idea.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Liberia: MEDIUM to HIGH
First of all, it is a well-known fact that criminals, as well as criminal organizations, operate on beaches and in most of Liberia's nightclubs. While the nightclubs come with good ratings, it is safe to assume that not everything happening inside them is either good or fun. Even though there are no reports, you should not believe that partying in such a dangerous country comes with no risks.
In this respect, it is recommended that you visit such facilities accompanied if you have to do so. Be careful on your way to the nightclub/ pub/ bar, as well as on your way back, as you might encounter scammers, thieves, or even criminals. Basically, you expose yourself to more risks when you are either going to or leaving a nightclub rather than when you are inside it.
However, keep in mind that you cannot exclude the use of spiked drinks or food. You'll have to be on your toes while inside the nightclub as well. Make sure to order your own drinks and to never accept any from strangers, nor from people/ locals you've just met.
Other than that, there are no significant reports telling of foreigners/ tourists being involved in incidents in such locations. Caution is still advised if you want to ensure your safety.
Health Risks in Liberia
In terms of health, Liberia is faced with a serious problem - namely, malaria. It is present even in the city of Monrovia.
The country's medical facilities are poorly equipped and - remember this - there are no emergency services. Medication is scarce and blood supplies are both unreliable and unsafe. The country is not equipped with a proper or effective emergency/ ambulance service. In short, you can not rely on the medical facilities and staff to treat you. It is imperative that you carry medication with you - have a first-aid kit with basic medical supplies with you at all times.
Given the status of Liberia's health system, it is strongly recommended that you apply for the best travel health insurance that you can find. Moreover, make sure to bring with you enough funds to cover the costs of any treatment, medicine, or emergency evacuation that you may be subject to. However, do try your best not to get injured!
List of Vaccines You Need in Liberia
All travelers to Liberia should get the following vaccines:
- Typhoid fever
- Hepatitis A
- Yellow fever
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese encephalitis
Most Dangerous Areas in Liberia
- Both sides of the Cote d'Ivoire/ Liberian border - reports of clashes between armed groups.
- Sinoe rubber plantation, Sapo National Park - organised groups of former combatants are present in these areas.
- Mamba Point, Sinkor, Sinkor Beach - several reports of tourists being mugged in these areas.
Concluding Remarks: Is Liberia Safe to Visit?
Liberia is a struggling country. Its medical system is extremely inchoate, it has frequent epidemics, the people are poor and therefore desperate, it has one of the highest rape rates in the world and is subject to armed threats and violence.
Obviously, it has its beauties, like any other country in this world, it’s just that this beauty is somewhat eclipsed by all the barbaric aspects that we’ve outlined in this Liberia safety guide.
If you plan on visiting Liberia in the near future, always make sure that you read the reports from the governments in order to see if there is any advice pertaining to the visit. If certain alerts are issued, either political or medical, do not go there. Wait until the situation cools down.
If you are a woman, we would like you to pick another destination. This is not to say that you’re weak or anything of the sort. Hopefully, you’ve found this guide of ours helpful and it gave you some food for thought.