RE: sierra leone safety
Just visited Freetown in late June. Things are no better or worse than the rest of the 3rd world. Just be aware of your surroundings and follow some basic safety rules:
a. Don't flash lots of money or wear expensive jewelry
b. Don't give money to the beggars (once you give to one, dozens more will descend upon you)
c. Keep your car windows rolled up and doors locked when stopped in traffic.
d. Don't stay out late as then that's when most of the bad stuff happens (armed theft, carjackings, etc)
e. Do not trust ANYONE trying to sell you rough diamonds. It is illegal and, unless you know what your are buying, the chances you are being sold broken glass is high.
As far as good hotels are concerned, the ones recommended to me were Country Lodge and Mambo Point. I stayed at the Hotel Cabenda near Congo Cross which was pretty good and had decent security. The UN uses it and everybody seems satisfied with the service.
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