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Low-key Sassandra is a great place to immerse yourself in village life; here, a local hairdresser's © Alex Sebley
A low-key fishing village full of secret treasures, from hidden beaches to hippopotamus-infested rivers and deserted mansions.
At first sight, Sassandra appears to be a dull, oversized fishing village on the estuary of the 650km-long Sassandra River, built on an incline among the mangroves, vines, climbing palm forests and commercial plantations of the southwest. Anyone who invests some time and effort here, however, will find a veritable trove of idyllic beaches, invigorating walks, singular wildlife-spying opportunities and stimulating historical relics (although the best of these are yet to be opened to the public).
Sassandra sits on a knobbly 4km-long promontory, its furthest point marked by the Old Governor’s Mansion, which stares mournfully out across the embrouchure – the point where the Gulf of Guinea meets the Sassandra River. Beyond the strait is another headland where the village of Brodje is sited. Anyone who drives in to Sassandra on the only trunk road will arrive at a roundabout beside a UTB bus station amid a cluster of sandy, untarmacked streets. Just east from here towards the sea is the market and Ghanaian fisherman’s beach, interesting landmarks both. The two best lodgings in town – Hôtel Le Pollet and Hôtel La Terrasse – are located nearby, though up steep cliffs. Rue de la Maison du Gouverneur runs beside the beach, linking the semi-ruined Governor’s Residence in the north to Yaba Beach in the far south.