The Dix-Huit Montagnes - A view from our expert author

Crisp alpine air, forest-crested slopes and mind-blowing panoramas of Liberia make the arduous journey here well worth the hassle.

Those travelling up from the low-lying, developed south will be pleasantly surprised by the west’s elevated terrain, chillier climes and eco-tourism opportunities. Mountaineers will relish Tonkoui and other 1,000m-plus peaks, while the more casual hiker can easily conquer Zaala and Le Dent de Man for stirring views of the countries neighbouring Ivory Coast to the west. Although not Niagaran in scale, the cascades at Zadépleu are the biggest in the country and worth a frolic under.

The Dix-Huit Montagnes is also the home of the Dan (also known as the Yacouba) ethnic group, famous for its striking masks and sacramental dances. Subsistence farming villages such as Godufu, near the border with Liberia, lay on energetically elaborate masked stilt dances celebrating everything from marriages to harvests. In the regional capital Man, which has the atmosphere of an enlarged hill station, artisans use traditional methods to construct masks and whittle all manner of symbolic objects out of acacia, teak and bois de veine trees.

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