Due to its location some 400km from the equator, Ivory Coast is generally hot and humid, day and night, all through the year. However, there are minor regional variations. While the national daytime temperatures average 26.6°C, the equatorial south of the country regularly exceeds 30°C. The tropical centre is a little cooler and the arid and semi-arid north is colder at night due to lower humidity. In the periods of June to September and December to January, temperatures in the high altitude Dix-Huit Mountains in the west can fall as low as 15°C. The average relative humidity is 71% in the north and 85% in the south.
It’s sensible to visit Ivory Coast between November and March, when the heat and humidity are a little lower and rainstorms are rarer. At this time of year there are fewer malaria-carrying mosquitoes and most of the national parks are open to the public before shutting for the wet season (June to October). If you’re planning to explore the west, avoid going between June and October when showers can cause rapid deterioration of roads and hiking paths. Those tempted by the north ought to get there before the harmattan season begins in June, as the dust can ruin visibility for sightseeing and photography, and irritate uncovered eyes, mouths and noses.
A singularly happening and cosmopolitan African city offering everything from indigenous live music to Western-style superclubs, truly international cuisine, chic boutiques and world-class art galleries.
Grand-Bassam’s colonial quarter
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this French-period neighbourhood of elegant mansions and bureaux is an intriguing lesson in living history.
After jet-skiing on the lagoon or antelope-spotting in the adjacent Îles Ehotilés National Park, settle down on this 18km-long idyllic beach with a glass of Beaujolais and a French meal as good as any you’ll find in Paris or Marseille.
Taï National Park
Trek or kayak your way around one of the last swathes of primary evergreen forest in West Africa and look out for chimpanzees, crocodiles, pygmy hippos and 250 species of exotic bird.
The truly individual – and rather eccentric – capital city of Ivory Coast. It was the birthplace of the first president of Ivory Coast, Félix Houphouët- Boigny, and is known for its crocodile-feeding rituals, vast marble peace foundation and the tallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world.
The historic nexus of the Baoulé ethnic group and an atmospheric showcase for its cooking, dancing, weaving, ceramic and sculptural traditions.
Mysterious and primeval, Korhogo is the centre of northern cultural modes that date back millennia, from smithies teeming with occult symbolism to sacrificial sites at the foot of glorious Mount Korhogo.
Hiking in the Dix-Huit Montagnes
Crisp alpine air, forest-crested slopes and mind-blowing panoramas of Liberia make the arduous journey to the mountainous west well worth the hassle.
This triangular, earth-and-bark structure is one of the few reminders left of northern Ivory Coast’s rich pre-colonial Islamic heritage.