One of the reasons I left the US was quality of life. It may sound strange to some that I would consider my quality of life better in West Africa than it was in the US, but the biggest thing that was missing from my life was real downtime. Working two jobs and teaching in a system that does not value teachers were chipping away at my peace of mind, often leaving me too fried to truly enjoy time with my child or even vacations.
Here I am able to have a work-life balance that is healthy for me, and because some of my living expenses are covered by my employer, I can afford to splurge on a nice vacation without having to eat Ramen for the rest of the month.
Anyway, I just returned from 4 amazing days in Grand Béréby, Cote d’Ivoire, with Big Foot and a few fellow moms from work and their children.
We flew in via the San Pedro airport on Air Cote d’Ivoire. I have to say I really enjoyed the friendly crew and the comfortable amount of legroom in coach. It was a quick 45 minute flight, and the driver from the inn was ready and waiting for us. The one hour drive to the resort was as unpleasantly bumpy as expected, but we had been warned of that ahead of time.
When we arrived at Le Katoum, I immediately forgot about the ride and felt myself relax. The owner gave us a warm greeting, and we were quickly shown to our room. The room was simple and clean, but the best part was the sea view terrace. It was the perfect spot for early morning workouts or simply relaxed reflection.
After putting our things away, we went down for dinner with our friends at the on-site restaurant. I had a to-die-for dish of lobster pasta (about $13). Afterwards, we spend some time on the beach and then turned for the night.
The next day, we started with breakfast (the classique was just the right portion to share with my son), then the adults relaxed on the restaurant’s terrace while the kids played in the pool.
After lunch, we headed out on what of the excursions that are offered here. This was quite a treat, especially considering it cost about $10 per person! We were taken on a small boat to see little monkey’s in their natural habitat, and local boats (many from Ghana) that were docked nearby. Then we walked through a cacao plantation and were able to taste the fruit as well as see the local village where they dry and prepare the cacao beans. In the village, we were treated to coconuts fresh off the tree, and the adults were able to try a local sugarcane rum called “kingus”. We then walked back via a route that kept up right by the ocean.
During our stay, we also opted for the private beach excursion. This includes a very nice lunch of grilled fish, chicken, and lobster with salad and several sides, as well as some wine. Sadly the food was too tasty for me to remember to take a picture 😉 This was a really lovely time for us as the waves were very tame, so all the children could safely play in and around the water, and the fact that there were no other people there added to the serenity of the experience.
On our last night, we requested a bonfire on the beach, and we were accommodated by one of the staff members without hesitation.
During our stay, the owner and his sons frequently checked on us or just took a moment to chat with us and other guests.The kitchen staff was also very accommodating, making off menu custom dishes on request.
On the last day, I enjoyed a heavenly massage in little cabana on the beach, and our group then walked to the local market for some shopping. Le Katoum also offers several other excursions (some seasonal), such as fishing, whale watching, watching turtles come in to lay their eggs, and work with a local conservation NGO.
Two things of note: First, things are much easier if you speak French, although everyone on staff tries hard to please, regardless of their varying degrees of English proficiency. Additionally, the kitchen sometimes runs out of certain items, because they try to source ingredients locally and sustainably. They do also take quite a while to prepare meals, so it’s a good idea to order ahead and tell them when you plan to have your meal.
Overall, this was an truly amazing experience. I had budgeted $1000 for flights, transfers, room for 4 nights, and food and drinks, and my total came in at $980. This was with me having a couple of adult drinks and paying zero attention to the cost of meals. I did bring cash for tips as well, but I feel that the amazing experience I had at Le Katoum was worth well over what I paid. I would definitely return there in a heartbeat and highly recommend it. It’s no surprise to me that they manage to stay well-booked consistently, even without a website (You can view pictures on their Facebook page here, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org).