More opportunities to visit the south of Loango national Park have brought with them more incredible wilding sightings and stunning landscapes. Enjoy some of the highlights:
At the end of October we were very happy to have our first visitor to Gabon, my best friend Ariana! After spending a few days in Paris to celebrate her 35th birthday we flew altogether back to Gabon. We eased her into her first African experience by spending the first few days doing a bit of relaxing, visiting the beaches nearby our house, watching the elephants coming through camp to eat all the ripe mangos, and kayaking around the lake.
But over the weekend we took a boat and headed up north through the lagoon to Sette Cama where we stayed in the Shell Hut and arranged for a guide to take us for a couple of hikes into the amazing Loango National Park. Before arriving at the hut we of course had to stop at the newly semi-improved BBC Treehouse. I was really impressed that Ariana, who is extremely scared of heights, actually climbed all the way to the top and even crossed the rope bridge! That night we enjoyed some drinks on the beach, just steps behind the hut, while watching the sunset.
The next day we picked up our guide in Sette Cama at 6:30 for an early morning walk in Loanga. We decided to start with an easy 2 hours hike that takes you through the forest and 3 separate savannas. We came across several groups of monkeys (mostly red capped mangabeys), a massive snail, and some fairly impressive spiders. I found walking through the forest was really magical; Ariana, who lets just say isn’t the most outdoorsy person, may have found the experience slightly less magical. Or at least that the impression I had as she asked every 10 minutes if we were almost back to the boat yet and continuously tried to in vain to swat invisible insects away from her face. This probably wasn’t helped when at one point, after our guide pointed out a large spider web and then demonstrated where to walk around it, Ariana then walked through the side of it 🙂
We all survived the hike and to our surprise Ariana even raved about how much fun she had! After a bit of relaxation at the hut, we dropped the boys (two of our friends arrived that morning) off on the beach near the lagoon mouth and we went in search of hippos in a little river off of the north side of the lagoon. It was a successful search and we spent about a half an hour watching a fairly relaxed group of hippos bob up and down in the water checking us out. We also spotted some rosy bee eaters, pelicans, and a red capped mangabey monkey hanging out in the mangroves.
After meandering up and down the river for a couple of hours we headed back to the beach to see what the boys had caught (unfortunately nothing this time) and then all headed back to the hut for a (fishless) dinner
The next day we had another early wakeup call and tried to mentally prepare ourselves for what was to come….a 6 hour hike through the heart of the Loango National Park!
We were all pretty exhausted after the long, hot hike, but everyone agreed that it was an amazing experience.
After we finished all of our hard work with the gorilla project we happily got to do a little sightseeing in the area nearby. About a 20 minute boat road from the town of Omboue lies the Mission Saint Anne. It was built in 1889, the same year as the Eiffel Tower, and, funnily enough both were designed by the same man, Gustav Eiffel. It seems that the founder of the church had a very rich mother with good connections in Paris, Mrs Bichet. All of the plans and materials were shipped from Paris and assembled in Gabon, reminds me of ikea furniture 😉
We were guided through the church and the area surrounding it by an enthusiastic, and perhaps slightly inebriated local gentleman, none the less he seemed to have a lot of information and love for the mission.
We went inside one of the classrooms of the local school. On the outside there were some lovely painting of local animals, however, on the inside there were some live specimens, I would have rather avoided…
One of the most beautiful areas was the bamboo forest. They actually refer to part of it as the bamboo chapel as the stalks tower over you, making what looks like an arched ceiling. Once a year thousands of people gather here for a mass.
After lunch in Omboue we set out towards our next destination, the Loango Lodge.
This beautiful resort is situated on the northern edge of the amazing Loango National Park. The owners of the Loango Lodge actually helped start up the Gorilla Project, so when they heard that we were helping out there, they offered us to stay at their beautiful hotel and join them for dinner. Needless to say we were all ecstatic at the opportunity. Teun and I and few other didn’t get to lodge until after dark and we all had to leave before sunrise the next morning, but from what I got see it looked fabulous, I can’t wait to go back again and join in on some of their safaris into the national park.
Dinner was fantastic, with a beautiful view over the river below.
But at 5am we all rolled out of bed, grabbed a quick breakfast and were on our way to begin our trek back home.
Once the sun stared to come out the landscape looked amazing! I couldn’t help, but to try and capture it as Teun was driving.
We even saw a leopard while were driving! We were in the lead and we saw a large, dark cat (leopards here are very dark colored) crossing the road. It was quite far away and as soon as it saw us coming it ran off so I didn’t get a picture unfortunately. A while later (while I was napping) Teun spotted a chimpanzee crossing the road, again it happened so fast, by the time I woke up and looked around all I saw was some movement in the bushes.
Large hornbill flying by
We needed to make it to the ferry by 11am in order to get our cars on. And it was very tight, we were the 2nd car of the group and made it there at 10:50am. Of course the ferry didn’t actually leave until 11:30…
After our final ferry ride a few of us decided to sit and wait for the cars to arrive. We made a picnic lunch out of the leftovers in our cooler.