After our stay in Lope we went on to Leconi with a stop in Lastoursville. We were looking forward too a nice shower, after the basic conditions in Lope, but in our hotel in Lastorsville there was AC and a shower, but no hot water…oh well. After cleaning ourselves up and doing a little laundry we went into town. Time for some food. We passed a delicious smelling street BBQ joint which we decided to try out.
It could be looked upon as very daring but our faith was rewarded with some delicious chopped up chicken and no stomach issues! After dinner we strolled on and Saras wanted to have a dress made. We found a tailor that could do and pick up in the morning. We decided to celebrate this with a drink and were accompanied by some locals.
After picking up the dress the next morning we went on to Assiami, famous for its “Vin du Gabon”. Yes, they make wine in Gabon….but first some ticks were removed on Adrienne and Chris and the usual police stops and the unusual ones….we were stopped by the police and were summoned one by one into the “office”.
Questions regarding our profession, parents, occupation, army service, children and why not, purpose of being in Gabon were asked….this took an hour from our time but provided entertainment to the local police force which after the interrogation showed us the way to Assiami, so not that bad after all.
After some dusty roads we finally saw the sign to the vineyard. Our plan was to camp there but
as nothing was arranged we had to ease our way in….
We were welcomed by a very friendly man who appeared to be by himself on the property so was happy to talk to some people. He showed us around the vineyard and told some about the history. Not sure it was on purpose but he was muslim, guess to keep the wine safe…
The previous president of Gabon wanted to produce his own wine and several grape varieties were tested before they finally found the right one that would survive in the tropical rainforest.
Climate in the area is relatively mild but still a rainforest none the less. The advantage is that because of the high temperatures and rainfall there a 2 harvests a year so more wine can be produced on the same area.
We got a tour along the pond where they store water for irrigation, some previous trial plots and went back to the tasting room.
Some of our friends and family have tried the wine, and they know its an acquired taste…but in general it is not considered as very nice….
We were offered some by the guide and as not everyone drinks in our group the honor was up to 4 people…but we didn’t want to offend him as we wanted to camp there…so after taking one for the team we put Saras close to him and finally asked the question: can we camp here tonight? Yes was the answer!
We set up our camp near to the vines and prepared dinner. Luckily we had other drinks to wash down the taste.
The next day we packed up, said goodbye and went on to Leconi to the canyons. On the way we passed the Anza factory, the main supplier of bottled mineral water in Gabon. Unfortunately the plant wasn’t open for visits.
As with a lot of things in Gabon, the road to Leconi canyons is not really marked so we had to ask a couple of times for directions, but we even saw some roadsigns! Then we followed random tracks that led us to the canyon where we had some lunch while enjoying the view.
After the canyons we went on to Leconi Park. This park has been set up by a rich Gabonese business man who decided to introduce some south african antelopes into the plaines of east Gabon. The plaines are endless and resemble a completely different habitat compared to the rainforest elsewhere in the country. Unfortunately the road to the park wasn’t clearly marked and we had to take some assumptions along the way. At one point we asked a guy on a scooter and he told us to follow him. But soon he turned and we were on our own again.
We drove for a long time into what we thought was the right direction. In the distance we saw a truck loaded with people and we decided to ask for directions…..it appeared we were approaching the Congo border and totally the wrong direction. Two guys were “friendly” and decided to join us in the airc onditioned cars to show the way.
Finally we arrived at our destination and we got to drive through the park. We saw Oryx, lots of Oryx….which is an amazing and surreal sight at the same time.
We were shown a cabin in the park where we could spend the night, however, we decided to pitch our own tents….the cabin was filled with spiders and other creepy creatures. We had an amazing view over the valleys and started the fire while sun was setting.
After dinner we enjoyed some drinks and went to bed on time as in the early morning we had to get up for a tour of the park.
Alarm went of at 5 and tents were packed up in silence. We drove to pick up the guide and started the tour where we saw more Oryx
The guides took us to the border of the park too the outlook. we had a great view on Gabon and Congo (which we almost visited).
After the tour, after spotting some more Oryx we had to say goodbye to this gem as we were headed to Poubara and Lekedi park. The way back was a bit easier as we had some clearer directions “tout droit”….but still some sand hazards.