Looking for monkeys
Read / lees in : Nederlands
With my belly full I’d reached the Gabon border, which you can only pass if you carry a valid hotel booking. Or so I was told. But through the famous booking sites you can only reserve hotels in Libreville, the capital, over six hundred kilometers away. Despite the first class roads I found that too far to drive in just one day. Besides I wanted to see more of the country, because ultimately I hadn’t been able to do touristy things. So I had selected a hotel that allowed cancellation of bookings up to the very last minute. After the border official called the hotel to verify my reservation and decorated my passport with yet another stamp, I bought a local SIM card on the other side of the road and cancelled my booking. In a little town a bit further down the road I found a replacement hotel that looked like the ones you find in desolate towns in ex-soviet states. With comparable service.
On my way to the gorillas
In the morning I set course for the Lopé National Park, because I’d heard that you can do a jungle trek there, with a chance to see gorillas, for just a hundred and fifty euros. A bargain, because in Rwanda and Uganda it can cost up to ten times as much to see those animals in the wild. In the end it took me two days to reach the park, firstly because I needed to do the tricky equator crossing, and secondly because the road is really bad after the Mayéné turnoff. Meanwhile my phone was flooded with angry emails from a pissed off hotel owner from Libreville. Once I arrived the guide, that I dug up, asked me if I’d mind if a family of four would accompany me into the woods. The way he asked didn’t give me the impression that I had any choice, but I didn’t want to agitate more people anyway. So I went along with it. Besides, meeting new people is always fun. In principle.
On my way with two monkeys
I could’ve stayed in bed half an hour longer that day, because the two kids of about five years old had delayed the morning routine a bit. Because of which I was picked up later than scheduled. In the car, on our way to the jumping off point, their mother promised them we’d see more animals that day than in all of the zoos in the world together. What a shame though that in the jungle they can actually flee when there are crying and talking kids coming their way. All day long we saw the bushes and trees shake in the distance as a sign that once again some rare animals escaped from the lens of my camera. Once our part of the forest was completely void of animals the family returned to their hotel while I stayed behind with a guide to camp out in the jungle. That day we wouldn’t see any wildlife anymore. The next day we saw an elephant and a squirrel, but that was about it. But, no big deal, after all I had a week on São Tomé and Principe to look forward to. So as fast as the infrastructure would allow, I drove to Libreville to catch my flight. Once again my expectations were sky high, and in princip(l)e things never disappoint if that’s the case.