People are often confused when hearing about Equatorial Guinea for the first time. That is certainly understandable due to country's small size. Situated in West Africa where big countries are the norm, Equatorial Guinea faces the Gulf of Guinea while surrounded on two sides by Gabon with Cameroon on its north. Another weird fact about this country is the location of its capital. Malabo, the political and economic centre can be found in Bioko Island, just off the coast of Cameroon.
When going to Equatorial Guinea, travellers will also often hear Spanish and French spoken. These are the official languages even if the majority of the population uses their native speech. Such regulation harks back to the colonial past of the country, which was taken over by Spain in 1778. Independence was only achieved 190 years later when Francisco Nguema was elected as president.
This did not bring eventual prosperity for the whole nation due to his corrupt leadership. Allegations of genocide were also levelled at him, until Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo seized power in a coup. The present times have not been as kind to the masses even with the change in leadership. Although rich in oil revenues, the majority of Equatorial Guinea still lives in poverty.
What to see & do
When going to Equatorial Guinea, one must start travelling to Monte Alen National Park in Rio Muni. It is one of the most magnificent nature reserves in the country. One will see in this 1400-sq-km enclosure where visitors will find hiking trails and camping sites to see mountain gorillas and other types of monkeys, elephants, crocodiles, and other wild species. Los Altos de Nsork National Park also serves as a potential destination due to the biodiversity of birds to be found here. Much of the territory is virgin forest, making it a place for experienced explorers.
Those coming from the capital in Bioko Island can tour the Catedral de Santa Isabel. This landmark in Malabo draws the attention of passing tourists with its grand spires and beautiful interiors. One must take care while taking pictures inside and outside, as the people of Equatorial Guinea take their religion seriously. Travellers in the area can also stop by and see La Casa Verde, a green colonial building. Despite its simplicity, this structure harks back to the time when the country was under the rule of the Spanish. There is also the Mission Ethnological Museum to see for its artworks from the Bubus people and stone sculptures from the Druids.
Travellers on the last leg of their trip can take a detour to Arena Blanca in Luba. The beach is a nice place to relax due to the minor presence of other tourists. Seeing the natural beauty of this part of the country can be combined with interaction with some of the locals. This can open up to more experiences of the country, especially when one hears about their concerns in the midst of the natural beauty of Luba.
How to get around within Equatorial Guinea
Those going around in Equatorial Guinea will find it difficult to explore. Tourists in the cities will have to ride in overcrowded minibuses to get to their destination. Taxis make the alternative mode of transport for those who want better seats and more comfort. Domestic planes, on the other hand, take travellers going to the mainland and back to Malabo. Pirogues can also be found in the ports for those who want to explore the smaller islands in the area.
How to get there
Travellers going to Equatorial Guinea can board flights to Malabo International Airport. Airlines serving here are: Africa's Connection, Air Annobón, Air France, Camair-Co, Ceiba Intercontinental Airlines, Cronos Airlines, Douniah Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Iberia, Lufthansa, Punto Azul, Royal Air Maroc, and Westair Benin.
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