Onshoring And Offshoring A Surprising African Country — Equatorial Guinea Part 2

You’ve already gotten a taste of volcanic island life in Equatorial Guinea, but you’ve yet to get the full lush green volcano jungle experience. That is coming up at the end of this Equatoguinean adventure. But first we’ve got to onshore and then offshore this journey while exploring more nature and mixed Spanish culture and also getting a glimpse at a surprisingly futuristic side of this little African country.

We last left off halfway through my trip to Equatorial Guinea, where I had been traveling without the necessary permits until this point. A last-minute policy change eliminated the need for me to quarantine upon arrival, but it was too late to change the dates on my permit. I joined a small group of other travelers, hoping to blend in without the proper paperwork. Luckily I was successful, and I got to travel around Bioko Island, visiting Malabo, Ureka, and some surrounding towns without any trouble from the authorities. 😇

A glimpse of Bioko Island

After visiting the rainy and beautiful coastal town of Ureka, we returned to Malabo. I had one more day to enjoy in the capital city before flying to the mainland. My permits had finally kicked into effect, and I was looking forward to seeing more of this Central African country with all my paperwork in order.

Beautiful cloudy Malabo

Christoph and the Chocolate Factory

The next day, I got to visit a chocolate factory, which was a very nice experience. I went to Finca Sampaka, which is both a cocoa plantation and a chocolate factory. The only other visitors there were an American family who had just recently arrived in Malabo to work on an oil rig. They told me that they are planning to stay there in Equatorial Guinea for the next three years. I went on a tour of the plantation and factory with the parents and their three children.

All signs point to chocolate 🤣

We went first to visit the plantation to see the cocoa and some other plants they had growing there. The guides explained to us how they grow the cocoa, and how they get the beans from the cocoa fruit. It was nice to see the plants, but this was far from my first experience seeing cocoa grown, and it wasn’t that exciting to me. The family that I met there seemed happy to see the plantation, but we all enjoyed the next part more.

The much more interesting part of the day for me was visiting the chocolate factory, where we could sample and buy some different varieties of chocolate. I actually still have some of the chocolate that I bought there with me today. They had fantastic chocolate there, so I enjoyed sampling some different flavors. 😋 I bought a delicious ginger-passionfruit chocolate because I particularly love those two ingredients. The combination of flavors created a heavenly taste in my mouth, and I just had to take some with me.

Equatoguinean Disco

We went back to the hotel from Finca Sampaka and the rest of the day was pretty chill. I had the opportunity to finish some work and rest a little bit before the evening. Later that night, I went to a local disco club with Ignacio, the guide who had taken me to Ureka. He had invited me to go out with him, and I was interested in seeing the local nightlife.

Views around town

Friday nights in Malabo aren’t really that interesting, but we managed to have a good night anyway. We went first to exchange some money before heading over to a local disco. Unfortunately, it was pretty much empty, so we went to another town near Malabo instead called Rebola. The town was near the edge of the volcano and had nice views of the capital. It was nice to see the lights of the city shining in the distance as I got a taste of the local culture at the club.

We had a few drinks at that bar, and then we left to go to another place that had more of a club-like atmosphere. I just sipped my beer at the club, watching the local people dance and have fun. I stayed for longer than I intended to, but I had a good enough time. 😎

I returned to my hotel at one in the morning, and the next day (or the same day, I guess), I was supposed to fly to the mainland. From there, I was planning to go back to Malabo again to visit the Pico Basilé volcano, but first I wanted to visit the mainland.

I had some nice clear views of the volcano, but I wasn’t ready to climb it quite yet.

Another African Airline

I flew to the mainland very early in the morning, which was kind of rough after being out so late the night before. I was picked up from my hotel at four in the morning to get to the airport on time, but then my flight ended up being delayed, which seems to almost always happen in Africa. The flight ended up leaving at around eight, and I wished I could have spent a few more hours in bed instead of waiting around the airport. 😴

Anyway, the airport was very easy to get through as they barely even have security controls there. I flew with Ceiba Intercontinental, which is a shitty local African airline, but it was surprisingly comfortable. It was only a 45-minute flight to reach the port city of Bata on the mainland. Bata is the biggest city on the coast of the mainland in Equatorial Guinea, and it is the capital of the Rio Muni region. It’s bordered by Cameroon and Gabon, which are both French-speaking countries, a contrast to Equatorial Guinea which is Spanish-speaking.

Not the best, not the worst

I also wanted to visit the islands of Annabón, São Tomé, and Príncipe, which are tropical lowland forests. To get to Annabón, you have to fly over São Tomé and Príncipe. I wanted to go, but it’s very difficult to get there now as they’ve had practically no flights over the past three years. The only way to get there is with a rusty old ferry which takes a few days to get there and only makes the journey every few weeks. Flights at the moment are very unreliable and hardly going at all. 🫤

I think it would be interesting to return to Equatorial Guinea in the future and try to catch a flight to Annabón, but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible on this trip. At least I could visit the mainland and go to Bata, where I visited Ciudad de la Paz, the “City of Peace,” which will soon be the country’s new capital.

Shifting Gears

When we arrived in Bata, we had some trouble with our permits. It turned out that I was supposed to carry my own permits, but my guide had collected them and not given them back to me. So, once again, I was there without a permit, and that was a problem. Luckily after a few hours, we were sent a picture of the permit that we were able to print out and use to continue traveling.

We ended up changing our plans around a little bit after that. We had planned to go to Monte Alen National Park that day, but we ended up doing that the next day instead. After the late night and early flight, I was just too tired for such a big adventure. I wanted to feel more energetic when I went to the park, even if that meant that I had to see it the next day. 🥱

We drove along the roads through a lot of villages instead, encountering lots of checkpoints along the way, until we arrived in Ciudad de la Paz.

This country has the best roads I’ve seen so far in Africa, thanks to China.

A Grand Hotel

Suddenly, the jungle parted and a huge hotel appeared. I was staying at the Grand Hotel Djibloho, a very large Chinese-style hotel in what is soon to be the new capital of Equatorial Guinea.

I was expecting more of a jungle hut than a palatial hotel

There were something like 600 rooms, 200 suites, and 50 villas. There is also a huge golf course and a lot of other amenities. They’ve basically built the hotel already in preparation for the city to come to life in the next 10-20 years.

It felt like stepping outside of Africa

In the afternoon, we went around in some golf carts. We didn’t play golf, but it was quite fun just to zip around in the little carts.

Sunset over the 18-hole golf course

We went through the golf course, past the river, and check out some animals. There are some chimpanzees on-site in cages which we stopped to visit. It’s too bad that they’re in captivity, but they were still nice to see them.

Hello friend 👋

There are some wild animals around there as well, like monkeys. We didn’t end up seeing any wild animals that day, although it could have happened because they were around. It was still fun cruising around in the golf cart and getting to see some views of the property.

Looking for gorillas

That evening, I had a nice Italian dinner. There are a few restaurants there, and I found surprisingly good Italian food. I had some good carpaccio. Eating rare meat can be dangerous in Africa, but anyone who follows my blog knows that I love it and that I’m a risk taker. I also had a delicious pizza, so I was fully satisfied and energized for the next day.

I really enjoyed my time exploring this hotel.

A Surprise Hike and a Good Guide

Early the next morning we headed to Monte Alen, which was about a 90-minute drive from the hotel. Monte Alen is the country’s largest national park with a protected area of over 2,000 square kilometers. It’s full of jungles and mountains and it’s many wild animals, and it’s right in the center of Equatorial Guinea.

The drive to Monte Alen

I was told that we would just walk around the jungle, seeing some animals that live there like monkeys and maybe even elephants, and that’s about it. I wasn’t told that it would be a hardcore five-hour hike with incredibly steep inclines of almost 1,000 meters. That was a complete surprise, and while I do enjoy a good hike, I wish that I had known to wear the right shoes.

We went with some young local guides as well as my guide Elizabeth from the company that I was traveling with, who was a very interesting person. She has a Spanish passport and is from Corisco, the third island of Equatorial Guinea that I would visit the next day. The people from Corisco, including Elizabeth, are descendants of the Spaniards who stayed and mixed with the local people. They are racially mixed but have fairly light skin, so they appear to be more white than they are black.

Elizabeth drove me around as my tour guide during my visit to the mainland part of the country. It was quite interesting to talk to her about her lifestyle and her vision for the future of Equatorial Guinea. She does a lot of work for the Ministry of Tourism and in the tourism industry in general for people visiting the country, and she was a nice guide to have. 😊

Exploring Monte Alen

Anyway, back to the hike. Elizabeth and the young local guys and I walked and walked, higher and higher up the mountain, until we reached the peak of Monte Alen. We couldn’t see anything at the top because it was all a thick jungle with no views. Finally, at the very end, we came to a clearing where we got to see some amazing views of the surrounding jungle and nature. There were no buildings in sight and absolutely no infrastructure around.

Welcome to Monte Alen

We didn’t see any wild animals, although we did find some elephant poop, so we know they’re in the area living at the top of a narrow mountain path. Apparently, there are gorillas and other animals there, but we didn’t see those either. The most we saw were just some monkeys in the distance.

Pure jungle

So, all in all, it was a steep five-hour hike which was very tiring, and we didn’t really see any wild animals. I made it, but I was very out of breath and felt sore when we made it back down. I fell a few times along the way as it was very slippery and I wasn’t wearing the right shoes for the hike. It was quite an adventure, but overall a rewarding one.

Heading to Cogo

From there we drove to Cogo in the very south of the mainland, right by the border to Gabon. There’s an estuary just on the other side of the river, which serves as a kind of natural border separating Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

The big river

We were supposed to take a boat from Cogo to Corisco Island, Elizabeth’s hometown. Corisco Island is only about 10-15 kilometers offshore from the mainland of Equatorial Guinea. The island is technically closer to Gabon than it is to Equatorial Guinea, and when I visited Libreville back in March, I remember seeing this island offshore and wondering what it was. It turns out, it was this island in Equatorial Guinea.

So we drove quite a long way, taking some short stops to look around. We went the wrong way at one point, so when we finally arrived in Cogo it was too late to take the boat across to the island. Apparently, you can only go to Corisco in the daylight.

I found a beach but not the one I wanted.

Missing Corisco

The next day we had a quick lunch before setting off to find a boat that would take us across. Just then, I was informed that I could not go to Corisco Island at all because they had some important investor group visiting there with government officials and so on. They wouldn’t allow any strangers or tourists to cross. So, unfortunately, I couldn’t go to Corisco at all.

This is as close as I got to Corisco.

I was disappointed to miss it because I had heard that the island is very nice. After seeing the beaches on Bioko Island and hearing about Corisco from my guide, I had been looking forward to seeing it for myself. I may have to make another trip one day so I can visit Corisco as well.

Hopefully, I’ll get there one day.

If I had made it to Corisco, then I wouldn’t have had internet that night, so I guess at least I had that. We stopped back in Cogo shortly before returning to Bata, where I stayed at a nice five-star hotel called Panafrica. Generally, the Equatoguinean standard for hotels is quite high, and the food is reasonable. It was a lot nicer to stay there than it would be in Nigeria, where I visited next.

Another nice hotel ⭐

Back in Bata

I settled into my hotel in Bata and went first to take another PCR test. You still need a PCR test to travel from the mainland back to Malabo, the country’s capital on Bioko Island. We drove a bit around Bata and did a bit of sightseeing.

Some nice old architecture

We had a young, fancy, very pretty lady with us who I think was a friend of Elizabeth’s. We went around to see some different sites and churches, and we took some photos.

A little sightseeing

We went to a beach club for lunch, where I had some nice costillas, which are pork ribs.

The beach club

I finally got to visit the sea while we were there. There aren’t many beautiful beaches on the mainland, but this beach had two shipwrecks which were quite fun to explore.

Shipwrecks are best enjoyed at low tide

We took a lot of pictures of the shipwreck from different perspectives, enjoyed the sunset on the beach, and even climbed around on one of the ships.

Sailors take warning.

We visited some of the areas surrounding Bata and I went to take another PCR test. I didn’t do that much, but it was still a nice day.

Who doesn’t enjoy a good wreck?

More of Malabo

Early the next morning, I flew back to Malabo, where I would spend two more full days. When I got there, I wanted to take some time to rest first at the hotel. I went to a different hotel this time which was actually one of the first presidential palaces of the revolution. While it’s located directly at the harbor, it’s not very scenic, but there are good views of the town. You can see the mountains on one side, and on the other was a view of the container port. Unfortunately, I was on the side of the hotel with a view of the container port out the window. Everything else was fine at the hotel.

At least the exchange rate is good right now.

That day I just took a short walk around the city. I hadn’t gone sightseeing around Malabo yet, so I went with a guide to take a tour of the old colonial center of Malabo city.

A beautiful building in the historic city center

There were some nice buildings to see such as churches and colonial buildings, but not too much else. I had a nice burger for lunch at an American pub.

Casco Viejo de Malabo

After that, I only had one more interesting thing to do before leaving for Lagos, Nigeria.

The Peak of Pico Basilé

The last thing that I wanted to do before leaving Equatorial Guinea was to climb Pico Basilé, the 3,000-meter tall volcano on Bioko Island. It’s part of a chain of volcanos in West Africa. This includes the 4,000-meter high Mount Cameroon, which can be clearly seen from Bioko Island, as well as a 2,000-meter volcano in the south of Ureka.

I looked forward to seeing the view from the top.

Even though Pico Basilé is quite high (in fact, it’s higher than any German mountain), you can drive to the top. It’s very lush up there because they get a lot of rain and no snow. Even up until 2,800 meters it was very lush with lots of plants and a ton of rain. We drove up to the top with our permits on very good roads.

Driving up the mountain

At about 2,700-2,800 meters, we came across a big church with some sculptures. It was quite wet and we were the only people there, so we just took a few pictures before driving back down again.

Close to heaven

Unfortunately, you can’t go to the very top of the mountain because it is used by the military, so I didn’t get all the way to 3,000 meters but it was nice up there at 2,800 meters.

Looking up at the peak

For a short while, the views cleared up a bit. I couldn’t see the town below but I could see some bits of blue sky and green jungle up and down the volcano, which was interesting to see.

Lush green jungle

It was one of ten days with the most rain that I ever encountered in my life. Malabo is very rainy, as is the entire island of Bioko. It was supposed to be the dry season when I was there, but it still rained so much. 🌧️

Rain in Africa

Final Thoughts

Overall, I thought that Bioko was a nice island with high standards and good infrastructure. The people are very friendly and don’t seem to be oppressed by their dictator. It was a good feeling to speak Spanish in Africa. So, it was a nice experience even though the photos would have been nicer with better weather. 🌞

The country’s dictator has 20 presidential villas, and this isn’t any of them 😂 Taking pictures of them is strictly forbidden.

On my last day in town, I caught a flight from Malabo to Lagos, Nigeria. Although it should only be a 45-minute flight because the countries are neighbors, it was a long day for me because there is no direct flight between the two cities.

Instead, I had to fly from Malabo to Cotonou in Benin, then to Lomé in Togo before I finally made it to Lagos. Each flight was very short, but it was a long day altogether. In Cotonou, I could stay on the plane between flights, but I had to transfer in Lomé, which is not a nice airport to connect through. From there I finally made it to Nigeria, where I got my visa on arrival.

I’ve been to almost every country in Africa, and soon in the world!

I’m now at 187 countries. I’ll be back soon to tell you all about my visit to Nigeria.