Island Africa – Equatorial Guinea
|BETWEEN||Malabo and Malabo|
|COUNTRIES VISITED – 1||Equatorial Guinea|
|MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE||12|
|WHATS NOT INCLUDED||
A short trip to one of Africa’s more unusual corners. Equatorial Guinea has had a reputation for being largely inaccessible, but in recent years has become much easier to visit. We concentrate on its most interesting part, the island of Bioko, a tropical jewel sitting off the Cameroonian coast in the Gulf of Guinea.
Equatorial Guinea isn’t the most obvious choice for a holiday, and compared to some other destinations its sites are ‘low key’ but what it offers in abundance is the sense of exploration. Very few people visit this tiny nation, and the locals aren’t too used to tourism, but this means that your experience here will be nothing if not authentic…
Island Africa – Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tomé combine beautiful island scenery with colonial heritage, with tourism rare on both islands. Equatorial Guinea is a small country composed of a forested continental region similar to Gabon and south Cameroon and an island, Bioko, a unique tropical jewel in the middle of the Gulf of Guinea. This trip is centered in Bioko, formerly Fernando Po duringthe Spanish colonial rule, where you can experience its interesting volcanic landscapes, look for turtles nesting, and uncover the remnants of its Latin colonial past. With a rich cultural heritage and good infrastructure, São Tomé and Principe form one of the smallest independent states in the world, located on an alignment of once-active volcanoes, with rugged landscapes, dense primary tropical forests, and beaches of black and white sand. Discovered in 1470 by Portuguese navigators, this cone-shaped volcanic island that culminates in the 2,025-metre Pico de São Tomé offers dramatic landscapes of torrents and waterfalls, secluded beaches, sheer sea cliffs, tropical forest and extensive cacao plantations. Wander through old colonial streets, experience plantation life at São João, and see a very different side of Africa.
Day 1: Malabo
Day 2: Malabo
Spend today exploring Equatorial Guinea’s capital. We visit the city centre with its colonial buildings dating back to the 19th century, including the neo-Gothic cathedral, Independence Square, and Semu market, a colourful and lively place and a good place to get to grips with local culture. We also visit the small island of Horacio, and the village of Rebola with great views over the capital and an interesting colonial flavour.Overnight Yoli Hotel or similar. (B)
Situated on the north coast of the island of Bioko, Equatorial Guinea’s capital is a fairly small and manageable city. Huge contrasts exist here between the typical Central African scenes of busy markets and run down areas, and other areas flush with oil money, glittering buildings and ex-pats whizzing past in airconditioned 4wds. The city was first founded by the British in 1827, who leased the island from Spain during the colonial period. Named Port Clarence, it was used as a naval station in the effort to suppress the slave trade. Many newly freed slaves were also settled there, prior to the establishment of Liberia as a colony for freed slaves. While many of them later relocated to Sierra Leone, some of their descendants, called Fernandinos, can still be found in Malabo and the surrounding area, where they constitute a distinct ethnic group, speaking their own Afro-Portuguese pidgin dialect.
When the island reverted to complete Spanish control, Malabo was renamed Santa Isabel. It was chosen to replace the mainland city of Bata as the capital of the country in 1969, and was renamed Malabo in 1973 as part of President Francisco Macías Nguema’s campaign to replace European place names with ‘authentic’African ones. Today it holds a good number of Spanish colonial buildings – the only real ‘sights’ of the city –sitting awkwardly close to modern banks, restaurants and office buildings, as the city enjoys the wealth created by the oil boom.
Day 3: Moka
Day 4: Luba
Day 5: Ureka
Day 6: Arena Blanca – Malabo
Day 7: Pico Basile
Day 8: São Tomé
Fly to Sao Tome. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel and explore the historic capital, with its impressive colonial era architecture, lively market and a good museum where you can learn about life on the plantations and the country’s pre-independence history. Overnight Poiso Alto Guesthouse or similar. (B)
Town One of the most charming African capitals, São Tomé Town was first established in the late 15th century by the Portuguese who had landed on the island in search of land to grow sugar. Today it is a fascinating mix of old colonial architecture, jumbled markets and Mediterranean style villas, interspersed with more ramshackle houses on the outskirts. It’s also home to one of the oldest cathedrals in Africa, the 16th century Cathedral of Santa Se, and the Sao Sebastiao Fort, built around the same time and today housing the National Museum. São Tomé is a rather atmospheric place, its colonial buildings adorned with wooden balconies and ranging from well restored to rather dilapidated – a different feel to other African capitals and sometimes more reminiscent of the Caribbean than the mainland.
Day 9: Bom Sucesso - São João dos Angolares
A full day excursion exploring the countryside. Drive to Bom Sucesso and hike to Lagoa Amelia (approx. 4 hours) then drive south to the coastal village of São João dos Angolares.The journey takes you into the heart of the Caue district at the extreme south of the island, where the road ends and onward travel is difficult. Spend the night in a converted plantation house (roca). (B)
São João dos Angolares
São João is a small fishing village with a wide black sand bay dotted with coconut palms and fishing boats, in the shade of Pico Maria Fernandes. The ‘Angolares’ part of the name is attributed to the legend that its inhabitants are the descendants of Angolan slaves, shipwrecked here in the 16th century, and the people here speak a unique dialect supposedly derived from a local Angolan language. The Roca São João, where we stay, is an old converted plantation house which is locally renowned for its good cuisine and has been lovingly restored to maintain its historic charm – a good insight into colonial life on the island.
Day 10: São João dos Angolares
Day 11: São Tomé
Day 12: São Tomé
Please note: Should flight schedules between Malabo and Sao Tome change, it may be necessary to alter this itinerary to correspond with them.
Tour Dossier Notes
Airport transfers – Includes arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.
Accommodation – Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.
Guides – In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.
Meals – As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip– in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.
Entrance fees – Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.
Visas – We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then can request for this to be arranged for you. If you need any advice with visas just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as CIBT can assist.
Airport taxes – If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay these yourself.