Equatorial Guinea is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa, with new ports, highways, and cities sprouting up at an astonishing rate.
However, European colonialism, a series of attempted (and successful) coups, and the 1996 oil boom all contributed to a rising disparity between rich and poor – and yet Equatoguineans accept this with a relaxed friendliness belying earlier upheavals.
This is the country of painted-faced apes, lovely butterfly clouds, and vibrant insects from a fantasy world. While Equatorial Guinea is known for failed coups, corruption charges, and buckets of oil, there is much to entice travelers to this country’s magnificent black-and-white beaches.
Here are seventeen fascinating facts about Equatorial Guinea.
A strange mix of colonial traditions occurs between the age-stained, salt-washed architectural components that dot Malabo’s core business district.
They provide a tribute to the city’s long history and strong European lineage as the soon-to-be-defunct capital of Equatorial Guinea.
Visitors can stroll the streets and admire the spectacular neo-Gothic spires of the Cathedral of Santa Isabel, as well as the quaint, modest Spanish-style casas that line the neighborhood roadways.
There’s also a university and a Cultural Center, which are surrounded by a smattering of bars and restaurants serving fried plantain curries that run down to the clifftops above the Atlantic.
Monte Alén National Park
The immense wildernesses of Monte Alén National Park: possibly the most important site of exceptional natural beauty in West Africa that you are unaware of.
And, while the hot jungles and flowing waters of the Uoro River remain an off-the-beaten-path destination, those that visit reap the benefits of, to name a few:
- empty hiking trails
- private safari packages
- an unadulterated taste of Africa’s wilds.
NOTE: There are miles and miles of well-kept hiking trails here, as well as more wildlife than an Equatorial peanut-butter chicken dish can manage.
Consider goliath frogs, gorillas, elephants, crocodiles, and chimps, which are extremely rare.
Waterfalls in Ureka
Ureka is a settlement on the island of Bioko’s southern coast.
The Ureka area is home to a series of waterfalls as well as some of the island’s most beautiful beaches.
Despite the difficult path to these natural wonders, swimming in these waters is well worth the effort.
It will take some time to acclimate to the reality that this place is so pristine when you arrive.
In a country with such a broad spectrum of cultures, it’s rather easy to deduce the many architectural styles.
On the one side, Equatorial Guinea is home to the country’s crown gem, the Malabo Cathedral.
NOTE: Although it was devastated by fire in early 2020, it has survived and continues to enchant.
Traditional wooden churches, such as the Church of Batete, exist alongside new churches in small settlements like Moka.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, there is the Basilica of Mongomo, Africa’s second-largest basilica.
This island is known as Annobón because it was found in Portuguese on January 1st or Anno Bon.
This island demonstrates how a ten-square-mile island can function autonomously with little help from the outside world.
TIP: Because Fridays and Sundays are the only days when flights are scheduled, frequent cancellations should be expected and planned for. I highly recommend a trip to this island.
For any daring traveler, it’s a logistical nightmare.
Cogo, a peninsular town on Equatorial Guinea’s extreme southern coast, juts out into the Atlantic Ocean
It is surrounded by:
- huge green marshes of the Muni River
- endless swaths of natural mangrove
- some of West Africa’s lesser-known birding destinations.
While the huge areas of unexplored shoreline to the north are appealing, the town’s patchwork of half-ruined Spanish churches and pueblo dwellings, cobblestone streets, and odd European vibe usually take precedence.
TIP: Make sure you carry a pair of binoculars.
Spend a few days relaxing in the laid-back Iberian atmosphere.
The highest point in the country is Basile Peak.
It is breathtaking and can be seen from every point on Bioko Island.
You will be able to see Mother Bisila on your way to the summit. Many regard her as the Bubi people’s mother and one of the first black virgins to be honored by the Catholic Church.
With her newborn on her back, this magnificent monument depicts one of the most enigmatical stories of the Bubi people.
Are you interested? You’ll have to talk to some locals about this because I’m not going to spill the beans here.
Moca is a breathtaking vision of untamed Equatorial Guinea, clinging to the rocky volcanic slopes of the Moca Valley in Bioko’s southern borders.
It blends in with the surrounding enormous cloud-topped peaks and is home to the Buki tribe.
Furthermore, since we’re on the subject of peaks, they’re why the bulk of people travel this route.
They come to walk the rocky, monkey-infested Cascades of Moca or to see the dazzling blues of lakes Biao and Loreta, which jut out from the highlands’ ancient volcanic calderas.
Bring your hiking boots, as this one appears to be a little more outdoorsy!
San Antonio de Ureca
Nobody knows why San Antonio de Ureca, a small town, hasn’t exploded with ecotourism yet.
After all, in the late 1990s, Spanish conservationists battled and defeated the illicit turtle egg trade! Villager patrols are still in existence today to monitor the sand and pebble beaches of the little hamlet, contributing to the conservation of endangered sea turtles that live in the Atlantic.
Not only that but this small village of low-rise shacks and mud roads is located in the shadow of the huge San Carlos Caldera, encircled by gushing waterfalls and surrounded by an unending network of hiking pathways!
Altos de Nsork National Park
Altos de Nsork National Park, located deep in the West African wilderness of Rio Muni, is Equatorial Guinea’s southernmost and easternmost national park.
The large reserve, established in 2000, comprises more than 700 square kilometers of land and has some of the region’s most intact jungle and highland environments.
Visitors to this remote section of the country are few and far between. Still, those who do can walk along tracks carved out by forest elephants marvel at the incredible plant diversity, see mandrills and black colobus monkeys in the trees, and even see rare buffalo in the forests.
Monte Temelón Natural Reserve
The Monte Temelón Natural Reserve, located between the Cameroonian border and the rising highlands that comprise the core of Rio Muni, is one of the EQ’s lesser-explored backcountry areas. It is well-known for its diverse wildlife, which covers an area of about 1,200 square kilometers and spreads across enormous swaths of woodland.
While crocodiles lurk along the muddy banks of the various rivers, mist meets the emerald canopy of the trees.
Others will come to see the area’s one-of-a-kind huge pangolin.
This former Equatorial Guinean capital is now a common stop along the country’s roadways, ebbing and flowing with political trends and oil booms.
The vibrant nightlife scene and throngs of seafood and artisan merchants that congregate every day along the port sides demonstrate that it is by far the largest city in EQ.
The Bata Cathedral, which exudes Spanish elegance in the center of town, is the main attraction, although there is also an airport and a frequent ferry link to Cameroon and Malabo.
The Leatherback Turtle’s offspring
Have you ever witnessed leatherback turtles weighing more than 1,100 pounds lay eggs? If not, you’ll get another chance here.
Night expeditions to observe these massive turtles spawnings are possible from November to January.
It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that everyone who respects nature should not miss.
The Crater Lakes
What happens when a volcano in a rainy country no longer erupts? It floods, creating awe-inspiring vistas.
To be honest, no one dares to enter, even though its majesty can be seen from afar.
Within craters, there are two lakes:
- On one side, there is Lake Biao
- On the other, there is the massive Luba crater.
The provincial capital of Centro Sur is a good place to see daily life in the jungle-covered hills that dominate a large chunk of Rio Muni (the Equatorial mainland).
Tin shacks and rain-buffeted palms line the streets, and a multitude of small drinking establishments attract groups of talking individuals.
There is also a local market to buy brightly colored vegetables, beans, and fruits straight from the fields.
If you prefer to be outside, the location is particularly well-suited for exploring the national parks of Monte Alén and Altos de Nsork!
Corisco’s Paradise Island
Corisco is located 31 miles off the coast of Equatoguinean.
This beautiful island receives visitors from all over the world, flocking to its pristine sand beaches and blue waters.
PERSONAL NOTE: It’s a bit of a journey to get to Paradise Island. The airport is private, and tickets are only available to a small number of people.
A slow ferry or a 90-minute cayuco trip is realistic (a canoe).
Waterfalls of Ilachi
These 155-kilometer-long waterfalls are the tallest in the country.
Getting to them is an adventure in the style of a jungle story.
NOTE: This is a must-see for everyone who enjoys exploring previously uncharted territory.
Travel to Moka and hire a local guide to take you on a tour of this amazing area.
A few brave people will only visit this small African country.
Many people will avoid it because it is not as well-known as some of its neighbors.
Nonetheless, many tourists want to visit this relatively unknown African country before it becomes overrun with tourists.