Thursday, June 30, 2011


entered Gabon after crossing the bridge over the Ntem River by walking. We knew about Gabon that it is 2 times larger than Bulgaria, but had only 1.4 million inhabitants. 80% of the country is covered by dense equatorial forest. The second largest forest after the Amazon. There's oil, uranium, magnesium, and enough water for all. We felt the difference right after the border. The grass along the road was carefully cut like in Switzerland. We intended to sleep just after the border, but cars began to stop and ask us where we are going, and we were not even hitching. So we reached the first village and slept before the village in a wide clearing in the woods. Finding a place for camping in the dense jungle was not easy. The vegetation is too big and without a path it is impossible to walk in. The biggest problem were the small flies called furu, that bite all over any uncovered place of your body. Then numerous red spots appear that are itching unbearably the next 2 days. Now we realized that this was the cause of our rash in Togo. In the morning a woman shouting: "Ko-ko-ko" woke us up. We peeked from the tent, but she fled in panic. Not long after she returned with the whole village, armed with a rifle and machetes. It turned out that we were lying on her field of peanuts. Fortunately, the plants were not damaged, we explained who we are and what we do here and everything ended with laughter. We continued to hitch to the capital Libreville and  after another night in the forest  we arrived. The trip was relatively quick and easy, but because of humid climate or insects every little scratch or wound we had became a huge festering infection. Many wounds appeared on our feet and soon they became swollen and hurt as we walked. In the pharmacy they gave us some antibacterial powder, which slightly calmed things down, but the infections continued to grow.
We arrived in Libreville on the Monday of Easter. The city was like sleeping - nothing worked and there were almost no people. Only a few Arab shops and bakeries were open. Otherwise Libreville looks like a European city. There were big expensive buildings and shops, wide boulevards with traffic lights and traffic jams and a board walk with benches and cut green grass. Overall in Gabon was 4-5 times more expensive than other African countries. We had nowhere to sleep, so we stayed on a bench on the board walk, where it was safe and there were even other people sleeping. The next day we had to get visas for the next countries. Our plans, however, suddenly collapsed. It turned out that visas for Angola and South Africa we can get only from Bulgaria and the Congo visa costs 110 Euro for 2 weeks per person. Under these conditions it appears that with our Bulgarian passports it is impossible to get to South Africa over land. For other Anglophone countries maybe the conditions were the same, but there were no embassies here to check. Traveling in Africa by land turned out to be difficult and too expensive. We did not want to invest so much money in visas to cross the Congos and finally find ourselves stuck there. Everything indicated that it is time to change the continent. We checked the ports for ships, but there were no ships over the Atlantic from here. We didn’t want to fly but this was the best option from here. And even more – we had to go to a country where they grant visas on the spot. Our initial plan was South America, but the tickets were terribly expensive. The best option we found for the evacuation from Africa was Nepal. A place we both dreamed to see. A place without mosquitoes, furus and unbearable heat. We’ve had enough of Africa and we were longing for a change. The eastern and southern coast we will leave for another time, when the visa conditions are better. In the last 2 days the wide-angle lens and computer stopped working. Another reason to leave Africa - there were no reliable service here, and all parts are very expensive.
streets of Mayumba
So – we bought a tickets to Nepal and Evgeny would fly for the first time in his life. But before we say goodbye to Africa we had to go around Gabon and feel the complete wilderness of this continent. Luckily a French couple living in Libreville hosted us for two days and we tasted a little civilization with shower, clean sheets and even laundry. Then again we hit the road through the forest. We decided to go on a wild beach and relax from the insects and jungle. To get there, however, we had to travel more than 1000 km on dirt roads through dense forests. Fortunately the hitch-hiking was super fast and after 2 nights we were 200 km from the beaches of Mayumba. We hitched many foreigners – Burkinabe, Malians, Lebanese...They explained to us that Gabonese people drink a lot and work a little. That’s why foreigners had to come to do all the work. On the way every little village had at least 2-3 bars which were usually filled with people drinking beer from the morning. Even women drank beer all day. Finding something to eat was hard in smaller villages, but there was beer everywhere. People were quite different from other west African countries. Nobody wanted a gift - rather the opposite – they gave us fruits, drinks and even a bottle of yogurt. Instead of we asking them for a photo, they came and wanted to take a picture of us. They took out cameras, expensive phones and even laptops to shoot us. There were no tourists here, especially ones with big backpacks and no car.

our home in Mayumba

the picturesque village named "Junk Ville"
view from Mount Braza

the road that we hitched and the train

But our wounds worsened. Lora ran temperature, her ankles were swollen and she was hardly walking. We decided it was time to go to the doctor. For more than 10 days the wounds didn’t heal and even became worse. We knew that there was an American hospital 32 km in the direction of Congo. There we can at least talk in English. The road was dirt and there was almost no traffic, except Chinese, whio made the road and when hitching them they just waved at us smiling. A Lebanese cutting the forest nearby picked us for 5km and then a truck took us almost to the hospital and it was not even his destination. With another car we passed the last 2 km. A U.S. doctor saw us. She did not say exactly what provoked the infection, there were so many things and insects in the forest. She gave us antibiotics, creams, patches and painkillers and said that all this was a gift from her. She had not seen other people coming to Gabon by hitch-hiking so she decided to help us. She recommend us to rest with elevated feet for several days. We thanked her for her kindness and already felt better. We had just to get to the beach and rest. With two trucks we returned to the main road and almost immediately we hitched and Italian guy for 100 km to the next town with the funny name Tchibanga. He had a wife and a child there and invited us to sleep in the yard of his house. They treated us with pasta and a wonderful breakfast in the morning. We continued with to Mayumba аfter a detailed check by the police post in Chibanga. The police here viously had nothing else to do, and 4-5 times a day they checked our documents and wrote in thick notebooks our names. Soon after we hitched a SUV of the local telecom Airtel directly to Mayumba. There again we were stopped by a local policeman who said we need to register in his office. He wanted to know how long we would stay in Mayumba, where we would sleep and such difficult questions. Apparently we were the only tourists and he was glad that he have work to do. We told him that we are tired of the road and we want to relax, we don’t know where and for how long. If he wants to register us now and leave us in peace. He drove us to his office where he copied our passports. Then we drove back to where we were and he even made a phone call to the chief of the nearby national park to tell him that two Bulgarian tourists have arrived and can probably visit the park. We bought some food from the village and went to the long, endless white sand beach, so fine that creaked under our feet. There was not one person on the beach as far as our eyes could see. We found a perfect place for camping under a thick tree and stayed there with legs raised in the next 6 days. We rested well and our wounds gradually healed. On the fifth day a bunch of kids came and asked to photograph us, and on the sixth day after long hesitation two kids came and greeted us in English: "Hello". Then they took out a paper and started reading: "How are you. Fine. Thank you. Good Bye" and left. There were no other people on the beach. We’ve never stayed in one place for so long time and it became a little boring. We are not made to rest, we have to do something to feel fulfilled.

We decided to move to Central Gabon - Lope Park. We were hoping to see elephants or gorillas somewhere. Everybody said there were many in the forests. Hitching back from Mayumba proved difficult. We waited for 3-4 hours after the ferry and only crowded pickup-taxis passed. Finally one such pickup decided to take us in the back with another 7-8 people and luggage to the sky. We got to Chibanga and slept after the town. The next day we were rewarded with one of the best hitch-hiking. We travelled more than 700 km with 4 -5 cars on dirt roads. First we took a car of the Gabonese Red Cross, then a family that was going to kill elephants in the forest and finally even the Chinese stopped. A SUV with two Chinese and one Gabonese working on the road passed us by, but then slowed down and returned. We rode 30 km with them, but we could not understand eachother at all. They knew neither French nor English, and in Chinese it was difficult to make any association. They couldn’t even understand what is Bulgaria. Soon after them two more Chinese with one Gabonese picked us up. One of them was the boss of the company building the road and they were going all the way to Libreville. We travelled more than 300 km together to the junction for Lope. One of them spoke some French with a cute Chinese accent and we had fun all the way through. Hey were happy and laughing at everything. They laughed even when the police fined them 5,000 francs because their air condition drips.
When we were looking for a place to sleep unexpectedly a Tunisian guy picked us to the next town N'djole. We slept there in the tent and in the morning we rode a SUV of the telecom directly to Lope. Lope is a large national park with hills and forests where we hoper to see gorillas, chimpanzees and elephants. No money for a safari in the park, so we bent our tent and  waited to see some animals. Our first night was raining heavily. Tent was already too old and was dripping. This was the smallest problem, because after a while the floor was filled with 15 cm of water and we were sitting in a huge puddle. All the luggage was also wet. Well, we had waterproof bag and saved the documents and the  electronics. The night was long and wet. We sat in the water and prayed to stop raining when we were hit quite strong by a lightning nearby. After an hour - two the rain stopped, the water drained and we survived until the morning. We already counted our last days in Africa. Flies, ants, wasps attacked us with hundreds every day and at night came the mosquitoes. We saved ourselves in the river and walking the hills. We climbed Mount Braza twice, which had a wonderful view over the park and a slight breeze that was chasing the insects away. We didn’t see almost any animals (only one monkey and some elephant shit) For two days we hitched back to Libreville and so ended our African journey.

panorama of the beautiful beach near Mayumba

1 comment:

  1. nice article.
    well im lebanese and im going this month to gabon for work.
    so u gave me some infos about gabon. :)