Equatorial Guinea is one of the smallest country of the African Continent, and one often forgotten by tourists. The country is constituted of two parts, a mainland region bordered by Gabon and Cameroon, and an insular region where the capital, Malabo, stands.
Two main cities can be found in Equatorial Guinea. Malabo on the island of Bioko and Luba in the southwest. But it's outside of cities that the adventurous traveler will find what makes Equatorial Guinea a worthwhile destination : a pure and untouched nature and deserted beaches of white sand. This is the land of rain forests inhabited by primates and a million of colorful insects, volcanoes and small fishing villages.
Despite its lush and wonderful scenery, Equatorial Guinea is also a country that suffered from a harsh history, and a part of a population still lives in acute poverty, which can make a trip to Malabo a heartbreaking experience for the unprepared traveler.
Although this country is not yet a well known destination, travelers looking for nature and beautiful beaches will find happiness there. The architecture and history of the cities, influenced by Spanish colonies, will also interest cultural travelers. Equatorial Guinea is full of secrets and beautiful landscapes just waiting to be discovered.
When to Travel – Weather
Equatorial Guinea has two distinctive seasons. Rainy season goes from April until October, and December to March represents the dry season. Situated on the Equator, the country has a tropical climate all year round, with risks of rain and cloudy days whatever the month, and a very humid air. Temperatures average at 33° during daytime and 19° at night.
The best moment to visit Equatorial Guinea is during the dry season between December and February, to enjoy more sunny days and an agreeable climate.
For those preferring to travel off season, October is also an interesting time to be in the country, as the national holiday celebrating Equatorial Guinea's independence takes place the 12th of October, each year in a different area in the country. On this day, the population comes together to celebrate their history and display their culture.
Cuisine and Drinks of Equatorial Guinea
The cuisine of Equatorial Guinea is strongly influenced by Spanish culture from colonial times, but the country also developed its own cuisine with local ingredients like corn, nuts, manioc and yam.
Restaurants can only be found, in small number, in Malabo or Bata. In the rest of the country, markets are the best spots to taste traditional dishes.
A typical dish of Equatorial Guinea will be a piece of fish from the small fishing villages on the coast, or a piece of meat like chicken, with vegetables and sometimes rice or plantain bananas, served with a peanut or yam sauce. Soups are also very popular, especially the Pépé Soup, which is a spicy fish soup, or the peanut soup.
Delicious exotic fruits are also very present in every day cuisine and in markets : bananas, papayas, guavas, coconuts, mangos, avocados, pineapples, …
The population drinks beer or local palm wine and malamba (a drink made from cane sugar).
Popular Sights in Equatorial Guinea
Malabo – The capital of the country, and a mandatory stop to discover the culture and population of Equatorial Guinea. The cathedral, the Presidential Palace and the Mayor's Gardens are all worth a visit. The architecture is strongly influenced by Spanish colonial times.
Island of Bioko – Apart from the capital, the Island of Bioko offers a lush scenery of hills born of old volcanoes. It's also where to find the famous huge white sandy beaches, beautiful and deserted, that you can enjoy for your own. Among those beaches, the Arena Blanca is a popular one deemed as one of the most beautiful of the country. Hikers and divers will also find plenty to do there !
Caldera de Luba Scientific Reserve – Containing one of the richest ecosystems in Africa, this reserve is an opportunity to observe primates and other animals in their natural environment. There's also a chance of encountering marine turtles on the beautiful beach of dark sand.
Bata – The biggest coastal town of the country, Bata is still traditional Africa, but with a modern edge. Lots of little markets to discover and a dynamic nightlife. The nearest small fishing villages along the coast are also worth a visit to see a more traditional lifestyle.
Monte Alen National Park – A paradise for nature and animal lovers. This National Park is equipped with trails and campsites to discover the wonders of the surrounding rain forest. The Rio Muni passes through, bringing amazing wildlife : gorillas, elephants, crocodiles and much more.
Mossumu Site – An archeological site where human presence was found dating back to -30 000 years !
Elobey Grande Island – A small island, a little paradise, that will satisfy anybody that ever dreamed of finding himself stranded on a deserted island. Also a popular choice as a day trip from Gabon.
National Parks – National Parks are plenty in Equatorial Guinea. The Monte Temelon Natural Reserve and the Pico Basile National Park are also worth a visit to wander in the jungle and see more wildlife.
San Antonia de Pale – The capital of the island of Annobón, San Antonia de Pale is still a small town, but worth a visit to discover the breathtaking surrounding landscapes of the island.
Currency – Equatorial Guinea uses the Central African CFA Franc (XAF). Notes of 10 000, 5000, 1000 or 500 can be found, while coins are of 100, 50, 25, 10 or 5 XAF. The economy of Equatorial Guinea is cash only, meaning that credit cards and cheques will not be accepted anywhere, and there's no ATM. The money needed has to be found before entering the country.
Cameras – Taking pictures of public buildings, like the Presidential Palace, the airport, or the police stations, is not recommended and can bring trouble. Taking pictures of the people should always be done after asking for permission. In general, be mindful of your camera.
Health – A visit to the doctor at least one month before departure is mandatory before a trip to Equatorial Guinea.