Monday, November 9, 2009

An Elephant Safari in Nyonie

We went on our 1st real trip into the jungle in Gabon.  Nyonie is a base camp about 2 hours south of Libreville, about ½ hour south of the equator.

The trip starts with a one-hour boat ride across the estuary and into one of the smaller waterways.  It’s an hour in a small outboard boat, a little rough and wet, but it’s all part of the adventure.  The next hour is in the back of a 4x4 through the tropical rain forest and down past the equator to the Nyonie base camp on the shore of the Atlantic.

The bungalows are minimal with separate showers and bathrooms behind each grouping.  Everything is powered by generator; they pump their own water and they don’t have a phone line.  Most of the bungalows are on the edge of a cliff that overlooks the ocean with the beach below.  There is one main dining hall, which is open on three sides.  Lunch and dinner are served family style and breakfast is typical French; last evenings bread with butter and jam.  The meals are very good and the “help yourself” bar is always open.

After lunch we go on safari in the back of a 4x4 pick-up, fitted with benches and side rails.  The Jungle is very thick and it takes about an hour before we reach our first savanna.  Safari is different here because it is much less traveled.  The animals aren’t used to humans the way they are in Kenya or South Africa.  It’s important to be quiet.  For our first group of elephants, our guide shuts the engine so that we can coast a bit and get closer.  The African Forest Elephant is smaller than the Bush Elephant due to the density of the jungle.  They are very amazing and travel in family groups of 3-4.  We are fortunate to see many babies. 

We are in a small group, so at several points we go on foot to get closer.  As we sneak along the line between forest and savannah, you can hear the chattering of chimpanzees, but the jungle is so thick you can’t see into the trees.  A few times the mama elephants get a little freaked and bring their baby just a few steps off the savannah and into the trees where they disappear.

Everything is unbelievable green here.  At many times from a high savannah you can see the Atlantic in the distance; very beautiful. 

In the evening we decide to take a bottle of wine and go for a trek along the shore in the hopes of seeing turtles nesting.  No luck this time, but it was a nice walk with a gorgeous, star lit evening.  I am very lucky to be here.

1 comment:

  1. Bret thank you so much (merci beaucoup) for sharing your adventures in Gabon. I was just discussing with my husband today about the possibilities of moving to Gabon. He is originally from there (Libreville) We are both struggling financinally and emotionally here in the states and are seriously considering moving to his home country. You're blogs are making me feel more at ease about doing the transition. Thank you again!