Having recently had itchy feet, I decided to take a trip. And this time, to a very different place in that not many people would think of it as a holiday destination. A country that I had heard of while studying in London – I was told by my then land lord that there was a country in Africa which was run by a father and his son as if it were their back yard. As you can imagine – I didn’t know what she was on about.
And so, many years later I discovered the country she spoke of to be the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, located in Central Africa, with an area of 28,000 square kilometres that is equivalent to 43 times smaller than the size of South Africa, with an estimated population of over 1.2 million as estimated in 2015. As a former colony of Spanish Guinea, it is the only sovereign African state in which Spanish is an official language.
I travelled there with Ethiopian Airways therefore stopping over in Addis Ababa whereafter a 10 hour long flight I landed in the capital, Malabo. I arrived in the city’s main airport which was as tiny as East London airport here in RSA and where the only languages I could hear being spoken were French and as mentioned Spanish.
I stayed in the province of Bioko Norte where I got the chance to visit the Malabo National Park which was opened to the public last year after works had been undertaken by the Government of the Republic to improve the recreational offering of the city.
I had dinner and spent a day at the spa at the Sofitel Malabo Sipopo Le Golf hotel, and swam in their beach over looking the Gulf of Guinea where I got bitten by malaria carrying mosquitos! Good thing I was on antibiotics to prevent being infected.
In terms of nightlife, this left much to be desired where the evening started out with some bowling at a trending entertainment spot which had a club next door, however very few people turned out, 4 to be specific, the only nice thing of which was that we could control the music!
On my last day there I went into town and visited the market where I bought stunning traditional outfits for family and friends for literally nothing! I didn’t get the opportunity to taste the traditional food as the villa I was in only really served westernized food.
This country definitely sparked my interest in terms of its roads being pothole free, its running water being clean and its consistent electricity supply, this in comparison to the near non-existent service delivery of most countries in Africa. But of course the reality could be different in other provinces because it has been reported that although Equatorial Guinea is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producers, making it the richest country per capita in Africa, wealth is distributed unevenly and few people have benefited from the oil riches.
Having said this, I would recommend a visit if you are looking to discover the African continent to appreciate its natural beauty and unique culture that Equatorial Guinea has to offer, without being overly sensitive to the politics of the day.