Rhythms of Central Africa

The jungles of Central Africa have forever been a mysterious land. Difficult to penetrate, they are home to a bewildering array of flora and fauna that will have nature enthusiasts salivating. This unique tour to Cameroon and Gabon takes you on an incredible journey where nature rules supreme and the presence of man often seems insignificant. You will find yourself surrounded by thick rainforest alive with the calls of birds and monkeys.

We start in Yaounde then head south to a village of the Fang people where we are privileged to witness an authentic Bwiti ceremony. This spiritual ritual is based around the use of the psychoactive iboga root and is one of the region’s most fascinating sights.

From here we venture into the forest to spend time with the Badgeli pygmies. We camp within their community and learn about the many ways in which they have mastered the jungle. We also visit the chimpanzee sanctuary of Pongo Songo. Here we have unparalleled opportunities here to get close to these fascinating primates.

But the best is saved until the end – two full days in Loango National Park, where we explore in the company of expert guides. We’ll look for gorillas, forest buffalo, elephants and with a bit of luck spot hippos surfing in the sea.

This trip offers the chance to see Central Africa at its wildest, where the jungle is king. This is not an easy journey, with some long drives, bad roads, limited infrastructure and the often infuriating bureaucracy of Central Africa to deal with along the way. But who said real adventure was ever easy? Join us to discover lost worlds, ancient traditions and the magic of the rainforest.

Rhythms of Central Africa

Highlights

  • Meet chimps at Pongo Songo
  • Witness a Bwiti ceremony
  • Spend time with the Badgeli pygmies
  • Look for gorillas in Loango NP

Day 1 - Yaounde

Arrive in Yaounde and transfer to your hotel. Overnight Merina Hotel or similar.

Yaoundé

Although not the largest city in the country, Yaoundé is the political and administrative capital, and a little more ordered than Douala. It’s also far greener, with pleasant tree-lined streets and the lush Mt Febe overlooking the city. Mt Febe is also the site of a former Benedictine monastery, which now houses a rather excellent museum dedicated to the art and crafts Cameroon’s many different ethnic groups, with numerous masks and sculptures. Other than that, like most African cities Yaoundé is not big on traditional sights but it’s not a bad place to get to grips with modern urban Africa, and more pleasant than most.

Days 2-3 - Fang village

Drive to a Fang village close to the borders with Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Here, in the heartlands of the Fang people, the Bwiti rituals still thrive. We will be privileged to witness this unique series of rituals, centred around the use of the iboga root – this is perhaps one of the most spectacular of all traditional ceremonies in Africa, and a highlight of the trip. We spend two nights here to fully appreciate the experience. Overnight Hotel Escapade or similar. (BLD)


Day 4 - Pygmy village

Drive south to meet the Badgeli pygmies, some of the most traditional people in Cameroon. We spend time in the forest taking part in traditional activities with the Badgeli, learning how they hunt and gather food, and seeing their vibrant culture and music. Overnight camping. (BLD)

Pygmies

‘Pygmy’ is a term used to describe a number of different ethnic groups living throughout central Africa, from the Batwa of the Great Lakes to the Ba’Aka and Badgeli of the western forests. Most Pygmy communities are partially hunter-gatherers, living on the wild products of their environment, but many also trade with neighbouring farmers to acquire cultivated foods and other material items.

It is estimated that there are between 250,000 and 600,000 Pygmies living in the Congo rainforest. The pygmies are masters of the forest, traditionally relying on it for most of their daily needs, although in modern times many have become more settled and are adopting the customs of the larger populations around them.

They have been much discriminated against in recent times, with African governments attempting to ‘modernise’ them and seeing them as something of a throwback. However, we feel that spending time among these groups of people, with their encyclopaedic knowledge of the natural world and unique customs is one of the more special experiences the continent can offer.

Days 5-6 - Kribi

After a morning spent with the Badgeli, continue to Kribi, on the coast. Here we explore the old colonial town, visit the Lobe Falls, where the river falls directly into the Atlantic Ocean, and visit a fishing community of the Batanga people. Overnight Hotel Ilomba or similar. (Day 5 – BLD, Day 6 – BL)


Day 7 - Pongo Songo – Edea

Travel to the Douala Edea Reserve and from here take a boat to visit the Pongo Songo chimpanzee sanctuary, with fantastic opportunities to get close to these primates. From here continue to the town of Edea for the night. Overnight local guesthouse. (BLD)


Day 8 - Douala - Libreville

Transfer to Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital. We explore the city and then after lunch fly to Libreville for the next stage of our adventure. Overnight Hotel Tropicana or similar. (BL)

Douala

The largest city in the country, Douala is chaotic and lively and to some may be intimidating, but offers a great snapshot of modern Cameroon. Although undoubtedly the economic powerhouse of Cameroon, it is not the political capital – Yaoundé, a few hours’ drive away, is where the government is based.

Douala however, is much older and was founded by the Portuguese when they first arrived in the 15th century – indeed it was the Portuguese that are responsible for the modern name, as it is derived from the word ‘cameroes’ (prawns) a reference to the good fishing that they found here. Today it is a vibrant city with an excellent nightlife, and although like many cities in the region parts are rather run down, it can be a fun place to explore and soak up the tropical ambience.

Day 9 - Port Gentil – Loango National Park

Fly to Port Gentil and from here travel to Loango National Park, crossing the Iguela lagoon and then continuing to the Louri lagoon where you can sometimes see wildlife such as elephants and buffalo on the beach. Overnight Loango Lodge. (BLD)


Days 10-11 - Loango National Park

Two days exploring Loango National Park. This is one of the richest ecosystems in Central Africa and harbours a huge diversity of species, including forest elephant, hippo, gorillas and chimpanzees. Accompanied by local guides we venture into the forests and along the beach each day in search of the iconic wildlife that lives here, and we will also track habituated lowland gorillas while here. Overnight Loango Lodge. (BLD)

Loango National Park

Situated in the east of the country, Loango was created in 2002 when President Omar Bongo set aside 11% of the country for national parks. The park covers an incredible range of ecosystems, including savannah, beach, forest and mangroves and in the rainy season from November to April, you can find large mammals roaming freely on the beach nearby. Loango also offers a real treat for birdwatchers – its diversity of habitats ensures that it is one of the best places in Gabon for birds, including several rare species found in few other locations.

Day 12 - Port Gentil – Libreville

Travel to Port Gentil, Gabon’s economic capital. Upon arrival in Port Gentil, fly to Libreville. Overnight Hotel Tropicana or similar. (BL)

Libreville

Like most African cities, Libreville is a fairly modern creation, having been established as a settlement for freed slaves in the mid 19th century – hence the name. Initially consisting of little more than a trading post, it grew enormously after independence and today is home to around 40% of Gabon’s population. One of Africa’s more expensive cities, Libreville has a rather odd feel to it – oil money means that it has more than its fair share of glitzy modern buildings although hidden away are of course the inevitable shanty towns. With few sights to speak of, the city is interesting for presenting a very different side to Africa than you may have seen before.

Day 13 - Libreville

Today is spent exploring the city, visiting its markets and seeing some of the remaining examples of early colonial architecture. This evening we transfer to the airport for departure. (B)


Please note: This is a pioneering itinerary through a challenging part of the continent. You can expect bad roads in places, and difficult and obstructive bureaucracy. This is all part of the Central African experience and an understanding of this is essential before joining this tour. The rewards, however, are great – you will travel through regions that rarely see tourists and spend time with some of the most interesting ethnic groups in Africa. This trip is nothing if not authentic – but you must understand that local conditions mean that this is unlikely to be a ‘polished’ experience.

Please note that we sell this trip in conjunction with our local partner and therefore you should expect people of different nationalities on this tour.

In 2022 we will be operating a different version of this itinerary – please contact us for details.

Lowland gorilla in Loango National Park - Gabon holidays
Elephants in Loango National Park - Gabon tour
Pygmies in forest village - Cameroon tour
Elephants bathing in Loango National Park - Gabon tour

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.

    Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    In most cases, you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However, there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example, if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner).

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively, a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • Airport taxes

    If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay these yourself.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however, you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

Most travellers will require visas to enter Gabon and Cameroon. You may need an invitation letter in order to obtain this, depending on the requirements of the embassy that you apply at – we can provide this for you. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

We strongly recommend not to apply for a Gabon E-Visa online. Despite the website stating that it is a quick process taking 3-4 days, it has been known to take anything from 6-8 weeks to process. As an alternative, we can arrange a travel authorization for you which costs £130; this will then enable you to obtain your Gabon visa on arrival at a cost of €70.

The other alternative is to apply directly through the relevant embassy. We can arrange an invitation letter as a supporting document to help with your application.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations, you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to both countries and you must bring this with you.

Please note that in Gabon especially, there can be a number of checkpoints and at some of these they will ask to see your vaccination certificate. To avoid potential problems, we strongly recommend that you ask your GP or travel health clinic to include details of all current vaccinations on your Yellow Fever vaccination booklet. Although other vaccinations are not required in order to enter these countries, local officials can often cause problems should you have no proof of vaccinations – this is especially pertinent to the polio vaccination.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

The local currency in the Cameroon and Gabon is the Central African CFA, a currency that is shared with many other countries in the region. It is not however, the same as the West African CFA, and the two are not interchangeable. It is best to bring Euros for exchange purposes as the CFA is not obtainable outside of the region.

It’s not difficult to change money here, but only in the larger cities – once you leave these your opportunity for changing funds is slim to non-existent, and so we recommend that you change enough at the start of the tour. Your guide will be able to assist with this. ATMs exist but are not always reliable and so it is best to think of them as a back up rather than a main means of obtaining money.

Credit cards are accepted in larger hotels and better restaurants (usually in the capital cities) but are not commonly accepted elsewhere.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place.

In addition, roads throughout the parts of Africa that we visit are often poorly maintained (if at all!) and distances between key sites of interest can be long. Travelling in Africa can be tiring, hot and dusty at times, and inevitably it can be frustrating. While there are some issues that we are able to solve, others are intrinsic to the countries that we travel through, and you should be aware that many of the countries that we operate in cannot be compared to others on the continent that have better infrastructure – for example the popular tourist destinations of east and southern Africa.

Although travelling in these countries can at times be an ‘unpolished’ experience, this is all part of the adventure. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and putting up with a pothole (or ten) is undeniably worth it for the amazing sights and cultural experiences you will encounter along the way.

Please note that on a number of occasions accommodation will be simple, as this is all that is available.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any parts of Cameroon or Gabon that we visit on this trip.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated May 2019

Lowland gorilla in Loango National Park - Gabon holidays
Elephants in Loango National Park - Gabon tour
Pygmies in forest village - Cameroon tour
Elephants bathing in Loango National Park - Gabon tour
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
18 March 2021
Price (PP) -
£6,799
Single Supplement -
£420
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
17 March 2022
Price (PP) -
£6,899
Single Supplement -
£330
Trip Status -
Available