Equatorial Guinea Travel Guide
One of the smallest countries in Africa, little Equatorial Guinea is also one of its richest according to its gross domestic product. Unfortunately, due to the amount of corruption that is sadly common in this part of Africa, very little of it has trickled down to the people.
This has created a situation where you see run-down shacks and cinder block houses sitting next to multi-million dollar soccer stadiums. Much of the focus in this country has been on extracting resources rather than promoting tourism over the years; as a result, it can be challenging to get around this country. If you are willing to put up with the difficulties of travel in sub-Saharan Africa, however, chances are good that you will be able to figure out how to explore Equatorial Guinea effectively.
While you are there, however, do not photograph any government installations, transport facilities, soldiers, police officers, or anything else that locals tell you not to photograph. Equatorial Guinea is a military dictatorship, and the penalties for breaking their strict rules can be quite severe.
Currency: CFA Francs
Languages: Spanish, French, English Creole, Portuguese Creole, Fang, Bubi, Igbo
What To Do
The presence of the Spanish during Equatorial Guinea’s colonial period ensured that its capital Malabo was blessed with inspired architecture. The Catedral de Santa Isabel is one of the best examples of those days, as it was built in the Neogothic style a little more than a hundred years ago.
Fresh off a renovation that helped to fix humidity damage that had accumulated over the years, this brilliantly painted religious landmark is a great place to get a view of the surrounding town, but be forewarned: the presidential Palace lies directly across from the Cathedral, making it difficult to take any sort of panoramic photo without breaking any laws.
Fortunately, the interior of this church is beautiful enough to satisfy avid photographers looking to take some memorable photos in Malabo.
If you are planning on entering Equatorial Guinea from Gabon, crossing the border near Mongomo will allow you to check out a truly impressive sight. Just a few kilometers from town, Catedral Basilica de La Inmaculada Concepcion will catch you by surprise, as the biggest church in central Africa is essentially located in the middle of nowhere.
Finished in recent times, it was only consecrated in 2011. Able to serve up to a thousand parishioners at a time, it comes complete with chandeliers, stained glass windows, polished tile floors, an Orthodox-style onion dome roof, and an impressive forecourt, making the journey out to visit this unusual but beautiful structure well worth the time.
While you are in central Africa, take in a lively football match at Nuevo Estadio de Malabo. As the home pitch for Equatorial Guinea’s national football team, this place holds upwards of fifteen thousand spectators, and it served as a venue for round robin games during the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
The lively and colourful celebrations and chants by fans here will make for some great travel memories, so don’t think twice about attending a game if you have the opportunity to do so.
While you are in the Malabo area, make an attempt to climb Pico Basile. You may have to jump through a few bureaucratic hoops to ascend this mountain, but it is worth the effort for the views that you will get over the city and the rest of Bioko Island.
By obtaining permission from the military government, you’ll be able to drive up the road that snakes up this volcano, which rises almost 10,000 feet above sea level. On a clear day, it is said that you can see across the Gulf of Guinea to Cameroon and Nigeria, so be sure to take your camera; as mentioned before, though, be careful not to take any pictures of military installations, as there is a base at the top of the mountain.
Although Equatorial Guinea is not known for its beach tourism, those looking to take a dip in the tropical Atlantic will want to pay a visit to Arena Blanca. Located near the town of Luba, this beach is well-known among locals, so you will see many Equatorial Guineans lying out on the sand with their friends and family, eating traditional food, and enjoying the sunshine.
Things may not be perfect, as the sand here is brown rather than brilliant white, and there may be more trash than you are used to elsewhere, but if you are looking to take a break from the tropical heat, there are few better places to cool off and drink a beer in the sun.
What to Eat
Those looking to eat the national dish of Equatorial Guinea want to seek out some Succotash. Made from lima beans and corn that has been stewed in tomatoes, it is a one-pot meal that is beloved by many throughout the country.
It is believed that this dish found its way over to the continental United States during the age of slavery, where it exists in the present day as a side dish to many main offerings in the American South.
Chicken Stewed in a Creamy Peanut Sauce over Rice is another favorite of people in Equatorial Guinea. Beloved for its earthy flavors, this dish is a standby for those looking to quell some serious hunger pangs.
Those looking for a bit of adventure while eating in Equatorial Guinea will find it by ordering some Curried Okra. Consisting of okra, onions, curry and habanero peppers, the amount of Scoville units that your taste buds can handle will be put to the test.