Failed coups, danger money, bushmeat and buckets of oil – you could say Equatorial Guinea has something of a reputation. But mercenaries and crime writers aren't the only ones attracted to the country's beautiful black-and-white shores. This is the land of primates with painted faces, soft clouds of butterflies and insects so colourful they belong in the realm of fiction.
Though the country is dripping in oil wealth, many people's taps run dry. Poverty permeates ordinary life, making a trip to Malabo – alive with the flames of oil rigs and the buzz of rapid construction – at once hedonistic and heartbreaking.
Beyond Malabo, on Bioko Island, are volcanic views, fishing villages, rain forests full of endangered primates and shores of nesting sea turtles. On the mainland, white beaches, forest paths and junglescapes await.
But be prepared to hack and bribe and hold tight to bush taxis, and don’t forget to pack all the patience you can fit in your bag – you’ll be stopped often by the military and government officials wanting something.