Monte Alen National Park
Monte Alen National Park is one of the hidden gems of Central Africa. A protected area covering 1400 sq km, the tropical forests are home to gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants, crocodiles and many other species of wildlife. The excellent Hotel Monte Alen (r from US$35) offers an affordable way to spend a few days seeing the rainforest up close.
Bata is a town under construction. The influx of American oil money has finally reached Rio Muni’s shores, and electricity, new roads, streetlights, a manicured (and somewhat sanitised) waterfront, and plenty of American oilmen are there to prove it. Dozens of new buildings are going up in expectation of a richer, more Westernised future.
Rio Muni covers the whole area of continental Equatorial Guinea from the River Ntem in the north, to the Gabon border in the south and east. Highlights include the Monte Alen National Park, where the tropical forests ring with jabbering of chimpanzees and gorillas. For a contemporary look at life in Equatorial Guinea, try the port town of Bata.
As you fly in to Malabo you will see oil platforms scattered around the harbour, tankers steaming and coastal refineries shooting off flames night and day. Malabo is an oil town and, in many ways, it’s a cosmopolitan place where expatriates kick back at the end of the day before heading back to work on the platforms.