Bioko Island - as bad as the mainland?
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Oct 11, 2013 11:22 AM Last Post By: jesdon
May 10, 2013 5:45 AM
Bioko Island - as bad as the mainland?So I find myself living in Yaounde and which naturally sets my mind racing as to where I should be spending my next vacation and looking at the map there's an island not so far away. Having read just Page 1 of Thorntree it seems that EG is by far the most awful country on the face of the earth and should be avoided at all costs. However, all the posts seem to be people who have entered overland from Gabon or Cameroon? Does anyone have any experience, positive or negative, with flying into Malabo and just spending time on Bioko? Is it possible to take pictures of the Colonial district? Is there any where to stay for under $50 a night? Could I get by in French or English? Would it be worth a visit for a long weekend or short week? How often do you get hit up for facilitation fees and what are they usually for?
Any alternative suggestions to a visit there?
May 18, 2013 10:25 PM
1I visited Malabo on a quick trip (2 days) in Feb 2012, didn't have any problems flying in from Douala. I have US passport though so didn't need a visa (and hadn't applied ahead of time), no problems on entry and only took a few minutes. This was when the Africas Cup football matches were going on (I went to one of the matches) so things may have been a bit different that time. I was able to walk around central Malabo and take pictures OK but streets were pretty deserted at the time. Many of the colonial buildings are all painted in a butter/brown color scheme. Most of the police were staffing the stadiums so again not sure how things would be normally. I didn't travel outside of Malabo other than the airport area so can't speak to getting permits, etc.
As I didn't have any run ins with johnny law I never had to pay any 'fees'.
Edited by: hauteboy0
May 23, 2013 7:14 AM
Jul 19, 2013 4:42 AM
Having tried and failed for many months to get an LOI in order to get a visa for EG in order to travel overland through mainland Africa between Cameroon and Gabon, I eventually succeeded in getting one long after that trip finished, and so went to Bioko rather than the mainland.
By far the hardest part of the whole thing was getting the LOI for the visa. Having got it, getting the visa itself was easy, and immigration (and emigration) at Malabo airport was a breeze.
I did take pictures of Malabo sights, and other places on Bioko though very discreetly. In fact the security presence was much more low key (or if not low key, then extremely subtle) than I had been led to believe but the country's reputation goes before it and I didn't want to risk confiscation of my camera or worse, so I was ultra -discreet and had no problems.
There is not a whole lot to see in Malabo, though it is worth a day strolling around. We then went by public minibus / taxi-brousse to Luba, and onto Batete. Again, a pleasant enough day trip, though there are more exciting places to visit in West/ Central Africa. There were two checkpoints on the road to Luba. At the first one I had to show my documentation, but it was friendly enough, and at the second the driver was waved through.
The next day we went up the volcano to Moca. We were told there was no public transportation to Moca, so we negotiated a taxi for the day for CFA45k. We could probably have got a slightly better price. We passed the same checkpoint near Luba, and this time (upon the strong advice of the taxi driver) we paid CFA2500 to go through. If I had been under my own steam, I might have resisted but the driver was pretty adamant on the point. Moca is the HQ of the American-run (I think) Bioko Biodiversity Protection Programme(BBPP). We went for a short rainforest walk in very bad weather. During the dry season, I imagine it would be spectacular and we were told that during that season there are lots of primates to be seen. But not sadly in July.
We had thought we would need "permits" to get outside Malabo, but we asked around and were told this was not the case. I think you may need a permit to truly explore the volcano.
Is Bioko worth it? Well everywhere in the world is interesting. I wouldn't choose it as my first destination in Africa, but - apart from the HUGE hassle of getting the LOI - it was a whole lot easier and more relaxed to travel round than the country's reputation suggests, provided you keep your wits about you and don't invite trouble. So, definitely worth it for a long weekend, especially if you are anyway based in the region.
We went a little upmarket for accommodation and stayed in the hotel Ibis. About €60 each for two sharing a room with a very decent buffet breakfast (the remnants of which doubled up as a free dinner). We could probably have found something cheaper, but given the meal add-ons it wasn't too terrible a price. (it's on the airport road, about 4kms from the centre of town, but a nice enough walk, or cheap shared taxi ride to town).
It was also interesting to be in a Spanish- speaking sub-Saharan country (in fact the only one). Many people speak French, many fewer English.
I hope this information is helpful.
Aug 2, 2013 6:08 AM
4That is really useful information! I am sure it will help some people. Unfortunately, as far as getting a visa for EG in Cameroon (as you seem to suggest) is nigh on impossible. I asked a couple of months back and you have to be a resident of Cameroon. My boss has been here a year and is still waiting for his resident permit!
Aug 9, 2013 6:18 PM
Aug 17, 2013 10:42 AM
I have a UK passport. It took me 15 months to get the loi and significant cost: £230. And a lot of hassle getting supporting documentation together (police certificate, HIV free certificate, bank statements...the list goes on.). Then there were months of delays and concomitant excuses ( there is a new Minister and he is not signing any documentation, there are too many applications and there is a waiting list, etc). And when you get the Loi that just gives you the right apply for a visa. You have two months from the date of the Loi to apply, and you must use the visa within 30 days of it being granted, so a three month window altogether). And of course the visa, although it was easily granted with the loI in hand, required further documentation and an additional £80.
But if you want to go ahead go to this website: www.cdequinea.com. I dealt with Carmen - I suspect the whole thing is hers - and she was very helpful and responsive. She is UK based, so not sure if she can help you if you are not.
Aug 19, 2013 3:26 PM
I don't know why I did this but I just tried to go back to the website www.cdeguinea.com and it doesn't seem to exist any more. Very strange. Maybe it's been "rumbled" as providing visas to non-bona fide visitors (they got me a work visa, though I was not actually working there)
The only thing I can suggest is that you do what I did in the first instance: I went to the embassy in London and asked them how I might get an LOI. They gave me the website details. Maybe they can give you updated information.
Sorry that my previous post looks like it has become a red herring. It worked for me though....I guess things have changed
Oct 11, 2013 11:22 AM
8pge1 - Thanks for the reply, sorry the delayed response - I've been in central africa. Without luck, I tried to get the EG visa in cameroon with no letter of invitation. I am back in Europe now. So you went into the EG embassy in London and they advised you check out the website? (pity its offline now). How friendly and cooperative were the embassy staff in helping you find the right place to seek a loi? if it is likely to be useful I will make a trip down to london to ask around. It seems to be the worst visa to get!
(4 star Hotel)
From US$134.33 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$101.20 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$171.47 per night