Bargaining is not the custom in Equatorial Guinea.
Equatorial Guinea is hot, humid and tropical. The mainland, Rio Muni, has a dry season from June to August while Bioko Island is dry from December to February. Rainfall is likely in both places outside of those months, though Bioko generally receives much more rain than the mainland. Depending on your tolerance of heat and humidity, the dry season is probably the best time to travel; temperatures fall during the wet season but roads are less easily navigated.
Dangers & Annoyances
- Travelling in Equatorial Guinea is generally safe, including for women on their own.
- Police requests for bribes have lessened and you probably won't be asked for a bribe if all your papers are in order. However, you might occasionally be asked for a 'fanta' (a tip to buy a drink).
Discount cards are not used in Equatorial Guinea.
Equatorial Guinea uses a European-style two-pin 220V AC plug.
Embassies & Consulates
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Equatorial Guinea's country code||240|
There is no ambulance service.
Entry & Exit Formalities
- Your bags will be searched by customs officials on arrival on international flights, and at departure of national flights.
- If you wish to bring in professional camera equipment, request this when you apply for a visa. Bringing this equipment into the country without the required papers will cause problems.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months after arrival.
Having a visa for Equatorial Guinea is not sufficient for travelling inside the country. As soon after arrival as possible, you must apply for an Autorización de Turismo (Tourist Permit) at the Ministerio de Turismo in Malabo II or the Delegación de Cultura y Turismo in Bata. You will be provided with an example of an application letter which must be typed, printed, signed and presented with the CFA15,000 fee and a copy of your passport and visa. Allow at least one day to get the permit. It has to be approved and signed by the Minister of Tourism, but what would happen if he were off sick or on holiday is not clear. In the application letter, it is essential to list everywhere you want to visit. If you are stopped somewhere not on your list, you will be turned away. The tourist permit must be produced along with a copy of your passport and visa whenever you are stopped by police. Take copies of the permit to avoid handing over the precious original. Printing and copying can be done at Cibermax.
When you arrive in a small town or village and intend to stay for a few days, it is advisable to register your presence with the local authority, the Delegado or police station (Comisario). They will require a copy of your passport, visa and tourist permit.
All nationalities need a visa for Equatorial Guinea except for US residents, who nevertheless still have to complete the form.
Visas for Equatorial Guinea can take some time to obtain. Allow at least three weeks.
- Greetings Equatorial Guineans shake hands when meeting. In shops, offices, hotels and restaurants, it is customary to ask after a person's health before launching into a request.
While homosexuality is not illegal in Equatorial Guinea, overt displays of affection should be avoided in this conservative Christian country.
Travel insurance is recommended.
The few internet cafes in Equatorial Guinea are found in Malabo: Cibermax is a central option. Many hotels, restaurants and cafes offer free wi-fi, though access can be patchy. Bans on some social media such as Facebook and Twitter are imposed from time to time.
Organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International rate Equatorial Guinea as one of the worst countries when it comes to human rights abuses. This goes for foreigners as well as nationals. If you get into trouble, contact your embassy or consulate.
The currency is the Central African Franc as used across the region (CFA). It is stable at CFA655 to the euro, and CFA600 to the US dollar.
ATMs can be found at all banks in Malabo and Bata, but not elsewhere. They often don't work, only take Visa cards and only give small amounts (usually no more than CFA100,000 per day), meaning frequent trips to the bank. Note that many ATMs start to run dry from Thursday evenings in anticipation of the weekend. This is particularly noticeable towards the end of the month.
You can change euros or US dollars at banks in most towns or bureaux de change such as Pecunia Express that has branches in both Malabo and Bata.
Credit cards can only be used in top-end hotels and restaurants. Local airlines and car-hire agencies do not generally accept credit cards.
You cannot withdraw cash over the counter in banks using your credit card.
Cash is king in Equatorial Guinea. Make sure you have plenty of foreign currency to exchange for large purchases such as airline tickets.
Travellers cheques are not accepted in Equatorial Guinea.
Tipping is not expected in most restaurants and hotels. However, at those frequented by expats, staff have come to expect a tip. Guides and private drivers also appreciate a tip of around 10%.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Shops and offices 8am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm Monday to Friday, some are open 8am to 1pm Saturday
Banks Hours vary, but usually 8am to 2pm Monday to Friday, 8am to noon Saturday
Restaurants and cafes 7am or 9am to 11pm Monday to Saturday
Clubs 10pm to 4am Thursday to Saturday
In addition to the usual 'strategic sites' of military installations and bridges, do not photograph presidential palaces.
The postal system in Equatorial Guinea is not available to the private sector. If you need to send something, it's best to use a private courier service.
New Year's Day 1 January
Good Friday March or April
Labour Day 1 May
Corpus Christi Feast May or June
President's Day 5 June
Freedom Day 3 August
Constitution Day 15 August
Independence Day 12 October
Feast of the Immaculate Conception 8 December
Christmas Day 25 December
If a public holiday falls on a weekend, the next working day becomes a holiday.
- Smoking It's rare to find a local who smokes. Smoking is not permitted in any public building.
Taxes & Refunds
There is no tax on goods and services, and therefore no tax refunds available.
There are no area codes.
Local SIM cards can be used in any unlocked phone. They are available only from GETESA Central in Malabo and cost CFA3000. You need to present a copy of your passport and visa, and two photographs. Recharge cards are available everywhere.
Equatorial Guinea is on GMT plus one hour. Being close to the equator, there is no daylight saving.
- Toilets are Western-style.
- There are no public toilets.
Travel with Children
As Equatorial Guinea is hot and humid, you will need to take extra care when travelling with babies and young children. Use a pre-treated mosquito net and malaria prophylaxis, and keep them covered at dawn and dusk to avoid bites.
Supermarkets in Malabo and Bata sell disposable nappies and milk formula, but for travelling outside these cities, it's best to have your own supply.
There are no public baby-changing facilities.
Pavements in cities have lowered kerbs for prams, but be careful of pot-holes, open drains and missing paving stones. It's a good idea to use a torch at night as streets are not always well lit. Some upmarket hotels have a lift: useful if you have a pram or pushchair.
In Malabo, the National Park will provide fun activities for children with slides, swings and climbing frames (it was not quite finished at the time of research). Elsewhere, both on Bioko Island and Rio Muni, there are some beautiful beaches, and the resort of La Ferme Beach near Bata has a restaurant and pool. However, in some resorts such as Mbini, the beach is not as clean as it could be, so it's best to wear sandals or sand shoes.
For older children, turtle-watching and hikes at Ureca organised by the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program's Moka Wildlife Center, more turtle-watching at the Reserva Natural de Rio Campo, as well as hiking in the Monte Alen National Park are unforgettable experiences.
Apart from lowered kerbs at road crossings in Malabo and Bata, there are no concessions to travellers with disabilities.
There are no opportunities for volunteering in Equatorial Guinea.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures The metric system is used.
Equatorial Guinea is generally safe for women travellers. Be careful of pickpockets in crowded areas such as markets. In the cities, locals are used to foreigners who work in the energy industry, but they'll be surprised to see you in the countryside.
If you are going to be working in Equatorial Guinea, your employer will help you with both a visa and a work permit.