Loango Lodge and National Park
I roll into Loango Lodge uncertain of what to expect. Immediately I can tell this is a five star lodge, and is fancier than anywhere I have set foot in my entire life. The manager turns out to be the friendliest person in the world, and immediately invites me to camp right there on the grass of the lodge, to hang out, use the facilities and generally enjoy myself.
After chatting back and forward a while I organize to tag along with a couple already going into the Park the next day, and so I set about relaxing and enjoying myself as much as possible.
The following day we catch a boat across the small tidal river, and within five minutes spot forest elephants, and then more and more. After roaming around all afternoon among the majestic elephants we make our way down to the sandy beach, where we spot many more. None are actually walking in the water, though they are within thirty yards and clearly will be spending the night here near the beach.
In the evening we head out on a boat tour in the pitch black, where one of the local guides is going to show us some baby crocs. We move deep into the mangroves, and I am stunned when the guide jumps into the waist deep water and snatches up a baby in his bare hands. When the baby stars crying for it’s mother I get downright uncomfortable. The guide assures me no local has ever been attacked by a crocodile here, though I am certain he is really pushing his luck!
The rain starts to fall one afternoon and does not stop for many, many hours. The manager explains this should have come at least a month ago, and everyone in Gabon has been desperately waiting for the rains to begin.
A couple of days later I head deep into the park with the manager to check out one of his wilderness camps, a supremely beautiful place where people can stay a few nights deep in the wilderness. Over the course of the day we spot many more elephants, buffalo, red wild boars, leopard tracks and magically even see a couple of wild gorillas watching us from a clump of trees.
I am grinning from ear to ear to be in the middle of this enormous Eden, surrounded by huge African elephants.