backpacking in equatorial guinea

  • Population: 521,000 (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Malabo
  • Area: 28,051 sq km (10,830 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Spanish, French
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 43 years (men), 44 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes


Backpacking in Equatorial Guinea

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is a tiny speck of what is formerly a Spanish colony in Middle Africa. A country of truly unspeakable beauty and awe, Equatorial Guinea is the land of vast tropical forests, majestic mountains, and strong volcanoes. Regardless of size, it is truly one of the most oil-wealthy nations with the discovery of substantial petroleum reserves, although a hush on how much funds it currently has. This wealth is not reflected however on the masses but on the very few green-eyed Equatoguinean elites with still 70% of the population living below the poverty threshold of $2 per day. With all this drama and controversy, Equatorial Guinea, still and all, is so unheard of all over the world that the only possibly famous EG citizens are the president and the first family.

But the third-largest oil exporter in SSA has tons to present the world, and albeit there are endless boundaries and no-no’s to travelling to Equatorial Guinea, there ought to be one individual who’d desire for such an adventure. Although, before pulling out a camera, all travellers need both a travel permit, and, prior to snapping candids and landscapes, a photography permit, as well. The richest nation of West Africa isn’t exactly a paradise for homosexuals either who would have to deal with general disapproval from society. Also, don’t rely on cash here, for there are no ATM’s with the country’s strict cash-only policy. And they say there are no travel restrictions in Equatorial Guinea – right.


backpacking in equatorial guinea

Equatorial Guinea (2 00 N, 10 00 E) has an area of only 28,051 km2 of a varied terrain of coastal plains, interior highlands, and clusters of islands. The mainland provinces are hilly with a mean level of approximately 2,000 ft. rising to 4,000 ft. The highest point remains to be Pico Basile at a height of 3,008 m. The islands of Equatorial Guinea are volcanic like Annobon and Bioko with three major peaks.


The tropical climate of Equatorial Guinea typically rotates between distinct wet and dry seasons over the course of the year, however, hot as it is, the country is almost always warm and humid. For Annobon, the air is different with rain, cloud and mist occur every single day. Temperatures vary depending on region and altitude, but in Rio Muni, it is about 27 °C.


Equatorial Guinea is the third smallest country in continental Africa in terms of population with only 650,702 Equatorial Guineans. The majority are of Bantu origin, but the largest indigenous tribe are the Fang constituting around 80% of total population. Besides, other tribes, there is also a European population of around a couple thousand, mainly French, Portuguese and Spanish. Rapidly expanding are communities of Lebanese, Arabs, Chinese, Filipinos, and other Africans. The remainder are of mixed African-European descent.


SPANISH is the official language spoken by almost 70% of the population, as is FRENCH. FANG is the general vernacular with variants in the north and south of Rio Muni, Fang-NTUMU and Fang-OKAH respectively.  Despite strengthening ties with Washington, ENGLISH is only spoken by a tiny few, mostly in the city centres, and lesser in regions where education is poor and rare, an aspect which has only recently been given priority. Out of this came a localized Pidgin English that is fairly used.


Nominally, the great majority are Christians by faith, 93% to be fairly accurate. Within this, Roman Catholicism holds about 87% of the population, while 6% adhere to Protestantism. About 2% are Muslims (Bahai Islam) while the remaining population continue to exercise indigenous and pagan practices.


The tourism industry of Equatorial Guinea is well under construction and nowhere near accomplished. With a sizeable oil industry, what the government sees is utilizing this industry for the country’s make-over. Paradoxically, this scarcity for tourist infrastructures makes this tiny oil-rich country ideal for unique expeditions and adventures. The nation has astounding volcanic panoramas, lush green rainforests, wild and white beaches, and cosmopolitan city architectures. That said, Malabo is just the place. This is the country’s capital outside the mainland, on the island of Bioko with breathtaking sights and sounds of this remarkable island, for the most part the beautiful beaches like the Arena Blanca.

If not for the sand bugs, sinking one’s toes in the sand would have been truly comforting. On the mainland, Bata is a major city. It teems with lively Spanish colonial culture and like Malabo, is an idyllic place to soak up some sun and culture. Everything is expensive in Equatorial Guinea. Fortunately enough, its main attractions are within nature, thus needing only the eye and a few clinking coinage. Here are Monte Alen National Park, Lake Loreta, and Lake Moca-remarkable areas for wildlife-spotting of monkeys, elephants, leopards, birds, and other game. Or, from the peak of Pico Basile, take in everything that is resplendent, exotic, and Equatorial Guinean.


The Equatoguinean cuisine is a piece of ‘expensive’ work more than ever, mainly in any place with air-conditioning. In hotels and restaurant, the traveller may experience a refined version of cuisine. But here in this tiny nation, free is mostly better, and authentic is almost always free. Right at home, that’s where the delightful foods are. Native cuisines in a melange with Hispanic gastronomy, Equatorial Guinean cuisine has thoroughly evolved. It isn’t in anyway simply bush and wild meat like porcupine and antelope anymore because for centuries to this day, the cuisine has been influenced by many nations. The cuisine will take you by surprise with its passion for hot and spicy food and über-delicious stews. The national dish, some say, is “succotash”- yeah, that southern fried chicken side.

Nutritious, flavourful, and affordable starchy protein meal-in-one for those in countries of poverty, as EG has been too well, too long, succotash has its roots in Equatorial Guinea specifically (not the United States). To this dish, they may add some jabanero chilli besides the cayenne and paprika already to achieve the desired heat, like they do with a lot of their stew dishes, along with little fish or meat. Meals may include a simple stew, grilled fish or any meat, with plantains or rice as base, but overall, the locals have very little meat in their diets and a lot of vegetables, and yet it’s delectable. Of course, it doesn’t help to know that with all the spicy food, the general population have no access to drinking water.


Backpacking in Equatorial Guinea

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Joshua Boorman

Joshua Boorman

Founder & Editor in Chief at Backpacking Addictz
Come with me on a journey with me to various destinations throughout the world. We discuss all things Backpacking, Lifestyle Design & Online Business to help you achieve new found freedom and create a life of meaningful fulfillment.
Joshua Boorman

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