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Equatorial Guinea - When and where to visit
As the name suggests, much of the country enjoys an equatorial climate: warm, rainy and humid all year round. Malabo is consistently warm, with an average temperature that sits around 26°C. Between January and May it is slightly warmer, and between July and October slightly colder, but the temperature difference is rarely more than 4°C. The city is often overcast, with the most cloud cover between May and November.
As Equatorial Guinea is so geographically dispersed, it is impossible to visit all of the regions in a short period of time without getting rained on at some point (dry seasons do not sync up between Bioko, Río Muni and Annobón). However, with a bit of careful planning, you can create a comprehensive itinerary that only involves the odd afternoon sitting out the rain storms!
If you are visiting Bioko island, it is best to go during their dry season, which extends from mid-November until February, although be aware that flights around the Christmas holidays face increased demand from expatriate workers heading home and Equatoguineans visiting relatives, so booking in advance is advisable.
If you are heading to Río Muni, then you will find similar weather conditions but different rainy seasons. Average temperatures in Bata are slightly lower than in Malabo, and there is a noticeable drop in temperature between June and August. Visitors from Malabo will also find Bata to be less humid than its island-based counterpart. The continental region has two dry seasons, from December to midFebruary, and again from July to September. It is best to visit in July and August, as these are the driest months, but if you plan to visit the mainland and island regions, then December to February is your best bet. As you travel south along the coast from Bata rainfall levels increase, with the Río Muni estuary by Gabon being the wettest area. Rainfall decreases the further inland you head, although it is often overcast.
Annobón has a similar climate to Bioko, with the dry season running from June to October and a wet season from November to May. However, the busiest period on the island is December, as many families come here to spend the festive season, so ensure you have made accommodation arrangements in advance if you wish to visit then.
Bata has a bustling nightlife and an excellent fresh fish market. Take a stroll down the new Paseo Marítimo and enjoy lunch in one of the many waterfront restaurants. Bata cathedral sits proudly on a hilltop, but the skyline today is dominated by more modern architecture, such as the Torre de la Libertad. Just outside the capital you can enjoy the shores of Bomé beach where there are various waterfront bars and restaurants. Up and down the coast you have the Río Campo Natural Reserve, with its abundance of wildlife including hippopotamuses and Goliath frogs. Nearby are the beaches of Punta Tika and Punta Cuche, with their nesting sea turtles. To the south is the Río Muni Estuary Natural Reserve, home to manatees and all manner of birdlife.
Driving inland you will see Monte Alen National Park – 1,400km2 of protected jungle and up to 1,100 elephants. Further inland still you will find Oyala (Djibloho), and exploring this new capital city under construction in the middle of the rainforest is easy. Compare it with the president’s hometown of Mongomo on the eastern border with Gabon, and marvel at the sheer scale and luxury of the building projects, including one of the largest basilicas in Africa.
In Malabo a walking tour will reveal numerous beautiful examples of colonial architecture. If you want to head out of the city centre, spend the day at Arena Blanca, the island’s only white sand beach, and check out the breeding butterflies. Also, try exploring Horatio’s Island in Sipopo. This is a very small island filled with local artist Charly Djikou’s sculptures. There is also a chance for birding and to see the famous ‘Horatio Giant’, ceiba tree. The eight main points of interest are all well signposted and connected by pathways through the forest.
If you can make it to Corisco (technically a scientific reserve) then you will be rewarded by secluded white sand beaches and stunning views of Corisco Bay, a breeding ground for various sea turtle species. The island is also home to a 2,000-year-old cemetery, one of the oldest in Central Africa. Known as Mandji to local inhabitants, Corisco features some fascinating ruins from colonial times, especially on the nearby islands of Elobey Grande and Elobey Chico, which you can reach by pirogue. Corisco also offers the rather strange opportunity to walk around a disused international airport, whose runway is almost as long as the island itself!
Although very remote, Annobón is home to the stunning Lago Mazafim crater lake and also offers hiking and snorkelling opportunities. Here you will find a number of secluded white sand beaches, and you can almost guarantee you will be the only tourist on the island. With a linguistic and cultural background very dissimilar to anywhere else in the country, this isolated outpost is the least visited part of an already unexplored nation.