We spent the past 2 nights in Port-Gentil due to the boat schedule to Omboue and finally could move on to the next destination, Loango National Park. The way to the national park got wilder and deeper in the nature.
Port-Gentil to Omboue
The boat to Omboue was scheduled to leave at 9am from the port but actually departed around 11am. It seemed that it got delayed as the owner tried to get more passengers for a full load. When we got to the port slightly before the scheduled departure time, we were approached by an organizer of the boat for the payment. After making the payments, we were a bit concerned for our ride due to the delay but turned out the organizer was actually responsible until the boat departed from the port.
While waiting for the boat, we spent time checking the fish market next to the port and local fishermen around the port. The time slightly passed 9:00am when a lot of fishermen came back from fishing and we had a chance to see some fish caught and shipped to the fish market for sale. The people in the market quickly cleaned the fish we had never seen before. A few fishermen at the port were very friendly and came to chat with us. Since they mostly spoke French, the only word we could understand from them was “chef” meaning “chief” in English, and at least we were able to identify who the boss was among the fishermen at the port. They also offered a breakfast with fish they caught, but unfortunately we could not have it because of a big breakfast we had in the early morning. Overall, this experience showed that communication was not limited by language if we really tried to interact with somebody else.
Around 11:00am, the boat finally departed from the port. The boat ride was a bit like a 3-hour boat safari. After the departure, the boat passed by a bay and then went into a river surrounded by bushes all the way to Omboue. Not necessarily seeing animals (although a few passengers saw some crocodiles), we really enjoyed the adventure along the way. There were other local boats running and we also saw a fishing boat that caught some rare fish. It seemed that a lot of local people took these boats just like a public transportation in the US. During the boat ride, we saw some fishermen villages without any infrastructures for utilities and stopped one of the villages for a break. One of the local people on the boat purchased a tale of stingray from a fishermen and he said he would cook the tale for dinner. After the 3-hour ride, we finally arrived at a huge lagoon in front of Omboue.
From Omboue to Loango National Park
Around 2pm we arrived at the Omboue port right next to the Olako Hotel, where we stayed on the way back to Libreville in the following day. A land cruiser from Loango Lodge came to pick us up in front of the Olako Hotel. The driver was very nice but spoke French with very limited English. Luckily two of the British backpackers spoke French as well and translated for us. Soon after we left the Omboue village, we got into forest areas. The road was unpaved and getting more and more bumpy while getting close to Loango Lodge.
On the way to the lodge, we happened to see a construction by Chinese constructors paving the road. Since they were still making the land flat, it would take a long time for the road to be actually paved. There were some villages and a huge mining factory with a few houses for the workers. The road condition close to the Loango Lodge was very bad and we even had to make a short detour. The driver was extremely good at driving, while the bad conditions of the roads made the ride very adventurous. In about 1.5 hours, we arrived at the Loango Lodge located next to a beautiful lagoon.
In Loango National Park, there was a runway for a chartered airplane. Some tours arranged by foreign tour operators chartered a flight from Libreville directly to Loango National Park.
Local Speed Boat
From Port-Gentil to Omboue
Price: 25,000 XAF / person / ride
The ride between Port-Gentil and Omboue was about 3 hours. All the passengers were required to wear life jackets. No assigned seats.
Note that since all the boats are locally arranged by different owners, the types of boats vary which impact the price and total ride time. The boat we originally booked was a slow boat which takes about 6 hours to Omboue for 12,000XAF.
From Omboue to Loango Lodge
Price: 25,000 XAF / person / ride
It took about 1.5 hours depending on the road condition. The transportation was arranged by Loango Lodge for its guests. Although the car itself was clean, the ride was not comfortable because of the bumpy road. If you easily get car sick, we recommend taking a medicine in advance.
Olako Hotel also offers a transportation to Loango Lodge for its guests. The price is 125,000XAF for a vehicle with 7 guest seats. If you have more than 5 people in your group, the offer from Olako is cheaper.