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Two times Gabon - the first time and the last time


Photo-Kiboko

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Photo-Kiboko

Dear Safaritalkers,


Inspired from the great Gabon TR from @inyathi, @Anomalure, @michael-ibk and @Sangeeta, I have started to convert my Gabon TR from the Nikon-forum into html. The TR: „Zweimal Gabun, das erste und das letzte Mal“ is written in German Language. I have uploaded the first three days with 135 pictures on my home page. I expect the complete TR will contain more than 400 pictures. I try to write in simple sentences to make it easy for translation programs. My average speed is one day TR in one week. Therefore, the conversion of the TR will need some time.


I will write an English abstract for each day with a selection of pictures on ST.


 In March 2012, I have been on a Voodoo trip to Ghana/Togo/Benin. I have visited Guyana in May 2012 during the rainy season. Both trips were not productive for a wildlife photographer. This should change on the third trip. This was the plan. My travel agency has adapted a standard Gabon tour for the needs of wildlife photographers:

 

    Day 1: Libreville - Loango
    Day 2: Loango
    Day 3: Loango
    Day 4: Loango - Libreville
    Day 5: Libreville - Pongara - Lopé
    Day 6: Lopé
    Day 7: Mikongo
    Day 8: Lopé
    Day 9: Lopé - Lékédi
    Day 10: Lékédi
    Day 11: Lékédi
    Day 12: Lékédi (Poubara)
    Day 13: Lékédi
    Day 14: Lékédi - Libreville
    Day 15: End


The Adventure started already before the trip. I had only a short time, to apply for the visa. The visa arrived on the last day in the afternoon.
In June 2012, my friend Axel and I went to Gabon. In the airplane was a new seating. On my reserved window seat was a Gabonese man. Two French Law Enforcement Officers accompany this man. I got a place in the middle. The whole flight was very entertaining, because of the noisy protests of the man.


The trip continues with many unforeseen adventures. Therefore, I like the headline from Michael-lbk  “Into the Heart of Madness”. The Mandrill on the picture and the whole country have stretched out the tong against us.

 

Bäääääääääh!

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We were happy, to get one acceptable picture a day. After hours of walking through the jungle, we were happy to get a picture of a butterfly on a fresh pile of leopard shit. Therefore, I have been in Gabon already two times – the first time and the last time - on a single trip. My friend Axel called it: Once and never again! These are the perfect ingredients for a TR.

 

We have met nice people on the road.

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We have met Bambi – a young Sitatunga in Loango.

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We landed on a nice beach in Pongara in a rubber boat.

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We have seen a Peter’s Duiker in Lopé.

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We have seen a Red River Hog in Lékédi. It was easy to find. But, it was difficult to take pictures.

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Our guide made the short transfer from the airport to the hotel.

He told us, we can not go to Loango, because the plane to Sette Cama is cancelled.

We should stay the next 4 days in the hotel in Libreville ...

 

Will be continued

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Photo-Kiboko

Day 1: Libreville – Loango


The plane to Loango is cancelled.
Axel and I do not like to stay 4 days in Libreville.
Our guide makes an offer.
He can drive us by car to Loango.
If we pay 300 EUR for gas.
The agency will take the cost for the car.
The Sette Cama Lodge is south of the Loango national park.
The distance is about 700 km.
Dirt roads are about half of the way.
We have to pass oil fields until 3 pm.
An escort is required.
We have no other choice and pay.

I recommend an early start in the morning at 5 o’clock.
Our guide accepted it after some discussions.
He picked us from the hotel in time!

We rush through the sleeping Libreville.
A sleeping policeman brings the car to an extraordinary jump, like an impala on the run.
The road to Libreville is in very good condition.
But, it is one village all the way.
People and animals are on the road.
There are speed limitations, 70, 50 and even 30 km/h.
The tachometer needle reaches the 100 km/h only sometimes.
Usually, it was around 120.
However, sometimes others overpass us.

 

We have some short stops on the way, to refill the brake fluid.
The fluid is leaking somewhere out of the car.


Road to Lambaréné

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There are many curves.
Usually without good visibility.
The driver uses the optimized line, including the other side.
This is no problem, because the cars in the other direction do the same.
Axel and I are on the backseat, fasten seatbelts and hope for the best.
This bus had less luck.

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We are in Lambaréné around 8 o'clock.

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The shops are opening.

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We go further south, after another brake fluid refill stop.
The rainforest comes closer the road.

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Typical for Gabon are simple wooden houses, with a satellite dish and auto wreck in the garden.

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Then we have to leave the tar road.
Now, we are on dirt roads.
The driver is all the time on the limit.
Sometimes we left the road for an unplanned drift to the bushes on the side.
An encounter with a logging truck is always a challenge.
The logging truck does not stop…

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Will be continued.

 

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Tom Kellie

~ @Photo-Kiboko:

 

May I please offer my praise for the images above?

 

Your wonderful sense of place comes through in the image set.

 

The composition is enhanced by fine color. 

 

The exemplary imagery will draw me back to your trip report as it unfolds.

 

Thank you so much for posting such inspiring photography.

 

            Tom K.

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Photo-Kiboko

@Tom Kellie

Thank you very much, Tom.

I am glad, you like my pictures.

In my eyes they are not nice.

Because it was difficult in Gabon to get one acceptable picture a day.

I will show also the "bad" pictures  to provide a complete TR.

 

Many pictures are just to document the trip.

This includes the pictures of day one.

Many of these pictures are taken through the window of a speeding car.

 

-----

 

We are still on the way to Loango.
Around noon, we have a stop in a small village somewhere in the jungle.
The brake fluid needs a refill.

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However, we have no time for lunch.
The kitchen in the restaurant remains cold.

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The driver found a piece of wood, removed a nail from the kitchen wall and took a piece of a rag.
Then, he had enough material to close the leaking brake line.


Then, the driver pushes the hammers down.
We continue our high speed trip on the dirt roads the rain forest.
We reach the gate of the oil fields just in time.
The requested escort is not there.
We have to wait about one hour.
We have used the time to explore the first wildlife.

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The escort drives slow and safely.
The red river hogs have time to pass the road.

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The oil fields have clearings and many roads in the rainforest.
Here are pumps, pipes and tanks.
Probably wildlife is more secure in the oil fields as in the national park.
The oil fields have security.

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After the oil fields, we again on a high speed chase against the clock and darkness.
Suddenly, der was a little dotted cat next to road.
Stop! Stop! Stop!
The car passed the baby-leopard (no serval) with blocking wheels.
Then, we are in impressive cloud of dust.
After the dust settled, the little leopard was sitting on the other side of the road.
The baby leopard is still in reach for a 500m lens.
I have my hand already on the door handle to jump out.
Nevertheless, this is not a good idea.
There are plenty of bushes for a mother leopard to hide …
Seconds later, the baby leopard disappeared in the jungle.

Then, forest elephants are close to the road.
The driver stops reluctantly.

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We reached the end of the road very late in the afternoon.
There is no boat for the transfer to the sette cama lodge.
We wait another hour.
The boat arrives in the twilight.
The last picture on the lake.

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Then, it is dark.
It is really dark.
I have no idea, where the boat is going.
Everything is black.
After a while, there was a very tiny light at the horizon.
This was the only light in the lodge.
Finally, we are in Loango National Park.
We are a half day late and still alive.
We are the first guests in Sette Cama after 2.5 months.

 

After an additional half hour, the team in the lodge could start the generator.
There is no cold beer.
There is no beer.
There are no beverages.
Our own carry on water is all we have for the next days.

Tomorrow, we will start at 6 o’clock for the first game drive.
The guide does not want to start before eight.
After a long discussion, we arranged a start at seven.

 

Will be continued

 

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Photo-Kiboko

Day 2: Loango National Park

 

We are ready for a game drive into the Loango National park.
It is 7 o’clock.
The guide does not appear.
He arrives around 07:30.
Then, the guide needs some time to prepare himself.
We start with the boat after 8 o’clock.
We are heading north over the lagoon into the Loango National park.

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The guide stopped the boat.
We had to walk to the dense forest.
The path is narrow and difficult to see.
We pass a little river.

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After a short walk, we arrive in a bai.

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On the other side of the bay is a forest buffalo.
The distance is about 150 – 200m.
With the 500mm lens on a crop camera and heavy cropping, I got a single louse picture.
Then, the buffalo runs away and hides in the forest.
It will be the only mammal of the walk.

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We walk through another area of rainforest.
Some blue-breasted bee-eaters sitting in the center of the next bai.
The distance is too far for a good picture.
We sneaking in slowly and carefully to get closer to the birds.
Hour guide just walked into the center of the bee-eaters and chased them away.
Axel and I want to wait.
Usually bee-eaters coming back for hunting to their favourite place.
However, our guide has no time.
He forced us, to continue the walk, because the way is long …
We have not seen any other bird during this walk.

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We got two spiders, three dragonflies and a butt shot of a bee on a flower.

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Then, we are back at the boat and arrive in the Sette Cama Lodge.
The Sette Cama Lodge is on a long spit between the lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean.
The lodge has a main building with a veranda and four little cottages.

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This is my cottage.

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Inside my cottage.
The air-condition is just for decoration.
All functions were more or less in need for repair.
However, it was clean and OK.

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Day two will be continued

 

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Photo-Kiboko

Day 2 continues

 

Some birds visit the Sette Cama Lodge during the lunch break.
The Woodland Kingfisher has his favourite place close the boats.

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A group of Common Waxbill visited the lodge several times.

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Other visitors are Green Headed Sunbird and a Thick-Knee.
The beach is not far away.
We walk about 300m over the spit.

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Lizards have occupied the tree trunks at the beach.

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The guide comes back late in the afternoon.
We have a boot ride with Marie Aurianne on the lagoon.

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We can take pictures of the double number of birds as on the morning walk.
The first bird is a Little Egret over quite a large distance.

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The second bird is a Giant Kingfisher.
This bird is high concentrated and looks for fish.

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The boat turned at the end of the lagoon.
On the left hand side is the spit.
In the centre is the connection of the lagoon with the Atlantic.

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On the way, we have a little walk on the beach.
Some animals love the grass close to the beach.
It contains salt from the ocean.
At the beach were two forest elephants and one buffalo.
The buffalo stays in a large distance.
The elephants are more relaxed.
Forest elephants are smaller than savanna elephants.
Therefore, the tusks appear larger.
The tusks have about the same size.

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Another star was the female Sitatunga.
Some bushes are used as a hide to get close enough.

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Finally, the sun disappeared in the haze.

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The TR will be continued with another day in Luango after a break.

 

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Tom Kellie

~ @Photo-Kiboko:

 

The latest segments of this Gabon trip report are engrossing.

 

The terrific photography and text appeal to me, as they include everything needed without any excess.

 

The dragonfly image is superb. The color and clarity are what I seek when photographing dragonflies.

 

Likewise, the Woodland Kingfisher portrait is of the highest quality.

 

What a delightful surprise to see the Forest Elephant.

 

The female Sitatunga is lovely, as are your other images.

 

Thank you for posting this trip report. I'm thoroughly enjoying each installment.

 

                 Tom K.

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Kitsafari

@Photo-Kiboko I'm not sure if it is just me but I am unable to see any of your images here. the links seem to be broken for me but it looks like Tom has no problem seeing the photos. 

 

I'm resorting to see your photos on your website instead! and very cool photos they are, especially of the birds. 

It looks like you were even more adventurous than we were in getting around Gabon, but the main thing was that you got to where you wanted and needed to go!

 

looking forward to more.  

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Tom Kellie

~ @Kitsafari: Yes, the images appear on my screen immediately, without any issues.

 

I'm sorry that you're experiencing difficulty in seeing them.

 

The photography of @Photo-Kibokohas a strong appeal to me as it's a slice of life.

 

The sense of the Gabon scenes being real makes for compelling reading.

 

I hope that you'll be able to eenjoy both the photos and the text of this trip report.

 

                 Tom K.

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wilddog
1 hour ago, Kitsafari said:

@Photo-Kiboko I'm not sure if it is just me but I am unable to see any of your images here. the links seem to be broken for me but it looks like Tom has no problem seeing the photos. 

 

I'm resorting to see your photos on your website instead! and very cool photos they are, especially of the birds. 

It looks like you were even more adventurous than we were in getting around Gabon, but the main thing was that you got to where you wanted and needed to go!

 

looking forward to more.  

Same here @Kitsafariperhaps we can check this out with @JohnR they are png images...............

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inyathi

 

@Kitsafari It's not just you I have the same trouble, the photos here and in Kiboko's Ghana/Togo/Benin just appear as broken links, if I click on the link, I get a black screen, with I suppose a little broken photo icon in the middle, if I click on that, the photo will then appear, but obviously this is a very time consuming way to view the photos. Like you I gave up and resorted viewing the photos on Kiboko's website.

 

@wilddogYour reply came in just as I was typing mine. 

 

I don't know what the cause of the problem is, perhaps it's a browser issue of some sort, although I tried switching from Chrome to Edge and that made no difference, however, since @Tom Kellieis having no trouble, the thought just occurred to me, that maybe I should try looking at the report on my iPad and low and behold when I do that all the photos show up fine, other than that on my iPad I am using the browser Safari, I don't what the difference is. I now know that png stands for Portable Network Graphics, but I am none the wiser as to why the images don't show properly, the information about pngs on Wikipedia doesn't suggest there would be an issue with Chrome.   

 

@Photo-KibokoI now need to have a proper read of this and your other report on my iPad, as I can see all of the photos properly there, I will though say thus far, even if your trip in Gabon was pretty challenging, you still got some great photos.   

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Kitsafari

@inyathi @wilddog

I was reading your replies on my android mobile and when I scrolled up, the photos were loaded and showing. I'm not techy- savvy, but perhaps the links don't work on chrome which is the platform I use on my laptop.

Edited by Kitsafari
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Tom Kellie

~ @Photo-Kiboko, @Kitsafari, @wilddog, @inyathi:

 

If it's helpful, I'm viewing Safaritalk on an Apple 27-inch iMac using the Safari browser.

 

The images in this trip report all load instantly with appropriate on-screen alignment.

 

This is quite a change from the years of being unable to access Safaritalk, or having image files blocked.

 

I hope that all of you and others will be able to see this trip report as I have. It's a fine effort in all respects, including humor.

 

           Tom K.

 

 

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Atravelynn

"We were happy, to get one acceptable picture a day."

 

From the ones I've seen you did more than acceptable!  The elephant pushing through sand is striking.

 

Your narration is effective and hilarious.  It reminds me of the trials and tribulations of some of the other Gabon reports.

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AKR1
3 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

"We were happy, to get one acceptable picture a day."

 

From the ones I've seen you did more than acceptable!  The elephant pushing through sand is striking.

 

Your narration is effective and hilarious.  It reminds me of the trials and tribulations of some of the other Gabon reports.

+1. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Photo-Kiboko
On 3/26/2021 at 6:32 PM, AKR1 said:

+1. 

 

On 3/25/2021 at 10:18 PM, Tom Kellie said:

~ @Photo-Kiboko:

 

The latest segments of this Gabon trip report are engrossing.

 

The terrific photography and text appeal to me, as they include everything needed without any excess.

 

The dragonfly image is superb. The color and clarity are what I seek when photographing dragonflies.

 

Likewise, the Woodland Kingfisher portrait is of the highest quality.

 

What a delightful surprise to see the Forest Elephant.

 

The female Sitatunga is lovely, as are your other images.

 

Thank you for posting this trip report. I'm thoroughly enjoying each installment.

 

                 Tom K.

 

On 3/26/2021 at 12:07 PM, Kitsafari said:

@Photo-Kiboko I'm not sure if it is just me but I am unable to see any of your images here. the links seem to be broken for me but it looks like Tom has no problem seeing the photos. 

 

I'm resorting to see your photos on your website instead! and very cool photos they are, especially of the birds. 

It looks like you were even more adventurous than we were in getting around Gabon, but the main thing was that you got to where you wanted and needed to go!

 

looking forward to more.  

 

On 3/26/2021 at 1:26 PM, wilddog said:

Same here @Kitsafariperhaps we can check this out with @JohnR they are png images...............

 

On 3/26/2021 at 2:02 PM, Kitsafari said:

@inyathi @wilddog

I was reading your replies on my android mobile and when I scrolled up, the photos were loaded and showing. I'm not techy- savvy, but perhaps the links don't work on chrome which is the platform I use on my laptop.

 

On 3/26/2021 at 3:29 PM, Atravelynn said:

"We were happy, to get one acceptable picture a day."

 

From the ones I've seen you did more than acceptable!  The elephant pushing through sand is striking.

 

Your narration is effective and hilarious.  It reminds me of the trials and tribulations of some of the other Gabon reports.

 

 

Hello Safaritalkers,

 

@wilddog@Kitsafari@inyathi@AKR1@Atravelynn@Tom Kellie

Sorry for the long response time.

I was in vacation last week.

The old fashioned browser (IE11) on my home PC is incompatible with ST.

I can just read and push thanks buttons.

I cannot see any pictures and cannot write.

It works only from the company PC in the lunch break.

 

I am very sorry, for the issue of the pictures and some browsers.

I am afraid, there will be the same issue on my Voodoo Inside Trip report (Ghana/Togo/Benin) in the off topic section.

All my images are just standard jpg.

 

There are several possibilities:

1) It is caused by a mismatch of the security level of ST and my home page.

ST is a https site.

My home page is only http.

The pictures on this TR are embedded from my http home page.

Some browsers (or browser settings) does not show http content on a https side.

This is a safety feature.

 

2) My images embedded pictures are physically on my home page.

My home page is the server of a provider.

ST and pictures are on different servers.

Some browsers (or browser settings) does not show content from a different page / server.

Also, this is a safety feature or a feature to block advertisements.

 

3) The server of my provider was down.

This is only a temporary issue.

My provider is very reliable.

In the last two years there were only a couple of planned interruptions, because of server maintenance.

 

Possibility 1 is most probable.

To solve this issue, I have to switch my home page from http to https.

I have to buy security certificates.

It is not the money of 1,73 EUR per month.

It is another contract and another item to take care.

It is so easy to sign any kind of contract an so difficult to get rid of it.

Therefore, I am not so fond to change the safety status of my home page, yet.

 

I am very happy, some of you could manage to see the pictures.

I will continue to write a short abstract in English here in ST.

I am very happy, you have enjoyed some of my Gabon pictures either here in ST or on my home page.

Thank you for you kind comments.

This gives my some extra motivation to continue the TR.

 

However, I have used the vacation days last week to convert more of by Gabon TR to html.

Now, I have uploaded day 8.

I will continue with the second day in Loango (day 3) in the next office break.

 

Thank you

Bernd

 

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Sangeeta

Delighted to be reading this TR, @Photo-Kibokowhat an adventure you had as well 😄 Agree with everyone else on the terrific photos and interested in more of your impressions/thoughts about Sette Cama too. So glad you decided to do this trip on ST too.

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Photo-Kiboko
Posted (edited)

Day 3 (part 1)

Loango National Park


We like to start at 7 o’clock in the morning on a boat tour into Loango National Park.
The guide is late.
It needs some time, until the boat is ready
We can start close to eight with a boat ride over the lagoon.

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We pass some narrow channels between mangroves.

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We meet relatives from Kiboko.

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We see monkeys three times (two times red-capped mangabeys and one time moustached monkeys).
The monkeys are very difficult to photograph.
It is dark in the rainforest (long exposure times, high ISO).
The monkeys moving around. They rest on a place only for a very short time.
Then, they either hide between mangrove branches or show you their backside (or butt).
The boat is not fixed and floating around.
The best practice is to concentrate on a single monkey and wait for a chance.
This is the best of all bad pictures from the monkeys.

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We are reaching Lac Souanga.

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This is a bigger lake in the southern part of Loanga.
We see a “V-pattern” in the waves.
A manatee swims in the lake.
Only the tip of nose is on the surface.
Unfortunately, the auto focus does not set the nose.

 

On the other side of the lake is the village Souanga.
Rangers and their families living here.
A woman prepares some vegetables in a simple hut.

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A big spider sits between the vegetables.
We point to the spider.
The woman throw away the vegetables.
She is shouting.
A man comes and hits the spider.

The crazy photographers are on the ground to take pictures.

The villagers have lots of fun.

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Other sightings are a grasshopper, a weaverbird and a butterfly

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The highlight of the trip is a darter.
The boat is close enough for a portrait.

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We spend the long lunch break with birding.
A green-headed sunbird get is lunch from a view flowers in the lodge.

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Day 3 will be continued with a boat tour in the afternoon.

 

Edited by Photo-Kiboko
Typos
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Photo-Kiboko

Day3 (part 2)

Loango


We have another boat tour in the afternoon.
We can start earlier as yesterday.
At the end of the lagoon is the Mouanamouélé River.
We can watch some birds on the river.
The escape distance is still large.
A Little Egret:

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Pink backed Pelican

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We have seen Grey Heron, Goliath Heron and Hamerkop.
We spend some time at a Hippo Pool.
The Hippos are most of the time under water.

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A little Crocodile is around.
I am not sure about the species.

Can somebody help me, please?

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We walk on the beach on the long peninsula, which divides the lagoon from the ocean.
We hope for more animals in the evening sun.
We do not have much luck with the elephants.
The elephant disappears just after our arrival.
Other elephants were hiding in bushes.

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The sighting of the day, even the sighting of the trip is a Sitatunga family.
We are very careful.
We move very slowly.
We are close to the ground to make us small.
This allows some pictures from a low perspective.
Mr. Sitatunga

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Ms. Sitatunga

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And their child.

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Mother and Daughter

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Summary Loango National Park
The number of animals, including birds, is very low.
The escape distances of the animals are large.
The best sightings were on the beach in the evening and on the Mouanamouélé River.
The guides / rangers have no or very low motivation.

May be the situation has changed since 2012.
May be the lodges in the north of Luango are in a better position to see wildlife.
In 2012, these lodges were not available or closed.

I have expected photography in the rain forest is difficult.
I have not expected to see the surfing hippos, which are in many tour advertisement and travel guides, but nobody has seen them in reality.
However, I am happy to get pictures of the Sitatungas.
At this time, we hoped for more luck in the other parks.
Loango was the best park in Gabon.
Overall, I am a little bit disappointed from Loango.

 

The trip report continues tomorrow or next week.

 

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Photo-Kiboko
On 4/7/2021 at 3:36 AM, Sangeeta said:

Delighted to be reading this TR, @Photo-Kibokowhat an adventure you had as well 😄 Agree with everyone else on the terrific photos and interested in more of your impressions/thoughts about Sette Cama too. So glad you decided to do this trip on ST too.

Hello @Sangeeta
Thank you for all the praise.
I am delighted of the trip reports of your groups to Gabon.
This was the reason to share my Gabon adventure on ST.

 

My experiences are from 2012 and might be out dated.
Sette Cama is a base for anglers.
You may find many offers for fishing tours.
In addition, you may find many pictures of lucky fisherman’s with their catch.
May be, this is the reason the guides / rangers were not trained to handle photographers.


Big portions of the lagoon and associated lakes are outside of the national park.
I assume the lagoon has no fishes any more.
Otherwise there would be more birds (i.e. egrets, king fishers, cormorants, pelicans, terns, gulls, …)

Or the fishes are too big for the birds. :rolleyes:

 

The walking safaris were not very productive for a photographer and can be omitted.
I can recommend boat tours into the mangroves and rivers.
May be full day tours are better, because they allow longer distances into the heart of the park.
The evening on the peninsular / spit was my highlight for Loango.


Flights to/from Gamba are possible. The risk of flight cancellation is high in Gabon.
Car ride from Libreville to Sette Cama in one day is possible with an excellent guardian angel.
In the trip report on my home page are more pictures from the Sette Cama Lodge. (gabun_2-3_loango)

If you like, I can add some more pictures.


If you plan a trip to Sette Cama, please assure they have something to drink.
We had only our carry on water.

 

In case of any questions, please ask. :D

 

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Sangeeta
On 4/8/2021 at 5:57 AM, Photo-Kiboko said:

Or the fishes are too big for the birds. :rolleyes:

 

You may just be right! I read somewhere that there are barracuda, tiger-fish and bull sharks in those lagoons, maybe too daunting for the birds.

Thank you for the advice, Bernd, much appreciated. Trying to find out more about Sette Cama beach sightings, but perhaps Loango proper is the better choice...

Thanks so much again. 

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Photo-Kiboko

Day 4 (Loango – Libreville)


The last Morning in Sette Cama.

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We can select between a flight and high-speed car ride back to Libreville.
The plane will depart early in the morning.
There is no chance for another game drive into Loango National Park.
The car ridge might offer some possibilities for drive by shootings.
Therefore, we chose the car.

On the first part of the trip, we cross the lagoon and a lake by boat.
A putty-nosed monkey was visible in the mangroves.
The boat driver does not like to stop.
However, I could manage to get one acceptable picture.

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Then, we are back on the road to Libreville.

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There was an elephant on the road.
The elephant disappeared before the car could stop.
I got a picture of a Petersduiker on the run through the window.

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We got an escort on the road through the oil fields.
No red-river hogs passed the road.

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The agama was sitting on a branch at the gate of the oil fields.

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We pass small villages on the way back to Yombi and Lambarene.
The people sell palm fruits.
Our guide is offering some palm fruits in a plastic bag.
They do not look nice.
The smell is bad, too.
Therefore, Kiboko refused the offer.

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Little shops pass the window of the car.

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Docteur des Pneus

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Some shops in Lambaréné.

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We pass the equator close to darkness

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And are back in Libreville.

 

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Photo-Kiboko

Day 5-1: Libreville - Pongara

 

The planned flight from Gamba (Loango) to Libreville and the train from Libreville to Lopé do not operate on a daily basis.
We have a day in Libreville.
The Pongara National Park is just on the other side of the river.
Therefore, we have planned a day trip to Pongara.
We want to start early.
Our guide told us, there is not boat in the morning.
“The” boat will run at nine.
A Change was not possible.
Kiboko thought it is some kind tourist boat into the park with a daily departure at nine.

Our guide brought us to the Marina.
The marina in Libreville is a parking lot for ships on land.
We have a special chartered boat to Pongara.
The boat is not ready.
Our guide set us into a beach resort, nearby.
We have to wait.

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After a half hour, the boat arrived on a trailer.
We board the boat on the trailer.
In addition, our guide packed all luggage into the boat on the trailer.
He ignores the protests from Kiboko.
Kiboko sees no need to transport the luggage on a day trip to Pongara.
In the evening, we plan to take the train to Lopé and the luggage can stay in Libreville.
No, the luggage must travel on the boat.

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The trailer is pushed into the water.
The boat swims.
The crew starts the engines.
It is a high speed boat.
We jump from wave to wave.
Bang – bang – bang – BÄÄNNNG - Bang – bang – bang – BÄÄNNNG
It is not possible to take any pictures during the ride.
The cameras jumping on the ground.
I am unable to pack it on a save position.
The big camera is on my lap and I protect it  with my body against mechanical load and salt water spray.
We are passing point Dennis and reach the Atlantic.

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The ride goes further south along the coast.
We pass lodge by lodge.
Nobody is on the beach.
Then, there are people on the beach.
Our boat stops.
A swimmer comes to the boat.
He pulls a little rubber boat with a plastic barrel.

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At this time I have not expected something will happen.
I assumed we are the mail chip, like the Hurtig-Routen in Norway and we will just pass some fright to the swimmer.
Suddenly the photo backpack from Axel disappears in the plastic barrel.
My camera bag follows.
I have only a little bit time to put my D300 with the 500/4 into a plastic bag.
Then, we sit in the little rubber boat.
My hands are on the handles on the side.
I hold the plastic bag with the camera with the legs.
Water is running into the rubber boat.
The shoes are wet.
The ass is wet, too.
The water flows nicely around the plastic bag with the camera.
A big wave brings the little rubber boat onto the beach.
Helping hands take plastic bag with the camera.
We jump out of the boat and run ashore, until the next big wave arrives the beach.
Then I run behind the man with my plastic bag.
He handles the bag, as it is a bag full of destroyable clothes.
He couldn’t know what is inside.

The rubber boat is at the speedboat, again.
The plastic barrel is loaded onto the rubber boat.
Another big wave brings the rubber boat with our remaining camera gear at the beach.
In the next run, they put our backpacks with the clothes onto the rubber boat without any protection.
We have lots of luck.
Camera gear and clothes make it safely to the beach.

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We are in the Pongara Lodge.
We unpack and check our cameras.
The manager is surprised to see our equipment.
He is wondering, why we have so much luggage.
The agency told him, a couple would arrive for lunch …


Day 5 will be continued with a walking safari in Pongara

 

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Photo-Kiboko

Day 5-2: Pongara - Lopé

 

The Manager of the Pongara Lodge finds a guide for a walking safari into the jungle.
The forest is dense.
The temperature is high.

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We pass a small river like in the previous pictures.
Our guide is very excited.
Crocodile! Crocodile! Crocodile!
I cannot see any crocodile.
Axel cannot see any crocodile.
It is hiding under the root.
The guide passes the river over the root “bridge” similar as in the previous pictures.
Axel passes the bridge.
I pass the bridge.
On the other side, the ground cannot withstand the force of the weight of a Hippo.
My leg disappeared in the ground.
I sit on the root. The leg is the hole, completely.
It is just the place, where the guide expected the hiding crocodile.
In the first round the guide and Axel pick up the camera gear.
Then, they pulled me out.
The shoes and the leg were wet before from the rubber boat ride.
In addition, they have a nice coverage with mud.
The crocodile has not bite me.


We continued our walk through the jungle.
We see some flowers, fruits and a termite castle.

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There was no way in the jungle.
Usually, I carry the camera with the 500er lens on the handle of the lens.
The front lens faces back. In this position, the front lens is protected against branches, leaves, etc.
A second camera with a wide angular lens is around the neck.
On some stretches we go just straight through the jungle.
Then, I carry the long lens vertically in front of my belly.
The fingers are in the sun shield.
The arm presses the lens and camera against my body.
The second camera hangs to the side.
I need my left hand to protect my face against branches, thorns, etc.
Sometimes the second camera smashes against trees, branches or even the to the other camera.
Occasionally, the camera received a hit on the trigger button.
The camera makes an exposure by their own.
This causes some unexpected pictures.
Probably it is my best picture from Pongara.

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We pass a swamp area

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There is a strip of grassland between the beach and the rainforest.

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We make a detour of the beach.

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We have seen two birds.
A blue-breasted bee-eater and a reichenbach’s sunbird.
The birds are too far away for good pictures.
I take my best wildlife picture of pongara during the lunch.
I am afraid it is not wildlife any more …

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After a terrific meal, we board the rubber boat again.
This time I can protect my main luggage and camera gear by additional plastic bags.

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The photo gear is in the plastic barrel.
I take the pictures with a water proof compact camera.

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Then Axel did a ride to the boat.
He was completely wet, after two big waves.
I have a little bit more luck.
Difficult was the boarding of the speedboat.
The rubber boat dances on the waves.
The speedboat dances as well.
However, we can board the speedboat.
Then, we have another high speed run along the coast and over the Komo River to Libreville.
We are wet again, after a heavy rain during the boat ride.
Our guide pics us up at the Marina.
He drops us at the rail way station.
He gives instructions to two luggage porters.
Then he disappeared.

The luggage porters wrap foil around our luggage.
They bring the luggage to a storage room.
The got some money for their help and the foil.
Then, they disappeared.

We wait wet and dirty at the station.
More and more people arrive.
Nobody has an idea, what is going on.
After a while, we hear an announcement.
We have no idea about the content.
The other travelers built a very long line from the station over the parking lot.
We joined the line.
After about an hour, we reached the fence to the platform.
Ticket, Passport and Visa was checked.
We can board the train.
Shortly after boarding, I am on the platform again to make pictures of the train.
The officials were not amused.

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We start our ride in a first class fridge through Gabon with one-hour delay.

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The locomotive stops at the station.
Then follow the generator and luggage cars.
The first class car stays in darkness.
A station sign is readable after departure, only.
Sometimes, it is not readable at all.
The trains collects a bigger delay.
The time cannot be used to determine which station might be Lopé.
The train stops on station, where no stop is foreseen.
Station counting cannot be used, too.
Several times we prepared to exit the train.
But, other passenger tell us, this is not Lopé.
We still have some time.
I am wondering, how these people know the station.
It is completely dark outside.
The conductor kicks us out in Lopé at two o’clock in the night.
Some others tourists transported to different hotels.
At 3 o’clock we reached Hotel Lopé.
We plan to start the Safari into Lopé National park at 6 o’clock …

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
michael-ibk

Love this report, had to laugh out loudly a couple of times!:D A bit different from our experiences but yet so similar. Nothing ever seems to go to plan in Gabon for sure. I agree photography is really difficult there but you managed some great pictures regardless, especially of Elephants, Monkeys and Sitatunga. Looking forward to more!

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