Malabo © Ipisking
The lush and lovely Equatorial Guinea consists of a mainland territory, Rio Muni, and five island territories within the Gulf of Guinea. While the country does have a significant and dark history - one of failed coups, and severe corruption - there is enough to keep adventurous visitors returning to its beautiful shores.
Rio Muni, oddly enough, is not the epicentre of the country; it is the largest region but is 60 percent rainforest, constituting a conservation area respected among primate experts for its large variety of gorilla and monkey species. The real buzz of Equatorial Guinea is Bioko Island, which is situated closer to Cameroon than Rio Muni, north of the mainland, and which is home to the capital city, Malabo.
Bioko Island is a beautiful, volcanic isle and Malabo is a dilapidated but charming city with a prevalence of Spanish colonial architecture that belies the fact that you are in an African state. In fact, the official languages of Equatorial Guinea are Spanish and French, a further nod to the former colonists. While the architecture is a must in terms of the island's attractions, the marketplace of Malabo is also popular. A lively market filled with curiosities and exquisitely wrought tapestry, tourists will enjoy this unique experience. Visitors do have to take care though not to be pick-pocketed or mugged while exploring the city.
The country is poor but not violent and crime is petty. Equatorial Guinea is a beautiful country and it rewards exploration for those brave enough to set out off the beaten track, but it is not a well-known tourist destination and travel through its rich jungles and islands is not risk-free. Officials make travel difficult by frequently demanding to see papers and sometimes expecting bribes. Tourism infrastructure is almost non-existent and visitors should come prepared to travel rough, but those in search of an adventure will find stunning beaches and pristine rainforest as well as exciting wildlife if they are willing to make the journey.