Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Elephants, Buffalos and Beaches: A Weekend at Nyonie

      The savannah spread out before us, a sea of green interrupted by dense patches of forest. There were no houses, no sea, nothing to interrupt the savannah, and it spread clear across to the horizon.  I turned to my roommate and neither of us could speak, but I knew we were thinking the same thing: “We are so lucky to be here.”
      After six weeks of working in the hospital, we were both ready for a break. We could only do a short weekend trip, so we opted for a visit to Nyonie Wildlife Reserve. The savannah that left us speechless is the center of the park, which also has a beach and more denser forests. The park is located near the capital of Gabon, Libreville and is extremely well organized. Run by a small team, the park arranges every aspect of your visit, including the boat ride across the bay, a safari, a nature walk and all sleeping and eating arrangements. Basically, it was an easy way (and quick) way for us to get a chance to visit a national park.
     In order to go we arranged for a taxi ride from Lambarene to Libreville ($12 each way). Then we spent the night at a hotel in the capital.  I adore Lambarene. I love the river, the villages nearby and our small hospital community. But after six strait weeks, I was so happy to be near the beach and in the city. Our hotel had a small but very nice beach.

      We had a nice meal (first time I ate something other than fish in Gabon) and spent the night there. In the morning we took a taxi to the marina where we took a boat to the park.
     On the way, we came across a swarm of insects (which we assumed where flies).  However as we got closer, we realized it was in fact a swarm of butterflies in beautiful irridescent blues and yellows. We had arrived at the park precisely during butterfly season. As the butterflies surrounded us, everyone on our boat was silent. I assume they were silent for the same reason I was: it was mesmerizingly beautiful and the first of many such moments at Nyonie Wildlife Park. (I apologize for not taking pictures of the butterflies.. I was too stunned to even reach for my camera)
    During our stay, we spent time on the beach and on a safari through the savannah. It was an experience I will never forget. Here are some of my pictures from our trip:


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