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We’ve scheduled our departure for Ivindo, a small logging community about 20 minutes from the airfield, for 8am. By 6:20am, we’re already packed and having breakfast. Rick, our ‘mute’ pilot, is sitting at the table next to us, hardly acknowledging our existence; we all have a weird feeling knowing he’s going to be flying us for two hours over primal rainforest.
We wait patiently for our ride, a jeep that will take us as close as possible to Langoué Baï– a forest clearing with a river or stream that runs through it.
Driving time is two hours, over dirt roads and makeshift bridges, which will effectively be taking us deeper and deeper into the virgin rainforest. The entire time we’re travelling, we have the impression of driving through a green tunnel, particularly since the road is just wide enough for one car.
We run into a small herd of buffalo and as is customary in this part of the world, the locals have right of way, and so we wait patiently until they have crossed the road. It’s a rough ride, but we reach our destination. We unload our gear, leaving everything we don’t need in the car because from here on out, we’ll have to carry everything we need.
We start our walk towards Langoué Baï.
The first hour is particularly difficult since we have to master a steep ascent, and after a few minutes into the forest we are completely drenched with sweat. We walk at a brisk pace because we have a large distance to cover; it’s about a three-hour walk. By 4pm, we arrive at the camp without any major incidents.
The campsite consists mainly of flat rocks and slates, which is a big advantage during the rainy season. The sleeping tents are the best and biggest we have had so far. Although everything is very basic, the accommodations are a luxury to us considering we are in one of the most isolated places in Africa.
Langoué Baï is a place of unparalleled beauty. Located in the heart of Gabon’s rainforest, it is a place where it is common to see forest elephants graze unbothered alongside local creatures such as the lowland gorilla, sitatunga antelope and buffalo.
The daylight is fading fast, and we use the remaining daylight to fish in a nearby tea-coloured brook. We are happy to end our first day here with the killifish.
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