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Monts de Cristal National Park

Two nights before the departure for the Monts de Cristal National Park group excursion, I heard thunder and storm through the night. Also it was rainy and gloomy the day before the trip. I was very nervous against this weather because we have planned to drive to the park, and I would be the driver for my family. I have never drove off road before, and I could just imagine the worst muddy African road ahead of me.

Luckily, I was not traveling alone. There were two strong and reliable families also drove with me. So I told myself it would be OK, and prepared for the road trip.

January 18th, 8:00 am. The caravan departed for the 2 nights 3 days adventure. The weather was a little cloudy, but the rain had stopped. It was a good sign. They put my car in the middle of the caravan, so I felt well protected. We picked up our guide on the way, and headed to Monts de Cristal Park. For the most of the part, the road was actually paved or pebbled, and quit good. Off course we had to avoid big holes on the road dexterously, but it was manageable, and I started to feel confident driving. I was optimistic until we came to the left turn, and said goodbye to the paved road, and hello to off road. The road became red clay like mud and bumpy. We came across steep hills and narrow bridges few times. There was one place the river overflowed, and looked very intimidating to keep driving. I had no idea how deep the water was. However I stepped on the gas, and crossed the water! It was actually... EXCITING!! I found myself enjoying driving the rough road. After I cross the water, I had nothing to scare of. The slippery muddy road was nothing to me!

After about 4 or 5 hours of driving, we finally reached to our destination, Monts de Cristal National Park!

The registration and apartment area were surrounded by rain forest and beautiful green. It was quite humid.

Different animals were painted on each apartment wall. We stayed in the gorilla apartment. :D

We unpacked and had a little rest, and went out for a light hiking!

Our very friendly and knowledgeable guide. He showed us unique Gabonese plants during hiking.

Kids were curious finding plants which they have never seen before, and walking in the woods so energetically.

Our first stop was the waterfall!

Our second stop was a little lake to swim!! The water was very cold, but if felt good to touch the cold water after walking in the humid jungle.

We finished the first day excursion, and headed back to our apartments. It was almost time for dinner!

We brought our food from Libreville. Our guide made fire in the grill, and made some hotdogs, burgers, and pork chops! Spending time with friends and talk over drinks and food is always the best way to spend evening.

Day 2

6:00 am. Somebody knocked our apartment door. When I opened the door, it was our guide. He seemed excited, and telling me that there were some elephants on the hill!! I gathered my boys, grabbed my camera, and rushed outside to see them, and yes, there were! We saw 4 or 5 elephants walking on the little hill. I was about to take pictures, and shoot! I realized that I didn't put zoom lens on my camera... I rushed back to my apartment, and grabbed zoom lens, and went back to elephants, but it was too late. Those elephants were already back into the jungle... So, no photos of elephants...

After breakfast, we headed for our day 2 hiking. We were going to longer and deeper jungle.

The path was narrower, and more slippery with dump leaves and soil. It was a bit dark and quiet. Only we hear was the sound of water, bugs, birds and animals from distance. It was very important to follow the guide, and stay on the path. Also we had to be quiet not to disturb animals in the jungle.

Suddenly one of our guide found something, and started to cut a tree with his machete....

And then we saw water dripping out from the tree, and he started drinking the water. He also let us drink the water coming out from the tree! It tasted like vegetable, dirt, and... nature! I had never seen a tree like that.

Then we kept walking and walking through the woods. I was especially fascinated by the green moss on the log, and small amount of sun light coming to jungle through plenty of leaves and tree branches. I also enjoyed listening the peaceful sound of nature echoing in the rain forest. We heard sloth which I never knew they make noise!

We spent all afternoon just relax and swim in the river near our apartment area, and barbecue for dinner. We headed back to Libreville the next day. The long weekend went by very quickly. Thank you to all the friends, and the opportunity to have such an amazing time.

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