Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pongara

I just spent a blissful 3 ½ days in Pongara, a national park across the estuary from Libreville. I was actually in Pointe Denis, a small, very laid back beach with a few houses and hotels that is a favorite weekend getaway spot for Expats in Libreville. It’s near the tip of the peninsula in the upper left corner of the map. The national park is outlined in green and Libreville is on the top middle of the map in red. I was invited by a friend who recently bought a wonderful little beach house there, so I joined a merry group of who headed out for the long weekend (Monday was a holiday here). The navette (ferry) from Libreville only takes about 30 minutes to get there, but it feels worlds away. It’s the first time since I’ve been here that I’ve really had time off to completely relax and not think about logistics, reports, etc. for a few days. It was so nice to take long walks on the beach, swim, read, eat great meals, laugh and just sit and watch birds in the trees and great sunsets. The house is perfect in its simplicity- no electricity, just two rooms and a huge porch, a gas stove and the luxury of an outdoor freshwater shower. It sits about 50 feet from the water behind the shelter of a few lush green trees, and the back looks out over savannah. We had a couple gorgeous sunny days and several intense rain showers.

The view across the estuary to Libreville is in the background.Sunset on the savannah.

Pongara is known for leatherback sea turtle nesting, but the season has just started. I saw a couple nests (huge! They literally look like a bulldozer has come through), but no turtles. Only about half the nest is visible in this photo. There is good protection in place and an NGO (Adventures sans Frontiers) who have a research station on the beach and do nest monitoring, but there are still quite a few off road quad cycles going up and down the beach. Our host, hard at work editting his elephant book:

Mum Sandra and Kath Jeffery. Kath has been in Gabon for most of the last 10 years and is the Assistant Director of Lope National Park. Sandra was visiting from England. The three of us had alot of laughs together!

1 comment:

Ariel said...

Hi Lucy,
Isn't Pointe Denis a neat place, it's one of my favorites in Gabon, despite being so close to Libreville. It's great to see photos, I lived there for 9 months in '01/'02 and still miss it. Did you run into any of the ASF guys while out there, do you know who is stationed there this season? That's too bad that you didn't get to see any leatherbacks, if you get a chance to go back between Dec. and Feb., you'll see all you want. Enjoy the rest of your time, I look forward to talking with you when you're over this way.
Take care,
Ariel