I’m back in Libreville after 2 weeks working on Fernan Vaz Lagoon. There was no internet there, so here’s my update…
I flew from Libreville to Port Gentil on 13 February. On Valentine’s Day I woke up in Port Gentil and went to the fisherman’s wharf to take the boat to Fernan Vaz. It was a small open boat with only 8 other passengers. We crossed Nazareth Bay passing oil rigs and tugboats moving logs, and then moved into one of the many river channels that winds south to the Ogooue River delta. The vegetation there is mostly mangroves and palms with a few grassy areas along the river edges. The land is marshy so there only a few houses here and there, but no villages. We passed several other boats taking people and goods back and forth between Pt. Gentil and Ombooue, the biggest town in Fernan Vaz.
Despite the boat traffic passing through, it seems to me that manatees could easily live in these here, there are so many small channels winding back into the mangroves off the main rivers and other areas of flooded forests where the rivers have overflowed their banks. And there are almost no permanent human residents. As we zipped along we saw a water monitor lizard and also a large Nile crocodile! This was the first live Nile croc I’ve ever seen in Gabon, they’re usually very shy and not seen during the day. It jumped off a log into the water as our boat came around a corner, so I only saw its head, but judging by that (the head was about 2 feet long!) it was a pretty big one! Even the boat driver was excited, so I think it was a lucky sighting.
After a 3 hour boat trip we arrived at Fernan Vaz Lagoon. On the far shore I saw radio towers and some houses, gas flares and a couple helicopters. The oil business is much more obvious here than at other lagoons (although we also see lots of helicopters shuttling workers to oil fields at Sette Cama as well). After crossing the lagoon for another half hour we arrived at Olako Lodge, which is situated on the water in Ombooue, halfway down the lagoon.
The centerpiece of the lodge is a beautiful restaurant that sits over the water.
The main lodge