EQUATORIAL GUINEA – Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

Ureka Beach - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

Equatorial Guinea is a country nestled in central Africa, which you might not have heard of, or at least, it doesn’t come to mind as the first destination in Africa to visit. However, the country is a hidden gem consisting of three totally different islands and a mainland full of jungle. Equatorial Guinea’s beauty and cultural treasures are waiting to be explored. This 10-day Equatorial Guinea itinerary will take you to the major island, Bioko, with the capital Malabo and around the mainland. It includes all the must-see places of interest in Equatorial Guinea. I’m confident that after reading this Equatorial Guinea travel guide, you’ll also want to explore this unnoticed hidden gem in Africa.

Planning a trip to Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is one of those countries where you simply don’t book a flight on the spot and figure out how to get around. There are various points to keep in mind when planning an Equatorial Guinea itinerary. If you follow these simple steps, your trip from day 1 to 10 will be smooth and enjoyable.

Go independent or with a tour to Equatorial Guinea

Malabo Colonial House - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

Getting around Equatorial Guinea is not straightforward if you want to explore beyond the capital Malabo on the island or Bata on the mainland. Permissions are required in many places, which can be easily acquired but takes time. I booked transportation and handled all formalities through Rumbo Malabo Tours, run by Hector. He was patient with me as I had many requests, and finally, we came up with a perfectly planned trip. I highly recommend using Rumbo Malabo as it will save time and alleviate hassles.

Flights to Equatorial Guinea

Let’s start by pointing out that you should avoid CEIBA, the national airline, at all costs. They do operate flights, but they tend to adhere to their own schedule. While there are various flights from neighboring countries, there aren’t many options from overseas. In this case, your best choices are Air France, Lufthansa, or Ethiopian Airlines. I personally booked with Lufthansa as they were running a business class promotion from Amsterdam for just 1250 euros. This promotion was available to several African destinations, and I also booked for my Togo road trip. The flight includes a stop in Lagos, Nigeria, and on the last leg, there were only a few passengers, including myself—resulting in a punctual schedule and good service.

Malabo National Library - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

How to get an Equatorial Guinea visa

Getting an Equatorial Guinean visa is probably the most challenging part. Their e-visa system has experienced delays, necessitating application through an embassy. As a citizen of the Netherlands, the official procedure would be to apply for a visa at the embassy in Brussels, as there is no embassy in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, they never replied to me, but fortunately, the embassy in Berlin, Germany, was exceptionally helpful. A big five stars to them for assisting me in the best possible way.

When you send all forms and your passport to the embassy, ensure everything is in the correct language. The police conduct I submitted was bilingual, which was not acceptable; it had to be translated. The translation included all the information twice in English. Apart from this error on my part, everything went smoothly.

UPDATE: The e-visa system must be working now. Please note that all document requirements with translations remain the same.

If you are visiting Equatorial Guinea then make sure to read also:
Equatorial Guinea Travel Guide

Hotels & restaurants

There are budget hotels and luxury hotels, but all are pricey by African standards. Equatorial Guinea is an expensive country in all aspects, which is fine. I can highly recommend staying at Colinas Hotel in Malabo; try their presidential suite! On one night, I was able to upgrade for almost no cost, and it was amazing – the whole top floor. In Moka, I stayed a night at Hotel Moka, which is a bit outdated, but the service and food are great. On the mainland in Bata, I recommend Hotel Panafrica, which is excellent, but in the new capital, the Grand Hotel Djibholo is amazing. More on that in the Equatorial Guinea itinerary day report below.

Centrum of Bata - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

Regarding food, there are cheap street food options as well as upscale restaurant choices. I decided to try a bit of everything. If you’re into bush meat, there are plenty of options available. Check the daily offerings. The local beer is not great, but there are better options from Spain and Portugal available.

Now, let’s have a look at the actual Equatorial Guinea itinerary I suggest doing.

Equatorial Guinea itinerary day 1: Arrival

If you arrive on an intercontinental flight, you probably arrive either in the morning or evening. In case you arrive in the morning and fly out in the evening, make sure to visit Pico Basilé National Park on your first day.

I arrived around 7 PM. My guides from Rumbo Malabo Tours were already waiting for me outside the terminal. They have a passion for their country, which I appreciate, and they went beyond what I expected. After a short introduction and going over the itinerary, I called it a night. I have made the mistake too many times of making the first day a long night and then being tired the whole trip.

Equatorial Guinea itinerary day 2: Malabo city tour

A Malabo city tour likely lasts only half a day, but I prefer to take it easy on the first day to prepare for the entire trip. It ensures I’m well-rested, especially since I plan my trips to be quite packed. This holds true for this Equatorial Guinea itinerary, making a Malabo city tour an excellent choice for the initial day.

Malabo city tour: Historical background

Malabo City, the vibrant capital of Equatorial Guinea, is adorned with architectural gems from its colonial past. Notably, the Cathedral Isabel stands tall, a testament to the city’s historical and cultural significance. Wandering through its streets reveals the charm of well-preserved colonial houses, each telling a story of a bygone era. Amidst this urban tapestry lies the Malabo National Park, an oasis of biodiversity and natural beauty. This protected area not only captivates with its lush landscapes but also serves as a sanctuary for indigenous flora and fauna, making it an integral part of Malabo’s historical and ecological narrative.

Malabo Cathedral - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

Walking the streets in Malabo City marked my first encounter with Equatorial Guinean police. Photography rules were strictly enforced, and after just 15 minutes, I was questioned about my camera and lenses. Despite having only six photos, four of a cultural center and two of a memorial plaque, they wanted to see the photos. After a thorough discussion and presenting all permits, I could resume exploring the historical streets, including the cathedral and library. One particular house, La Casa Verder, caught my eye. It offers the unique experience of booking a traditional dinner. For lunch, I visited Cafe Malabo Sampaka near the Finca Sampaka, a cacao plantation.

Finca Sampaka tour

Finca Sampaka, located in Malabo, carries historical significance as a plantation estate dating back to colonial times. Originally established for cocoa cultivation, it played a pivotal role in Equatorial Guinea’s economy. Today, the estate retains remnants of its colonial past and a tour is a must-do in Malabo. A Finca Sampaka tour gives a glimpse into the historical roots of agriculture in the region. Their chocolate makes a great souvenir to bring home for family as well.

Malabo Colonial House - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

Day 3: Western Bioko island coast day trip

The third day of this Equatorial Guinea itinerary first goes south along the western coast of Bioko Island to the city of Luba and further south to the iconic Batete Church. In Luba, the main interests are the various colonial buildings, which again led to a police encounter. This time, there were two options: go to the police station to clarify or face arrest. At the police station, permits were checked, and the tourism ministry was contacted, resolving the situation without bribes.

After this adventure, I explored two modern churches in Luba, visited local cacao plantation buildings, and drove to the entrance of an oil company. The guards there reside in a colonial house from 1913 but weren’t able to grant a peek inside as the manager wasn’t there. The place holds potential for a small luxury hotel and I see great potental for tourism. Finally, it was time to head to the local landmark: Batete Church.

Bococo Church - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

Historical landmark: Batete Church visit

Batete Church holds a profound historical significance in Equatorial Guinea, embodying the enduring legacy of Christianity in the region. Erected during colonial times, the church stands as a testament to the cultural and religious transformations that have shaped the community. Its architectural charm and religious heritage make it a notable landmark in the country’s history. It is the last surviving wooden church on the island. I loved the stained glass windows and it’s general decoration. Make sure to get up in the tower for some amazing views but be carefully. Funding lacks, and no repairs are done so it could collapse.

It was long past lunch time when I arrived at Playa de Arena Blanca which was allright as I normally do not really have lunch. At the beach the food stalls were open and I had some delicious clambs, chicken wings and a cold beer. In the evening I had a stroll along Malabo’s (new) waterfront corniche and dinner in one of the restaurants. A great way to end the day.

Day 4-5: Ureka paradise & Moka two day trip

Ureka is an unspoiled magnificient place at the southern tip of Bioko Island with waterfalls, beaches and lush jungle. It is part of the Reserva Científica de la Caldera de San Carlos and also home to the Moaba Turtle Research Camp. The Moaba Turtle Research Camp contributes to the conservation of sea turtles, adding a crucial ecological dimension to the area. This scientific reserve showcases the rich biodiversity of Bioko Island, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts. I had to check this out!

Road to Ureka - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

A Ureka day trip

Getting to Ureka takes some time, as it’s a one-hour drive and then about a two-hour hike along the beach, with the same duration for the return journey. Staying overnight in Ureka is an option, especially if you want to witness sea turtles, though it’s not mandatory. I chose not to stay overnight due to slim chances and limited time. A day trip is feasible and provides an opportunity to explore the area.

When the road concludes near the beach, a magnificent view unfolds which you can see in the above photo! At the parking spot, I changed into swimwear and commenced the hike. It’s advisable to wear dive shoes for comfort and protection against sharp objects. Ensure to carry sufficient water, snacks, and, most importantly, sunblock. Approximately halfway through, I spent an hour swimming at the waterfalls before proceeding to the turtle sanctuary. I brought along cold beer (which was still reasonably cold) and snacks. After an hour, it was time to retrace the hike and drive to the hotel in Moka for the night.

Ureka Waterfall Swimming - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

Biao Lake hike

In Moka I had a great dinner at the hotel, it was way too much food. I went to bed early as the next day a long hike into the Reserva Científica de la Caldera de San Carlos was planned. The hike would lead to Biao Lake which is located in an old volcano. However, the next morning, at 8 AM I woke up feeling terrible. It wasn’t the food, but something else. I messaged the guides: No hike today! After having breakfast, and went back to bed till about 2 PM. Looking back, I think it was simply not drinking enough water the day before and too much sunshine on my head. So, if you do the hike to Ureka, better bring a hat too! It wasn’t the Ebola-like virus that hit the mainland of Equatorial Guinea at the same time. That almost ruined the visit to the mainland, but I did go the next day.

Equatorial Guinea itinerary day 6: Mainland Bata and surroundings

After a very early flight to Bata, it was time to start the mainland part of this Equatorial Guinea itinerary. There are a couple of places of interest in Bata itself, including the cathedral, the cornice with the liberation monument, and the area around the library downtown. I would say that Malabo has more to offer than Bata, but a visit is a must-do. When the morning tour was finished, I checked into Hotel Panafrica, which I highly recommend. Next to the hotel is a great restaurant called simply Restaurante Playa for lunch. I had some delicious grilled meat so I would be ready for afternoon activities.

Bata Cathedral Exterior - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

In the afternon I went a bit north of Bata to Utonde. Here you find the river mount of Rio Ue, which is a great spot for a traditional canoe ride. The remainder of the afternoon I spend on Utonde beach. A bit swimming, a cold beer and some snacks. As I enjoyed Restaurante Playa I went back for dinner there a well.

Day 7: Mainland southern coast day trip

South of Bata, there are a few places of interest, including the city of Mbini with its famous bridge. There is also a beautiful church worth stopping by. From Mbini, I recommend going all the way down to Cogo to see the church there and Gabon on the other side of the river. Visiting the towns there also gives a good impression of local life.

Cogo Cathedral - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

On the way back to Bata I stopped at Punta Ilende Natural Reserve. A lush jungle reserve with a small tourist area where you can also stay overnight. The beaches are great there. After a refreshment, some light snacks and a jungle walk it was time to head back to Bata. Just before Bata I visited shipwreck beach and had a great dinner at a local restaurant.

Boabele Beach - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

Day 8: National Park Monte Alén hike

If you visited the mainland of Equatorial Guinea then make sure to add a National Park Monte Alén hike to your Equatorial Guinea itinerary. National Park Monte Alén is a biodiversity haven covering over 1,400 square miles of pristine landscapes. Renowned for its dense rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife, the park is a vital conservation area. Home to rare species like forest elephants and chimpanzees, it reflects the rich biodiversity of Central Africa.

It takes about 90 minutes to reach National Park Monte Alén from Bata, the largest city on the mainland. After a quick stop at the colonial church in Niefang, it was time to start the hike. It’s recommended to wear long-sleeved clothes due to the presence of tsetse (TEE-tsee) flies, which you don’t want to get bitten by as they can cause sleeping sickness. The forest is incredibly dense at certain parts, and after about 90 minutes of sweating, I told the local guide it’s enough, and we took the fast route back out. I did see elephant tracks, but to actually observe them, you have to camp overnight deep in the jungle near the watering hole they visit in the morning to drink. After the hike, I freshened up a bit and continued to Oyala to sleep in the magnificent 5-star Djibholo hotel.

National Park Monte Alan - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

The Djibholo hotel in Oyala is a true 5-star hotel, in the middle of the jungle. Oyala is the planned new capital, more on that on day 9. In the afternoon I enjoyed some pool time after which I had a delicious dinner at the hotel. This night I had the best night of sleep in Equatorial Guinea, the beds were just so comfortable.

Day 9: Central Equatorial Guinea Oyala day trip

After a heavy breakfast I packed, and with the guides went to explore Oyala. Oyala, the planned capital of Equatorial Guinea, represents a visionary urban development initiative. Located in the Wele-Nzas province, it aims to centralize administrative functions and foster national growth. Orchestrated by President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Oyala envisions modern infrastructure, residential complexes, and state-of-the-art facilities. The city’s construction is symbolic of Equatorial Guinea’s aspirations for economic diversification and development. Most of the buildings were still under contruction, including the presidental palace, but two big towers were ready. I was quite impressed to see these in the middle of the jungle.

Oyala Djibholo Ciudad de la Paz - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

After the Oyala tour it was time to head back to Bata for the afternoon flight to Bioko. If you make domestic flights in Equatorial Guinea make sure to fly Cronos Airlines. They are mostly on time unlike Ceiba Intercontinental which can be hours late or not fly at all. I was on time but one of the guides took the Ceiba flight an was hours late after midnight.

Equatorial Guinea itinerary day 10: Pico Basilé National Park & departure

National Park Pico Basilé makes this Equatorial Guinea itinerary complete. It showcases the awe-inspiring beauty of Mount Pico Basilé, the country’s highest peak. Spanning 3012 meters, the park is a haven for hikers and nature lovers. Its diverse flora and fauna, including unique bird species and vibrant orchids, provide a stunning backdrop for exploration. The park’s trails offer breathtaking views, while its conservation efforts protect this ecological gem for future generations to enjoy.

Pico Basile Viewpoint - EQUATORIAL GUINEA - Best 10 day itinerary with island marvels and mainland hidden gems

I decided to take the easy route and drive up to the peak of Pico Basilé National Park. Keep in mind that you require a permit to enter the park, which is checked at the base. Just before reaching the peak, I visited the Basilica of the Virgin, which unfortunately is mostly closed and opens once a year for pilgrims. Then, both the guides and I got lucky as we were allowed to drive all the way up to the radio station. Considering that photographing such things is strictly forbidden in Equatorial Guinea, it felt strange to be allowed to roam the station freely. The views all the way up are amazing, but try to go up on a clear day.

Time to say goodbye

In the afternoon, I returned to the Colinas Hotel to refresh, upload all photos to the cloud, and pack some final things. My flight was in the evening, once again with Lufthansa, heading back to Amsterdam via Brussels and Zurich.

Time passed quickly as I was captivated by the beauty of Equatorial Guinea. I extend my gratitude to Rumbo Malabo Tours for all the assistance in putting together this Equatorial Guinea itinerary and making it a memorable trip. The country is a true gem in Africa.

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