The Margouilla's Advice on Nightstopping in Koulamoutou

KOULAMOUTOU - MABIMBI (FOGK/KOU)

 

What airfield can I expect?

Koulamoutou airport has a paved runway, which remains in good condition despite having been patched up in several places. The parking can easily accommodate four regional jets. However, beware of several flag poles which have been planted right next to the tarmac and are definitely a hazard for wingtips. The airport has an AFIS operator and is open from 0800 to 1600 LT, which are his working hours; extensions to sunset can be requested in writing before noon at the Libreville airport office. Keep in mind the AFIS operator is poorly trained, not supervised, and his radios are often down: don’t rely too much on him…

The little terminal building is under the responsibility of the AFIS operator who will open it for you should you need it. On one side is a waiting room for scheduled passenger flights, and on the other is a VIP room which has a couple couches and AC. The airport is normally unguarded; if staying overnight, it is a good idea to ask the AFIS operator for a night watchman. No flight plan filing is required to leave Koulamoutou, although normally circular flight plans are filed in Libreville for return flights. The applicable landing fees for Koulamoutou will be charged by the Libreville airport office.

The city is located about 10 km to the northwest of the airport; the 10-minute taxi ride on the nice paved road can be negotiated at about 3000 XAF.

 

Koulamoutou RWY 15 (2005)

 

Where am I?

With less than 15,000, Koulamoutou is the rather small capital of the Ogooué-Lolo province. It is nested in forested hills, on top of which each town figure seems to have built a villa. The town is built along the Bouenguidi River, and despite the lack of economic activity it still has quite an active urban center.

The town center stretches between the two bridges on the Bouenguidi River; it features a small supermarket (Cécado), a rather derelict sports and culture resort (CDI) and a few bars and shops.

Gendarmerie (military police): +(241) 66 50 17 

Hospital: +(241) 65 50 15

Pharmacies (les Forestiers): +(241) 65 50 08; (Koto): +(241) 65 52 62

No bank.

 

Where do I sleep?

Hotel Résidence Paul Ndama     (5mn from the airport)

            Up a hill on the right, before entering the town.

Built in 2007, this hotel is the best place to stay in Koulamoutou. Built atop a hill in the middle of nowhere, its only disadvantage is its location far away from the city: nobody from town comes here, and taxis are scarce. Yet there are plenty of air-conditioned rooms and suite, all very clean and nicely furnished with good beds and a TV with national channels. There are a bar which despite being pretty is deadly quiet. The restaurant has closed due to the lack of customers. I would come here only when a politician from Libreville is paying a visit, and the place becomes a bit livelier. Expect about 40,000 XAF per night. (2009)

Hotel Bouenguidi   (15mn from the airport)

            Tel: +(241) 65 51 19

This former Novotel hasn’t really been maintained, yet it retains all its charm. Its location atop a hill gives it a superb view on the rest of Koulamoutou. The 36 rooms are air-conditioned, and the 2 suites and 3 apartments also have a TV with national channels. Not everything works, though, so make sure you check what is sold to you. Cleanliness is average. The restaurant serves the usual basic food; there is a small bar and a mini-night club which get lively on occasion. The swimming pool is green, bathe at your own risk… Car rental at 50,000 XAF per day can be organised at the hotel reception. Room rates start at 25,000 XAF a night. (2009)

Hotel Nadège   (15mn from the airport)

            Tel: +(241) 65 52 00

The Nadège is located across the Bouenguidi, and has a nice view on the river. It belongs to the country’s Finance Minister who has invested quite a bit in his native city of Koulamoutou. The hotel is well maintained and rather clean, with air-conditioned rooms. It also features a restaurant and a night club. The 9 rooms run between 15,000 and 35,000 XAF. (2007)

Hotel Bichy     (15mn from the airport)

            Behind the residence of former minister Massima.

This single-room hotel is absolutely unique: it is located on a mini-island on the Lolo River just outside the city, in an exceptional setting of rainforest. The mushroom-shaped building features a bar on the ground floor, and a single suite on the first floor, half-clean but air-conditioned. Access to the island is through a fake lianas bridge made of steel cables. Fare is an excruciating 100,000 XAF a night, but what the hell? (2009)

Mission Catholique (10mn from the airport)

            Tel: +(241) 65 51 59

The sisters of the Catholic Mission offer 6 clean rooms with a nice view at a reasonable price.

 

Where do I eat?

Restaurant du CDI (15mn from the airport)

            In the city-center along the Bouenguidi River.

Mostly African cuisine served on a riverside terrace. This restaurant is usually empty which gives it a nice calm atmosphere. The food served here can be quite varied, going from a regular steak to bush meat stews including porcupine, python, or tattoo. Expect less than 10,000 XAF for a meal. (2009)

 

What can I visit?

A walk in town along the Bouenguidi river is usually a good start to admire the city’s hilly surroundings.

Koulamoutou’s Catholic Mission, including the church Notre Dame de la Salette, are a must-see. Built in 1949 out of pink bricks, they consist of several buildings which are in excellent condition and offer a nice view on the rest of the city.

A more adventurous journey, taking one whole day though, is a trip to Mount Iboundji, the highest mountain in Gabon culminating at 972 meters (try to look impressed). It is necessary to rent a 4x4 to get there as the dirt road is really bad. Climbing up the large hill covered in rainforest takes 4 to 5 hours. Hire a guide in Koulamoutou or the nearby Iboundji village.

 

Where can I go out?

Le Nadège

Night-club of the Hotel Nadège, unquestionably the best club in Koulamoutou, complete with VIP room and champagne. (2005)

Le CDI 

On the riverside, on the terrace of the Restaurant du CDI. Open only on big occasions and for town fests. Bar, traditional dance shows by local bands, and night-club late into the night. (2009)

Le Koula Ndembé

Le 730

            Next to the restaurant Riv’ Droite.

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