The Margouilla's Advice on Nightstopping in Omboué

OMBOUE - HOSPITAL (FOOH/OMB)

 

What airfield can I expect?

Omboué’s gravel runway is in good general condition, with the occasional pothole. The parking can accommodate about four King Airs, but then plenty of additional parking space is available in the surrounding grass. The airport and its small terminal are uncontrolled and unguarded.

No flight plan filing is required to leave Omboué, although normally circular flight plans are filed in Libreville for return flights. There are no fees for landing in Omboué.

The airstrip is located in town and the village is tiny. Walking is the privileged means of transportation; yet, there are a couple taxis in Omboué and they can probably drive you twice around town for 1,500 XAF…

 

Omboue RWY 32 (2005)

 

Where am I?

Omboué is a quiet village of 1,500 sat on the side of the rather huge Nkomi Lagoon. Discovered by the Portuguese explorer Fernan Vaz as early as 1480, the region became a center for slave trade. In the early 20th century, some of the first tropical wood operations in Gabon were established around the lagoon near Omboué. Today, most lumbering sites have been abandoned and replaced by oil rigs. Yet Omboué and its lagoon retain the same peaceful atmosphere.

Apart from a Cécado supermarket, a small fishery and a market where surrounding villagers come to sell their catch, Omboué is pretty much asleep.

 

Where do I sleep?

Hotel …. (10mn walk from the airport)

            On the lagoon shore, close to the Cécado supermarket.

This lovely wooden hotel was built in 2002 by long time Foreign Minister Jean Ping who is originally from Omboué. The half-dozen rooms are clean, air-conditioned, and a restaurant is located on a lovely pontoon sat over the lagoon. Crocodile, capitaine and carp-based dishes are a specialty in this area. (2005)

Motel Mouamba Tsangou (5mn walk from the airport)

            PO Box 4 Omboué, next to the Place de l’Indépendance

            Tel: +(241) 54 01 29

A family hotel offering a few rooms equipped with fans. Fairly clean. Grilled chicken is served in a shack outside. Expect to pay 10,000 XAF a night. (2005)

 

Where do I eat?

Not much choice, apart from the restaurants at the two hotels mentioned above.

 

What can I visit?

Before going to Omboué, read the famed book “La Mémoire du Fleuve” by Christian Dedet to have a better insight on the surroundings.

Then just walk around Omboué, for starters, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the Nkomi Lagoon.

If you have a whole day available, hire a pirogue to Sainte Anne, an old catholic mission located 30mn away. Besides the fantastic boat ride across the lagoon, you will find there a rather beautiful, albeit derelict, mission which was in its time the largest in Gabon. Among the pink brick buildings, bordering the lagoon, is located a steel chapel designed by Gustave Eiffel in 1889. The chapel was built in Paris by Eiffel, then dismantled, shipped to Gabon, and rebuilt in Sainte Anne. The legend says that it was a present from the French mother of father Bichet, then priest in Sainte Anne. The mission was in the mid 20th century one of the most reputed school in Gabon, and many post-independence Gabonese leaders studied there during their childhood. Wandering behind the mission, you will find a splendid garden, and a cathedral-like bamboo forest. Everything is calm and quiet, and the view on the lagoon and the mission is breathtaking.

If you fancy going to the ocean, hire a taxi to bring you there, it’s only 15mn away on a good dirt road. The beach you will find, bordering the rainforest, is perfect white sand with not a soul in sight. Keep your taxi with you, though, because there is no phone network there! He should agree on 3,000 to 4,000 XAF per hour.

 

Where can I go out?

Forget it. Omboué is no Ibiza.

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