When I arrived in Léconi in the afternoon in the bright sunlight, I called the guy who had been recommended in Franceville, to see if he could take me to the canyons in the region. This proved impossible: his car had broken down. The lady in the hotel I was staying at, promised to call someone, but I didn't hear from here, so I went walking around town myself. A visit to the canyons requires a 4WD, and I approached the first pick-up truck I saw driving around. The guy seemed friendly enough, and told me he could take me the next day. He stopped a friend who drove by in a 4WD, who offered to take me right away, but since there was lightning all around town, I decided it would be better to wait until the next day. They also told me that the track to the white canyon I wanted to visit, was in such a bad condition that they didn't want to go there; also, that the green canyon was of limited interest. Walking through the quiet town that has some remarkable buildings, like a cinema that is slowly deteriorating and not operational anymore, only because the projector has a broken lamp.
On my way around town, I came across a curious assembly of traditional buildings; it turned out to be a museum. The guy in charge organized a trip to the canyons, and despite my request to leave before 7, the guys showed up only at 7.45. Fortunately, the skies were still cloudy; when we reached the turnoff, I could see some blue patches above us. We drove through some high grass, and now entered the landscape of the Batéké Plateau: rolling green hills, trees here and there, and unobstructed views. The driver was negotiating the sandy track at a very low speed, and I loved it. I wondered where the canyon could be: I only saw green hills around me. I had been warned for robbers who hide in the bushes at the canyon, trying to take advantage of visitors, and breaking their windows; our driver stayed in the car. The guy who had arranged everything, had shown up with two other friends in the back of the truck, and I didn't like it somehow. But as soon as I stepped out of the car, I forgot about it.
Below me, a wonderful scene of natural beauty unfolded. A crack in the earth, eroding red and white rock and sand, layered colours. It was not possible to descend into the canyon; according to the locals, mysterious things happen in the canyon, spirits live inside, and those who enter, never return. I had been keen on climbing down into the canyon, but the slopes are very steep and not solid. I realized that it must indeed not be easy to go down here. Fortunately, there is a trail along the edge of the canyon, leading to a second, much smaller, one. I knew, from visits to other canyons, that the formations we saw below us, were actually much taller than they seemed. Reddish skyscrapers made by nature. On the far side, I could see a small lake, with trees growing well into the canyon; their fresh green appearance (it had rained most of the night) contrasting strongly with the dry, solid rocks. The sun finally broke, adding shadows and deepening the colours. There was a myriad of small yellow grasshoppers jumping around wherever I walked. At first, the guide and his friends had bothered me a little too much, but after I let them know I wanted to enjoy the scenery alone, they respected me. I considered walking back in the afternoon: it is an easy to find location, but a little far from town. Instead, I installed myself at the immigration office some 7k before Léconi, where I got my exit stamp, and waited for a pickup truck to take me into neighbouring Congo. Off to new adventures.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Léconi canyon (Gabon). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Léconi canyon.
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