Early my first morning in Franceville, I started asking cab drivers at the roundabout in town if they wanted to take me to Poubara, but as was to be expected, they were asking too much. One nice guy said he could not take me, because he had been chartered to drive kids to school, but asked me to step inside. He asked several drivers himself, and found one for the price I was willing to pay. It turned out to be a great guy from Congo; we had good chats on the way down to Poubara. Much of the road was unsealed, and especially after we left the main road, the going got a little tough. A few cars driven by Chinese were going the other way; they were constructing a hydroelectric plant at the falls. I wondered if that would mean the end of the falls, as has already happened elsewhere, but the driver assured me that the falls will continue to exist. The scenery was worth the trip already - empty landscapes of rolling hills with bushes, until we entered a dense forest.
We reached a barrier blocking the road; it was an unpleasant surprise to hear a security guard tell us that visiting the falls was not allowed anymore. I was dismayed: did we drive all the way here to find the falls closed? He was so clear and strict, I could only tell him that I was told the day before by a reliable person in Franceville (the director of the tourism board), that I should visit Poubara. I took out his number, the driver called, and he advised us to take another road. Then, suddenly, the security guard also indicated the road. I wondered why he had not done so before, but we were on our way at once. When the road got too steep, the driver parked our vehicle, and we walked down. We were welcomed by a young man; a negotiation followed about our entrance fee - the official one was ridiculously high in my opinion. I was already on my way out when we reached a deal.
We were finally on our way now, and hiked on a trail through the jungle. We could hear the waterfall from a distance. The water thunders over a wide, rocky platform, causing a continuous spray in the air; a nice sight, but not truly exceptional. We hiked back, and visited the vine bridge, or pont de liane, first constructed in 1915, and nearing its centenary celebration. Wooden steps lead to the bridge itself, hanging between two trees, crossing the same river where, a little upstream, we had just seen the Poubara waterfall. Just behind the bridge was a new, big concrete building, part of the hydroelectric power project. Supposedly, the hydroelectric project will not threaten the waterfall. The guide turned friendly now, and suddenly asked me if I could not find him a nice white lady. When the driver and I left, we did so as friends.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Poubara waterfall (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 Poubara waterfall.
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