The Minkebe jungle lies in the north east of Gabon and stretches to the Cameroon borders in the north and Congo-Brazzaville in the east. It is the last African rainforest that forms an unbroken entity approximately as large as one tenth of the state of D.C. A part consists of primeval forest - forest that has 'always' been there. Minkebe was declared a national park in 1997 and thus became a protected area. The WWF Minkebe project looks after measures, such as combating illegal logging and poaching, that are intended to preserve the forest.  

The village Minvoul is situated to the north west of Minkebe, near the Cameroon border. There are many agglomerations of Baka - a pygmy tribe - in the area. However, the dominant group in the region (and the entire north of Gabon) is the Fang. The Baka have always lived from hunting and have always bartered with the Fang for agricultural produce. The economic situation of the Baka is becoming gradually weaker. Officially, elephant hunting is forbidden, but the authorities turn a blind eye to hunting by the pygmies, because it is their most important source of income.

To provide the Baka with alternative sources of income and thus to stop elephant hunting, the WWF Minkebe project is trying to stimulate ecotourism. In 2004 we hired Baka guides for our expedition.


Makokou, to the south east of Minkebe, is the smallest of all 9 of Gabon's regional capitals and once originated as a garrison-town. In 2002 the city underwent a facelift in honour of the president's visit for the Independence Day celebrations. Newly tarred roads show evidence of this. There is little infrastructure for tourism, there are bars and there is a market, but a bank cannot be found.