As we crave the extraordinary, hidden, unknown and slightly bizarre things, we decided to go to a small sleepy town named Lastoursville, somewhere in the Gabon rainforest, to find a large complex of caves with yellow (?!) crocodiles. No need to tell you that a trustworthy information is extremely hard to find, which further approves that this would be something hidden from the normal tourist’s eyes. Perfect. Off we go.
Lastoursville itself already is an experience – as I said in the Gabon travelguide, sleepy, drunk and “don’t give a s✳︎✳︎✳︎” are the words that describe it the best. After dropping our bags off in a hotel we went for a quest. Our mission was clear-to find someone who would take us to the caves.
“Caves? Yes, yeees, there are some caves.” Hm.– Are there yellow crocodiles?- “No, thank god no!” Hm. Hmmm. This is not going to be easy. Moreover, everyone that we spoke to, seemed to be completely drunk. When we shared our concerns with the owner of our hotel – the only person who didn’t look totally drunk at 3pm- he laughed and told us that if we want to discuss something with the locals, we better do it before 10am – after that they start drinking and the conversation won’t make any sense.
Long story short, we picked the guy who looked the least drunk (to look doesn’t mean to actually be tho) and arranged a walk into one of the caves with him the next day.
As sober he might seem the day before, on the day we were to go with him to the cave, he’d already had three beers when we met at 10am. I thought we would drive somewhere outside the town and then walk a couple of minutes, possibly an hour to the cave’s entrance. How foolish I was. Again. How can I still be so foolish after all that time spent in Africa?!
Yes, we were dropped outside the town in a tiny village whose name I don’t remember. From there we continued on foot – 3 hours. In a deep rainforest. With a machete.
I’ve been to Peruvian mountains, in Patagonia and elsewhere, but this was by far the WORST track ever. There was literally no path and to reach the caves we had to descend. Not descend like going down. Descend hard. Some 3 kilometres of the steepest descent, walking in mud and slippery leaves. In one moment our “guide” stopped to show us something. “Elephant’s shit, right here. He must be near.” For fuck’s sake, as much as I wanted to see elephants in the safari in Nyonié, I really didn’t want to see him now. Not here. Please. Why couldn’t I pay for another safari or a gorilla reserve like a normal tourist instead of going here?!
But the real fun hasn’t even started – we still haven’t reached the caves.
When we finally did – exhausted, wet and hungry – another surprise came. A surprise that comes naturally with a hidden, not-maintained cave in Africa. In the entrance, you had to climb down a few rocks through a waterfall. The rocks were slippery as hell, so I hold on to one of them when I saw a HUGE spider right next to my hand. I started screaming. But as soon as I got through this and entered the cave, something much worse was about to come. Bats. Thousands of them. THOUSANDS! Flying underneath the cave’s ceiling, chirping, they formed another, live layer of the ceiling. There is nothing more scary to me than rats and bats. I stood there, petrified, refusing to move on. “They won’t do anything to you, don’t worry. Let’s go.” said the guide, probably driven by the need for another beer. I swallowed loudly, prayed quietly in my mind and went. I had no other choice. The water was up to waist high. There were fish, shrimps and I don’t know what else (not that I wanna know) in it. I just wished that this was over the whole time. After we finally got out from the cave, we had to do the ascent. If the descent was crazy hard, then I don’t know how to describe the ascent. Nearly impossible I’d say. But we made it. I think that there’s nothing I couldn’t do after this.
I will not surprise you by saying that I do not recommend this. I overcame my limits like 100 times that day, which is cool, but if that’s not your goal, don’t do this. The cave is quite enormous and interesting to see but it doesn’t worth the pain.
Not everything that is bizarre, is good. What a thought to end this story with.