Gamba is a strange place- if it weren’t for Shell Oil, the town wouldn’t exist. Most of the people here rely on Shell either directly or indirectly to make a living. The town is kind of spread out on a grassy plain and it’s divided into different sections. As I flew in I could see the golf course in the Shell compound, and I hear it’s very nice there. The business section of the town is spread along one section of road with small shops and restaurants in low buildings. The people are all very nice, but it is not an especially picturesque place.
I am the guest of WWF and am staying in their Cas de Passage near their office. Bas Verhage of WWF has shown me several good restaurants here, including a Senegalese place that serves salad. Fresh fruit and salad are very hard to come by in Gamba.
My first day here I met folks at the WWF office and made a plan to travel overnight up the Rembo Bongo (river on the SE side of the lagoon) because it is a well-known manatee sighting area. Logistics planning involves buying fuel and food, organizing a boat and driver. Sometimes this can be very slow in Gabon, but on Wednesday it went very smoothly thanks to Bas. In the afternoon I met with Olivier and Annabelle, who run the Smithsonian Institution’s lab here. They drove me over to their lab, which was spectacular. They are inventorying all the fauna for this area (includes southern Loango / N’gowe Lagoon where I was last year, as well as N’dogo Lagoon and nearby Moukalaba-Doudou National Park) and will soon expand their work to the rest of the national parks in Gabon. They have cataloged an astounding number of arthropods, birds, etc. and have produced several books (one for scientists, plus a gorgeous coffee table book). They have a nice display area for schools and tourists. It was a neat place to see.
Entrance to town
some of the Smithsonian specimens… I was dismayed to hear that the 2 biggest scorpions, which are the size of my feet, are common here! Definitely will try not to leave tents at night!
Common local lizard- I’ll find out the proper name. Some also have blue on them.
Ok, time to sign off for the evening. I’ll write about my camping trip up the Rembo Bongo tomorrow!