Pointe Denis. Beach in Gabon, Africa

Pointe Denis

Beach in Gabon, Africa

Assala lodge Photo © Grawburg

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Pointe Denis

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Named after the local king, King Denis Rapotchombo (real name: Antchouwe Kowe Rapotchombo), Pointe Denis is the preferred destination for locals and foreigners who just want to escape from the city life.

Located on a peninsula, right across the estuary of the Komo River (Wikipedia Article), it offers to its visitors some of the most exquisite beaches in a beautiful environment. Its waterfront is lined with huge mansions belonging to rich locals and Europeans.

History

Studies have shown that Bantu-speaking tribes started arriving in Gabon 4,000 years ago, migrating from the North. The Mpongwe tribes of the Myene ethnic group, seem to have arrived in the area of Libreville and its surroundings around the 16th century, probably due to the presence of Europeans on the coast, judging by their involvement in slave trade by the 17th century.

Their trade with Europeans consisted of slaves, dyewood, rubber, ebony, ivory, and gum copal in exchange for clothing, firearms, and various forms of alcoholic drinks.

In 1839, King Denis signed a treaty with the French, where he was ceding portions of land to them, something that the other kings from the other side of the estuary never agreed to do, which led to tension between them and the French.

King Denis' decision to cooperate with the French has facilitated their ambitions to colonize Gabon, a colonization that lasted for over 100 years.

He is buried in Pongara, on the Pointe Denis Peninsula. And legend says that during djembe rituals (a local ritual), a black panther wearing his crown can be seen on site.
Mangroves at the Nyonie
	- Pointe Denis
Mangroves at the Nyonie - Pointe Denis. Photo by Dani evini

Area

The area is characterized by resorts built all around the beach. On the western side of the island, wildlife and local populations can be found, specifically along the banks of the Rigolie River and mangroves.

Pointe Denis, in that respect, is also home to many natural reserves, like the Pongara Reserve and the Nyonie. The forest, which reminds us of an equatorial forest, is home to wildebeests, monkeys, birds, snakes, and other reptiles.

What to Do

Pointe Denis is ideal for swimming, with its clear, blue, appealing waters; snorkeling or boating (jet skis can be rented on site, and cost approximately $ 5.00 USD for 2 hours).

You’ll also be pleased to find a nightclub there, called the
Rigolie Nightclub, located in the village behind the Assala Lodge. It has a lot of seating, a central dance floor, a bar, and, of course a DJ booth.

Other options include seeing Leatherback Turtles laying their eggs. The Leatherback Turtle season starts from December to February, mostly at the
Maringa Lodge and its surroundings. You’ll first visit the turtle museum, where you’ll be explained about everything concerning the turtles. Then, late at night, from 10 PM, you’ll be taken with an experienced guide to the nesting beaches.

A savannah excursion is also offered. It is mostly reserved for the months of September to December, where you’ll be transferred by boat to the Nyonie (the trip lasts for 3 hours) on the southern part of Pointe Denis. You’ll have a savannah excursion in the afternoon by 4x4 to see elephants, monkeys or buffaloes. You can also chose to go for their early morning excursions consisting of forest hikes.

The month of July all the way to September, is ideal to opt for whale sighting. Hundreds of whales come to mate off the coast of Gabon. A professional skipper will bring you to the whales closed quarters for a half-a-day trip. You’ll be taken to
Wingombe village on the peninsula, for this activity.

Accommodation

Accommodation on site consists of lodges, bungalows, and camping facilities, offered by most resorts.

Bungalows normally cost around $ 140 USD per person. Lodges offer spacious rooms equipped with king size beds, and can cost around $ 100 USD to $ 500 USD per person, with full flushing loos and a shower spot (not a shower cabin). But their en suites rooms or huts are conveniently located on the seaside, well-maintained, with their own power generators, a full bar, and excellent service.

The most popular lodges on site are the Assala Lodge (which is an hour's walk away from the
Maringa Hotel), the Baies des Tortues Lodge, and the Pongara Ecolodge.

 - Pointe Denis
Pointe Denis. Photo by Carlos Reis

For inquiries on accommodation, it is advisable to consult with a local travelling agency, like
Gabon Contact or Gabon Tour, in Libreville.

Where to Eat

Most of the places where you can eat are attached to the lodges on site, and hold the same names. A meal can cost around $ 20 USD to $ 40 USD per person. Make sure you try the
Assala restaurant or the Rigolie Pizzeria, where they serve excellent fresh food (even though some items on the menu are not always available).

Transport

The departure location is the
Michel Marine Harbor* in Libreville. Where you can buy a round-trip ticket, costing $ 40 USD . You’ll be boarding on a catamaran boat, equipped with safety vests. They offer 2 trips per day, the first one at 9 AM, and the second one at 3 PM. For weekdays, you'll have to book the boat in advance. After about a 20-minute ride across the estuary, the boat's first stop is at the Maringa Hotel (where most tourists get off anyway). And then continues on to the other resorts.

Wingombe village -
	Pointe Denis
Wingombe village - Pointe Denis. Photo by Sonier Issembe

For those visiting the area for a day, the boats will normally take you back to Libreville at around 4 PM or 4:30 PM.

Safety

Even though you’ll find friendly locals and mostly a very safe environment, don’t forget that you can also find harm in the natural environment. Don’t swim too far, if you are not a good swimmer, there are no lifeguards on site.

Never wander too far from your accommodation or crowds, as the beach can be tricky with quick sand at some areas.

And lastly, avoid going to the forest by yourself, as it is considered a sacred place for locals. Who knows how they could react, if you infringe on their right to conduct traditional ceremonies there.

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Author: Comasco. Last updated: Sep 23, 2014

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