Middle Africa stretches along the west coast of Africa just below the bulge. The area is rich in natural diversity, but poor in economic activity with more than forty percent of the people living in poverty.
Straddling the equator large portions of Middle Africa are covered by rain forests. The Congo River which runs through the area bows only to the Amazon as the mightiest river by volume. The forests that surround it are the second largest in the world, again right behind the Amazon, and they comprise a quarter of the world’s equatorial forest.
Ten thousand species of plant and four hundred animal species live in the area, which is home to elephant, warthog, lions, hippopotamus, mountain gorilla and white rhinoceros. The coast boasts mangrove swamps, estuaries and lagoons that teem with birds and other wildlife.
Countries in Middle Africa
After twenty-seven years of civil war Angola has finally settled down. One of the top oil producers in sub Saharan Africa, it experienced the highest economic growth rate in the world before oil prices started to fall.
Angola, once a Portuguese colony, is the fourth largest country in Africa. Luanda, the capital, is the most expensive city in the world, and a bit like an enormous building site as the people try to rebuild the growing capital following the war. The city skyline is lined with gleaming new skyscrapers, but just outside lie squalid shantytowns. On the water front palm lined marinas border the pretty Atlantic beaches.
Many of the smaller cities located along the coastline are endowed with natural beauty. They are also filled with charming Portuguese colonial structures. The interior of the country consists of endless plains, and in the north, virgin rain forests, all filled with a superb array of African wildlife.
A central African country, Cameroon is blessed with a wide array of landscapes, wildlife and cultures. With two hundred and fifty ethnic groups, the country traverses rain forests mountains, Savannah grasslands, a desert and a coastline.
Mount Cameroon is the fourth highest mountain in Africa and is an active volcano. Lava and ash have painted the beach sands around the mountain an unusual chocolate brown.
The country is home to six hundred and ninety species of birds, forest elephants, chimpanzees and lowland gorillas. Cameroon lacks infrastructure and there are few tourists but for those who just want to discover nature at her best, this is the destination for you.
Here you will find the Koma people who live like they have for hundreds of years still wearing traditional dress and using traditional hunting methods.
One of the oldest indigenous groups in Africa, the pygmies still live the traditional lifestyle in the rain forests of Cameroon.
Central African Republic
Once a great tourist destination, the Central African Republic has been in a state of civil war since 2012 and it is therefore no longer safe. The country is beautiful, lush, green and poverty stricken.
The national parks house endangered black rhinoceros, elephant, cheetah, leopard and African wild dogs. The dense forests are home to three hundred and twenty wild bird species. Dzanga, Shangha National Park is the second biggest rain forest on earth and contains Western Lowland gorillas, elephant and forest buffalo.
In 2008 the CAR was declared the country least affected by light pollution, making it one of the best places to gaze at the stars. One of the most favored tourist attractions in the CAR are the stunning Boali Falls, where the water plunges fifty meters into the crocodile infested lake below.
The CAR is home to around seventy megalithic stones, reminiscent of Stone Henge that date back thousands of years.
Sometimes referred to as the “Dead Heart of Africa” due to her vast deserts, Chad is both wild and beautiful. The Chadian deserts are where many of the most spectacular landscapes can be found.
The Sahara covers about one-third of the country. Here caravans of camels transport Nomads from place to place. The people live as they have for centuries. The highest mountain in the Sahara is located in Chad. It is a volcano that is close to three thousand five hundred metres high. Dramatic rock arches, steeples and spires reach skyward from the dunes.
Prehistoric rock paintings are found in the rugged rock formations of the Sahara Desert. The fertile grasslands in the south are home to abundant wildlife that includes elephants, buffalo, rhino, leopards, lions and giraffe. The waters of Lake Chad form the second largest African wetland.
Chad is one of Africa’s least visited countries so a journey into Chad is one without crowds of tourists.
Located on the northern bank of the mighty Congo River the Republic of the Congo, unlike the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the other side of the river, is a peaceful place that welcomes visitors.
Lonely Planet chose this country as one of the top ten to visit in 2015, ranking it in sixth place.
The Congo is home to half of the world’s lowland gorillas, who share the pristine rain forests with bonobo chimpanzees and forest elephant. The biodiversity of the area is fast attracting ecotourists to the country.
The African rain forests offer visitors a wild life experience like no other. In these forests indigenous people live here as they have for hundreds of years.
The vibrant capital Brazzaville overlooks the river. It boasts good food, a lively nightlife and interesting art scene.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been deeply troubled for more than fifty years. Today it is occupied by a large UN peacekeeping force so it is possible to safely visit some areas of the country.
Its capital city, Kinshasa, is the second biggest French speaking city in the world.
The Congo River and the rain forest surrounding it are second in size only to the Amazon. With one thousand five hundred indigenous animal species, the DRC is one of earth’s most bio-diverse areas on earth.
Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest park, is home to a quarter of the world’s mountain gorillas. The Congolese forests have one of the highest concentrations of primates in the world, including the rare Bonobo. It is safe to visit this park and trackers protect and assist hikers on trips to view the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
In the east is an active volcano with a crater that glows in the dark. Climb through tropical forests past steaming geysers, climbing to the top where you can camp next to the bubbling crater of the largest lava lake in the world.
One of the smallest countries in Africa, Equatorial Guinea is not located on the equator, but a little above. The country consists of a mainland and a group of small islands, located alongside Cameroon.
Malabo, the capital is located on one of these islands. The official language is Spanish, and this is also the language spoken by the country’s rank and file.
Newfound oil has boosted the economy of the country and it is now the richest country per capita in Africa. This wealth has helped to fund new infrastructure, and now wonderful old Spanish colonial homes stand alongside newly built skyscrapers.
The country boasts two thousand square kilometers of protected forest reserves, teeming with wildlife, including sixteen primate species among these western lowland gorillas, hundreds of bird species, forest elephants and crocodiles.
Here you’ll find exotic black beaches lined with equatorial forests and palm-fringed white beaches, isolated and pristine.
Gabon, a land of extraordinary ecosystems on the west coast of Africa, boasts unspoiled white beaches, dense rain forests, Savannah grasslands, mangrove swamps and torrential rivers.
This is probably one of the only places on earth where wild animals such as buffalo, elephants, hippos, chimps and turtles can be found roaming the pristine beaches, as over two hundred kilometers of coastline form part of a reserve.
In the ocean whales and dolphins sometimes share the waters with basking hippos. This is one of the best sports fishing destinations in Africa.
A selection of extraordinary wild birds makes the Savannah grasslands home and herds of elephant roam here. The mangrove swamps alongside the lagoons are also unique ecosystems hosting an exquisite variety of fauna and flora.
As in many other African countries infrastructural problems, poor roads and a lack of public transport make it difficult to reach the wild and natural splendor, but this is slowly changing as capital flows into Gabon on the back of newfound oil reserves.
São Tomé and Príncipe
The volcanic islands of São Tomé and Príncipe is a tropical paradise on the west coast of Africa. Home to a number of rare birds and butterflies, the islands boast one hundred and nine species of orchid.
Almost the entire island of Príncipe is a biosphere. The mountainous hinterland is wrapped in pearly white beaches lined by pristine rainforests and the coral reefs just off the coast, are alive with colorful fish, moray eels and octopus. Dolphins and turtles play in the surrounding waters.
Here you can dive or fish, climb a misty volcanic peak, sail to Rolas island and stand on the equator or visit the Sao Tome National Museum. Built in 1575, it was once a fort. The views from the top are stunning.
Once the world’s biggest cocoa producers, the jungle is slowly reclaiming the plantations, where some of the old plantation homes are crumbling. Many of these Portuguese colonial homes have been refurbished and now operate as guesthouses.