African Republic offers Pristine Parks and Wilderness
Working in Tahiti at the time, I flew direct from the Pacific to Bangul the capital, just in time to witness the crowning of a new Emperor. This stately figure, an African named Jean Bedel Bocassa, fashioned himself after his hero, Napoleon I of France. It was a lavish ceremony, financed and organized by the French Government. Like many African leaders, Bocassa was also a great admirer of late Emperor Haile Selaissie of Ethiopia, whose palace and private railway coaches we visited in 2000.
Everything you may have read about this equatorial area for years in National Geographic or in countless books about Africa is right here. Without a doubt, the Central African Republic (CAR) has some of the world's most pristine parks. Pygmies guide you through virgin woodlands that are the domain of forest elephants and rare lowland gorillas.
The dense rainforests literally 'explode' as the tropical sky fills with colorful, exotic butterflies &emdash; and out on the sweeping plains you can encounter elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and a host of other species found nowhere else. My brother Jean Pierre and I visited the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve, which has perrhaps the highest densities of lowland gorillas and elephant anywhere in Africa.
Altitude and rainfall help to moderate the temperature and vegetation is thicker, with many varieties of flowering tropical plants flourishing in the rainforests. Most people have a connection to the land even if they live in a city, and my European girl friend and I had a chance to visit their farms during the harvest. Despite their poverty , they opened a bottle of champagne to welcome us. What great hospitality! While French is the official language, Sango is the national tongue.
My favorite game viewing area is St. Floris and the Banigui-Bangoran parks, which are known for protecting elephants, lions, leopards and Rhinos - as well as buffaloes, hippos, monkeys, giraffes, baboons, cheetahs and crocodiles. The town and cities have bustling markets. You will find beer, plus palm and banana wine for sale by the side of the road, with green hills and giraffes close by. Bangui, the capital, is a charming administrative district, and there's enough attractions to keep you going for several days. The French founded the city in 1880, naming it after the nearby rapids. The old section features wide, -shaded boulevards and a central market area where all public transports converge. I will continue this feature in a later edition, and will provide some photos of the area at that time. Au Revoir for now. Muguette...
She is a dual citizen (France - Canada) and has been featured extensively on African television, radio and print media, both English and French. Her first assignment was the 1996 ATA Ecotourism Symposium in Marrakech, Morocco.
This was followed by a National Geographic - American Airlines sponsored project in Haiti, plus ATA Congresses in Benin, Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Guinea, Zambia, Morocco, South Africa, Cameroon, Kenya and Djibouti. Travel Agents To contact her e-mail Africa@dowco.com
by Muguette Goufrani