Sunday, October 19, 2008

Great Gabon Documentaries

Someday I'll get to Gabon, a gorgeous country in West Africa that offers stunning wildlife and is developing for ecotourism since 2002. As we go into winter and you may want to curl up with a good book, I have several recommendations, starting with one of my personal favorites, "Travels in West Africa," by Mary Kingsley. Mary was a British woman who was the daughter of a maid who had an affair. She was self-taught with books from her father's library and she had an urge to travel. When she found herself alone at 30, both parents having died, she set off to Africa alone, which was unheard of in her day. She went to Gabon, and established some trade routes there, becoming the first white person some tribes met and the first white woman many, many tribes had ever seen. She wanted to learn about their customs, that interested her more than wildlife, but she also noticed creatures and even collected specimens for the British museum, especially of fish. The book is very good reading if you are interested in travel, adventure, female pioneers, Africa or of course Gabon specifically. carries to book and so do most other book stores these days.

If you want to see the tremendous treasures Gabon offers - a chance to see hippos and elephants frolic in the ocean, for example, check out National Geographic's documentary on Gabon: The lAst Eden, which has stunning photography and is very well done. It tells the story of Michael Fey, who is a researcher who walked across Gabon and other parts of Africa and then convinced the leader of Gabon to make 10% of the country National Parks and choose ecotourism over logging and oil exploration . The photography - of lowland gorillas, mandrills and other wild creatures best seen in Gabon, is really awesome. The DVD is available for rent on Netflix.

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