Definitely not a zoo

On our very first night in Malabo, we inquired about the mysterious parcel of land next to the Hilton, planted with neat rows of trees, a decorative wall, and scatterings of rooftops.  Was it a zoo, a park, a nursery?  All signs pointed to a zoo.  This was both an exciting and saddening idea, heavier on the sad since the area didn’t seem large enough for any large animal exhibits.  We’ve watched as the land developed, and became more zoo like.  Walking paths were cemented, a ticket/toll booth erected at the entrance, and a crazy neon lit bridge appeared.  The local staff at the Embassy had heard it was not a zoo, our expat friends remained convinced that must be a zoo.

A coworker found the sketch below online, which only presented more questions.  There’s water in there? Are those little islands animal habitats? Where are the neon lights?  Can you raft down those rapids? Whose statue is that?



So on Labor Day, when it was “too cold” to go to the beach (our skin has gotten so thin…), we decide to peek inside and see for ourselves what was behind the still unopened walls that have taunted us for so long.  We now know, for certain, that it is definitely. not. a. zoo.  It is a fantastic park with many other exciting features! None of which will result in sad lions, tigers, or bears.


Parque Natural de Malabo

Whoever designed this park did a really great job!  Cormac and I were amazed at how large it is.  You can’t see very of it much from the road.  A huge pond/lake is in the middle, with little islands and inlets carved out.  I would guess that at a leisurely strolling pace, it will take an hour to walk all the paths.  


I spy a paddle boat!


The mysterious neon lit bridge that has piqued our curiosity for so long

It looked like there are a lot of picnic areas, places to sit and read, and maybe a cafe or two in the park.  From the road outside the park you can spy basketball and tennis courts, too.


A beautiful shady walk with benches

I’m really excited for the park to officially open.  I don’t think it will be too far off from the “despues” sketch my coworker found.  Perhaps the ribbon cutting will be an Independence Day event?  If so, only a month to go!


The park will have a fantastic view of Pico on a clear day. I can’t wait!


3 thoughts on “Definitely not a zoo

  1. Hello Lauren,

    I am currently putting the finishing touches on the new Bradt Travel Guide to Equatorial Guinea, which we are hoping to publish in November 2015. On my visit I was also interested to see the zoo-like development by the Hilton. Any more ideas on what it is? Has it changed at all recently? Do you know of any official sources of information to find out more? The images on your blog post have vanished and I cannot find anything through my contacts in Malabo or by searching online!

    Any help would be much appreciated.


    • Oz,
      The park still has not opened. It’s now labeled as a National Park, and it appears that more attractions have been added since we last visited. It remains a mystery when the government plans to open the park, but my guess would be for one of the major national holidays this year.

      I didn’t even know that Bradt had a guide for EG. Great news for the brave wanderers who want to come visit!

  2. Thanks for the update Lauren, please let me know if it opens any time soon. I hope it doesn’t end up being a zoo although that’s what a lot of people are saying.

    Yes, this is the first ever English-language guidebook to the country, so a first for Bradt too! Comes out November 2015 in Europe and December 2015 in the US I think.

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