I had been unknowingly lucky to arrive in the turtle season between november and february where gigantic leatherback turtles were coming up every night to lay their eggs. I got in touch with Miguel from Enohatours who said he could take me for cheap, so we packed up a tent, sleeping mat and headlamp and made our way down to the Southern part of the island.
Miguel had just started his travel company and was as eager as me to go chasing turtles. As soon as we had parked our car by the beach, we crossed the river and found a place to make camp for the night.
On the way, we heard some some thumping sounds and some heavy breathing and grunting, just like the sound of an ox. Mangel recognized the sound at once and pointed towards where a turtle was making its way up from the ocean, not far from us.
The turtle was way bigger than I first had imagined. A full grown way anything between 200-900 kilos and come up from the ocean once a year to lay eggs.
Some rangers who were living there came up to us to check that we were not turtle hunters. We confirmed to them that we were just tourists and that we understood the rules of not getting close to the turtles before they had laid their eggs and never use flash before it was on the way back to the ocean, as that would disturb the turtles who navigate using the moonlight.
The first one we saw was definitely the biggest one. The turtles can get up to 100 years and I can imagine this one already having passed her 100th birthday.
Together with watching leatherback turtle harchings in Kabalana Beach, Sri Lanka, this must be one of my favorite animal encounters. Also because I had a turtle as a pet when I was a child.
The camping on the beach, under some of the brightest stars I have ever seen, falling asleep to the sounf of the waves and seeing five holes outside the tent where the turtles had laid eggs in the night was also part of the experience which I will reccommend to anyone who make it to Equatorial Guinea.