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Sapo National Park

Listed under Rainforests and Jungles in Monrovia, Liberia.

Photo of Sapo National Park
Photo by flickr user mape_s
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Sapo is probably one of the last places on Earth to experience virgin rainforest.

It is extremely difficult to navigate through with a temperature and humidity that make carrying a backpack and normal thought processes extremely difficult. The forest vegetation carries cholera and the tree sap also contains certain flesh-eating micro-organisms. Malaria is also a major threat and an important point that must also be noted is that in the forest human beings are prey items or major threats and animals may act aggressively to human presence.

Now this has been emphasised... Sapo is beautiful. Looking from a bird's-eye view, one can see rainforest from horizon to horizon, and it does not contain the expanse of rubber trees one is used to seeing in rural Liberia.

Warning*! If wishing to enter Sapo, inform the appropriate authorities of your presence and it is vital those visiting have a professional support network as it easily to become disorientated in Sapo. Check all clothing and baggage first thing in the morning for visiting wildlife, do not reach into an open backpack before looking to see what you will be putting your hand on.

Remember: bring appropriate amounts of drinking water as cholera is present. Try not to physically touch undergrowth as it could potentially be poisonous and will definitely contain biting insects!

Leopards, forest elephants, crocodiles and various poisonous snakes are present and although these are elusive you should never leave the camp alone, and if taking a toilet break "always" bring a torch and always be wary when around water systems. When walking scan the ground for venomous snakes especially those from the viperidae family that are invisible in leaf litter.

Bring more socks than you think you will need as feet turn to mulch with the humidity. Every pore of your body will be drenched with water so dry clothes should be brought for sleeping in but one may find the humidity to hot to wear clothes when inside the tent.

Lastly, make sure all food is probably sealed and contained. I have witnessed ants managing to crawl inside sealed jam-jars and baggage, my colleague woke to then find thousands of driver ants (army ants included) inside his tent, to say he was terrified is an understatement, we were convinced a leopard had entered the camp!

My whole party found one week in the rainforest pushed the body to limits never experienced before. Tiredness will consume you quickly so good humour, experienced camp etiquette and professionalism are all a must.

Never, ever rely on a GPS! Solely navigate by compass and then when you are in doubt use the GPS. Remember that a car is metallic, so stand away from your vehicle and remove metallic jewellery when taking a compass reading!

I hope you experience the true Sapo national park which I had the delight of being a part of. It is beautiful and you will feel humbled by the sights, sounds, expanse of the boundary and the fact some trees disappear through the clouds. I like to refer to Sapo as the "lungs of our Earth".

Safe journey.

Written by  Ronan Mc Shane.

Other expert and press reviews

“Sapo National Park”

The boundaries of Sapo National Park enclose 1,800 square kilometres of the world’s best preserved regions of lowland Guinean rainforest, one of the most biologically diverse kinds of rainforest Sapo is also Liberia’s only National Park. Some of the u… Read more...

Written by  Kate Griffin.

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