Destination Overview:

Gabon

Nearly 20 years ago, the late President of Gabon Omar Bongo Ondimba implemented a staggering vision, designating more than 11% of this stunningly beautiful country as National Park. Described as Africa’s “Last Eden”, Gabon encompasses a rich variety of landscape – from dense rainforest to open savannah, mountains to mangrove swamps, and long stretches of pristine, uninhabited Atlantic coastline.

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Off-grid safaris in African’s “Last Eden”

Thanks to Ondimba’s foresight, Gabon is now one of the Africa’s most precious and protected havens for wildlife, home to western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, hippo, elephant, buffalo, crocodile, antelope, manatees and the biggest mandrill troupes in the world – as well as 600 species of birds. It also has one of the world’s largest concentrations of whales and dolphins. Despite these outstanding ecotourism credentials and the country’s long-standing political stability, Gabon still has incredibly low numbers of visitors. Tourism is in its infancy here, enabling visitors to enjoy a truly wild natural environment.

We truly believe that Gabon has the potential to become one of the world’s top ecotourism destinations. The array of wildlife in this central African country is quite spectacular – as well as being well-protected in more than 26,000 km2 of parkland.

The best time to visit Gabon

The best time to visit Gabon is largely dependent on the species you wish to see during your stay here. In general, the best wildlife viewing is to be found during the wetter season through September to June. During this time, the plains species will leave the forest and make their way more out into the open, additionally from March to May, the gorillas of Loango are easier to view as they seek the fruit the forests should be producing around this time. When tracking mandrills in Lope however, the dry season is best, from July to August, as the paths are easier to follow and the lighter covering of foliage making them easier to view. Additionally, humpback whales migrate along Gabon’s coastline in approximately July to September.

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Where to explore

Loango National Park

The coastal Loango National Park is one of the country’s most prized and precious habitats comprising more than 1,550 km² of dense rainforest, open savannah, vast tidal lagoons and winding waterways with a breath-taking diversity of wildlife. Loango is one of the best places in the world to spend time with western lowland gorillas, trekking along forest trails to visit the large group of habituated gorillas that thrive here. On the wild Atlantic coastline, forest elephants, buffalo and hippos roam wild on the palm-fringed, white sand beaches while migrating dolphins, whales and nesting sea turtles can all be seen depending on the season. From mid-July to mid-September, humpback whales visit the coastal waters around Loango Lodge during their annual migration. A labyrinth of waterways cross-cross the park, dotted with tiny islands abundant with wildlife. We’ll take to the water to enjoy the wildlife including large troupes of monkeys and rare bird species such as rosy bee-eaters, quail finch, weavers and Congo River martins.

Lopé National Park

Located right on the equator and bordered by the beautiful Ogooué River, Lopé National Park is the oldest conservation area in Gabon and one of the most diverse tracts of rainforest in the Congo Basin. This lush mountain ecosystem – now a UNESCO World Heritage site – is interspersed with pockets of ancient grassland and savannah and features an extraordinary range of wildlife including forest elephant and buffalo, western lowland gorilla, chimpanzees, leopard, black colobus monekys, sun-tailed guenon, yellow-backed duiker and sitantunga. The Lope region was first inhabited in Palaeolithic times more than 40,000 years ago and the landscape is considered one of Africa’s most important prehistoric sites with archaeological treasures recording these ancient hunter-gatherer settlements. As well as spending time with gorillas, you’ll have the chance to take part in the Wildlife Conservation Society’s daily research programme studying wildlife behaviour including elephants and primates. Lope is the world’s most important refuge for mandrill monkeys and during the dry season in July and August, it’s possible to witness huge gatherings of this large colourful monkey mandrills – up to 800 individuals at a time.

Albert Schweitzer Hospital

Albert Schweitzer was a doctor, philosopher, missionary, musician and ecologist who founded his world-renowned hospital in Labarene over a century ago to atone, he said, for all the “terrible crimes” committed by European colonialists. Visiting the hospital is a fascinating experience, and there is also an excellent museum. The hospital has ensured adequate healthcare access for everyone in the region, with patients only contributing what they can afford.

Bwiti Ceremony

Bwiti is a ritualistic belief system thought to have originated from the Babongo Pygmy people. The form of the Bwiti ceremony varies depending on the specific ethnic group, but the rites and rituals are almost always led by the “N’ganga”, a shamanic figure. The N’gangais performas rites accompanied by percussion, singing and music and participants’ ingestion of the psychoactive iboga plant – all said to induce healing and trance-like states. The Iboga plant has a similar significance in Gabonese tribal culture as ayahuasca does for indigenous peoples in South America. Please note that if we are able to attend a ceremony, we will be there as observers, not participants.

Offline planning

Whilst the benefit of the internet is hard to overstate, when it comes to planning the perfect journey we feel that a more personal approach is still best. By taking this approach we are able to discuss your journey in more detail, fully understand your reasons for wanting to travel, and allow us to better illustrate the full range of opportunities available to you.

As such please do schedule a call with us or if possible meet in person, as these remain the best way to plan your perfect adventure.

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