Gabon Holidays – Tours & Adventures Travel Guide
“Gabon’s dense landscape, full of caves, rainforests and rivers, offers something for everybody. If you’ve ever wanted to combine a cultural trip with an activity you love, Gabon will pique your adventurous interests. If you’re into whale watching and having your vacation nearer to the water, then Gabon has plenty of coasts to explore. Additionally, the cultural and traditional ways of life here will make you appreciate simple living and the honest-to-goodness nature of humanity.”
Gabon Holiday Highlights
History & Culture - Gabonese people are generally very friendly and helpful to visitors, and dance, song, poetry and myths remain an important part of their traditional life. Most settlements have developed along the country’s many rivers. The capital city is Libreville and other main cities are Port Gentil, Lambaréné, Moanda, Oyem, Mouila and Franceville. The only railway line in Gabon is the 410km (254 mile) Trans-Gabon Railway which connects Libreville with Franceville.
Libreville is not a typical African city, with high-rise hotels lining the beaches and lots of expensive shops and restaurants. The Presidential Palace was built in the 1970’s and cost US$800 million. Visit the Cathedral of St Michael, the Mount Bouet market and the National Museum with its collection of beautiful woodcarvings.
In southern Gabon visit the riverside town of Lambaréné, made famous by Doctor Albert Schweitzer who set up the hospital there. There are gold mines at the villages of M’Bigou and Eteke which are also famous for their local crafts.
Nature & Wildlife - Over ten per cent of the country’s land is National Parks and reserves with white-sand beaches, tropical rainforests, rolling savannahs and estuaries, all rich in wildlife. Loango National Park is located on the southern coast, and is home to surfing hippos. It is also a good location to see humpback and killer whales in the waters off the coast. The Ivindo National Park is in eastern Gabon and the Lope-Okanda Reserve is the largest park, in the center of the country near La Lope. It is home to gorillas, chimpanzees and elephants, as well as other mammals and around 350 species of birds. The Bateke Plateau is home to many creatures including forest elephants, buffaloes, sitatunga, river hogs, gorillas, panthers, crocodiles, monkeys and parrots
Whale Watching - Whale watching off the coast of Gabon is very popular. From July to September, over 3,000 humpback whales migrate to breed in the southern hemisphere. Additionally, you’ll find Atlantic humpback dolphins and West African Manatees in the Atlantic waters at about the same time of year—the southern hemisphere’s winter. Turtles come ashore to lay eggs from November to January.
Walking, Hiking & Trekking - Hiking and trekking in Gabon takes you through mountain ranges, national parks, like the Loango National Park (with the 220 km2 Iguela Lagoon), by flowing rivers and pure streams. From Gorilla day-walks to treks in the north near Oyem, from non-technical climbs up Mount Nkoum to colossal waterfalls near Iboundji, from caves just outside of Lastourville (south of central), Gabon is a country brimming with possibilities. The Karst areas have hundreds of caves—most of them have never been explored! In every direction Gabon affords trekking, easy walking and incredible hiking. You’ll be humming the traditional folk tunes and retelling the oral traditions that make Gabon such a culturally rich country en route.
Mountain Biking - Mountain biking and off road biking in Gabon is as do-able as anywhere in Africa, with plenty of logging roads, mountain passes and dirt roads linking the entire country. If you can take humidity (even during the dry season), then you’ll have no trouble cycling here. Since most of Gabon is covered in trees, you’ll have plenty of shade along the way. If you want to hit up any of the thirteen national parks—from Akanda NP to Waka NP—then a bike is a sure-fire way to intimately experience the country. A tour operator and guide will be necessary, as once you’re lost here, you may very well be lost forever.
Fishing - Fishing is popular off the long coastline and the Ogooue (Ogowe; Ogoote) River in the west of the country. The channels and forks of this river go into the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. Catching freshwater fish could yield some of your biggest catches ever, from the Flatnose Catfish and the Gabon Jewelfish to the Golden Kili and the Bagrid Catfish, Gabon’s streams and rivers are seething with fish. Local fishermen find the largest variety along the coast and in the numerous lagoons at the mouth of the Ogooue. Equipment can be hired at Port Gentil.
Water Sports & Beaches - Gabon’s long Atlantic coastline has some excellent beaches. The north offers Pointe Denis and Ekwata Beach while the south includes Sette Cama and Mayumba. Water sports activities, such as water-skiing and jet riding are popular at Port Gentil at the mouth of the Ogooue River, Mayumba and Cap Esterias, which is a great spot to swim. Skin diving is excellent at Pointe Denis and Perroquet, and you can also find kayak rentals for the river and the sea.
When To Go
Gabon is located on the equator in central Africa. The climate, therefore, is equatorial as reflected by the vegetation of nearly 90% rainforest. The coastal plains, the mountains and the savannas all have their own weather patterns, but Gabon has a rainy season from September to May, broken up by a short dry period from December to January, and a longer dry season from May to September. The humidity is always high.
- Only take on the Gabonese environment if you are with a guide. If the wild animals don’t get you, starvation or loneliness will.
- Never venture into the forest alone. Gabon is covered in rainforest, and once you enter you may never exit.
- Gabon is an equatorial climate, the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Be sure to bring your preventative medications and a mosquito net (can purchase in country) if you want some restful nights.
- Do not photograph military installations. In general, permission to photograph anything should be requested first, to prevent misunderstandings.
- Gawk at the Presidential Palace at Libreville.
- See “surfing hippos” at Loango National Park.
- Fish in the Ogooue River.
- Go hiking in National Parks.
- Swim at Cap Esterias.
- Go Whale Watching (seasonal)