Surrounded by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Congo, Gabon is a state of Equatorial Africa that will delight lovers of nature and tourism. Gabon is known for the immensity of its forest which covers about 80% of its territory.
Obviously, the equatorial climate of Gabon, characterized by great heat and humidity, is favorable to dense vegetation marked by the presence of large and various trees like mahogany and Okoumé. Under the leadership of President Omar Bongo, the country created in September 2002 13 national parks to protect the wildlife (gorillas, chimpanzees, mandrills but also hippopotamuses). The Lopé reserve located in central Gabon and covering 500,000 hectares is home to various animal species, including endangered mammals.
The country is also famous for its lakes: located near Lambaréné, the region of the lakes of Gabon is delimited between the lakes of the north and the lakes of the south.
During your stay, you will need at least 10 hours to visit all the lakes, accessible with motorized canoes. Among those from the north, you can visit the Déguéué Lake and the fishing camps during the dry season. Make sure to visit the Lake Azingo (located on the border of the Wonga-Wongué Nature Reserve) and Lake Gomé.
In the south of the country, the lakes are huge (example Lake Evaro), and the population is predominantly composed with Myéné people. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the music and traditional dances of these wonderful people.
During your stay in Gabon, you can also visit the main cities of the country, starting with the capital city, Libreville.
The modern capital of Libreville has very beautiful monuments: The Church of Saint Michel Nkembo, the National Museum of Arts and Traditions where you will admire the Gabonese traditional masks. Later on, in the afternoon, you can relax on the beautiful beaches of Tahiti and Sablière.
If you enjoy urban tourism, you should visit Port-Gentil which is the second largest city in the country and home for a large number of expatriates. The city is located on the Mandji Island, 144 km southwest of the capital. Port-Gentil is very festive and has beautiful beaches (Cape Lopez and Sogara).
It is also a place of vibrant nightlife: there are plenty nightclubs, restaurants, bars and coffee shops. If you need to get there from Libreville, remember that Port-Gentil is only accessible by air or sea (this is a negative point of the country; the country still lacks of road infrastructures)
If you are fond of Gabonese crafts, you can bring home a number of traditional masks of the country but also pottery and stone sculptures. All these objects will be accessible in the local markets and souvenir shops of major cities.
Art and culture
During your holidays in Gabon, you will certainly notice the importance of masks in Gabonese culture. Used during various ceremonies or events of life, the masks are specific to each ethnic group. For example, Okuyimasks, completely white, are used by Myéné people for funerals. Bodi masks are made by the Pové ethnic group settled in the region Ogooué-Lolo and are worn by men, most often in the evening, and during the visit of important personalities.
What to visit
The Lopé Reserve has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1962 and has been a protected area since the 1980s. This site, accessible by train and road, is undoubtedly the most popular tourist attraction of the country (accommodation is provided)
The Lakes area is also a must because you will get a chance to establish direct contact with local people. Finally, Libreville, and Port-Gentil, also great potential (particularly the beaches)
Gabonese gastronomy draws is founded on these basic ingredients: plantain, cassava, chili and African eggplant. Seafood is also highly present in Gabonese cuisine, thanks to diverse ethnic influences. The mix of population over the centuries have produced new traditional dishes like dumplings, a huge ball made of crushed and mashed plantain bananas or nyembwe, a sauce made from palm nut puree served with meat and poultry.