Gabon doesn’t have the international pedigree of some other African destinations, but this stable and oil flush country is an under the radar getaway for the consummate traveller – with unmatched wildlife that is up there amongst the continents best.
Want to learn more about Gabon?
Where is Gabon?
Gabon is located in Central/Western Africa, with the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) to the west. The Republic of Congo lies to the east and south of Gabon, Cameroon is north, and Equatorial Guinea is found to the northwest.
When is the best time to visit Gabon?
May to September is the best time to visit Gabon, as the weather will be drier. You can spot turtles during our winter months, however you should expect rain in this case.
Flights to Gabon
A round trip flight between Toronto and Libreville, Gabon actually starts around the fairly low price of $1000. Be sure to shop around, however you should be able to find a pretty good price point.
Getting around Gabon
Infrastructure outside the cities is a mixed bag, and tourism can be largely DIY when it comes to getting between parks. If you rent a car, make sure it’s a 4WD. There are also buses and some trains if you don’t want to drive yourself.
Where to go in Gabon
The first stop on your Gabonese journey is likely to be Libreville – the bustling capital of the country. Here, the traditional and the modern blend together in a way that makes the city one of the most intriguing in Africa. There are the traditional markets you might expect, but oil money has transformed many parts of Libreville into a cutting edge metropolis full of amazing restaurants and swanky mansions. It’s a place of contrasts for sure, but there is plenty to see and do here no matter who you are.
Fernan Vaz Lagoon
While Libreville is a neat city, the real joy of travelling to Gabon is found in nature. Starting from the small town of Omboué, you’ll find some of the country’s most famous wilderness escapes…with the Fernan Vaz Lagoon among the very finest. The lagoon is home to crocodiles (as well as other African wildlife), a gorilla sanctuary, and, on the other end of the spectrum, a church designed by Gustav Eiffel himself. It’s a great place to get a taste of Gabon outside the cities.
Loango National Park
The other nearby attraction to Omboué is perhaps the must-see sight in all of Gabon. While the country holds many national parks (over 10% of the land is designated as such), none can compete with Loango. Lagoons, beaches, savannah, and forests are home to every type of creature you could imagine. Elephants and many other large mammals wander the park while whales and more can be spotted just off the coast. There are few safaris in all of Africa that can match Loango, so take advantage of it while Gabon remains under the radar.
Pongara National Park
Located close to Libreville is another one of Gabon’s fine national park. Pongara is much more doable if you’re pressed for time than Loango, and it’s varied terrain (including beaches, savannah, and more) is home to nearly as much wildlife as it’s more famous counterpart. You can even spot tons of leatherback turtles laying eggs on the beach between November and March. You can’t go wrong with Pongara National Park whether you’re in Gabon for a few days or a few weeks.
Language in Gabon
The majority of Gabonese can speak French, so you’d do well to brush up on some phrases before heading over. English is becoming a bit more widespread though it is not at ‘second language’ level as of yet.
Prices in Gabon ($$$)*
While base prices may be pretty cheap, you should expect to spend possibly more than $100 Canadian a day depending on where you’re going. Transportation and DIY supplies are important when visiting Gabon, so this can jack the price up.
Is Gabon safe?
Before we get into safety, we have to touch on the current health issue with regards to the Zika virus. Spread by mosquitos, the sickness is usually mild and short term, resulting in fever, headaches, rashes, muscle pain, and other flu-like symptoms. That being said, pregnant women (and women considering becoming pregnant) should avoid the country for the time being. Be sure to talk to a healthcare professional before deciding to travel to Gabon.
While there is no nationwide advisory in Gabon, a high degree of caution is recommended due to political tensions and the security situation. While it is currently calm, there is chance the situation could degrade. Petty crime is an issue, while violent crime is much more rare (though does occur). Driving can be dangerous thanks to poor conditions and dangerous practices, so use caution on the roads.
For more on travel safety, check out the Canadian Travel Advisory for Gabon.
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