GABON TRAVEL GUIDE
The central African nation of Gabon has long been seen as an economic miracle in a region where political instability and poverty is endemic. But then Gabon is a country lavishly endowed with nature’s bounty, whether it consists of lush equatorial forests, a fertile coastline that opens out to beautiful, sandy beaches or bottomless reserves of gold and mineral deposits.
Libreville, the capital is a smart, cosmopolitan city, reputed to be one of the most expensive places in the world. Visitors to Gabon enjoy deep-sea fishing and safaris to see native African primates, mammals and birds in their natural habitat.
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GABON QUICK FACTS
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF)
Area: 267,667 km²
Population: 2,119 million (2018)
Language: French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi
Religion:Christian 55%-75%, animist, Muslim less than 1%
Electricity: 220V/50Hz (European plug)
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GABON PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 17 April, Women’s Day
- 1 May, Labor Day
- 15 August, Assumption
- 17 August, Independence Day
- 1 November, All Saints Day
Also, Easter Monday, Ascension, Whit Monday, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha.
FESTIVALS IN GABON
BEST TIME TO VISIT GABON
The best time to visit Gabon is during the dry season, which runs from June to September. During this time, the weather is generally warm and dry, and the roads are more accessible, making it easier to explore the country's natural attractions. Additionally, wildlife viewing is also better during the dry season as animals tend to congregate around water sources.
However, it's worth noting that Gabon's weather can be unpredictable, so it's always best to check the forecast before planning a trip. Also, keep in mind that June to September is peak tourist season, so accommodations and flights may be more expensive during this time. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of April to May or October to November when the weather is still good, but the crowds are smaller.
GABON WEATHER SYNOPSIS
Gabon has a moist, hot climate of typically tropical regions. Precipitation is abundant and spread almost throughout the year. Temperatures are high and remain relatively constant throughout the year. January to April is typically the hottest season.
GABON TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN GABON
HIKING & CYCLING IN GABON
BEACH OPTIONS IN GABON
SURFING IN GABON
KITESURF IN GABON
Kitesurfing spot details and weather
HEALTH RISKS IN GABON
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
GABON TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to Gabon can vary depending on various factors such as your travel style, length of stay, and the time of year you plan to visit. Here are some estimated costs for traveling to Gabon:
- Budget: $10-$30 per night for a dorm bed or basic room in a guesthouse.
- Mid-range: $50-$100 per night for a comfortable hotel room.
- Luxury: $150-$300 per night for a high-end hotel or resort.
- Flights: A round-trip flight from the United States or Europe to Gabon can cost anywhere from $800 to $1500 depending on the time of year and airline.
- Domestic travel: Taxis and buses are the most common modes of transportation in Gabon, and fares are relatively cheap, usually costing less than $10.
- Street food and local restaurants can be inexpensive, with meals costing less than $10.
- Mid-range and high-end restaurants can be more expensive, with meals costing $20-$50 or more.
- National park fees range from $5-$50 depending on the park and the length of your visit.
- Guided tours can range from $50-$200 depending on the activity and the length of the tour.
Overall, budget travelers can expect to spend around $30-$50 per day, mid-range travelers can expect to spend around $100-$150 per day, while luxury travelers can expect to spend $300 or more per day. It's important to note that these are just estimated costs and that actual expenses can vary widely depending on your travel preferences and itinerary.
GABON TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some travel tips for Gabon:
- Get the necessary vaccinations: Before traveling to Gabon, make sure to get the necessary vaccinations such as yellow fever, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever. Check with your doctor or a travel clinic for more information.
- Pack for the climate: GabGet the necessary vaccinations: Before traveling to Gabon, make sure to get the necessary vaccinations such as yellow fever, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever. Check with your doctor or a travel clinic for more information.
- Learn some French: French is the official language of Gabon, so it's a good idea to learn some basic French phrases before your trip. This will make it easier to communicate with locals and navigate your way around.
- Respect the culture: Gabon has a rich cultural heritage, so be respectful of the customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites, and ask for permission before taking photos of people or their property.
- Stay safe: Gabon is generally a safe country, but it's always a good idea to take precautions to stay safe. Avoid walking alone at night, keep your valuables secure, and be aware of your surroundings.
- Explore the national parks: Gabon is known for its incredible natural beauty, so don't miss the chance to explore the national parks. Lopé National Park and Ivindo National Park are two of the most popular parks to visit.
- Try the local cuisine: Gabonese cuisine is a mix of African and French influences, with lots of seafood, plantains, and cassava. Don't miss the chance to try some of the local dishes such as poulet nyembwe (chicken in a spicy peanut sauce) or beignets (deep-fried dough balls).
- Be flexible: Gabon is a developing country, and things don't always go according to plan. Be patient and flexible, and be prepared for unexpected delays or changes in your itinerary.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF GABON
Gabon is divided into nine provinces, each with its own unique attractions and highlights. Here is an overview of the main regions of Gabon and some of their highlights:
- Estuaire Province: This province is home to Gabon's capital city, Libreville, which is a bustling metropolis with a mix of French and African influences. The city has several interesting museums and art galleries, as well as a lively market. The beaches of Pointe-Denis and the Pongara National Park are also located in this province.
- Moyen-Ogooué Province: The highlight of this province is Lopé National Park, which is known for its dense rainforest and diverse wildlife, including elephants, gorillas, and chimpanzees. The park is also home to ancient rock art that dates back thousands of years.
- Ngounié Province: This province is known for its beautiful landscapes, including the Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, which is home to hippos, elephants, and a wide variety of bird species.
- Nyanga Province: Located in the south of Gabon, Nyanga Province is known for its stunning waterfalls and mountain scenery. The highlight of this province is the Monts de Cristal National Park, which has a variety of hiking trails and stunning views.
- Ogooué-Ivindo Province: The Ogooué-Ivindo Province is home to some of Gabon's most pristine rainforests and national parks, including Ivindo National Park, which is known for its spectacular waterfalls and wildlife, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and forest elephants.
- Ogooué-Lolo Province: This province is known for its rugged, mountainous terrain and is home to the Batéké Plateau National Park, which is known for its unique rock formations and wildlife, including giraffes and zebras.
- Ogooué-Maritime Province: This province is home to several beaches and is a popular destination for tourists looking to relax and enjoy the sun. The Loango National Park, which is known for its coastal forests and wetlands, is also located in this province.
- Woleu-Ntem Province: Located in the north of Gabon, Woleu-Ntem Province is known for its savannas and grasslands. The highlight of this province is the Minkébé National Park, which is home to a variety of endangered species, including forest elephants and lowland gorillas.
- Haut-Ogooué Province: This province is located in the southeast of Gabon and is known for its mining industry. The city of Franceville is the main hub of the province and has several interesting museums and art galleries. The Bateke Plateau National Park is also located in this province.
Gabon is a beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage and incredible natural beauty. Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Gabon:
- Visit the National Parks: Gabon is known for its incredible national parks, which are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants, and many other species. Lopé National Park, Ivindo National Park, and Loango National Park are all popular choices.
- Explore the Beaches: Gabon has some beautiful beaches, including Pointe-Denis and Cap Esterias, which are popular for swimming and sunbathing. You can also take a boat tour to see the whales and dolphins that inhabit the waters off the coast of Gabon.
- Discover the Culture: Gabon has a rich cultural heritage, and there are several museums and cultural centers where you can learn about the country's history and traditions. The Museum of Arts and Tradition in Libreville is a must-visit.
- Take a City Tour: The capital city of Libreville has a mix of French and African influences, and there are several interesting landmarks and monuments to see. The Presidential Palace, the National Museum of Gabon, and the St. Michael's Cathedral are all worth a visit.
- Go Fishing: Gabon is a popular destination for sport fishing, with a variety of fish species, including tarpon, barracuda, and marlin, found in the country's rivers and coastal waters.
- Hiking and Trekking: Gabon has some incredible landscapes, including rainforests, mountains, and savannas, which are perfect for hiking and trekking. The Monts de Cristal National Park and Batéké Plateau National Park are popular destinations for hiking.
- Attend a Festival: Gabon has several festivals and cultural events throughout the year, including the Libreville Jazz Festival, the Fête des Masques in Lambarene, and the Fang Ngil ceremony in the Ogooué-Ivindo Province.
- Sample the Cuisine: Gabonese cuisine is a mix of African and French influences, with lots of seafood, plantains, and cassava. Don't miss the chance to try some of the local dishes such as poulet nyembwe (chicken in a spicy peanut sauce) or beignets (deep-fried dough balls).
- Relax and Unwind: Gabon is a peaceful and tranquil country, and there are plenty of opportunities to relax and unwind. You can spend the day at the beach, take a leisurely boat ride, or simply enjoy the natural beauty of the country.
WHAT TO EAT IN GABON
Gabonese cuisine is a mix of African and French influences, and it is known for its rich and flavorful dishes. Here are some of the traditional foods to try when visiting Gabon:
- Poulet Nyembwe: This is a popular dish in Gabon, made with chicken cooked in a spicy peanut sauce, served with rice or fufu.
- Mbongo Tchobi: This is a slow-cooked dish made with fish or meat, tomato paste, onions, and spices, including mbongo spice. It is served with rice or cassava.
- Saka Saka: This is a dish made with cassava leaves cooked in a tomato and onion sauce, with a choice of meat or fish. It is often served with fufu.
- Brochettes: These are skewered grilled meats, including beef, chicken, and goat, often served with a spicy peanut sauce.
- Beignets: These are deep-fried dough balls, similar to doughnuts, served as a snack or dessert.
- Fresh Seafood: Gabon has a long coastline and is known for its fresh seafood, including fish, prawns, and crab. Some popular seafood dishes include grilled fish with plantains and tomato sauce, and shrimp in a spicy coconut sauce.
- Poulet Moambe: This is a dish made with chicken cooked in a rich, spicy tomato and palm nut sauce, served with rice or fufu.
- Fruit: Gabon is also known for its delicious fruit, including mangoes, pineapples, papayas, and bananas. These can be enjoyed as a healthy snack or dessert.
When in Gabon, it's also worth trying some of the local beverages, such as palm wine, a traditional African alcoholic drink made from the sap of palm trees, or the locally produced beer, such as Regab or Tembo.
LGBTQ IN GABON
WHERE TO STAY IN GABON
When visiting Gabon for the first time, it's recommended to stay in the capital city of Libreville, as it's the largest city in the country and has the most tourist facilities. Here are some of the best areas to consider for accommodation in Libreville:
- Quartier Louis: This is a popular area for tourists, as it is close to the beach, shops, and restaurants. There are several hotels and guesthouses in the area, ranging from budget to luxury options.
- Centre-ville: This is the central business district of Libreville and is home to many hotels and guesthouses. It's a great location for exploring the city's landmarks and attractions, including the Presidential Palace and the National Museum of Gabon.
- Sablière: This is a quiet and residential area of Libreville, located on the outskirts of the city. It's a great option if you prefer a more peaceful and relaxed setting, away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.
- Haut-de-Gué-Gué: This is a popular residential area, known for its large houses and tree-lined streets. It's a good option if you want to experience a more local atmosphere and be close to restaurants and shops.
- Akanda: This is a suburb of Libreville, located about 30 minutes from the city center. It's a great option if you want to be close to nature and enjoy a more peaceful setting, as there are several nature reserves and parks in the area.
When choosing your accommodation in Gabon, it's important to consider your budget, location preferences, and the amenities you require. It's also recommended to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
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