Gabon (officially the Gabonese Republic) is one of the most stable countries in Sub Saharan Africa, thereby making it an ideal and safe tourist attraction. Spread over nearly 270,000 square kilometers (100,000 sq miles), the sparsely populated nation of 1.5m people is a natural wonderland where time has not left its forceful mark.
Located right on the line of the equator means its climate is in marked contrast to most of the rest of the world. Its summers are actually when it’s coldest; conversely the winters are remarkable for being hotter than the summers! Overall though, the country boasts of a temperate climate pretty much the whole year around, with even its hottest month of January having an average temperature of only 31 degrees Celsius. While its coldest month of July typically hovering around the 21 degrees Celsius, effectively making Gabon the perfect winter gateway for those freezing snow bound months.
Quite unlike many of its highly troubled neighbors, such as Guinea, Cameroon and Congo, Gabon is a veritable oasis of peace and stability and as such is Central Africa’s most travel friendly and progressive destination. In effect, making it the perfect place to ‘get-away-from-it all. Especially, if you have a penchant to backpack and safari away from the more popular and crowded places.
Ever since the Gabonese government decided to turn a whopping eleven percent of the entire country into a protected national park (built along the lines of South Africa’s Krueger and Zembabwe’s Gonarezhou National Parks) in 2003. One of the things to do in Gabon is to visit its tropical rainforest as they just seem to meander on and on endlessly. A relatively undiscovered fairyland of thick jungles and lush green forests ending in pristine and white, sandy beaches. Its gushing rivers form a perfect backdrop to the country’s surrealistic landscapes.
One of the things to do in Gabon is to visit Loango National Park. The park has been created to protect the biodiversity of the nation’s coastal habitats, including part of the world famous Iguéla Lagoon, so far the only western African lagoon system that is confined within the boundaries of a national park.
The well known international conservationist Mike Fay referred to Loango as 'Africa's very last (Garden of) Eden'. The famous Net Geo photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols snapped his, by now world famous pictures of surfing hippos at this park. Indeed, this is why this park is often referred to as the ‘Land of Surfing Hippos’. The 1,550 Km² Park offers an endless rolling vista of buffalos, hippos’ elephants, and primates of every hue and shade actually spilling over on to its white sandy beaches, even as it’s over 100 kilometers of uninhabited coastline are an ideal observation spot for marine life include whales and dolphins. Things to do in Gabon include observing these wondrous sights up close and personal.
Places to visit in Gabon
One of the things to do in Gabon should include a visit to Chutes Kongou (also called the Koungou Falls) a truly humongous waterfall about 3.2 kilometers wide and up to 56 m tall and located on the Ivindo river in the recently formed Ivindo National Park. With an average flow of 900 cubic meters per second, it is effectively one of the most powerful free flowing waterfalls in the world
The Makokou and Kongou falls are often referred to by the Gabonese as Gabon’s answer to the Niagara Falls. Taken together they are the biggest and most spectacular waterfalls in all of Central Africa.
One of the things to do in Gabon is to find the best way to observe these beautiful spots first hand. One can do that by taking the train to Booué from the Gabonese capital of Libreville and then a taxi to Makokou.
One of the things to do in Gabon is to visit the beating heart of Gabon, i.e. its capital city of Libreville. With a population of around eight hundred thousand or so, fully one third of the nation’s population lives there and unlike the capitals of its neighboring countries it boasts of spotless streets, clean restaurants and a general air of peace and prosperity. It’s also a port town located on the mighty Komo River close to the Gulf of Guinea.
The city is famous for its seafront where visitors can relax while having their hair ruffled by the soft breeze wafting from the Atlantic Ocean. The Sea front is richly decorated with towering sculptures that are often as tall as 20 feet.
One of the things to do in Gabon is to visit perhaps the most well known places in Libreville, i.e. its world renowned tree sanctuary where there are literally thousands upon thousands of local tree species.
If you are in the mood to shop around for curios than the Marche Artisanal is the place to visit. This is where Senegalese merchants sell traditional jewelry and ethnic paintings and clothes. However it would be prudent to be careful of one’s belongings since pickpockets are known to prey on unwary tourists.
If you are tired and jaded with the usual tourist destinations then this Eden like paradise is an absolute must in your travel itinerary.