Gabon Explorer

Gabon is often described as a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. A huge proportion of its land is designated as national parks and is home to some of the continent’s most impressive wildlife. This short Gabon itinerary takes you to the heart of its rainforests. This land of primeval jungles, wetlands and savannah was made famous by the explorer Mike Fay in his epic trek through Central Africa.

Starting in Libreville, we trek in the forests of the Raponda Walker Arboretum and spend some time exploring the city, before travelling to the old colonial town of Lambarene where we delve into the secrets of Bwiti, a bizarre and fascinating belief system found nowhere else, and are privileged to witness a unique local ceremony and gain insights into this almost mystical religion.

We take a thrilling boat journey on the Ogooué River, penetrating further into the rainforest, and at Lake Oguemoue, we stay in a tented camp as part of a community based tourism project and explore the surrounding forest and waterways in search of Gabon’s rich wildlife. We also have opportunities to meet local villagers going about their daily lives here.

This short trip offers the chance to see Africa at its wildest, where nature rules supreme and the jungle is king. Often called ‘Africa’s last Eden’, come to Gabon and find out why.

Gabon lowland gorilla

Highlights

  • See a Bwiti ceremony
  • Travel along the Ogooue river
  • Look for wildlife at Oguemoue
  • Explore Lambarene

Day 1 - Libreville

Arrive in Libreville and transfer to your hotel. Overnight Tropicana Hotel or similar.

Libreville

Like most African cities, Libreville is a fairly modern creation, having been established as a settlement for freed slaves in the mid 19th century – hence the name. Initially consisting of little more than a trading post, it grew enormously after independence and today is home to around 40% of Gabon’s population.

One of Africa’s more expensive cities, Libreville has a rather odd feel to it – oil money means that it has more than its fair share of glitzy modern buildings, although hidden away are of course the inevitable shanty towns. With few sights to speak of, the city is interesting for presenting a very different side to Africa than you may have seen before.

Day 2 - Libreville

We start the day with a visit to the Raponda Walker Arboretum, an area of protected forest that covers around 6,747 hectares and is home to various equatorial rainforest trees and plants. We trek in the forest, learning about the properties of medicinal plants that we come across, and reach the coast where we have a picnic on the beach. Head back to Libreville in the afternoon to explore some of the city. Overnight Tropicana Hotel or similar. (BL)


Day 3 - Lambarene

In the morning we continue exploring Libreville with a visit to the St Michel Church and other sites. The church showcases an interesting mix of traditional Gabonese and Christian art styles. In the afternoon we head to Lambarene, on an island in the Ogooué River. Lambarene is known for its lakes, with several endemic bird and fish species, as well as the Schweitzer Hospital, established in the early 20th century and a centre for research into malaria. We spend the night in the hospital guest rooms for a sense of the history of this town. (BD)


Day 4 - Lambarene

In the morning we explore the hospital and the house of Albert Schweitzer which now houses a museum. We have the afternoon to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings here, before driving to the outskirts of Lambarene in the evening to witness a very special – and unique to Gabon – ceremony, that of the Bwiti belief system. This is a ‘secret’ society based on indigenous beliefs, where initiates seek to communicate with spirit world, and a highlight of the trip. Overnight Albert Schweitzer Hospital or similar. (BLD)


Day 5 - Lambarene

Free morning to relax or take a walk after a late night. In the afternoon we explore Lambarene town, visiting the Isaac market and Ogooué river. Overnight Albert Schweitzer Hospital or similar. (BLD)


Day 6 - Oguemoue Lake

This morning we travel by boat along the Ogooué River, a stunning journey which gives a sense of how the first European explorers of this region must have felt. We then reach our base for the next few days, Oguemoue Lake, and set out to try and catch our first glimpse of the local wildlife. Overnight tented camp. (BLD)


Days 7-8 - Oguemoue Lake

Two full days to explore Oguemoue. The wildlife here is rich and includes elephant, hippos, crocodiles, gorillas, chimpanzees and numerous antelope species, as well as a huge number of bird species. However, as in any forest environment, it requires a bit of luck and determination to see. Accompanied by local guides we venture into the forests and along the lake each day in search of the iconic wildlife that lives here. We also have the opportunity to visit local communities and learn about their traditions. Overnight tented camp. (BLD)

Oguemoue Lake

Lake Oguemoué lies in the southern chain of lakes along the Ogooué River south of Lambaréné, Gabon. The lakes and river form part of the Bas-Ogooué Ramsar Site, a wetland of international importance and the largest Ramsar Site in Gabon. Oguemoué’s surrounding forests are home to forest elephants, lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, African forest buffalo and other Congo Basin forest wildlife. Sandbars in the lakes host nesting colonies of rare birds and hippopotamuses and African manatees can be found in river and lake waters, though their populations are thought to be rapidly declining due to over-hunting.

While here, we stay at a community-based tourism project, set up to provide jobs and income for local people while protecting the biodiversity of the area.

Western lowland gorillas

Western lowland gorillas are endangered, but they remain far more common than their relatives, the mountain gorilla. They live in dense rain forests, and it is difficult for scientists to accurately estimate how many survive in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Western lowland gorillas can be distinguished from other gorilla subspecies by their slightly smaller size, their brown-grey coats and auburn chests. They also have wider skulls with more pronounced brow ridges and smaller ears. Large numbers have not protected the western lowland gorilla from decline. Because of poaching and disease, the gorilla’s numbers have declined by more than 60% over the last 20 to 25 years. Even if all of the threats to western lowland gorillas were removed, scientists calculate that the population would require some 75 years to recover. However, in Gabon they appear to have suffered much less than in neighbouring countries.

Gorillas are present at Oguemoue, but are very difficult to see, so please don’t expect the same type of experience as you might have in Uganda or Rwanda.

Day 9 - Lambarene - Libreville

After breakfast we make our way back to Lambarene and continue to Libreville in the afternoon. Overnight Hotel Tropicana or similar. (BL)


Day 10 - Libreville

We spend the day exploring Libreville with visits to some interesting workshops including those of wood sculptors and painters. We also visit the Museum of Arts and Traditions and there will be the opportunity to purchase traditional musical instruments as well as items used in traditional Bwiti ceremonies. Transfer to the airport in the evening for your flight home. (B)


Please note that we sell this trip in conjunction with our local partner, so there may be other nationalities in this group. 

 Please also note, you should not book any departure flight before the evening of the final day.

Elephant mother and baby wallowing at waterhole - Gabon tours and holidays
Pygmy community making traditional music - Gabon tours and holidays

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.

    Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However, there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example, if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively, a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however, you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

Most travellers will require a visa to enter Gabon. You may need an invitation letter in order to obtain this, depending on the requirements of the embassy that you apply at – we can provide this for you. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

We strongly recommend not to apply for a Gabon E-Visa online. Despite the website stating that it is a quick process taking 3-4 days, it has been known to take anything from 6-8 weeks to process. As an alternative, we can arrange a travel authorization for you which costs £130; this will then enable you to obtain your Gabon visa on arrival at a cost of €70.

The other alternative is to apply directly through the relevant embassy. We can arrange an invitation letter as a supporting document to help with your application.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations, you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to Gabon and you must bring this with you.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover, which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

The local currency in Gabon is the Central African CFA, a currency that is shared with many other countries in the region. It is not, however, the same as the West African CFA, and the two are not interchangeable. It is best to bring Euros for exchange purposes as the CFA is not obtainable outside of the region.

It’s not difficult to change money in Gabon, but only in the larger cities – once you leave these, your opportunity for changing funds is slim to non-existent, and so we recommend that you change enough at the start of the tour to last for the duration that you are in Gabon. Your guide will be able to assist with this. ATMs exist but are not always reliable and so it is best to think of them as a back up rather than a main means of obtaining money.

Credit cards are accepted in larger hotels and better restaurants (usually in Libreville and Port Gentil) but are not commonly accepted elsewhere.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any parts of Gabon.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated May 2019

Elephant mother and baby wallowing at waterhole - Gabon tours and holidays
Pygmy community making traditional music - Gabon tours and holidays
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
03 August 2022
Price (PP) -
£3,499
Single Supplement -
£235
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
02 August 2023
Price (PP) -
£3,599
Single Supplement -
£235
Trip Status -
Available

You may also like…