Lying on the equator in Central Africa, and hugging the Atlantic coastline, is the unexplored eden of Gabon. A country that receives well under 100,000 visitors a year is now well and truly on the wildlife enthusiasts list as it boasts wonderful botanical, avian and mammal diversity in exquisite rainforest and coastal settings.
Located on the equator and framed by the beautiful Ogooué River, Lopé National Park is, was the first protected area in Gabon and was enlisted as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2007. The park is an important refuge to over 1400 endangered mandrills and 420 bird species as well as western gorillas, sun-tailed guenon, black colobus, chimpanzee and forest elephants. Diverse habitats and landscapes include forests, riverine areas, savannah and rolling hills.
In the south of the country and on the western coastal plain is the iconic Loango National Park – a scenic 1550km² mosaic of forests, wetlands, grassy plains, mangroves, lagoons and sandy beaches.
This biodiverse hotspot is inhabited by forest elephant, forest buffalo, numerous monkey species, chimpanzees, lowland gorillas, red river hogs, hippo, sitatunga and incredible birdlife – many of these famously viewable on the idyllical beaches.
The marine environment is similarly rich with migrating dolphins and whales and both leatherback and Olive ridley turtles nesting on Loango’s shores. Closer exploration of the forests and lagoons reveal a multitude of reptiles, frogs, freshwater fishes, insects and spiders. Loango NP is without doubt a must-see destination for everyone with a spirited interest in the natural world.
Kayaking / Boating
This is a 12 night expedition focusing on Lopé National Park and the Loango National Park and Sette Cama peninsula in southwestern Gabon.
In Lopé we’ll go in search of the enigmatic mandrill and soak in the extraordinary avian, botanical and mammal diversity of this little visited park.
Loango is the prime wildlife location in the country and is an exceptional destination for mammal viewing and birdwatching but also in terms of the range of activities possible – walking/tracking, boating, kayaking, sport fishing and game drives.
After a night on arrival in Libreville we’ll travel by train into the interior and to Lopé NP. Over 3 nights and 4 days we’ll explore the park from a private mobile tented camp set in a prime location.
After returning to Libreville and overnighting there we’ll fly, drive and boat to a remote tented camp on the Sette Cama peninsula. Over 7 nights we’ll explore the beaches, lagoons and adjacent forest on foot, by boat and safari vehicle. We’ll also make use of a simple mobile fly camp (typically set on the beach) to explore further afield.
Travelling north by boat on the Sounga lagoon and walking to the Rembo Ngowe river we’ll then boat to our new base camp in the Akaka forest, near the Max Planck research institute. From here we’ll track the enigmatic lowland gorillas before boating downstream to the brilliantly located Loango lodge on the banks of the Iguela lagoon. Here we’ll have direct access to the parks ribbon of tranquil waterways, hidden coves and wild beaches which we’ll explore in a variety of ways.
A road transfer and flight to Libreville will connect us with our international departures, or onward extensions within Gabon or in the region.
The river and the forest were like presences, and much more powerful than you. You felt unprotected, an intruder. You felt the land taking you back to something that was familiar, something you had known at some time but had forgotten or ignored, but which was always there. You felt the land taking you back to what was there a hundred years ago, to what had been there always.”
A Bend in the River, by V.S. Naipaul
The Loango Gorilla Project
The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology started a project in 2005 to habituate western gorillas for both research and tourism purposes in Loango National Park, Gabon. The main goals of this project have been to better understand the ecology, behavior, and demography of western gorillas as well as to establish gorilla tourism as a conservation strategy in collaboration with the Gabonese National Park Authorities (Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux – ANPN). Due to the difficulties of habituating western gorillas, only a few long term studies of them have been done, so we know relatively little about them compared to their better studied cousins in eastern Africa. Since 2014, the Loango Gorilla Project has been collecting data on one habituated group of western gorillas, making more than 1000 hours of behavioral observations annually.
“Imagine a world where elephants and hippos meet whales and dolphins on a wilderness coastline. A world where enormous pristine forests are home to a staggering array of creatures, where African manatees drift in quiet lagoons and where clouds of butterflies fill the humid air. Everything is alive and green and growing. This is Gabon.”
” It’s a privilege to be born in a country known as the last eden of the world. A place where the evergreen of the forest meets the Atlantic Ocean. A place where elephants, buffalos, hippos, red river hogs, gorillas and chimpanzees… peacefully graze on coastal savannahs, river banks and deep forest. From north to south and east to west, the biodiversity of Gabon is remarkable. Blessed with pristine and authentic nature, to the extent many species of plants and animals remain undiscovered. Come and explore our rich natural, cultural and historical heritage, this country has a lot to show to the world. Welcome to Gabon!”