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Breaching humpback whale

What to do in Gabon

Relax at the beach

Lounging at the beach
Lounging at the beach

 

Gabon is country of beautiful beaches. You simply can’t escape getting a revitalizing whiff of sea breeze when you come to this country.

Right inside Libreville territory, you will find Pointe-Denis and Ekwata Beach, two of the most famous beaches in the capital.

Then, just half an hour’s drive away, there are Cape Santa Clara and Cape Esterias. These are nice deserted beaches where you can really relax and just soak in the sun and the clear blue water and sky.

In some of the beaches, you can go surfing or snorkeling. In others, such as the beach in Mayumba, you may even find a sea turtle nest.

If the powdery sands, crystal water, and wealth of wildlife are still not enough to make you feel like you’re in paradise, wait for lunchtime, when you can feast of fresh seafood.

If ever there could be paradise here on Earth, it must look very much like this.

 

Go fishing

Atlantic tarpon
Atlantic tarpon

 

Gabon’s lakes and rivers are excellent fishing venues. The country has arguably the best-preserved marine environments in Africa.

At the Loango National Park, where fishing activities are limited to local subsistence fishing and a couple of tourist operations,you can sign up for a nine-day itinerary that included full board accommodations at the park and fishing excursions to catch the giant African threadfin, the Atlantic tarpon, the Guinean barracuda, or the African cubera snapper.

Other top fishing destinations are Port Gentil, where you can rent fishing equipment, and the mouth of the Ogooué river.

 

See the humpback whales

Breaching humpback whale
Breaching humpback whale

 

If you are in Gabon between July and September, you’re just in time to see the humpback whales! These whales come to Gabonese waters during this season to mate and calve before they return to their summer feeding grounds.

The best places to see the humpback whales are in Loango and Mayumba. Loango, of course, if famous for its“surfing hippos,”though it is not likely you will see any of those. You’ll have to content yourself with whale sightings, then.

Mayumba National Park is Gabon’s primary marine park. Here you can see not just the migrating humpbacks but also dolphins and sharks and the critically endangered leatherback turtles that come to the beach to nest.

 

Hike through the forest

Baby chimpanzee
Baby chimpanzee

 

In 2002, President Omar Bongo Ondimba made history by declaring 11% of his country’s entire territory as national parks, creating a total of 13 national parks all in one day.

Today, Gabon has 14 of these protected areas all in all–Akanda, Batéké, Birougou,Crystal Mountains, Ivindo, Loango, Lopé, Mayumba, Minkébé, Monts Cristal, Moukalaba-Doudou, Mwangné, Pongara, and Waka.

As far as percentages go, this seems to put Gabon at level with Costa Rica–but the moment you consider that Costa Rica is just a fifth the size of Gabon, you begin to get a more accurate picture of how immense Gabon’s current protected zones are.

And we reap the benefits of the late president’s foresight. Gabon’s flora and fauna are well preserved, the forests are wild and free and beautiful.These national parks have become havens for species of high concern–the forest elephant, the dwarf crocodile, the chimpanzee, the western lowland gorilla.

Hikers trek through thick foliage canopies and liana bridges, hearing the cries of the chimpanzees and macaws ringing through the air, now and then catching sight of large forest mammals and reptiles.

It is a forest hiker’s dream adventure. Don’t miss it when you go to Gabon.

 

See Gabon’s artistic heritage

Reliquary guardian figure s
Reliquary guardian figure
s

Gabon is not famous only for its environmental conservation efforts; it is also well known for its rich artistic heritage.

The art of Gabonis said to have influenced the work of many modern renowned artists,including Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacommetti(1901–1966),French artist and Fauvismco-founder André Derain (1880–1954), Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi (1876–1957), and Cubism co-founders Georges Braque (1882–1963) and Pablo Picasso (1881–1973).

See exhibits of the country’s folk art–tribal crafts and masks–in Libreville’s Musée des Arts et Traditions (Museum of Arts and Traditions) and even along the bord de mer,Libreville’s seafront, where you can find Gabonese sculptures as high as 6 meters (20 feet) tall while you enjoy the refreshing breeze of the Atlantic ocean.