#An ecological treasure and a biodiversity barely imaginable
The savannah, the mangrove swamp, but especially the Gabonese forest, abound with some 190 species of mammals, 70 species of reptiles and more than 600 species of listed birds, present only in Central Africa or endemic to Gabon. In addition, Gabon's biodiversity is of additional interest thanks to the environment in which they can be observed. Have you ever seen hippos surfing the waves or elephants romping by the sea? The many species of trees (more than 800 species), in the heart of the forest as well as around rivers (mangroves), or amazing varieties of orchids are so many treasures to discover by the tracks that criss-cross the country or on the river in a pirogue. And all this in a still virgin environment!
13 parks to shelter an exceptional natural heritage :
President Ali Bongo's policy, clearly stated in favour of the economic development of "Gabon Vert", has involved the National Parks Agency (ANPN), which reports directly to the presidency, to promote tourism adapted to an environmental approach. Thirteen national parks have been created by Omar Bongo to safeguard this priceless natural heritage, representing 11% of the territory and more than 30,000 km². Many organizations, some of which are already active on several sites, are mobilizing to help manage this network. The support of the international community makes this bold undertaking an example to follow. In June 2017, at United Nations headquarters, Ali Bongo also announced the creation of 20 marine protected areas, covering 26% of Gabon's marine area.
Each season, a particular interest
The different times of the year mark important climate changes, but also migratory passages not to be missed. Leatherback turtles are observed from November to February. Humpback whales come to flirt along the coast in the dry season, from July to September. Migratory birds stop in Akanda Park from September to February. Vegetation changes in the dry season, rivers are less abundant and, although visibility is improved, all seasons have their fruits and berries, which primates are fond of and attract certain species, giving better opportunities to observe them, even in the rainy season. Moreover, this rainy season, contrary to popular belief, offers a clearer and sunnier sky between showers: the light is fabulous! The important thing is to determine in advance the reasons for your trip.
World-renowned sport fishing sites
For lovers of sport fishing, whatever the technique - from the beach or a boat - Gabon is famous for some famous destinations: Ozouri, Fernan Vaz, Sette Cama, Loango Park, are not to be missed. Red carp, captains, tarpons, large barracudas or jacks from 50 to 100 kg are caught regularly. Fishing is most successful during the rainy season, from September to April.
A culture that originates in the heart of the forest
Discovering Gabon means entering the forest and its mysteries where nature awaits you, stunning with its greenery, smells and sensory experiences. Because, in addition to the richness of the fauna and flora, the forest carries within it the essence of the culture of this region. The spirit world intimately linked to forest life and the objects of ancestral cults (masks, statues and reliquaries) that accompany the ceremonies bear witness to a civilization where men first settled "back to the sea" in the forest. In both urban and rural areas, the vitality of the ceremonies proves the attachment to a belief system that is still very much alive and in which the events of the life of the extended family and that of the tribe take on meaning.
A relatively safe country
As part of a turbulent sub-region, Gabon suffers from a sometimes uncomfortable image. In reality, in everyday life, insecurity is not the first feeling that comes to mind when you walk around the country. Provided, of course, that you follow a few simple rules: do not walk at night on the seaside or too early in the early morning, be careful with taxis you use at night or do not leave valuables in a car. In the villages, the feeling of security is even more pronounced. But don't hang around at night on the roads.
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette