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National Parks and Reserves of Gabon

In the region of Libreville, the Akanda National Park is a 540 km² mangrove just a few minutes away from the capital with an extraordinary variety of wildlife. The Pongara National Park, less than an hour away by boat, is home to a very rich variety of fauna, particularly buffaloes, elephants and the damara tern, a threatened species. Here you can observe 550 leatherback turtles lay their eggs and the incredible spectacle of the mudskippers, amphibian fish that hunt insects out of the water!

The Monts de Cristal National Park consists of uplands that are difficult to access. Its climate is perfectly adapted to plants that thrive in humid conditions, like orchids and begonia. Botanists estimate that it hosts the richest plant biodiversity in all of Africa. Along the Congolese border, few parks remain relatively unexplored like the Plateaux Bateke National Park: an ocean of grassland in the heart of the equatorial forest, in the kingdom of the Téké, a Bantu people.

In places, the gentle landscape is broken by spectacular multicoloured pink, orange and black cliffs. There are also many archaeological vestiges. To get there, you have to cross a liana bridge and the Ndobi falls: a real adventure! New installations will soon enable visitors to observe the gorillas in the Howletts Foundation.

The Mwagna National Park with its bai (clearing) that is sacred to the pygmies attracts forest elephants, monkeys, forest hogs, bongo antelopes, sitatungas and duikers. There are still many discoveries to be made there. Legend tells of a giant dinosaurlike creature, the mokélémbembé. Finally, to the North, the Minkebe National Park is an immense 8,000 km2 virgin forest with the largest concentration of elephants in the Congo Basin (an estimated 30,000 individuals) and rare species like the very shy bongo antelope. Central Gabon has the most interesting sites in Africa for observing long-nosed crocodiles (in the Ivindo National Park) and mandrills (the largest population is to be found at Lopé, where a research centre is dedicated to them).

The Lopé National Park has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2007. This park offers two except ional experiences: a night in the heart of the Gabonese savannah observing antelopes and duikers, bush pigs, savannah birds and an initiation to the Ndjembe secret society. Sheltered by the Chaillu massif, the Waka Park remains relatively unknown.

The everyday lives of the people here are punctuated by their traditions and spiritual culture. Their vast knowledge regularly enables them to assist conservation specialists working in natural sites. In the future their knowledge and respect for nature will make them indispensable ecoguides.

Finally, the sun-tailed monkey, a primate previously unknown to science, was discovered in 1984 in the Birougou National Park in the centre of the Chaillu massif. Along the coast, the Loango National Park is an extraordinary and complex patchwork of beaches, lagoons, mangroves, salt meadows, swamps, savannah and forests. Elephants, hippopotamuses and hump-backed whales share the pleasure of the rolling waves and the deserted beaches here. This is the finest site in tropical Africa for recreational fishing both in the sea and in lagoons.

The Mayumba National Park is one of the most important laying sites in the world for the leatherback turtle. Now an endangered species, the park was created to protect them. Here you can see surfing hippopotamuses. The Moukalaba-Doudou National Park comprises mountain rainforests, some of the driest savannah in the country, lakes, rivers and papyrus groves. It has one of the highest densities of primates in Gabon.

In Gabon, it seems that Nature and Man signed a pact of nonaggression which allowed its natural diversity to be intact, and continuously beautiful and rich. Gabon is really a Country of Nature, in which the discovery of natural wealth is permanent and unforeseeable.

Mbolo! Welcome to Gabon!