Located on the western Atlantic coast, Gabon, Le Gabon, is one of the most politically stable and safest countries in Central Africa. In the capital Libreville – founded by the French at the end of the 19th century – this stability is expressed, among other things, in a good infrastructure, wide boulevards and, in general, a certain sophisticated flair. Libreville is a pulsating and dynamic city, a modern metropolis where you can go out chick, which has numerous interesting sights, a French center, a recommended handicraft market and a visit to the National Museum of Art and Cultural History. If you are looking for peace and quiet in between to let the many different impressions take effect, finds plenty of it (despite its central location) in the Peyrie Gardens. At the weekend, the city also offers the opportunity to take a boat to Point Deniz and the beautiful beaches there. Gabon, however, consists of much more than its urban heart and its offerings. In the immediate vicinity there is rainforest and thus an invitation to discover the diversity of Gabon, whose area is now 10% under nature protection, in flora and fauna. The best known are probably the Loango National Park, only a few kilometers away from Libreville, in which, due to its location on the Atlantic, you can watch buffalo and elephants as well as whales and dolphins, as well as Reserve de la Lopé, which consists of both rainforest and savannah exhibits particularly species-rich bird life. Gabon also has over 885 km of coastline.
Ivindo National Park
Breathtaking biodiversity and spectacular rapids
The Ivindo National Park is located in the southwest of Makokou in Central Africa and was opened in 2001. It extends in Gabon (Gabon) from the northeast to the southwest. The forest-covered national park was established to protect the immeasurable wealth of species in this area from the imminent dangers of the ivory trade and the timber industry. The two spectacular waterfalls, the Mingouli and the Kongou, are a special attraction of the national park, which is well worth seeing. The well-known Congo Falls are certainly the most impressive in Africa. From all sides the water rushes into the river. With a remarkable width of three kilometers, a height of over 50 meters, and a surrounding, dense palm forest, which offers gray parrots a safe refuge at night, Kongoue is rightly called the most beautiful waterfall in Central Africa. On a guided tour that also includes visits to each waterfall, travelers have plenty of opportunities to spot monkeys, hippos, forest buffalo and rare birds. Tours through the park are not recommended during the dry season, however, when the Ivindo River is very deep and the paths sometimes lead along craggy rocks.
The extensive Impassa Reserve is connected to the Ivindo National Park, a 10,000 hectare reserve in which the deforestation of old trees has long been prohibited. Together with an experienced nature guide, tourists can follow in the footsteps of monkeys, buffalo, elephants and gorillas. With over 400 species of birds, the area is the perfect place for ornithologists and bird lovers.
Primeval Forest Hospital Albert Schweitzer
Image: Albert Schweitzer postcard from 1956
The Franco-German doctor, philosopher and theologian Albert Schweitzer founded the Urwald Spital Albert Schweitzer in the jungle of Africa in 1913. Together with his wife Helene, he looked after the poorest of the poor under very difficult conditions. The hospital in Lambaréné in Gabon, Central Africa, has been rebuilt four times since it was founded in order to adapt it to medical advances and the needs of patients.
In the 1920s, the number of patients increased steadily: In addition to caring for leprosy sufferers and cleaning and disinfecting severe foot ulcers, the treatment of sleeping sickness, malaria or elephantiasis and operations were the order of the day. The families of the patients were also accommodated on the premises of the hospital, as were many animals, most of which were found there as boulders and cared for with devotion. In addition to caring for his patients, the doctor Albert Schweitzer was persistently busy with the expansion of the hospital, which, however, soon reached its limits. For this reason, the hospital was rebuilt and expanded a few kilometers away.
But even this hospital no longer met the latest requirements in the mid-1970s. Albert Schweitzer’s plant could only be saved by building another new building. The new building of the hospital was inaugurated in 1981. Today the hospital is run by an international foundation which, in addition to its own income from hospital operations, is financed by national aid associations and the state of Gabon
Lopé National Park
unique world heritage in Gabon
- A wild Atlantic coast with rugged cliffs and soft sandy beaches
- seemingly endless savannas made of tall, dense grass
- a bright green rainforest reaching as far as the horizon, now and then broken up by artfully meandering rivers
- the gentle peaks and deep valleys of the mountains in the far east
The central African and equatorial Gabon has an astonishingly diverse and extremely species-rich natural landscape. A total of 13 national parks ensure the protection of this unique natural heritage in Africa. The Lopé National Park occupies an absolutely outstanding position here. An unprecedented close connection between two habitats, a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna as well as the human settlement history going back to the Stone Age characterize this special area of the National Park in Gabon, which has been recognized as a natural and cultural heritage.
Rainforest and savannah – a man-made combination
The Lopé National Park owes its uniqueness and ecological importance to man’s millennia of all things. The current 4,910 square kilometer protected area in the valley of the Ogooué has been a very important area of human settlement almost continuously since the Stone Age, because this valley was part of the central migration corridor from the coast to the inland even in prehistoric times. When man finally settled here, he cleared some parts of the rainforest for the purpose of agriculture and livestock. In this way, man kept the area in the area of today’s national park open for thousands of years and the increasingly warmer and drier climate in the region ultimately prevented the open landscape from being naturally transformed back into tropical rainforest.
Colorful wildlife and artful rock paintings
Whether in the savannah or in the rainforest, numerous well-known African animal species can be observed in the Lope National Park. The species diversity is particularly high among birds, with around 400 species, a good two thirds of all Gabon’s bird species live in the protected area. Strikingly colorful bee-eaters, colorful turacos, artistic rock hoppers or the majestic crowned eagle not only inspire ornithologically interested holidaymakers. The mighty forest elephants roaming the vast savannah landscape in herds are a truly indescribable sight. The leopard, the largest big cat in the national park, often prowls through the tall grass in search of popular prey such as the red buffalo, bushbuck or swamp antelope.
Visitors can also make one or two remarkable discoveries in the rainforest, as both chimpanzees and western lowland gorillas regularly roam their territories here. And even if the mandrill is very widespread in the Lopé National Park, an encounter with the strikingly colorful-faced monkey will remain unforgettable even the second time.
But not only nature shows all its abilities in the Lopé National Park, this special landscape in the heart of Gabun has also stimulated great creativity. Numerous artifacts and archaeological finds bear witness to various cultural weddings in the Ogooué Valley. Absolutely worth seeing and the undisputed highlight of cultural study trips through the national park are the more than 1,800 rock carvings, which, together with the wonderful landscape and the unique biodiversity, have made the Lopé National Park so special since the Stone Age.