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Gabon

Main attractions

Rainforest in Gabon
Rainforest in Gabon / Axel Rouvin, CC BY 2.0

Gabon is sparsely populated country which per 85% is covered with equatorial rainforest.

The nature here is overwhelming - visitor can look in admiration on the lush, picturesque rainforest with myriads of plant and animal species, mountains and countless waterfalls formed on powerful streams. Life is everywhere - beaches of Gabon offer unique sights whales, turtles and elephants, sometimes all at once!

Highlights of Gabon are:

  • Species rich ecosystems, including unusual relict rainforest which persisted during the ice age thanks to the fog from cold ocean streams nearby. Species diversity here is not too much investigated - most likely hundreds or thousands of species are still waiting for their discoverers.
  • Waterfalls and rapids. Thanks to the countless waterfalls and thick forest Gabon was not penetrated by European intruders in the previous centuries. Now these landmarks represent a magnificent sight - sometimes falls are even 1 km wide. Most beautiful is the cascade of four great falls on Ivindo River. Many waterfalls are endangered by the development of hydropower plants and some have been lost already.

Natural landmarks

Caves

  • Bongolo Caves (Malibé Caves) - Ngounié. Cave with extensive network of passages.
  • Lastourville Caves - Ogooué-Lolo, Ngounié, Nyanga. Four limestone karst areas in dense tropical forest. Caves in this region have been used by humans since ancient times for settlement, ceremonies, burial. Each cave served for certain purpose, e.g. Paoun Caves served for medical - magical ceremonies, here were found traces of ancient weapon-making rituals. Lastourville cave is large cave with impressive, 45 m deep sinkhole and waterfalls inside it. Kessipougou Cave is 1.5 km long, Grotte de Mbenalatembe is 2,380 m long, the longest known cave in Gabon. Grotte de Lebamba is 740 m long. The entrance in Ngoiringomo Cave leads through waterfall.

Waterfalls

  • Djidji Falls (Dji-Dji Falls) - Ogooué-Ivindo. Group of three falls, total height - 60 m, width up to 15 m.
  • Ivela Falls - Nyanga. Spectacular falls with several cascades on Moukalaba River.
  • Kongou Falls (celles de Kongou) - Ogooué-Ivindo. Some of most impressive falls in Central Africa, formed on Ivindo River and surrounded by beautiful rainforest. Waterfalls have many cascades and are up to 56 m tall and 3.2 km wide.
  • Kuete-Mango Falls - Ogooué-Ivindo. Waterfall on Ivindo River.
  • Mingouli Falls - Ogooué-Ivindo. Enormous, beautiful waterfall on Ivindo River.
  • Poubara Falls - Haut-Ogooué. Group of consecutive waterfalls and rapids on Ogooué River, total height of falls is some 30 m.
  • Tchimbélé and Kinguélé - Woleu-Ntem. Two waterfalls on Komo River, total height - 110 m. Adversely affected by hydropower station.
  • Tsengue Leledi Falls - Ogooué-Ivindo. The last great waterfall on Ivindo River.

Ecosystems

  • Doudou Mountains - Nyanga. Up to 700 m high mountains - refugium of Pleistocene rainforest with large number of species found only here. Complete biological inventory has not been made but preliminary research has resulted in finds of many species new to the science.
  • Mount Seni and Mbe (Crystal Mountains) - Woleu-Ntem. Two mountain massives with exceptionally high biological diversity, refugium of Pleistocene rain forest. This ancient rain forest survived the ice age thanks to the fog from Benguela Current.

Other natural landmarks

  • Bam Bam Amphitheatres - Estuaire. Several large rock amphitheatres with hoodoos.
  • Léconi Canyons (Cirque de Lekoni) - Haut-Ogooué. Deep, circular rock amphitheatres with numerous hoodoos - rock stacks. There are several such amphitheatres - Canyon Blanc, Canyon Rose and Canyon Vert.
  • Oclo Mines - Haut-Ogooué. The only known site on Earth, where natural nuclear fission has taken place approximately 1.7 billion years ago in some 16 closely located sites. The evidence of this has been testified through unusual composition of uranium, neodymium, ruthenium and other materials.

Man made landmarks

Petroglyphs

  • Ayem rock art - Ogooué-Ivindo. Group of prehistoric rock carvings in both sides of Ogooué River. Larger concentration of carvings is in four sites: Epona (410 petroglyphs, most are circles), Elarmekora (240 petroglyphs, mostly diamond-shaped symbols), Kongo Boumba (5 sites with 280 petroglyphs, mostly spirals) and Lindili (more than 20 carvings, mostly concentric circles).
  • Kaya-Kaya rock art - Haut-Ogooué. Group of some 30 prehistoric rock carvings - diamond (vulva) shaped, circular, elliptical rings, diverse figures.
Tomb of Albert Schweitzer near his hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon
Tomb of Albert Schweitzer near his hospital in Lambaréné / Vincent.vaquin, CC BY-SA 3.0

European heritage

  • Schweitzer Hospital - Moyen-Ogooué. Historical hospital, founded by Albert Schweitzer in 1913. This institution serves whole region of Gabon and has retained a tradition of voluntary work up to this day. Important institution of health research for tropical Africa.
  • Sindara Mission - Ngounié. Beautiful mission houses, built in the early 20th century. Gorgeous causeway of mango trees leads to the mission.

List of described attractions by provinces

Gabon is divided into 9 provinces.

Estuaire
Haut-Ogooué
Moyen-Ogooué
Ngounié
Nyanga
Ogooué-Ivindo
ArrowKongou FallsWaterfalls
Ogooué-Lolo
Ogooué-Maritime
Woleu-Ntem

Map of Gabon

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