Kongou Falls belong to 20 most powerful waterfalls in the world. These falls are located in a true Garden of Eden – a rainforest in Ivindo National Park.
Name in French
Number of steps
UNESCO World Heritage status
Map of the site
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The wonder named Ivindo
Equatorial rainforest in Gabon is overwhelming in its beauty and impressiveness. Many travelers report that Gabon with its 85% rainforest cover is like a dream come true.
Ivindo River flows through a such (seemingly) endless tract of the rainforest before joining the larger Ogooué River. For the most part, there is no sign of civilization near Ivindo – just a bit of tourist infrastructure and some roads near Kongou Falls.
One can enjoy total wilderness for the next 120 – 150 kilometers below Kongou Falls. This forest has some of the highest concentrations of forest elephants, chimpanzees, and gorillas worldwide, here live thousands of other species of animals and plants. Yes, also snakes, ticks, and crocodiles.
Ivindo River has many spectacular waterfalls and rapids. The four largest waterfalls are: Kongou, Mingouli, Kuete-Mango (possibly the most beautiful), and Tsengue Leledi.
Kongou waterfall has a very complex configuration, somewhat similar to the configuration of Iguazu Falls (which are exactly two times more powerful than Kongou). Kongou Falls have countless smaller and larger streams, steps, and cascades. Smaller islands divide the falls, and there are even separate trees growing in the falls – the waterfall and the rainforest are intermingled. This gorgeous waterfall is of high spiritual importance to local people.
Ivindo River, in general, is not similar to most rivers. It constantly divides into smaller streams and one can easily get lost here.
Specific value of Kongou Falls is the richness of very specific aquatic plants that belong to Podostemaceae. In total, there are some 300 species of these plants, but in Kongou Falls are found 7 species. These plants, in general, have very limited distribution, and most of them are found just in a certain large waterfall.
Falls were almost eliminated…
In 2002 there was established Ivindo National Park and in 2005 there was proposed to include in the UNESCO World Heritage list. It seemed that this gorgeous place is spared from the axis of civilization… until the plans changed.
Around 2007 it was announced that a hydropower plant would be built on Kongou Falls and the energy would be used to power the new Bélinga iron mine.
Preparatory works started, and access roads were built in 2008.
Environmental organizations in Gabon started a campaign against these plans. This was not an easy fight, as most European NGOs have used – African activists had to fear arrests.
This time it was a success – in 2009 works were stopped, and planned mining operations were scaled down.
In 2021 Ivindo National Park became a UNESCO World Heritage monument – it is a place that definitely deserves to be on it!
The waterfall flows as usual and the road is gradually being retaken by rainforest. The beauty of falls is enjoyed by some 150 – 200 people every year and we can always ask ourselves: is it good or not that this fairy tale place is not a part of the mass tourism craze?
Gabon is a sparsely populated country where 85% is covered with equatorial rainforest. Highlights of this country are impressive ecosystems including unusual relict rainforests which persisted during the ice age thanks to the fog from cold ocean streams nearby. In the country are located also impressive waterfalls and rapids.
Some of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.
Africa has many outstanding wonders and some of the most surprising ones are the heritage of Egyptian civilization, the vernacular architecture of the Sahel region, tropical ecosystems, and others.
Gabon, the land of the surfing hippo, is a West African country home to truly exceptional biodiversity. 30,000 gorillas stalk the jungle, manatees and humpbacks are present around the country’s 800km of coastline and Gabon’s 13 national parks offer wildlife-watching experiences unlike any other. Bradt’s Gabon is the only English-language guidebook available and includes a comprehensive section on the country’s birds and bird-watching alongside chapters on history and culture.