Trip to Gabon, trekking in Ivindo and Loango
Trip to Gabon with a prospective part in Ivindo in which we will visit two of its two most renowned National Parks. We will start the trip in the marvellous Loango National Park where we will approach the abundant fauna on foot and by boat, accompanied by an exceptional guide.
We will continue to Ivindo National Park where we will be on a 9 day trekking and canoeing expedition through the jungle. We will cross Ivindo from north to south, starting at Makokou and Kongou Falls. Our main visit, apart from the waterfalls, will be the Langoue Bai, a clearing in the forest famous for its concentration of wildlife. It is common to find gorillas in this bai during the dry season. On our way back to Libreville, we will finish our trip by attending a Bwitti ceremony in the evening, which will last until the morning.
9 days trekking in the untouched rainforest of Ivindo National Park
This jungle expedition is an opportunity to take a 9-day north-south tour of the Ivindo Park by canoe and trekking. We will cross remote parts of the park away from roads and villages and see the Djidji River and the Bai de Langoue, discovered by westerners in 2000, the year before yesterday.
You must be fit to join this expedition. The trip involves trekking in the jungle for 7 to 9 hours per day. Traverse Mont Kingue (600-700 m above sea level). This expedition will take place in the dry season, which makes it a little less difficult. This route on foot through Ivindo will be prospective for us.
Bai of Langoue, the jewel of the Ivindo National Park
The Bai de Langoue is a clearing or open space located within a vast expanse of forest. Bai means in local languages 'a clearing through which a river flows' or 'where the animals eat' depending on who you ask). These forest clearings are used by animals to feed, drink, socialise and obtain minerals from the rich, nutritious soil. The Langoue clearing or bai sometimes sees up to 90 forest elephants visiting but there are also multiple groups of gorillas, forest buffalo, huge herds of red river hogs and a resident population of sitatunga. Animal visits to the Longoue Bai are seasonal and also depend on a factor of luck. August is a good month to find gorillas at the Bai and elephants are harder to spot.
Kongou Waterfalls in Ivindo National Park
The Kongou Falls, on the Ivindo River in the Ivindo National Park, are located about 50 kms from Makokou, the northern entrance to the National Park. These falls are among the most spectacular in Africa. They stretch for 3 kilometres and come in a series of higher and lower falls. To get there, we will take a canoe and travel 3 to 4 hours by river from Makokou.
Loango National Park
This is undoubtedly the leitmotif of any trip to Gabon and certainly one of the best destinations on the planet to see wild animals. Loango National Park is internationally known as Africa's last Eden. Savannahs, sandbanks and forests intermingle with rivers and lagoons. The western boundary is marked by the vast white sandy beaches where the famous surfing hippos have been photographed.
Loango National Park has two clearly differentiated visits depending on when you travel there: dry season and rainy season.
Trip to Gabon in dry season, Akaka forest (August)
Loango's wildlife is concentrated in the hinterland of Loango National Park. A few hours' boat ride through lagoons and rivers, there is a very special place known as the Akaka Forest. In July and August, the height of the dry season, the waters recede considerably, revealing tasty grasses and numerous insects, which attract a good number of elephants, buffalo and many other herbivorous mammals. In the Akaka forest it is also possible to spot various primates such as chimpanzees, baboons and lowland gorillas, as well as crocodiles and even predators such as leopards.
Lambarene and Albert Schweitzer
Lambaréne is a pleasant and interesting town steeped in colonial heritage. It stretches along the Ogooue River, and part of the town occupies a large island in the middle of the river. It is famous for its hospital, which was founded exactly a century ago by Dr. Albert Schweitzer. We will visit and stay at the historic Albert Schweitzer Hospital, which is still in operation. This fascinating hospital complex dates back to the mid 1920s and the original buildings now house a museum. Albert Schweitzer, a Nobel Prize winner, was a German theologian, philosopher, musicologist and missionary doctor and above all provided a great medical service to the local population.
We will not leave this trip to Gabon without attending a Bwit ceremony. The Bwiti is an animist religion, officially recognised in Gabon and extending to parts of Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. Their beliefs centre on ancestor worship and forest spirits. Bwiti followers cultivate a plant known as iboga, a psychoactive drug that causes hallucinations. Iboga is sacred and is used for initiation ceremonies, spiritual growth and initiation rites. The various Gabonese peoples use iboga in Bwiti to communicate with the spirits of the forest and the ancestors, to heal the sick and to be able to know the future of the user.