Gabon - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Gabon


One of the most naturally exquisite and most prosperous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Gabon attracts adventure travellers and nature lovers in equal measure. The country straddles the equator on the west coast of Africa and is bordered by Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Atlantic Ocean.

Many travellers opt to 4X4 through this rugged country, armed with little more than a French dictionary, some mosquito repellent and a taste for adventure. Verdant tropical rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife such as chimpanzees, elephants and gorillas, the vast green savannahs of Lope-Okanda Reserve, 500 miles (805km) of deserted sandy beaches, lagoons, estuaries and breathtaking African sunsets: what more could one want?

Originally inhabited by the Pygmy people, it was colonised by the Portuguese in the 15th century, who named the country 'Gabão', which is Portuguese for 'cabin', after the shape of the estuary of the Komo River. It was later colonised by France in 1885, and went on to gain independence in 1960.

Gabon is the talk of the town when it comes to eco-tourism, thanks to the government designating 10 percent of the country's land to national parks. Just by being there, visitors are already off the beaten track as everything outside the capital of Libreville is only recently accessible. The Mayumba National Park features leatherback turtles nesting in the sandy beaches and marine life such as sharks, dolphins, and migrating humpback whales.

Travellers are advised to be cautious in Libreville, as in any city that has its fair share of crime, and carry a copy of their passport and visa at all times as police are known to hassle tourists. Female travellers should prepare themselves for plenty of unwanted attention.

For those wanting a more mainstream experience, Port Gentil at the mouth of Libreville and Ogooue River offers some wonderful fishing and is popular amongst European visitors. With so much to see and do, Gabon has enough charm and diversity to appeal to travellers with a hearty sense of adventure.

Information & Facts


Drug possession is a serious offence in Gabon and punishment will include a prison sentence, even for tourists. Homosexuality is not widely accepted, and certain homosexual acts are illegal. Taking photographs of government buildings and military sites is prohibited.

Duty Free

Travellers to Gabon aged 17 and older may import the following items: three bottles of wine not exceeding three litres, one litre of liquor, 50g of perfume, two cameras, 10 rolls of film per camera, and gifts valued up to XA5,000. Men may bring 400 cigarettes or cigarillos/125 cigars/500g of tobacco, while women may only bring cigarettes. Those importing guns and ammunition are required to have a license from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Libreville.


Tap water should not be drunk unless it has been boiled, and ice and uncooked fruits should also be avoided. Yellow fever vaccinations are required for all visitors over the age of one. Gabon is a malaria zone, and either mefloquine or doxycycline is recommended. There have been recent outbreaks of chikungunya fever and dengue fever, both transmitted by mosquito bites. No vaccine is available for either disease, but stringent anti-insect measures are recommended. Healthcare in Gabon is poor, and traveller's insurance is a good idea. Many doctors will expect cash up front, regardless of insurance.

Passport Visa

All visitors to Gabon must be in possession of a hotel voucher or a letter of invitation issued by their sponsor, a return/onward ticket, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination; OR, an Autorisation d'entree au Gabon, issued prior to their arrival in the country, by the Direction Generale de la Documentation et de l'Immigration in Gabon. Note that a yellow fever vaccination is required to enter Gabon. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.


Crime is an increasing problem in cities like Libreville and Port-Gentil, and precautions should be taken: avoid showing expensive jewellery, camera, and other valuables, and avoid walking alone or at night. Female travellers can expect unwanted attention from men, but are free to be firm in their refusal. Gabon's government is relatively stable; however there is still the possibility of demonstrations and rallies, which should be avoided where possible.

Home to over half the population of Gabon, Libreville is the business and cultural hub of the country. Despite this, it's a laidback city with a relaxed African attitude towards life. You can head to the seafront to laze by the Atlantic Ocean, visit the Arboretum de Sybang and its thousands of species of indigenous trees, or visit the bustling markets at Mbolo and Bord De Mer. The Musée des Arts et Traditions has a large collection of tribal crafts and cultural artefacts, and for a living experience of Bwiti culture visit the Ebando Association.

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