Gabon is an African treasure, which is enveloped by other beautiful locations including the Congo, Cameroon and the Atlantic Ocean. Located in western central Africa, holidaymakers will enjoy exploring this often overlooked holiday destination. One of the most financially prosperous African nations, Gabon is a fascinating blend of traditional culture and modern innovation. Featuring an awe-inspiring collection of lagoons, national parks, mountains and beautiful bays, Gabon is home to an extensive collection of natural attractions and the country is internationally respected for its devotion to the local landscape. Despite possessing a small population there are over forty different ethnic groups, each with its own unique heritage and dialect. A unique blend of traditional African culture and French sophistication permeates the country as there are approximately 10,000 French citizens. All holidaymakers will welcome the opportunity to explore Gabon's unique cultural and natural heritage.
The official national language is French although some areas may also favour varying local forms of speech such as Fang, Nzebi and Myene. Fang is the most prolific African language and a tenth of the population speak Eshira. Holidaymakers should ensure that they research their specific destination and learn some essential phrases accordingly. Very few citizens speak English; therefore it is essential for visitors to have some knowledge of French at least.
The official national currency is the CFA franc. CFA stands for Communaute Financiere Africaine and one unit comprises of 100 centimes. One pound is equal to 996 CFA and one dollar is worth approximately 544 CFA.
Those hoping to return home with a suntan will not be disappointed; temperatures are tropical and conditions blissful. The peak time for visiting is May to September which is largely dry and warm with temperatures reaching 32°C. Rain is not uncommon from February to May and some showers may occur from September to December.
It is impossible to become bored with Gabon. Many find themselves solely enjoying the fantastic temperatures which provide visitors with the perfect opportunity to relax and get a brilliant sun tan. Gabon's beaches provide perfect sunshine, as well as the chance to try various water sports such as water skiing and scuba diving. Yet, those who are not avid fans of beach life will not be disappointed; Gabon also boasts a wide selection of activities available for more restless holidaymakers.
The nation's array of national parks serves to protect, as well as show off, the varying natural habitats available for exploration in Gabon. Akanda is home to an impressive collection of birds and the location is an essential feeding ground for turtles which migrate to the area. Ivindo is home to some of the most awe inspiring and beautiful waterfalls in Central Africa. Amidst these incredible surroundings visitors may also be able to catch a glimpse of an elephant or a gorilla if they are lucky. An extremely popular destination, Ivindo is a special experience which should not be missed, and neither should Loango. Animals such as hippos, leopards, elephants and gorillas have all been spotted enjoying the beautiful location and the untouched white beaches are nothing short of heavenly. This park is a must as it may also provide visitors with the opportunity to see whales or dolphins in the surrounding waters.
The Ogooue Wetlands are home to a vast selection of water based animals such as crocodiles, hippos and turtles. However, it is not simply the inhabitants of the location that makes it so special; the differing habitats and wide array of plant life are sure to fascinate all who explore this spot. Mont Iboundji is one of the highest mountains in Gabon and allows holidaymakers to witness breathtaking waterfalls. Mont Birougou is believed to contain the origins of the Bwiti religion and thus numerous traditional sites can be located in the surrounding area. A fascinating blend of natural splendour and faith, this spot is a must for wannabe explorers.
Those in the mood for shopping will find no better place than Libreville, the capital of Ghana. Here there are two extremely popular markets which are sure to satisfy bargain hunters; Nkembo and Mon-Bouet. Many streets are also home to a wide variety of stalls selling locally produced, traditional gifts. Favourite purchases include wood and stone carvings and musical instruments. The Village des Artisans is an entire village devoted to local arts and crafts; a site all will enjoy exploring.
Libreville is the place to head towards when searching for an evening's entertainment. Here each visitor can explore a multitude of bars, which often boast fantastic performances of live music. Gabonese music is a thrilling blend of different folk sounds which are achieved through the use of the multiple instruments which Gabon has invented. Nightclubs are vibrant and exciting and several hotels boast sophisticated casinos for those in the mood for gambling.
Driving is on the right hand side of the road and drivers should ensure that they carry with them an International Driving License, as well as insurance documents. The country's major cities are easy to negotiate by car, although the countryside is a bit more problematic. Roads in this area are rarely paved and conditions are frequently poor; visitors may prefer to hire a four wheel drive vehicle which would make the experience easier. Extra care should be taken by all when driving conditions are unfavourable.
Food and Drink
French food is widespread and extremely popular, with a multitude of restaurants serving this form of cuisine excellently. Traditional Gabonese dishes are truly delicious, although the visitor will find them hard to come across. Most establishments serve other forms of African cuisine, although those who are determined to sample local delicacies should persevere. Regab is a popular locally produced beer, and favourite soft drinks include those made from ingredients such as grapefruit, lemon and pineapple.