Mayumba National Park
Closer to the Republic of Congo than to Libreville, Mayumba feels like the edge of the earth. No wonder expats whisper about it – the national park is the domain of barnacled whales and shy sea turtles, and the land, if you listen to the locals, is hushed by the spirits of ancestors.
Réserve de la Lopé
Smack bang on the equator, Gabon's calling card doesn't disappoint. Undulating hills meet scrubby patches of savannah and enclaves of rain forest where elephants, buffalo, gorillas and some of the biggest mandrill troupes in the world can be found. There are vehicle and foot safaris (from CFA5000) on offer and there's an eco-museum near the park entrance.
Minkébé National Park
Shingled with cacti and rock-dome inselbergs, Minkébé is one of Gabon's most inaccessible parks, the home of forest elephants, gorillas, cheetahs and isolated ethnic groups. Conservation programs are in place through the WWF, which is trying to boost the income of villagers through artistic endeavours. Though travel here is tricky, it's not an impossibility.
Pongara National Park
Perhaps the easiest place to get into the wild expanses of Gabon if you're only in the country for a few days, Pongara National Park is an expanse of forest, savannah and empty beaches that backs onto Point Denis. Recently opened within the park is the very charming La Baie des Tortues, with an enviable location miles from anywhere right on the beach.