Gabon has magnificent national parks encompassing coastline, rainforests, rivers and savannah. Animals including western lowland gorillas, forest elephants and chimpanzees, as well as richly diverse birds, insects and plants are there to be discovered in this little-visited land. However, some of the parks are challenging to reach unless you are involved in conservation research. Some have no infrastructure for visitors yet. The Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux has an excellent website (in French).
Permits cost CFA5000 per person per day and are available from the Parks Board office in the town closest to the park. In theory, eco-guards and guides will be allocated to you on site. If you book a tour with a travel agent or stay at a hotel in a park, the cost of your permit is likely to be included in the rate.
Independent travel in Gabon can be a challenge: waiting can be involved, flights are infrequent and roads terrible (especially in the rainy season), so start planning early for trips to the national parks. You will probably be able to make best use of your time if you book tours through travel agencies in Libreville.
Table of National Parks
|National Park||Region||Size||Main Attractions||Accessibility|
|Akanda||north of Libreville, Estuaire Province||540 sq km||Ramsar Wetland of International Importance; birds; mangroves||easy|
|Batéké Plateaux||southeast of Franceville, Haut Ogooué Province||2050 sq km||savannah, canyons; elephants, buffaloes, gorillas, rare birds, butterflies, arachnids||moderate|
|Birougou||southern Gabon bordering Congo||690 sq km||cloud forest, ancient savannahs; flora; rare sun-tailed monkey; caves||no infrastructure, but possible|
|Ivindo||northeastern Gabon||3000 sq km||Western lowland gorillas; elephants; waterfalls||moderate with advance planning|
|Loango||southwestern coast||1500 sq km||forest, savannah; western lowland gorillas, elephants; game fishing||moderate|
|Lopé||central Gabon, Ogooué Ivindo Province||4970 sq km||UNESCO World Heritage Site; rainforest, savannah; elephants, buffaloes, cave art||easy|
|Mayumba||marine park, southwestern Gabon||80 sq km||humpback whales, turtles||moderate|
|Minkébé||northern Gabon, Woleu-Ntem & Ogooué Ivindo Provinces||7560 sq km||inselbergs; elephants, rare antelopes, apes; huge trees, orchids, ferns, insects||very difficult, no infrastructure|
|Monts de Cristal||east of Libreville, Estuaire Province||1200 sq km||high rainforest; orchids, rare plants, butterflies, apes, elephants||southern section moderate; northern section very difficult, no infrastructure|
|Moukalaba-Doudou||southeastern Gabon, Nyanga Province||4500 sq km||rainforest, savannah and coast; birds, apes, elephants, antelopes||moderate|
|Mwagna||northeastern Gabon, Ogooué Ivindo Province||1160 sq km||largest baï (forest clearing) in Gabon; elephants, apes, antelopes; snakes, arachnids||very difficult, no infrastructure|
|Pongara||south of Libreville, Estuaire Province||870 sq km||estuary and coast; hippos, buffalo, crocodiles, turtles, birds||easy|
|Waka||central Gabon, Ngounié Province||1070 sq km||high savannah and forest; rare flora and the only endemic palm forests; elephants, apes||difficult, no infrastructure|