Air is by far the easiest way to move around in Gabon, as the roads are not good, distances are long and buses are slow. However, flights aren't cheap or regular. Also be aware that it's perfectly common for flights to leave before their scheduled departure time, so take those two-hour check-ins seriously. Airlines flying internally in Gabon include the reliable Afric Aviation and NRT.
You might be able to charter a small plane to fly to Lopé, Mayumba or Loango National Parks which have grass airstrips. Ask at Afric Aviation or Afrijet.
It is not possible to hire bikes in Gabon but you could bring your own. Be aware that roads are not good and outside the cities can be unpaved. Frequent downpours can make them difficult to negotiate. Although Gabon hosts the annual Tropicale Amissa Bongo cycling event (www.tropicaleamissabongo.com), the largest in Africa, it's rare to see cyclists on the road and drivers are not used to them. Bring your own extensive repair kit.
Passenger boats are usually referred to as 'pirogues'. They are generally made of glass fibre and have a row of outboard motors at the stern. They are also used to transport goods on the river system; the goods and luggage are piled up on top and passengers sit below on benches. Pirogues are usually quite dilapidated and often leak when it rains. Water, sandwiches and sometimes beer are available for purchase.
Navettes (French for 'shuttle') are also passenger boats but usually cover shorter distances such as Libreville to Pointe Denis.
There are several passenger boats per week between Libreville and Port-Gentil (CFA20,000, 11 to 12 hours) and it's also possible to take cars on this (CFA120,000 to CFA180,000). Enquire at the CNNII office at Port Môle in Libreville.
A slow boat from Port Môle, Libreville, to Omboué departs 11am on Friday and returns Monday, stopping at every village along the way on a journey of about 11 hours (CFA20,000).
Boats from Port-Gentil to Omboué take about 5½ hours (CFA10,000).
There are passenger boats between Lambaréné and Port-Gentil most days in both directions (CFA15,000, about 7½ hours). Check departures and book tickets at the port a few days before travel.
Minibuses and taxis
Taxis are found in towns and come in different colours (in Libreville, they are white with a red stripe; in Port-Gentil they are blue and white). You can hire the whole vehicle, known as 'une course', and be taken exactly where you want to go with no other passengers. Or you can just buy a seat in a shared taxi, known as 'une place'. To hail a taxi, stand on the correct side of the road for your destination and indicate to an oncoming taxi that you want to hire it. As he slows down, shout out 'une place' and your destination, or a landmark close to it. If you can add how much you're willing to pay, that helps. If the driver is going your way, he'll stop for you. If not, he'll simply drive on. Taxi fares range from CFA200 to CFA1000 depending on the town you're in and how far you're going. Fares increase at night.
Taxis-brousses (bush taxis) and clandos (minibuses, so-called as they are 'clandestine' or unregistered) congregate at the gare routiere (bus station) and leave when full. They are usually dilapidated vehicles crammed full of passengers and operate between towns.
Gabon's main transport artery is the Transgabonais Railway line, run by SETRAG, which begins at Owendo, 9km south of Libreville, and runs 670km all the way to Franceville, deep in Gabon's interior. There are four trains a week in each direction and tickets can be bought in the centre of Libreville at the SETRAG office. Prices from Libreville to Franceville are reasonable: VIP/1st class/2nd class CFA63,800/55,800/41,800.
SOGATRA is the state bus company and runs an efficient service between Libreville and most major towns. Most buses are elderly, advertised air-con is usually open windows and seats are hard, but it's cheaper and more comfortable than being cramped in a taxi-brousse. Buses are found at the gare routiere (bus station) in major towns, and at a central point (for example, a petrol station) in smaller towns.