Description of Gabon tour
Gabon has been described as a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, with a huge proportion of its land designated as national parks and home to some of the continent’s most impressive wildlife. This short Gabon tour takes you to the heart of its rainforests, a land of primeval jungles, wetlands and savannah, made famous by the explorer Mike Fay in his epic trek through Central Africa. Starting in Libreville, we trek in the forests of the Raponda Walker Arboretum and spend some time exploring the city, before travelling to the old colonial town of Lambarene where we delve into the secrets of Bwiti, a bizarre and fascinating belief system found nowhere else, and are privileged to witness a unique local ceremony and gain insights into this almost mystical religion. We take a thrilling boat journey on the Ogooue? River, penetrating further into the rainforest, and at Lake Oguemoue, we stay in a tented camp as part of a community based tourism project and explore the surrounding forest and waterways in search of Gabon’s rich wildlife. We also have opportunities to meet local villagers going about their daily lives here. This short trip offers the chance to see Africa at its wildest, where nature rules supreme and the jungle is king. Gabon has often been called ‘Africa’s last Eden’ – come and find out why.
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PlanetThis tour travels through some very remote regions, many of which have barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining their pristine nature. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of in nearby towns.
In conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off.
Our travellers are specifically briefed on not to buy souvenirs made from endangered species – people in remote parts of Central Africa do not always have the same respect towards wildlife as most travellers will have, and can sometimes offer such things for sale. This also extends to bushmeat – it is quite common to find antelope, porcupine or even monkey served in restaurants, and we specifically advise our travellers against contributing to the depletion of local populations.
Whilst staying at Oguemoue Lake, we go out in search of wildlife including elephant and hippo. We must respect the local wildlife at all times, keeping our speaking volume at a minimum, respecting the wildlife around us, and keeping a suitable distance for the safety of both the wildlife and ourselves.
The presence of tourism in areas such as Oguemoue, where we stay at a tented camp and employ local guides, shows local populations that the forest can generate sustainable income for their communities in terms of providing jobs, as opposed to the less sustainable alternative of providing food via poaching. This helps to reinforce in local consciousness the fact that the forest is worth preserving, and is an important factor in preventing poaching.
PeopleAs well as wildlife, this tour has a strong focus on local culture. Where possible we try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence.
We spend time witnessing a Bwiti ceremony whilst in Lambarene. Through long association with this area, our local team has established solid relationships with certain groups and our presence here is very much welcomed – we feel that it is very important to be seen as guests here rather than outsiders coming to merely look. We are able to spend time with the community here, learning about their traditions and customs.
We are careful not to disrupt the traditional way of life of these people. As a way to say thank you for allowing us to visit, we bring traditional gifts, such as sugar, tea and so on – we do not bring modern accoutrements that may change their way of life as we feel that it is important for all tribal groups that any move towards a more ‘modern’ lifestyle is made on their own terms and not imposed upon them. We give gifts to the elders of the villages who will then ensure that they are distributed appropriately, rather than just giving them to individuals, which can cause problems, jealousy and fights within small communities.
These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travellers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities.
Where possible we encourage our travellers to spend their money with local businesses; for this reason we do not include meals where it is feasible to eat outside of the hotels, in order that local restaurants are able to benefit from the presence of tourism, rather than the income being channelled just to the hotel.
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