Best time to go to Gabon

Sitting squarely on the equator, Gabon has a classic tropical climate, and is hot, wet and muggy all year round.
The best time to visit Gabon is during the drier season of May to September, with June, July and August being the driest months, although ‘dry’ is relative here – Gabon experiences around 2.5m of rainfall a year. Yes, that’s metres. So downpours can happen at any time. There is also a mini dry season in December to January. As most roads are unpaved, travel can be unpredictable at the best of times, and ‘roads’ can turn to thick mud during the wettest months. In April and November in particular, you’re guaranteed a soaking. Year round, temperatures hover around 26°C.

Gabon Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
24
30
226
FEB
23
31
216
MAR
23
31
238
APR
23
32
196
MAY
23
30
123
JUN
21
27
9
JUL
20
27
2
AUG
20
27
5
SEP
22
28
38
OCT
23
29
245
NOV
23
30
358
DEC
23
29
210

A month by month guide to Gabon

Gabon’s forest dwelling wildlife is present all year round. However, in December, January and the first half of February, the abundance of tropical fruit draws creatures such as gorillas and elephants towards the coast, so this is the most promising time to observe them on the beaches. One of the benefits of travelling during the rainy season is that when it’s not pouring, the skies are usually blue. In the drier months of June, July and August, Gabon is often grey and overcast. In Loango National Park, leatherback turtles nest on the beach from November to mid January. From July to September or October, look out for migrating humpbacks offshore; if you’re especially lucky they may even be joined by pods of dolphins.

Things to do in Gabon

Things to do in Gabon…

Over three quarters of Gabon is forested, and around 10 percent of its land is protected by 13 national parks. This has led to an astonishing proliferation of wildlife – from forest elephants and buffalos, to hippos which wander down to the beachfront. Chimpanzees inhabit these tropical forests, too, as well as lowland gorillas, which can be tracked with local guides. Loango National Park is your best bet for seeing a variety of jungle and ocean dwelling species, including turtles and humpbacks, when in season. Gabon’s little known culture is pretty awesome too. There are around 40 ethnic groups here, including the Baka pygmies, who are the oldest tribe in the region. Visiting a Baka village introduces you to their hunter gatherer traditions, their beliefs and their music. Another tribe you may meet is the Mitshogo, who have an animistic belief system called Bwiti. Jim O’Brien, from our supplier Native Eye Travel, says witnessing a Bwiti ceremony was one of his favourite experiences in Gabon: “Bwiti is a religion that originated with the pygmies in the forest but has become more popular in mainstream Gabonese society. It’s centred around the use of the psychoactive root iboga and participants drum, dance and chant all night to summon spirits and engage in healing processes, while covered in white make up and sporting traditional costumes. It’s quite a powerful experience.”

Things not to do in Gabon…

Buy anything made from wildlife. Central Africa is immensely biodiverse. Unfortunately, it also has a terrible record when it comes to poaching. It goes without saying that you should never buy souvenirs made from wildlife – including teeth, bones, skins and tortoiseshell, which in fact is made from endangered sea turtle shells. Avoid bushmeat, which is widely sold here, including antelope, porcupine and monkey. It contributes to the decimation of species, and can transmit nasty diseases, too. Turtle eggs should also be off the menu. Expect an established tourism destination. Accommodation may be ‘rustic’, service may not be quite what you anticipate, guides may still be learning the ropes, roads get washed away and English is barely spoken. But this is all part of being a pioneering traveller to a still developing tourism destination; embrace it as part of the experience of Gabon. Travel on a budget. It’s costly just to reach Gabon, and once here, you’ll realise shoestring travel is definitely not an option. Independent travel is extremely difficult, you’ll need 4x4s to tackle the rough roads, guides are needed for exploring the national parks and increasing chances of wildlife sightings, and you can’t really just wander into a village by yourself, either. Small group tours reduce costs a little, but ultimately you need to accept that this is a unique and incredibly rewarding holiday in a rarely visited country – you will definitely get what you pay for.

Our top Gabon Holiday

Central Africa holiday, Cameroon and Gabon

Central Africa holiday, Cameroon and Gabon

A pioneering journey through the heart of Central Africa

From £6299 15 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2019: 21 Feb
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Hello. If you'd like to chat about Gabon or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

Gabon travel tips

Accommodation
Jim O’Brien is a Central Africa expert and the founder of our supplier Native Eye Travel. Having travelled extensively in Gabon, he shared his top tips with us:

Accommodation advice

“Accommodation in Gabon ranges from top end to ‘simple’. On our trips we also spend time camping and/or staying in village houses, where it can be fairly basic, but a great way to meet local people.”
tracking gorillas

Tips on tracking gorillas

“For a start, Loango National Park isn’t mountainous, and so tracking gorillas here tends to be less strenuous than in Rwanda and Uganda. It also feels a little more ‘raw’ as there just aren’t the numbers of visitors that these other areas experience. I’d have to say that this is one of my favourite experiences – there’s little that beats tracking these magnificent creatures in the wild.”
‘Africa time’

Remember you’re on ‘Africa time’

“My main tip would be to bring a lot of patience. I can remember travelling through Gabon with a group in the run up to local elections where it seemed that every town we passed through had four or five separate checkpoints, all manned by officials who were intent on scrutinising our documents – a most frustrating experience…!”
on the beaten track

Staying on the beaten track

“Some of the parks have problems with poaching and for this reason, sometimes the more remote ones can be out of bounds for the visitor as they are not always safe. Having said that, those that are more accessible – such as Loango and Lope – offer exceptional wildlife experiences for visitors.”
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: Eric Kilby] [Best time to go: Brian Gratwicke] [Things to do/not to do: Brian Gratwicke] [Accommodation advice: CC BY 3.0] [Tips on tracking gorillas: Axel Rouvin] [Remember you're on Africa time: US Army Africa] [Staying on the beaten track: Ngangorica ]
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