Loango National Park
There are very few places anywhere left in the world where you embark on a safari and experience Equatorial Africa’s ‘Big Five’ game yet Loango National Park marks the beginning of an incredible eco-adventure. Famous for its beachcomber forest elephants and surfing hippos that roam a wild coastline ringed by palm-fringed jungles and tiny islets, the national park is also brimming with other resplendent guises; mangrove forests, mirrored waterways, speckled tidal lagoons and a vast track of savannah — epic locations that are always picture-ready for thrilling wildlife viewing. Vast herds of forest elephant, forest buffalo, red river hogs, hippo, sitatunga, duiker, crocodile and hundreds of bird species. Even unprecendented access to habituated western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees and mischevious monkeys that thrive in one of the world’s most singular primate habitats.
Another slice of Loango’s magic lies with the much-anticipated arrival of migrating dolphins, whales and nesting sea turtles — thousands of leatherback and olive ridley that swim the world’s currents to lay their eggs on Loango’s shores. But it is at nighttime, when the boma fires and paraffin lanterns begin flicker do you realise that the park’s all-consuming splendour lends itself to another time.
Gabon Wildlife Camps & Safaris offer four different lodges and satellite camps, with each guest stay giving you a unique insight into the Loango National Park’s diversity and beauty along with direct access to most thrilling wildlife encounters during the dry and rainy seasons. Tantalising escapes which start right outside your door.
From the deck of Akaka Camp, you might spot forest buffalo, forest elephant or sitatunga in the forest while at Louri River Camp, you overlook the water’s edge amid lush canopy. Here, you will see hippo, forest elephant and dozens of different colourful birds— some will even call out to you. Yet, Loango isn’t all lagoons and forest. The beautiful coastal savannah serves as a backdrop for Tassi Savannah Camp, a seasonal tented camp that gives you another unique experience during the dry season. Days are spent tracking mammals, both large and small in a patch of remote grasslands that is unique to Central Africa. On the banks of Iguela Lagoon is Loango Lodge where you’ll have direct access to the park’s ribbon of tranquil waterways and hidden coves. More relaxed in its approach— the lodge’s tropical charm is a wonderful option to the secluded wilderness camps that are positioned within the park. Here you can dine outside and watch where elephants and hippo wade in the lagoon.
Secluded and exclusive, you can enjoy any number of activities — sports fishing, surfing, birdwatching and turtle viewing — and a host of extended safaris along Loango’s estuary, mangrove forests, rainforests and savannah. And at night, we can drive you to the beach where you can sit by a campfire and sip on a Sundowner or perhaps even enjoy a sunset cruise.
Gabon Wildlife Camps & Safaris will plan your safari and activities from start to finish.
Loango National Park has distinct dry [December to January and May to September] and rainy seasons [February to April and October to December]. Yet each season in unveils its particular brand of magic with plenty of opportunities to come face-to-face with wildlife.
November to March: The arrival of nesting turtles and hatchlings. November to April: Elephants and hippos venture on the beaches; July to September: Migratory whales arrive during the breeding season; November to April: Best time for sports fishing; March to May: To view the Atananga gorillas; September to June: Best time to view the wildlife in the northern end of the park during the rainy season: June to September: During the dry season, wildlife migrate to the southern region of the park.
The arrival of migratory whales and dolphins hits its stride from mid-July to mid-September. You can enjoy a day on a chartered boat viewing playful humpback and bottlenose dolphins or from any vantage point; or you can watch them swim close the shore. Humpback whales can also be observed in a spectacular display whether they breach at great heights or as they encircle and swim underneath your boat.
If you arrive between October and February, you can head out at night and view olive ridley, hawksbill and the largest population of leatherback sea turtles nest on Loango’s beach. The nightly tours are conducted by eco-guides to safeguard these magnificent creatures and their hatchlings.
Loango National Park’s safari circuit offers prime game viewing, which starts along the palm-fringed beaches of the Atlantic — one of the last remaining wild coastlines of West Africa. Here you will see forest elephants venture to sea and if you’re lucky, a surfing hippo. Also foraging around the lagoons and in the trees are families of western lowland gorillas, monkeys and chimpanzees. Yet, the park itself is immense, covering 1,550km² of wetlands, lagoons, rainforest and savannah — and blessed with ever-moving wildlife. Reptiles, birds and many large and small mammals. Then there’s the abundance of flora. On a slow boat or pirogue — even by foot, you will immerse yourself in the lushness of it all; towering trees covered in lichen; exotic ferns and colourful mushrooms that sprout out from the forest floor.
Loango National Park is intersected by a ribbon of waterway; an expansive lagoon dotted with pocket islands with each inlet begging to be explored. From any rippled space along the water you will view an abundance of animated wildlife on the banks; several different species of monkeys and many rare bird species — rosy bee-eaters, quail finch, Loango weaver and Congo River martins. As you pass Iguela lagoon, you will also hear of great sports fishing tales including the park’s catch-and-release program and record catches of barracuda and tarpon. Even the occasional shark.
But for many guests, the long-standing tradition is to view wading hippopotamus, forest elephant, forest buffalo and if you’re game, three different species of crocodile.
At the forefront of our park activities are a series of conservation programs, which we tailor for guests. Leading the Loango Gorilla Project is The Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, which we partner in assocation with Agence Nationale Des Parcs Nationaux Du Gabon [ANPN]. Our eco-tourism safari includes an educational presentation at the research centre and visiting the Atananga troop — a family of protected western lowland gorillas and the first to be habituated in Loango.
To safeguard them from minimal disturbance, visitation is restricted to four times a week and you will be required to be in good health and wear a mask. No more than four guests can visit the troop at any given time.
Very few places offer spectacular and exclusive sports fishing experiences with a variety of catch that could fill an entire ocean. Just 10-minutes from Loango Lodge is the point where the estuary empties into the ocean; a prime fishing spot that contains some of the largest game fish in the world including barracuda, cubera and snapper. But you must be ready to cast off before dawn.
Also exclusive to Loango Lodge guests is their direct access to the park’s smaller lagoons and superb fly-fishing. Our catch-and-release packages include accommdation, fly and tackle gear, fishing guide, fishing permit and extended overnight and multiple-day safaris at any of our other satellite camps on Loango’s safari circuit.
With each GWC campsite and lodge exclusively positioned by the beach, in the forest, alongside the river or in the savannah, you will have a true wilderness experience right outside your door. Spend the days trekking a diverse landscape of intersecting savannah, rainforest and mist-laden mangrove swamps where you will spot forest buffalo, red river hogs, monkeys, birds and sitatunga — even forest elephant just as they begin to encircle you. And on a gorilla trek, you will see these gentle creatures resting on fallen leaves in their forest habitat. Like all coastal sanctuaries, sunsets are often watched on the water. This is the perfect time to glide past submerged crocodiles and frogs on lily pads that live in Loango’s estuary to watch hippos and forest elephants taking a long cool dip.
akaka forest camp
Nestled deep in the forest at the crossing of the Ngowe and Echira rivers, Akaka Forest Camp is one of three satellite camps within Loango National Park and is 60 kilometres by boat from Loango Lodge.
Mounted on platforms with five, luxuriously-appointed safari tents, each guest quarter is outfitted with two single beds [which can convert to a king bed] and an ensuite bathroom with a shower that faces the forest. And if you are looking for external illumination, there are several discrete electrical connections for plug and charge points, pedestal fans and soft lighting.
Before retreating to your quarters, you can enjoy a sundowner and bewitching views of the waterway outside the restaurant and bar’s expansive terrace. Even the most casual observer will find plenty of wildlife to spot, including hippos and forest elephants that occasionally cross the river in search of the Ozouga tree’s delectable fruits. And at night, delicious meals are prepared onsite.
Early in the morning, you will hear a medley of high-pitched calls by Akaka’s birdlife — none more distinctive than the black casqued hornbill. By the dry season, thousands of water birds herons, storks, jacanas, pelicans, ibis and the rarely seen Hartlaubs amass, with each vying for the last drops of water remaining in the small pools.
Located in the northern end of Loango National Park on Iguela Lagoon, Loango Lodge’s exclusive setting offers the perfect location to begin an in-park safari or sports-fishing holiday.
Featuring a 2-bedroom family house, 3 suites and seven comfortable wooden bungalows with private terraces that offer uninterrupted views of the water and national park; each guest suite also features air-conditioning, laundry service and ensuite bathrooms with hairdryers on request. The one-bedroom suites also feature baths.
There is also an Internet facility at the restaurant and bar which overlooks an expansive wooden deck that fans across into the water. At least, one private dinner should be enjoyed outside. The food, too, is exceptional with the menu focused on Loango’s sustainable cuisine.
When you’re keen to explore outside, there is plenty to see and do during your stay. Go on a gorilla trek to observe the Atananga troop in their natural glory and along the way, view forest elephant, buffalo and hippo plying the waters. Back at the lodge, you can also take a dip or relax by the swimming pool with a poolside bar.
Just over 40-minutes away by boat is the Atlantic Ocean where you can walk the soft-sand, catch a few waves or sit around a log fire at dusk as the fiery sun melts into the horizon. A tantalising ending where Loango’s wild beauty never lets up.
louri wilderness camp
You could happily spend your entire stay at Louri Wilderness Camp, an intimate but low-impact safari-style tented camp that nestles in the forest on the banks of Louri Lagoon.
The first to be constructed by using the exclusive skills of nearby villagers, the camp features five well-appointed tents mounted on a platform with a private terrace facing the river. Appointed with two single beds [which can be converted into a king bed], each tent is also equipped with an ensuite bathroom with an outside shower along with pedestal fans and USB charge points.
Arguably another highlight is our famous evening barbeque followed by a night time safari. Take a sunset cruise on lagoon and feel the tranquility of Loango’s far-reaching mirrored waters.
Separated by a narrow strip of beach that runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean, it is easy to fall asleep to the sounds of the forest’ nocturnal calls. But don’t do so until you enjoy the views from the restaurant’s terrace. Here you may spot duiker and chimpanzee. And just beyond the camp, the lagoon is home to hippos, forest elephant, forest buffalo and the largest crocodiles found in Gabon.
But it is not until you explore the bays and creeks in a small, flatbottom aluminium boat, do you then realise that you’re camping amid extraordinary aquatic life.
tassi savannah camp
Just 90 minutes from Loango Lodge is Tassi Savannah Camp; our rainy-season mobile camp, which is constructed in part to maximise the eye-grabbing views of the savannah, and all the way to the Atlantic’s storybook coast. Remote and wild, the camp also a haven for migratory leatherback, hawksbill and olive ridley sea turtles, and a magnet for a colony of nesting birds including the red-beaked African skimmer and the rarely-seen damara tern.
Located close to the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology research camp, you can wake up on some mornings and view grazing forest buffalos and red river hogs — even a good chance of chimpanzees crossing the river to forage on the sweet sensations of Loango’s plentiful Ozouga trees.
The research camp founded the Loango Chimpanzee Project [LCP] in 2005 for the dual purpose of research and the development of eco-tourism.
With five, classic safari tents mounted on a platform, each feature two single beds [which can be converted into a king bed] and ensuite bathrooms. From the camp, you can easily access the trails with your guide to see Loango’s savannah in all of its brilliant hues.
Enjoy an evening safari or walk the beach when the night sky is full of stars. And when you return, pull up a camp chair by the fire, kick back with a Sundowner and listen to the savannah’s nocturnal sounds.
After an overnight stay in Libreville, you will be met at your hotel and taken to the airport for your short, 30-minute flight to Port-Gentil. Upon arrival, another GWC driver meet you for the three-hour drive to Loango National Park in a luxury, air-conditioned 4 x 4 wheel drive.
Our safaris require travellers to be physically fit. Along with tracking primates including gorillas, you will be trekking through dense jungle and travelling by boat or pirogue through the wetlands. Often requires long hikes. Guests over the age of 65 are required to produce a current medical certificate confirming their physical well-being.