Gabon is an oasis of stability and prosperity in a region that has had more than its fair share of tension and violence. The discovery of oil has boosted the economy and its main cities are modern with high rises. The country enjoys one of the highest GDP per capita in sub-Saharan Africa (although far from equally divided) and you will notice more fancy cars on the streets of Libreville than in a random European capital.

Travelling in Gabon can feel like hard work, but the rewards are great. The Gabonese travel around a lot to see friends and family, particularly in the holidays, and the atmosphere is invariably fun and friendly. This is Africa at its purest, where you can still enjoy wildlife and breathtaking natural beauty while having the place to yourself. It can’t take long before the 100,000 tourists arrive – so now is the perfect time to go.

Dubbed ‘the land of the surfing hippo’ or ‘Africa’s Eden’, the country aims to attract 100,000 high- and middle-end visitors by 2020.

When I first visited Gabon in 2006, I thought it the most beautiful country in the world.

Author Annelies Hickendorff describes the traditional beliefs and practices of Bwiti, the most widespread male secret society in Gabon.

The main part of the country, over 80%, is covered in dense rainforest, and the remainder is savannah and coastline, and for each of these habitats Gabon has the wildlife to match. This is a country where gorillas and elephants can be caught on camera on the same stretch of beach – although a healthy dose of patience is obligatory. At the same time birders are guaranteed to leave satisfied, as they will surely spot many of the almost 700 species recorded for the country.

I’m grateful to Bradt for believing in the potential of Gabon, and my hope is that the Bradt guide will help to put this place of exceptional beauty and biodiversity on the map as an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventurers. Although it’s not cheap, by visiting the country’s national parks, you are contributing directly to their much-needed protection.

Famously dubbed ‘Africa’s last Eden’ – and, even more enticingly, ‘the land of the surfing hippos’ – Gabon is one of the world’s most pristine ecotourism destinations. Much of the country is swathed in dense rainforest populated by chimpanzees and mandrill troops, while the remainder is grassy savannah, vast island-dotted lagoons and miles of white-sand beaches where gorillas and elephants can be seen strolling alongside the surf.

As a 12-year-old, I wanted to save the world and tried to do this by raising money for the rainforest. I annoyed all grown-ups around me with endless stories about the forest’s importance, until they bribed me to skittle off. When time and resources finally permitted, I took off to Africa to see the forest with my own eyes. Raving about the unparalleled beauty of this magnificent ecosystem, I have probably become even more annoying ever since.

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Gabon’s indigenous forest-based communities, the so-called ‘Pygmies’, are located throughout the country and continue to face discrimination, as author Annelies Hickendorff explains. 

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Paul McCusker is a Peabody Award-winning writer and  director who has written novels, plays, audio dramas, and musicals for children and adults. He currently has over thirty books in print. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.Walt Larimore, M.D. is a noted physician, award-winning writer, and medical journalist who hosted the cable television show on Fox’s Health Network, Ask the Family Physician. He lives in Monument, Colorado.

Gabon is investing heavily in unlocking its touristic potential and the country aims to attract 100,000 visitors. It won’t be long before these tourists arrive – so now is the perfect time to go.

This country has so many beautiful places waiting to be discovered by adventurers and nature-lovers. In fact, little-visited Gabon has everything to become Africa’s next big ecotourism destination.

"I was on the edge of my seat from the very first page of The Gabon Virus and didn't breathe again until I turned the last page. Fast-paced and gripping, this book will make us all think, This could happen." -- Debbie Macomber, New York Times bestselling novelist

Author Annelies Hickendorff explores the unique features and religious background of Gabon’s famous mask and statue art.

In fact, little-visited Gabon has everything to become Africa’s next big ecotourism destination, while the fact that it isn’t a mainstream holiday destination yet only adds to its attraction.