Gabon Photo

Gabon Driving Guide

Gabon is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2021-07-23 · 9 mins.

Gabon is a country filled with tropical woods that cloak most of the land area. It is lined by the Atlantic Ocean’s relentless waves that pull travelers to dive in its relaxing waters. The country is home to some of the endangered animals which they plan to preserve and protect by forming sanctuaries for these untamed mammals to thrive again. If you’re someone who enjoys nature and discoveries, this is the perfect place for you.

How Will This Guide Help You?

If Gabon is unfamiliar to you, take this comprehensive guide as you head to its exotic corners as it includes essential information that you need to know about the area. You will learn what it’s like driving in Gabon, its driving and road safety rules, conditions, and situations to help you plan. This in-depth Gabon Driving Advice will be the virtual guru that enables you to understand the country’s culture and feed you with all the know-how as you venture into its outlandish byways.

General Information

Gabon is a Central African country and is considered as one of the wealthier regions in the continent. It is located on the western side with its bordering nations Cameroon at the north, Equatorial Guinea at the northwest, and the Republic of the Congo at the eastern and southern parts. It is slightly less than the Colorado state’s breadth if you compare them both.

The region is mostly made up of overgrown forests, blanketing 85% of the land. Their culture is influenced not just by their former French colonizers but also by the West African countries’ backgrounds and beliefs. Some tourists and travelers often disregard it as they perceive Africa as solely sand drifts and big trees, but if you look past it, you’ll see the more prominent wonders it holds - and it’s worth the visit.

Geographic Location

Gabon comprises hilly interiors, slender coastal plains, and flat grasslands in the east and west. You can locate the region with its coordinates 1 00 S, 11 45 E. The region’s lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean at the Atlantic Ocean 0 m and Mont Iboundji 1,575 m being the highest point. Gabon’s coastline stretches at 885 km, with oil and mineral reserves deep in its grounds.

Languages Spoken

The Gabonese people use French as their official language and medium of instruction. Before World War II began, only a few people could speak French. When France ordered a universal primary education, all African countries were taught French for a cohesive communication process. Now, only those individuals who reach secondary and tertiary education can fluently speak French.

Fang is Gabon’s national language, wherein 32% of the Gabonese use it as their mother tongue. It is part of the indigenous languages called the Bantu family. About 40 native languages are spoken in different regions but are mostly spoken and not written. With that thought, Fang, Shira or Eshira, and Mbere are the three widely spoken native languages in Gabon.

Land Area

Gabon has a total land size of 267,668 km². The region has over 2.2 million inhabitants and is considered sparsely populated among other bordering states. Over 700,000 locals are living in Libreville, the capital. It has an equatorial climate with humid to high temperatures yearly. The rainy season starts between May and October, while you can experience humid to warm seasons from June to September.

Though most of its land is covered with rainforests, the Atlantic Ocean meets the country’s shores that captivate active souls who are in dire need of crystal-clear waters. If you are someone who loves strolling in parks, Gabon has 13 national parks that you can visit as 10% of the country’s green areas are protected parklands initiated by the government.

History

It can be traced back to when the oldest artifacts were found in Gabon 7,000 B.C. There were spearheads, which indicated life and were considered the first settlers of the land. During the French colonial period in the late 14th century to the 15th century, the slave trade was rampant and lasted 350 years. In 1839, Gabon became part of French Equatorial Africa and was still part of the French territory until they declared their independence in 1960.

Gabon may still be coping with other countries surrounding it, but it has something unique to offer to tourists and travelers. Having it said, opening two international airports have paved the way for new opportunities. Now, the government expects air travel to increase as they have improved their accommodation and documented their reach to track progress.

Government

Gabon is a presidential republic country. The citizens will elect and vote for their president, wherein he will serve a term for seven years. Unlike democratic systems, the president will have to appoint his vice-president but can’t sit as the president should there be an event that he is incapable of leading and or dies, and the position becomes vacant.

Still, the country has three government branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The acting president will appoint his prime minister and cabinet members to help him run the country and consult for decision-making. The three government branches work together to uphold their constituents' aspirations and secure their welfare against any imposing threats towards the region.

Tourism

The region is the fifth-largest oil producer in Africa. It catapulted the country as one of the economically stable countries on the continent. Data has shown 45% of GDP, 80% of exports, and 60% of fiscal revenue recorded over the past five years. Though the oil market has been up and down, Gabon is making some helpful changes to transform its economy slowly.

You can’t expect high-rise buildings and infrastructures in Gabon. If you’re used to seeing those kinds of setups when traveling, what you need is a breath of fresh air to recalibrate your thoughts. There is an allotted budget of $11 billion that comprises 21 projects to develop its concealed tourism beauty known as the National Infrastructure Master Plan 2011 to 2016. They plan to focus on their natural forests and bodies of water to attract guests across the globe.

International Driver’s Permit FAQs

Tourists and travelers can choose if they’re comfortable walking and commuting to become deeply involved with what the place has in store. Or, they can rent a vehicle to follow their planned out itinerary smoothly. There’s no right or wrong option here; it’s up to your preference if what suits you better when traveling.

If somehow, in the middle of your planning, you decided to hire a car, then you will need an international driver’s permit to make that happen. This document is essential, and you have to bring one as car rental companies will require you to obtain it. When driving in Gabon, update yourself with the country’s current happenings and use that information as you travel. Here’s what you’ll need to know about how an international driver’s permit works.

Is A Local Driver’s License Valid in Gabon?

A native driver’s license can be used in Gabon only if it is registered to Gabon’s Road Traffic Department in a span of three months after you arrive in the region. Therefore, you cannot drive freely in the streets without authorization and permission from the government. To obtain approval, one should bring:

  • two passport pictures in black and white
  • A notarized photocopy of your foreign driving license (front and back)

The Gabonese government requires every tourist and traveler to secure an international driver’s permit if you plan to rent a car once you arrive inside the borders. An international driver’s permit is a document similar to your local driver’s license’s information needed by the car rental company to let you lease a vehicle and use it for your benefit and convenience.

Does an International Driver’s Permit Replace a Native Driver’s License?

An international driver’s permit is not going to replace your local driver’s license. There are misconceptions about this issue, but your international driver’s permit will be used as a supporting document for your local driver’s license. Both should be present when traveling and especially driving in the streets.

Your local driver’s license is an integral credential that confirms that you’re capable of comprehending road rules and regulations. But without an international driver’s permit, you will not be permitted to drive, which might lead to some bitter dispute between you and the traffic enforcer; that’s why driving in the Gabon area with an IDP is a must.

Who Can Apply for an International Driver’s Permit?

Any foreign visitor can apply for an international driver’s permit. You should be at least 18 years old and a holder of a local driver’s license for 12 months and beyond. When you’re driving in Gabon, the location of the places you’ll go to will expect you to obtain an IDP. Renting vehicles at this age may not be suitable as you will need guidance from someone much older than you to let you get one.

You can check out the International Driver’s Association’s official website for you to apply for your international driver’s license for as fast as 20 minutes. An IDP issued from the International Driver’s Association is accepted to over 150+ countries and can be translated into 20 languages of your preference. Get yours now!

Who Needs an International Driver’s Permit?

Any foreign traveler who plans to hire a private vehicle to navigate the Gabon roads will need an international driver’s permit. There are random checkpoints as you drive along the main roads, so it’s best to prepare documents such as your International Driver’s Permit and your local driving license and keep them where you can quickly grab them if needed. For more information on getting an international driver’s permit, visit the IDA’s website to learn more.

How Long is an International Driver’s Permit Valid?

Some international driver’s permits last for one year while others can be used for three years, only if you’re planning to stay longer. You should keep in mind that you can no longer drive in Gabon once your international driver’s permit expires unless you renew the document. A huge fine will be charged if a tourist is caught driving without an international driver’s permit, and they will confiscate your local driving license.

Some international driver’s permits last for one year while others can be used for three years, only if you’re planning to stay longer. You should keep in mind that you can no longer drive in Gabon once your international driver’s permit expires unless you renew the document. A huge fine will be charged if a tourist is caught driving without an international driver’s permit, and they will confiscate your local driving license.

Renting a Car in Gabon

With so many places to visit and attractions to get to, aspiring travelers only see what they search on the internet. The algorithm that produces search results will automatically suggest places most sought-out and frequently discussed by many. And chances are, only those people who take time to pursue exploring some hidden gems can benefit their charisma.

When driving in Gabon, a map or road travel guide can come in handy in the country’s most ordinary circumstances. Renting a car is one way to delve into different cities and municipalities faster and more efficiently. Here are some pieces of information that you should keep in mind when hiring a private vehicle to help you decide.

Car Rental Companies

Companies like Avis, Europcar, and Keddy are just some of the firms that offer affordable vehicles that you can lease for a day or week and even a month, depending on how long you will use them. You can book your preferred car online using their official websites, but you can also seek one upon your arrival at the airport. Laid out below are some car rental companies and where to find their offices in Gabon:

Avis Locations:

  • Leon Mba, Libreville, ES
  • Av Savorgnan de Brazza, Port Gentil, OM
  • ZI Oloumi, Libreville, ES

Hertz Locations:

  • 561 Okoume Palace, Libreville, ES
  • Libreville Airport, Libreville, ES

Keddy Locations:

  • Tractafric Motors Gabon S.A, Libreville, ES
  • Avenue Savorgnan De Brazza, Port Gentil, OM

Europcar Locations:

  • Bp 14485 Aeroport De Libreville, Libreville, ES
  • Fly Hotel, Libreville, ES

On average, a standard car rental rate per day in Gabon is around $92. The price goes higher if you plan to hire a much bigger car that can accommodate more than four passengers altogether. To get most of the best deals, check out their website, as booking it online is cheaper than what walk-in renters pay.

Documents Required

What you’ll need is your valid passport, a local driving license held for a minimum of two years, and an international driver’s permit translated into the Gabonese language. Car rental companies will ask for your IDP as they’re strictly abiding by foreign drivers’ rules. Furthermore, drivers should be at least 25 years to be able to drive a rented vehicle. If you’re driving in Gabon today, take note of these documents and requirements for a smooth travel experience.

Vehicle Types

There are a variety of choices when choosing a rental car in Gabon. While some tourists and travelers get theirs at Libreville, you can book yours online to save you time transacting in their physical offices. There are economy cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, and luxury vehicles if you have a spare budget to rent one. On average, you can rent a car worth $92 per day in the region, and if you get lucky, you’ll find an offer of $82 per day.

Car Rental Cost

Gabon’s totality is mostly enveloped with thick forests where the main streets are quite decent to use. Along with this situation, you can rent different types of vehicles that better suit your travel needs as you start hitting the road. You can revel in the wilderness and watch wildlife animals and the beauty of preserved parks for your short Safari tour. Some vehicles you can rent include:

  • (Toyota) Land Cruiser Lx. from $195 a day
  • (Toyota) Land Cruiser V8 from $250 a day
  • (Toyota) Land Cruiser Txl from $199 a day

Age Requirements

Gabonese citizens need to be 18 years old to be able to obtain a driver’s license. Both local and foreign drivers are permitted to rent a car if they are at least 25 years old. Drivers below the designated age bracket will need assistance from older drivers and can be subject to local fees and underage surcharge, depending on the car rental company you choose. You might have to plan this should you need a private vehicle to get around Gabon.

Car Insurance Cost

Your chosen car rental company automatically adds car insurance papers. It is up to you if you feel the need to add another coverage to make you feel secured throughout your driving period. Roadside Assistance Cover (RAC) can be purchased for $10 to $15 per day, while Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) is $30 to $45 per day.

Car Insurance Policy

You should know every car rental company must issue car insurance documents before they let you use the vehicle. This credential ensures that the person who uses it will guarantee that whatever happens on the road, the car rental company will help you should there be unexpected accidents between your fellow drivers or pedestrians.

Typically, you have to inspect the destinations first or read some information and reviews when driving in Gabon. Car rental companies have Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) in the package and cover theft, interior, and exterior damage. If you’re not familiar with the primary and secondary roads, you can always refer to the internet or prepare the region’s travel brochure if you’re traveling alone.

Libreville Gabon Photo by Ralph Messi

Road Rules in Gabon

Every state has a different set of road rules that must be observed and adhered to when driving in Gabon. Road and traffic officers perform random check-ups, especially to foreign travelers if they spot one. The region has distinct streets that might be new to you, so you have to be mindful of the situation and condition before using these routes.

Important Regulations

Some of Gabon’s traffic regulations might be familiar to you if you’re a seasoned driver from the country of your origin. What will probably surprise you is perhaps the behavior of some local drivers who are inconsistent with observing these road rules. Here are some know-hows that you should familiarize yourself with to avert any unwanted trouble ahead. A part of these laws are as follows:

Drunk-driving

Drinking and driving should be two different activities. Drunk driving, just like overspeeding, is a problem that the Gabonese government is trying to eradicate. It might take a while before this social issue is taught in the local drivers’ minds, but the authorities take drunk driving seriously.

The mandated alcohol limit is 0.08% or 80 mg per 100mL of blood. Cities in the region might have different drinking laws imposed aside from the legal alcohol limit. That is why you should know the regulations of the specific places you will go to if you’re driving in Gabon locations unfamiliar to you. The police can run tests if you’re a suspect to public safety. And if proven, you will be arrested and pay a considerable fine, not to mention possible imprisonment.

Documents needed

Prepare all the documents needed when driving in Gabon. Your valid passport, visa, valid original driver licenses, international driver’s permit, and your car insurance documents are tucked safely in the car pocket that is accessible when needed. Ensure that your IDP is up to date to prevent any inconvenience on your part and fellow drivers.

Tools to bring

Aside from the documents, you also have to prepare the necessary tools for your travel. These include a fire extinguisher and its card, car lamp, first-aid kit, and metallic tire support. The Gabonese road enforcers are doing random check-ups as they move around the city riding motorbikes, so it is advisable to prepare ahead.

The use of mobile phones

The use of mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited in Gabon. You are encouraged to use the hands-free option, especially if you are navigating unfamiliar roads using Google Maps or any preferred applications when driving. If you’re the driver, you cannot eat and drink as you need to have unfazed attention to the road and passengers inside.

Driving in Gabon

You have to pay attention to the road at all times. Local drivers have instances where they overtake even when there are oncoming cars, but it doesn’t mean you also have to do it. Some vehicle users drive faster and very close to other vehicles within the same lane. Furthermore, a standard two-lane road becomes a three-lane, especially during rush hours and on highways.

One-way roads

Gabon has many one-way roads in most municipalities and urban communities. One cause of car collision here is the road signs’ negligence and turning to one-way streets while oncoming vehicles. That is why you should make sure that your next turn has either two lanes or signage that informs you that that particular one-way road is designated for drivers in your direction.

Seatbelt Laws

There are no specific seat belt laws imposed in Gabon, but it is advisable to use booster seats for children 12 years old and below. Drivers and the person sitting next to them should wear seatbelts while the vehicle is moving. Children are allowed to sit in the front as long as someone can keep that child in place without disturbing the driver. To secure the passengers at the back, if seatbelts are installed, one should wear them before the vehicle maneuvers.

General Standards of Driving

Local drivers often overlook the driving laws in Gabon. If the roads are teeming with vehicles, some still take advantage of the circumstance, which would lead to car collisions and other abrupt accidents. Because of these happenings, the government is making its best effort to educate local drivers and deploy traffic officers to ensure public safety and adherence to these rules.

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Gabon depend on the type of road you are taking. Overspeeding is one of the leading causes of car accidents in Gabon. Reckless driving and erratic stoppings of taxis have been a problem in major cities. That is why checkpoints are installed everywhere to ensure that drivers are mindful of their actions while navigating the roads.

The usual speed limit in rural areas is 120 km/h, while in built-up areas starts at 60 km/h. When driving in Gabon, news and other road information are essential for you to know, notably around the region’s peak seasons and low or rainy climate, starting from October to the middle of December.

Driving Directions

You can use mobile applications such as Waze or Google Maps to lead you to your destination. Do make sure that you’re using the hands-free feature as it is prohibited to operate your phone while driving. There are highways, intersections, and one-way roads in the region, so you have to be attentive if you turn left or right in the correct direction. This way, you will prevent possible turnbacks that will cause traffic on your lane.

Traffic Road Signs

You can easily spot traffic road signages about the particular road you’re using in the main cities. But once you venture into the secondary and rural roads, you will notice that there are fewer signages installed and that you should be attentive and keep your eyes on the street. Driving in Gabon today still has restrictions as it should be adhered to and followed for your safety. Here are some general traffic road signs to watch out for:

Danger/Warning Signs include:

  • Slow down for hazard conditions ahead
  • The approaching road is a high-foot traffic area
  • The approaching road will become narrower
  • There is a winding road ahead
  • The road ends ahead
  • A bump is in the road ahead

Priority Road Signs include:

  • Yield sign/give way
  • The road is no longer a priority road
  • The road is a priority at approaching intersections
  • A full stop is needed when approaching an intersection

Mandatory Road Signs include:

  • No overtaking or passing of vehicles
  • Passing on a work zone on the right-hand side is mandatory
  • Vehicles should keep right
  • Route only for pedestrians and bicycles

Prohibitive Road Signs include:

  • No entry - one-way traffic
  • The approaching road will have a minimum speed limit
  • No parking in the zone
  • Your vehicle cannot stop, park, and stand in the zone
  • The end of the minimum speed limit
  • Vehicles are not allowed in the area

Information Road Signs include:

  • A filling station is nearby
  • Restaurant access on the next exit or turn
  • Parking is allowed on the sidewalk
  • 20 meters ahead for malls/parks
  • Bathroom facilities are in the next turn

Direction/Indication Road Signs include:

  • Highway on the upcoming entrance
  • Direction to the nearest motorway
  • Temporary route for construction projects
  • Vehicles will enter a roundabout ahead
  • Potentially confusing turns on the approaching area
  • Display of the route number basing on the road

Right of Way

The legal right of way in Gabon are the vehicles on the right. You should be alert when you come across an intersection and check if there is an oncoming car on your right. Slowing down and letting it pass first is the right thing to do. Some local drivers tend to drive faster in hopes that they can cross first before that vehicle. Pedestrians can hardly cross because of this issue, but the local government is pressing charges against these drivers to mitigate the situation.

When driving in Gabon, the legal age is 18 years old. This time, any Gabonese can apply for a driver’s license by enrolling in a driving school near them. For car rental companies in the region, you are not permitted to rent a vehicle unless you’re 25 years old and beyond and a holder of a local driver’s license for 24 months or two years.

Also, an underage surcharge for young drivers is required, but it depends on your agreement with the car rental company. The reason behind this regulation is the fact that the country’s road accidents have skyrocketed, and one feasible way to mitigate this is only to allow experienced drivers to use the roads. The local law enforcers are also keen on catching recurring road offenders and will be given corrective actions for abusing their road privileges.

Laws on Overtaking

There are no specific decrees about overtaking, but you have to drive safely while using Gabon’s primary and secondary routes. Having it said, always look at your side mirrors if you plan to overtake the vehicle in front of you because the cars behind you might plan it as well. Utilize your direction indicators if you will surpass to the left or the right side of the lane. More so, do not attempt to overtake if you see oncoming vehicles from the other side of the road.

Driving Side

Drivers should always drive on the right side of the road. All countries in Africa are using this guide not to confuse tourists and travelers visiting the place. It is advisable to overtake with caution even if the road is not teeming with different vehicles. Use the lane’s outer side if you want to drive at a slower pace and give ample space to those drivers who are in a hurry or tend to move faster than you.

Driving Etiquette in Gabon

Every foreign traveler should be familiar with the driving etiquette observed in the region. Some might be already known to you, particularly if you’ve been traveling for quite some time now. When driving in Gabon, news and other information sources are essential in peak seasons and in times of unexpected turn out of events. Laid out below are some etiquette scenarios and how to handle them.

Car Breakdown

Problems like car breakdowns aren’t new to some foreign drivers who got used to it. It doesn’t happen every time you rent a vehicle as car rental companies check and reassess their cars before you use them. You don’t need to panic if your car suddenly breaks down in the middle of the road. If you can’t pull the car on the side of the road, turn on the hazard lights to inform other drivers about your situation.

You can directly contact the car rental company to assist you further. They can give you options like get another vehicle that has a similar rate to your existing vehicle in use. If you’re driving in Gabon today, make sure that you have inspected the car, such as the headlights, brakes, side mirrors, and the engine, so there will be lesser chances of getting car breakdowns as you hit the road ahead.

Police Stops

The police in Gabon are scattered everywhere: in major cities, municipalities, and even checkpoints. Some of them are even found riding motorbikes while doing random check-ups. The police help regulate drivers who over-speed and neglect the traffic rules. Paying respect to them is one way of respecting the road rules as well.

When you see the police, know that their presence is duly out of public safety. Usually, check your vehicle, inspect the documents you have with you, and the reason for your travel. Make sure that you have the documents on hand and answer their questions truthfully. It is also advantageous if you see them give you directions if you’re unsure what route to take.

Asking Directions

The French language is widely used in Gabon. Though the minority have their own set of vocabulary as their mother tongue, France has imparted a considerable chunk of their culture, which is their language. To make it simpler for you, here are some commonly asked directions and their comparable translation.

  1. Where can I find the train station, please?

Translation: Où est-ce que je peux trouver la gare, s'il vous plaît?

2. Can you help me?

Translation: Pouvez-vous m’aider?

3. Is there a bank/supermarket/pharmacy near here?

Translation: Y a t-il une banque / un supermarché / une pharmacie près d’ici?

4. Where is the nearest bank?

Translation: Où est la banque la plus proche?

5. Can you show me on the map?

Translation: Pouvez-vous me montrer sur la carte?

Checkpoints

The checkpoints in Gabon are sometimes put there at random to surprise road offenders. If you see one ahead, you should slow down your pace, slightly roll down your window so that you can communicate well with the police. Present your local driver’s license, IDP, registration, and car insurance documents if needed. On some rural roads, checkpoints are stationed to expect them in other locations when driving in Gabon.

Other Tips

Coming across these scenarios range from rare to frequent. So you have to comply with the papers needed, especially if there’s a checkpoint ahead. Now, the information below is what you need to know about gasoline prices in Gabon and the dangers of parking your vehicle on the streets, notably at night.

Are There Gas Stations in Gabon?

Gasoline filling stations in Gabon are open daily. Before, the filling station used to be available 24/7, but with the current restrictions of going out at night, it is only as late as 8 PM. The usual price for gasoline is $1.12 per liter and $4.24 per gallon. Make sure to budget your money wisely now that gasoline is part of the expenses.

It is not advisable to park vehicles on the street, mostly if you leave valuable things inside. Most of the tourists and travelers take advantage of free parking when booking accommodation at the hotel. You can check out this amenity if you book online ahead of time; you will have ample time to pick what type of accommodation suits your needs. If you’re a spontaneous person, you can choose a hotel when driving in the Gabon area in its major cities.

Driving Conditions in Gabon

Gabon’s driving situations and road conditions differ from the places you’ve been. Some roads are unpaved, and there are inadequate drainage systems as the government has invested little money to improve them. But it all changed when the Gabonese officials initiated the 2,500 km road upgrade in 2015. They have effectively linked the oil capital, Port-Gentil, to the leading road network straight to the capital, Libreville, in 2017.

There is still more work to do on the region’s infrastructures; that’s why when driving in Gabon, review all the places you need to go, such as the road conditions there. Projects are piling up in Gabon to attract more tourists to visit by improving their infrastructures to boost their economy. Here are some road situations in the place that you need to know at this point.

Accident Statistics

The Director-General of Road Safety (DGRS) of Gabon has recorded an increase in road accidents. Between 2018 and 2019, a total of 1,513 or 81.97%, poses great peril to both local and foreign drivers. Root causes of these car collisions include drunk driving, unnecessary use of mobile phones, and excessive use of a portable DVD player while driving. There is inadequate lighting on pavements at night, potholes, and dirt tracks during rainy seasons.

Driving under the influence of narcotics may impede the driver’s concentration, leading to unfortunate events. When driving in Gabon, the government advises that news and updates should be a priority by drivers to know what the road condition will be later on. It’s best to see this information to be prepared for what’s ahead.

Common Vehicles

Car rental companies would advise you to get a four-wheel vehicle if you plan to travel outside Gabon’s major cities. Economical cars are okay, but if you have the budget, you can hire Land Cruiser vehicles with oversized tires to withstand almost all types of road conditions. There are SUVs and pickup trucks available depending on the car rental company you inquired about your preferred vehicle use.

Toll Roads

There are no existing toll roads in Gabon. But the government is proposing a toll road that will run around Léon Mba Libreville International Airport. Traffic is one of the major concerns not just in Gabon but also in other countries and bordering regions as well. This toll road will minimize the congestion from Libreville to Akanda during peak seasons. If it will be pushed through, this will become Gabon’s first toll road.

Road Situations

Foreign drivers are asked to stop when there are police checkpoints. You should comply by slightly rolling down the window and present your documents such as a local driver’s license, IDP, car insurance papers, and a valid ID should they need to check them.

Driving Culture

You can rely on taxis hailed at the airport or hotel. Public transport drivers like buses can be trusted, but it doesn’t cost you anything to guard your valuable things if you’re sharing spaces with other passengers. It’s a different experience for each country you visit, so you should decide if you want to tour around commuting or rent a car to gain flexibility on your time as you can freely choose which destination to go to first.

Other Tips

These road conditions are meant to guide you once you get behind the wheels in Gabon. Though you can’t expect much of the local road to be more like those of progressive countries, there is beauty in the Gabonese streets that you’ll find engaging to use. Moreover, here’s what you need to do when driving at night in the region.

Is it Safe to Drive at Night?

The Gabonese government discourages you from traveling at night. A lot can happen if you travel at night, particularly if you’re alone. This event can trigger ill-willed people to take action because anything can crop up during nighttime. If you’re driving in Gabon, maps and travel brochures can be of immense help but don’t attempt to drive at night. Insufficient street lighting is one of the extreme reasons for traveling at night is not advisable for foreign drivers.

Things to do in Gabon

With so many parks and beaches, Gabon has something to offer for nature zealots out there. You can trek diverse mountains and check out protected parklands that are home to wildlife animals. If you’re driving in Gabon, locations of these sought-out places are achievable with rented vehicles on hand. Aside from exciting activities, Gabon has long-term driving opportunities waiting for you.

Drive as a Tourist

If you are driving as a tourist it is not dangerous as long as you take precautions while navigating the primary and secondary roads. The locals are approachable and would give you directions if you lost your way. Don’t forget to bring your International Driver’s Permit, local driving license, passport, and car insurance papers to prevent any delays on the street.

Work as a Driver

You can apply for driving jobs in Gabon, given that you’re already a Gabonese resident. There are set requirements to comply with if you decide to live in Gabon for good, and only then can you drive public transport approved by the government. But before that, you must surrender your local license in exchange for a Gabonese driver’s license, which you will obtain if you enroll in a local driving school in the area.

Work as a Travel Guide

Gabon can be your next travel destination, and who knows - you might land a job at the same time. Working as a travel guide in the region sounds promising, but if you’re open to other opportunities, you can try sales marketing, project management, and logistics. There are even times that your employer will help you get a visa just to expedite the process, so it depends on the nature of work and who you are working for in Gabon.

Apply for Residency

To apply for residency in Gabon, you must obtain an authorization issued by the Department of Documentation and Immigration or DDI, which will depend on the type of application you submitted. When the DDI approves your application, the Gabonese Embassies and Consulates will issue a visa for you. These two essential documents are needed for you to gain residency in Gabon. For more information, visit the Consulates’ website to learn more.

Other Things to do

Traveling is one thing that makes your life way better, and there’s so much to see in Gabon, just like in every underrated country. You can delve into the cities and rural places that are left unexplored, so you can get to see it for yourself rather than just reading articles about them on the internet.

Top Destinations in Gabon

Gabon has several sought-out destinations that every nature zealot will enjoy. You can rent a car as driving in Gabon from one place to another is much easier when you have a private vehicle with you. Compiled before are some of Gabon’s most-visited tourist destinations and the driving directions that will take you there.

Loango National Park

Loango National Park is by far the most popular out of 13 parks situated in Gabon. With its land area of 200 km, you will find wild animals such as hippos, gorillas, buffalos, while ahead are the sandy beaches full of marine life creatures like different kinds of fishes and dolphins. Some say that you will experience the best safari life in Loango National Park.

Things to Do

If you’re an outdoor person, then Loango Park is a perfect spot for you. Thick trees will welcome you should you have the energy for a safari walk and other exciting activities that you can check out for yourself.

1. Walking safaris

Though you can enjoy the forest using a 4X4 pickup drive, on foot is still the best way to check out and see the wildlife in action. You can see elephants, buffalos, and birds in the area. From November to April, you can see large mammals on the sea. Or take a tour on the lagoon and witness forest elephants up close on the Akaka river.

2. Whale watching

Loango National Park is not just home to land mammals but to marine creatures as well. If you visit the park from mid-July to mid-September, you will get the chance to see humpback whales visiting the coasts of Loango National Park. These giant but gentle mammals can be seen up close using a boat approved by the eco guides.

3. Bird watching

The park is a dedicated place for over 100 forest and Congo basin bird species. If you’re a bird enthusiast, you might want to visit the park along the way or put it on your itinerary just in case you forgot to take a peek inside.

Pongara National Park

Pongara National Park is known for its diverse landscape. It has big trees, a beach area, and mangrove forests home to small fishes and crabs. Bird enthusiasts love to come back here of the variety of bird species found in the area. The park is also home to wild mammals such as chimpanzees, elephants, and monkeys. It stretches about 900 sq. m., so you’ll have a pleasant stroll in this enormous park.

Things to Do

Pongara National Park has both land and water areas where you can check for a quick tour. Not only that, but there are also fun things to do and for you to consider if you plan to stay longer in the area.

1. Swimming

Though the park is filled with big trees, the white sand beach of Pongara is just walking distance, and you can take a dip in its blue waters all you want. If you don’t feel like swimming, then you can always sit on the sand and enjoy the view watching the waves roll by.

2. Attend an educational program

There is a program conducted by Adventures Without Borders that focuses on protecting turtles and how humans can help preserve them and their natural habitats. The beach area is where the endangered leatherback turtles lay their eggs, and thus, this group educates tourists, visitors, and locals not to harm them.

3. Gorilla and Chimpanzee trekking

Visitors go to Pongara National Park to witness these mammals in their habitat just within the parking area. From there, you will get the chance to see them up close and personal and what they do every day along with the other monkeys.

Libreville Gabon Photo by Ralph Messi

Libreville

Gabon’s capital, Libreville, is an urbanized city filled with high-rise buildings, exotic restaurants, pubs, casinos, and a gorgeous coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. One-third of Gabon’s population lives in Libreville; that’s why it is teeming with people and bursting with life. Libreville has got you covered if you love shopping because you don’t want to miss the area’s superb markets. You can visit different museums and cathedrals to fill your eyes with colors and wonder.

Things to Do

As the capital of the country, it’s an excuse if you haven’t visited Libreville throughout your whole Gabon trip. There are exciting places to see along the way, and if you need to purchase souvenirs, this is a good place to find them.

1. Ocean Side Boulevard

The ocean-side boulevard is a perfect spot for family strolls or if it’s your first time spending the day in the city. There are tall trees and wooden benches for you to sit on while watching other people walk, ride their bicycles, or just watch the scenic view from there.

2. Gabon National Museum

The Gabon National Museum is home to critical Gabonese pottery, culture, and centuries-old artifacts. You can roam around the building by yourself or join the other tourists while a guide explains the museum’s totality. Furthermore, it also hosts social occasions spearheaded by contemporary artists today.

3. Marche du Mont-Bouet

The Marche du Mont-Bouet is a public market found in Libreville. You will discover diverse shops selling different products and souvenirs to attract tourists and travelers walking nearby. It is also famous because you can buy stuff there at a lower price than in other cities in the region.

Makokou and Kongou Falls

Makokou and Kongou Falls is a popular site in the Ogooué-Ivindo area. Any traveler who would see this falls in person will probably fall in love with its natural beauty. It is a 60-meter drop with a lot of spiritual importance to the locals living in the area. Makokou and Kongou Falls is considered Gabon’s version of Niagara Falls that you should see for yourself. The residents living there, the Makokou village, preserves the place by maintaining its cleanliness and order.

Things to Do

If you plan to visit Makokou and Kongou, then prepare your hiking shoes and sunblock lotions. The area is a perfect blend of lush greeneries and the gushing falls will invite you to take a dip in its refreshing waters.

1. Hiking

The falls are enveloped with thick trees and lush greeneries, so it will be a great spot for hikers. Even though tourists and travelers would love to gaze at the cascading waters more than going somewhere else, it is an excellent experience to hike the area, so you could just experience the feeling.

2. Take some snaps

The area has a nice view, so take this opportunity to bring your smartphone or DSLR and take some quality shots of the vicinity. Also, don’t forget to bring water as you might get thirsty trekking the route.

3. Sightseeing

Makokou and Kongou Falls is a place that is worth visiting because of the raw beauty it exudes. You can take this time to appreciate the ambiance and maybe take some pictures of yourself while making the falls as the background.

Pointe Denis Photo by Vipin Kumar

Pointe Denis

If you’re more of a discreet traveler who wants to explore a secluded, not commercialized destination, this one’s for you. The Point, or Pointe Denis, is a 12 km boat ride from Libreville, where tourism development hasn’t tainted its raw beauty yet. Its white sands will make you lie down on it as the gush of waves runs through your skin. There are small restaurants, boutiques, and shops if you want to bring some souvenirs to remember the place.

Things to Do

Pointe Denis is a good place to simply relax and unwind. Though you can still enjoy some water activities, tourists and travelers usually visit the place with little interaction from other people aside from their companions.

1. Set up a family picnic

Pointe Denis is a great place to initiate strolls and family picnics. Feel the sea breeze brush your cheeks as the waves roll by the shores. If you do a family picnic, just make sure to clean as you go and don’t leave garbage near the waters or anywhere in the area.

2. Water sports

You get to enjoy diverse water sport activities in Pointe Denis, such as water rafting, snorkeling, and canoeing. For extreme sports, try rock climbing and skydiving made for brave souls out there.

3. Experience the nightlife

Pointe Denis may not have developed yet, but you can experience a great nightlife like no other once you get there. Small but respectable hotels and restaurants will gladly accommodate you right after you set foot in the area, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Fernan Vaz Lagoon

Fernan Vaz Lagoon is also a popular spot in Gabon, especially in the Ogooué maritime region. This place is built to conserve and serves as a rehabilitation sanctuary for gorillas. The center is named after the Portuguese explorer Fernan Vaz who found it in the 15th century. You can see gorillas everywhere in this sanctuary, as well as the magnificent beaches that are just around the area.

Things to Do

There aren’t many things to do if you decide to visit Fernan Vaz Lagoon. But the best part of paying a quick look in the area is that you can explore places that other tourists and travelers overlooked.

1. Visit the rehabilitation center

Fernan Vaz Lagoon is a rehabilitation center for injured gorillas or those who need extra care from experts. They are well taken care of with proper space to heal so they can be released to their natural habitat once more.

2. Opt for guided tours

It is recommended to acquire guided tours, so you can fully navigate the area without getting lost. You can check out online for more deals and packages, especially in peak seasons where more tourists flood the place.

3. Mission Saint Anne

This old church was built in the 19th century and designed by Gustav Eiffel, which became a tourist attraction aside from the rehabilitation center for gorillas. It has a rusty red color on the outside that makes it more aesthetic to look at, and so visitors would come to the area and see the building with their own eyes.

Akanda National Park

This park is recognized worldwide because it is the nesting ground for one of the migratory birds’ populations on the planet. You can spot different marine life creatures that inhabit or visit it as their food source. You can go fishing in the area as long as you respect the place without destroying anything. Mondah Forest is within the vicinity, which is sacred to the Bantu tribe. Be careful not to disturb them as much as possible.

Things to Do

Akanda National Park is also one of the popular parks in Gabon but you have to be cautious with what you do once you arrive in the area. There are locals living there, so be sure not to cause trouble that will upset them.

1. Dolphin and whale watching

The Gabon waters are rich with marine life, so if you want to witness dolphins and whales, then head to Akanda National Park. These creatures get their food near the park that is why you can see them in the area.

2. Fishing in the area

You can go fishing in the beach park, but you must not destroy anything while you’re fishing. It is home to different fish and a breeding ground for leatherback turtles, so you should be careful with catching fish to eat in the place.

3. Water sports

Similar to other spots in Gabon, you can also enjoy doing water sports in Akanda National Park. Try canoeing, snorkeling, and swimming in its clear waters to cool off your hot body from the trip.

Réserve de la Lopé

It’s like most of Gabon’s destinations involve rainforests and jungles, so if you’re up for the challenge, here’s one national park that you shouldn’t miss. This territory is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and protected space. You can see elephants and buffalos and other wild animals that freely roam the area. More so, just sit back and relax as you enjoy the sight of majestic rolling hills and expansive greeneries here and there.

Things to Do

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Réserve de la Lopé is a place that’s being kept preserved due to its natural beauty. Alongside it, you can still enjoy other fun things that usual tourists and travelers have experienced there which includes:

1. Sightseeing

Going to Réserve de la Lopé is never a bad idea if you want to see a UNESCO protected site in person. It is indeed a stunning place with rolling hills and greeneries in a 360-degree view. You can preserve the memory and take some photos of yourself and the place while you can. Réserve de la Lopé is a must-see tourist destination in Gabon.

2. Trek the area

You’ll be amazed at how vast the jungle is if you walk around. You’ll see a lot of animals and plant species you’ve never seen before, that’s why a guided tour is recommended. Don’t forget that you have to secure an international driver’s permit to have a smooth trip while driving in Gabon. Zip code and other important information should be correctly placed once you apply for an IDP so that it will be shipped to you without delay.

3. Wildlife tour

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