A city of contrasts, Libreville is glitzy in some areas and ramshackle in others. The beaches are lined with high-rise hotels, expats from around the world fill the restaurants and shops and the wide boulevards are traversed by flashy cars speeding by. There are few traditional tourist sights in the city, but Libreville is a great place from which to explore the rest of the country.
Travelers who want to better understand the traditional arts and religion of Gabon should visit the Ebando Association, founded by the wonderfully wacky French shman Tatayo. The association maintains a Bwiti temple and hosts initiations, classes and workshops for both visitors and locals hoping to connect with their more spiritual side.
The only museum in the city is the Musée des Arts et Traditions. The few but fine exhibits focus on tribal crafts and culture, and the collection of masks is impressive.
Other sights in the city include the Arboretum de Sibang, St. Michael's Church, which is known for its intricate wood carvings, St. Marie's Cathedral, home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of the capital, the French cultural center and Omar Bongo University. Founded in 1970, the university is named after the former president of Gabon who served for over forty years in the office.
The Pongara National Park is also worth a visit. The large park is just outside the capital along the Komo estuary. The 929-square kilometer park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Not far from Libreville are the Mayumba beaches, some of the best in Gabon. The endless and uninhabited beaches are a great place for whale watching, and nesting sea turtles can often be found on the white sands. The area is an eco-travelers heaven, but the best beaches are a bit difficult to reach. Once you are in the village, talk to some of the friendly locals. Many will offer to take you on boat tours or fishing trips for a small price, and it is worth it to spend a lazy afternoon enjoying the peace and quiet, sun, fresh seafood and waves.
The most popular wildlife reserve in Gabon is the Reserve de la Lope, where buffalo, elephants and a variety of primates can easily be spotted by visitors. Foot, pirogue and jeep tours are available, and the gorilla population is gradually adjusting to the presence of humans thanks to the new gorilla walk. The landscape is also breathtaking, consisting of a patchwork of dense rainforest, savannah and rolling hills.
The best time to visit Libreville is during the dry seasons. December, January and the summer months are typically driest, and the temperature hovers right around 25 degrees Celsius. During the rainy season, very high humidity makes the temperature feel even warmer. From July to September, visitors can see whales off the shores, and sea turtles lay eggs on the beaches from November to January. If you hope to spot animals in the wild, consult with the national parks to determine the best time, as mammals migrate from forest to savannah depending on the weather.
Libreville Geographical Location
Libreville is located in northwest Gabon on the Komo River and is its largest city.
The approximate population of Libreville is 580,000.
French is the official language of Gabon but approximately one third of the population speaks Fang.
Libreville Predominant Religion
Of the “other” religions, animist and indigenous beliefs are mainly practiced.
The Central African CFA Franc is the official currency of Gabon.
It is consistently hot throughout the year in Libreville with a short dry season spanning from June until August. The remainder of the year experiences heavy rain.
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