Getting to Libreville is fairly tough - most major airlines do not fly there directly. For my route, I had to fly to Casablanca and take Royal Air Maroc. Even then my flight was only a scheduled stop over in Libreville where a handful of people just got out before it continued on to its main destination of Malabo in Equatorial Guinea.
Apparently the airport is suppose to have a currency exchange, but it is only open during the day. Since my flight arrived after midnight it was closed, so that made it a pain to exchange... I had to go to one of the big hotels in town and exchange there so that I would have money to check into the actual hotel I was staying at. (Sidenote: I saw Daniel Cousin checking into this hotel while I was waiting for the exchange! Unfortunately I don't remember the name of that hotel)
Leaving the country was even worse - two different employees tried to get me to pay a bribe to them. One from the checked luggage stand and the other was a security guard who checked bags. Both times I told them that I had no cash (even though I did) and only travelers checks, and eventually they let me go on without payment.
My flight was to Johannesburg on South African Airlines and while most airlines allow two carry-ons, they apparently only allow one (not sure if that is the airline's policy, or this airport's), so I had to check one of mine. When I picked it up at my destination I found that the handle of my checked bag had been broken. Not sure if it was done intentionally by the guy I refused to pay or just negligence. Pretty crappy either way... although I guess it could have been broken in South Africa too, I'll never know I guess.
Overall this has been the shadiest airport I've ever been to. Unfortunately, it's the only major one in the country so if you are flying to Gabon you pretty much have to use it - but I'd still suggest to avoid it if you can.
My colleague Lothar made build a raft to cross over a small river. I could put this in the warning and dangers as he almost lost his vehicle when we began to pull the raft over the water.We finally decided to repai a bridge nearby. Well this is only for the picture of this guy dreaming to cross the river with his car on the raft. . . .
The forestry people have cut many roads into the forest to reach the places where they could exploit the forest; when they have finished after a few years they leave the area and nobody maintains the roads. The bridges are sometimes the only trace after a few years and the forest comes back and covers quickly the roads where some foot paths may be kept.
In the beginning 80's the Trans-Gabon railway was under construction and I could only see the portion between Libreville and Njole. This train now links Libreville with Franceville (420km). it is mainly used for goods (wood, ore, ) transportation,and there is a passenger service which seems irregular.
With colleagues from the ministry of mines we had a tailored trip to look at the outcrops along the railway before the vegetation came back .
Beside the boats on rivers the taxi brousse is the usual transport mean in Gabon, when people need to go far distances. These vehicles are generally cheap and in Gabon I never have seen a European in this kind of vehicle. The drivers as I could see them on the road are very fast but they stop at every settlement and it may take one day to travel 300 km. . . Ah, and a good driver is the one who has no casualties when there is an accident; accident is not important, the important is that there are no casualties. . . that the driver has the good and strong gri-gri (magic protection). Or is it the name or the decoration which are important?
For short distances on rivers you may use the pirogue, but for longer distances you can use bigger boats like the one here in Lambarene which made the trip between Lambarene and Port Gentil on the coast.
Tugboats like the one on the other picture are sometimes used by locals when by chance it goes the way they want and the captain is in good mood to stop to pick them up; I never used a tugboat.
In the rain forest there is rain, >>>>>>> which means lots of water >>>>>>>rivers and lakes. The small dugout canoes (pirogue) are the most efficient means of transport, specially in small rivers. These can be found and hired in most of villages. Probably the same applies today;the prices certainly changed, but negociation skills for for discussing the price help a lot.
You can buy cheaper plane tickets in Gabon from Libreville to Port Gentil on airlines that aren't in the travel agents computer. It costs jsut GBP 23 for a one way ticket locally; so if you add on ticket from libreville is more than this don't buy it.
The better to get to Gabon is by plane. I went there via Paris with Air France.
Plane tickets are VERY expansive. Gabon isn't a touristic neither a business place. As an exemple: Montreal-Paris-Libreville and Libreville-Paris-Montreal = 2500 CAN$
The best way to travel accross Libreville (and the cheapest) is taxi. You can have a 'course' (the driver take you where you want without stopping) for 1000 CFA (2 CAN$). You can have a ride to main point for 100 CFA (0.25 CAN$). A ride for the aerport to the downtown cost 3000 CFA (6$ CAN), cause it's a long way from main attractions.
You have to deal a little bit with drivers.
If you want to go off the beaten path you will need to take the boat or the train. Boat cruise to Nyonié are available at Michele Marine for 200 CAN$ (2 days, 1 night with meals, drinks, lodging and tours). Ask the owner of Aubergine restaurant for tickets. You can go to Franceville or La Lopé by train.
Note: Road are in very bad conditions (large holes), mostly when you are far from the president !
The best way to get to Gabon the best way is by plain.
Rent a car, 4 wheel drive, for local travel. There are not to many roads in Gabon that you can drive with a normal car.
There is a train from Libre ville to Fance Ville. France ville is the town the president of Gabon is born.
The Meridian is an institution in Gabon and not for the right reasons. Granted it has one of the...more
Port Gentil, BP 649, Gabon
Good for: Couples
5, Boulevard de Nice B.P 2254, (formerly InterContinental), Libreville, 2254, Gabon
Good for: Solo
More Regions in Gabon