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Parc Lekedi, Ivindo NP & Lope NP, Gabon

Gabon by Train

£10,550 pp sharing

At a Glance

Dates: June 4th - June 19th, 2024

Extension: We offer a two-night pre-extension to Pongara NP and Akanda NP.

Prices: £10,550 pp sharing (with no single supplement)​, excluding international flights.

In a sentence: Use the iconic Trans-Gabon Railway to reveal some of the wildlife highlights not just of Gabon , but of the entire continent of Africa.


In so many ways, Gabon is completely unique within Africa. Covered in dense rainforest, Gabon protects some of the largest populations of many species on the continent, including forest elephant, forest buffalo, leopard, red river hog and much more. But, agonisingly, much of this potential lies out of reach, sometimes requiring weeks of effort just to get to a game-viewing area, and even then there is sometimes no ecotourism infrastructure in place, or irresponsible visitors have damaged the area beyond repair. But, as luck would have it, there is a way to access the interior of Gabon with relatively little effort - take to the rails. The iconic Transgabonais Railway, a hangover from the colonial era, was originally intended to enable the metropole to devour Gabon's natural resources, but this train now takes hundreds of tourists a year to incredible areas including Lope, Ivindo and even further afield. It is not a comfy or relaxing mode of travel, but it is unique and extremely special, making for the experience of a lifetime.


Day Minus One (Pre-Extension)

Akanda NP & Pongara NP

On arrival into Libreville, you will be met by your local guide and your tour leader and transferred to a local hotel for breakfast. Thereafter, we transfer to Akanda NP, a park just a short distance away from the capital that is dominated by mangroves. Our key quarry here is the rarely-seen northern talapoin monkey, and a boat safari is the best way to access the islands that support populations of this rare primate. Keep your eyes peeled also for African manatee, which are occasionally glimpsed in and around Akanda. After several hours in Akanda, we continue by boat on to Pongara NP. Pongara is a lovely area, again dominated by mangroves, but that also supports several larger mammal species. Our safari must wait for tomorrow though, as we overnight at a hotel in Pongara. With luck, you may glimpse several species of turtle as they clamber onto the nearby beaches to lay their eggs.

Day Zero (Pre-Extension)

Pongara NP

This morning, a game drive is the best way to explore the mammal-viewing on offer in Pongara. Forest buffalo are well-seen here, and there is the opportunity to glimpse forest elephant and numerous species of duiker. Game densities aren't as high here as elsewhere in Gabon, owing largely to Pongara's proximity to Libreville, but this remains a great introduction to the wildlife of Gabon. After lunch in Pongara, we return by boat to Libreville to meet the rest of the group.

Day One


The group comes together in full this afternoon, with a pre-tour briefing in our city centre hotel this evening. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Day Two


This morning we transfer back to Libreville Airport for our domestic flight to Franceville, a city nestled in the far south-east of Gabon. Arriving by mid-afternoon, we transfer to our basic local hotel to overnight.

Day Three

Bateke Plateau NP

Today we make a beeline for one of the least-visited wilderness areas in the world, the Bateke Plateau. Dominated by grassland and scattered forest, this impressive park offers some of the very best birding in Gabon, including unusual species such as the Congo moor-chat, but also some extremely interesting mammal-watching. In fact, the plateau is known to be home to Gabon's only lion (although we shouldn't expect a sighting), as well as elephant, buffalo and much more. 

After a full day on the road, we arrive by nightfall to enjoy dinner at our basic campsite.

Days Four to Five

Bateke Plateau NP

We have two full days to explore the plateau, primarily on foot but occasionally making use of the limited tracks in the park. Each morning and evening we will slowly make our way through grassland and between forest islands, seeking out primates and smaller mammals as we move. The birding is certainly a real highlight here, and we should expect several lifers for all but the most experienced birders.

Day Six

Parc Lekedi

This morning we leave Bateke behind, spending the full day on the road, reaching Parc Lekedi by nightfall.

Day Seven

Parc Lekedi

We begin today by spending some time with the resident mandrills in the park. These iconic and beautiful primates were originally released here from captivity, and are still carefully managed, but the presence of these mandrills has drawn in several wild individuals, which we will be sure to point out. If anyone tells you that none of the mandrills in Lekedi are wild, they are most certainly wrong!

After a morning with the mandrills, we will head over to the enclosed population of wild dogs to learn more about the reasons for their presence here, and the plans that authorities have for the park as a whole. We then return to our basic campsite for dinner.

Day Eight


Today is used to transfer us to the train station in Franceville, where we depart late on. In the early hours, we arrive at Ivindo town, where we overnight in a basic hotel.

Days Nine to Eleven

Ivindo NP

These next three days are undoubtedly our favourite of the entire itinerary. Ivindo is truly wild, supporting booming populations of forest elephant, forest buffalo and much more. The jewel in Ivindo's crown is undoubtedly Langoue Bai, an opening in the dense forest that draws in sitatunga, red river hog and many species of primate. Significant time will be dedicated to patiently waiting on a platform overlooking the bai, and we are sure to be rewarded with sightings of western gorilla, sitatunga and more.

Day Twelve

Lope NP

After a final morning in Ivindo, much of today is focussed on extracting ourselves from the park. We transfer back to the railway station at Ivindo in time for our late train, arriving at our accommodation in Lope in the early hours of the morning.

Day Thirteen

Lope NP

After a very late arrival in Lope, it may be hard to drag yourself out of bed this morning - but there is so much to see! Our morning begins with a game drive through the forests and savanna areas near our hotel, where forest elephant, forest buffalo and even leopard are seen. We will also make a special effort to find the endemic sun-tailed guenon, a very pretty primate found only in Lope and in the contiguous Foret des Abeilles, and we also stand a chance of spotting rarities including red river hog and African golden cat.

This afternoon is a real highlight, as we head out to track one of the rarest and most elusive mammals in Africa - the giant pangolin. A researcher has recently radio-collared this incredible animal, meaning that it is possible to track down a pangolin with a high success rate. There are no guarantees, particularly as the pangolins sometimes venture out of range, or tracking is interrupted by grumpy elephants, but we will do our very best to achieve a memorable sighting before returning to our hotel.

Day Fourteen

Lope NP

Our second full day in Lope is set aside for a morning of mandrill-tracking. The same researcher who has radio-collared giant pangolin has also collared several mandrill, and tracking these stunning primates is an incredible privilege. This is a very different experience from Lekedi, with the mandrill being less habituated to human presence, but occurring in a much larger group. The photographic opportunities abound here, and this morning is always hugely memorable.

Our afternoon will allow us another opportunity to head out on game drive, or to visit the Lope museum, before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Day Fifteen

Lope NP

We have an extra day in Lope to track mandrill or giant pangolin, if our plans on previous days have been scuppered for any reason. If not needed, we will use this day to enjoy game drives or catch up on rest and relaxation after a busy itinerary.

Day Sixteen


In the early hours of this morning, we board our train to Libreville, where this tour ends.

Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may

occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.

Dates and Prices

This tour will run in June 2024 aiming to take advantage of the (relatively) dry season when travel is at its easiest. The tour will run from June 4th to June 19th, 2024..

The cost of this trip is £10,550 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Drinks are not included. There is no single supplement for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £3,165 plus any single supplement must be paid. 

Flights and Visas

Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as or to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Libreville at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Libreville after 16.00 on your return, if leaving on the same day that we return to Libreville to avoid disruption to your plans.

British nationals do require a visa to enter Gabon. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Gabon will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Gabon entry visa for UK citizens is £80 - these should be obtained prior to arrival into Gabon.

Weather and What to Bring

The weather in Gabon in June is humid, with maximum temperatures of around 27 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 23 degrees Celsius.

A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.

Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars or Euros.

Safety and Security

There are no security concerns in any of the areas currently visited by this tour.

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To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please contact us at

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