Stretching across the seaboard of Gabon, is the exotic coastal region of Akanda National Park, a critically important area for green turtles and migratory shorebirds. The national park spills across two bays in the northern reaches of Gabon and comprises protected mangrove swamp forests, tidal estuaries, and beaches flanked by wet evergreen coastal forests. The thick tall trees of the forest protect the beach from storm surges and are simply breathtaking.
Akanda National Park is situated northeast of the capital, Libreville, and encompasses 540 square kilometres of exotic beach and a river drainage basin. The environment gains plenty of moisture from the river basin and the sea, giving rise to an exceptionally lush coastal landscape. Visitors are treated to sightings of palm trees, rare orchids, region-specific flora, and endemic birds such as the Gabon boubou.
The national park is best explored by boat, a way of introducing visitors to the shorebirds and wildlife of the river. Ocean safaris are popular and offer opportunities to spot dolphins, manatees and other marine life. Visitors can arrange day tours into the park from the capital city, which is a mere 27 kilometres away. The closest international airport is Léon-Mba International Airport.
There are no overnight facilities in Akanda National Park but visitors don’t need to venture too far to seek comfortable accommodation. Various establishments are less than 20 kilometres away.
The park is a wildlife wonderland for observing a variety of marine species. These include dolphins, manatees and whales. Two of the large bays in the heart of the park provide an adequate feeding area for turtles.
Akanda is a biodiverse region comprising mainly wetland and coastal ecosystems. The national park is a treasure box of magnificent fauna and flora and is of vital importance for nesting green turtles. Marine mammals are found in the bays and sightings of dolphins, manatees, and whales are common. Two of the large bays in the heart of the park provide an adequate feeding area for turtles.
Big wildlife isn’t common in the area, but there are reported sightings of pangolins and primate species. Two common primate residents include the Gabon talapoin and white-collared mangabey. Akanda is a noteworthy destination for migratory birds and listed as IUCN critical site. The swamp boubou, yellow-breasted apalis, blue-spotted wood-dove and cuckoo shrike are just a few of the birds found in the area.
Gabon is a year-round destination and doesn’t have a distinct tourist season. Most of the year is hot and humid, with the cooler periods being from May to September. This is a good time of year to go to avoid the humidity. There are intermittent downpours throughout the year, but December and January seem to be the driest months.
November time proves to be popular with visitors wanting to observe turtles laying their eggs on the beach.
The safari experience in Akanda National Park is ideal for any naturalist impressed by towering mangrove trees and coastal splendour—the Costa Rica of Africa. There are gentle boat trips through the tributaries and rivers showcasing the wonders of the mangrove forests. Visitors can get up close and personal with the birdlife of the area.
The sunset boat cruises are the most popular tour in the area and offer unforgettable scenes of Africa’s rugged coastline. Mondah and Corisco Bay are the perfect locales for fishing and ocean safaris. Ocean safaris appeal to the water-babies and offer plenty of scope to spot dolphins, whales and manatees.
Canoeing in traditional pirogues is another adventurous way to explore the waterways of this region. Guided walks along the northern part of the park and ecotourism tours offer important insight into the habitat of the area. Because Akanda is located only 27 kilometres outside of town, full-day trips and excursions can be arranged from the capital.
There’s no accommodation inside Akanda National Park, but there are various accommodation options 15 kilometres outside of the park. These are mainly hotels with 3 or 4-star ratings. Room service, restaurants, stable Wi-Fi and all the amenities of international city lodgings are available in the hotels. Shuttles are available for trips to and from the airport.