Pongara National Park is located on one of Equatorial Africa’s stunning coastlines and is just 60 minutes from Libreville in Gabon, making it a convenient weekend getaway spot. Pongara National Park protects a variety of marine ecosystems and is part of Gabon’s network of marine parks and aquatic reserves. Whales and dolphins are among the major marine mammals that inhabit the outskirts of the national park. Additionally, there are a variety of maritime activities available during the breeding season, ranging from whale watching to seeing migrating leatherback and olive ridley sea turtles arrive. Beyond the beach, a maze of mangrove and savannah connects the two, each featuring an abundance of large and small creatures, including a significant population of monkeys, reptiles, and rare and unusual bird species. There are transfers available from Libreville Airport to the park, making it easily accessible.
Pongara offers excellent wildlife and marine life experiences. Those visiting the national park can expect to find bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, and leatherback turtles, as well as olive ridley sea turtles. The arrival of the critically endangered sea turtles is considered one of the greatest assemblies on the West Coast of Africa. Apart from whales and migratory leatherback and olive ridley sea turtles, some hippos and elephants venture to the surf. Pongara’s forests boast small populations of monkeys, buffaloes, duikers and a few chimpanzees and elephants.
There is something to do and see throughout the year at Pongara National Park. The best time to see the turtles is between November and March, while the breeding season for migratory whales and dolphins is from June to August. Those wanting to see primates and larger mammals such as elephants, hippos, and buffalo should visit between September and December and again from February to May. This is also a perfect time to take a boat ride through the Komo Estuary and beyond into the mangroves, where visitors can see tiny monkeys and chimps. Small herds of forest elephants, forest buffalo, and submerged hippos can be seen further out in the grasslands and streams. From July to October, migrating birds can be spotted along the shoreline and in the mangroves.
Those with a feeling of adventure can join chartered whale-watching expeditions from the safety of the boat. Another spectacular event is the arrival of migrating sea turtles, the largest gathering of critically endangered leatherbacks on the West Coast of Africa. Full-day marine excursions, guided nature walks, drift boat mangrove safaris, and a visit to the Aventures Sans Frontières Sea Turtle Information and Museum are all available. A midnight tour to see the sea turtles during the nesting season is another seasonal activity in Pongara National Park's marine reserve.
Pongara National Park features one accommodation option—Pongara Lodge. The lodge boasts an ideal location with unsurpassed ocean views. There are 11 units, including six eco bungalows made from natural beach materials. Each cottage is earthy and simple, with queen-size beds, fresh white linens, and an ensuite bathroom. The view from the private balcony, with the Atlantic waves and seashore both within sight, is the defining feature. The main lodge has a restaurant and bar with equally enticing ocean views. Wi-Fi is also available.
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