A rare image of a Black-headed Bee-eater by Nigel Voaden.
A Rosy Bee-eater at a colony in Loango National Park by Simon Colenutt.
Localised Specialities Plumed Guineafowl, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, African River Martin (at coastal nesting colonies mostly Oct-Nov), Verreaux's Batis, Gosling’s Apalis, Grey-necked (Red-headed) Picathartes and Yellow-capped Weaver.
Other Specialities Olive and Spot-breasted Ibises, Hartlaub’s Duck, Black Guineafowl, Finsch’s and Latham’s (Forest) Francolins, White-backed Night Heron, Congo Serpent Eagle, Bat Hawk, Long-tailed Hawk, African Finfoot, Black-rumped Buttonquail, Grey Pratincole, Forbes's Plover, African Skimmer, Blue-headed Wood Dove, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Olive Long-tailed Cuckoo, Fraser’s Eagle-Owl, Pel’s and Vermiculated Fishing Owls, Red-chested Owlet, Bates’s and Brown Nightjars, Black Spinetail, Bates’s Swift, Bare-cheeked Trogon, Chocolate-backed and White-bellied Kingfishers, Black, Black-headed and Rosy Bee-eaters, Blue-throated Roller, Black-casqued and White-crested Hornbills, Lyre-tailed and Spotted Honeyguides, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Blue Cuckoo-Shrike, Forest Swallow, Angolan Batis, White-spotted and Yellow-bellied Wattle-eyes, Rufous-bellied Helmetshrike, Fiery-breasted Bushshrike, Lowland Sooty Boubou, Souza’s Shrike, Bates’s Paradise Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Nicator, Sjöstedt’s Greenbul, Black-collared Bulbul, Red-throated Cliff Swallow, Ja River Scrub Warbler, Salvadori’s Eremomela, Congo Moor Chat, Violet-tailed Sunbird, Black-chinned and Loango Weavers, Rachel’s and Red-bellied Malimbes, Woodhouse’s Antpecker, Short-tailed Pipit and Black-faced Canary. (Damara Tern occurs mainly Apr-Jan, especially May- Oct). Rarely seen forest species include White-crested Tiger Heron, Grey-throated Rail, Sandy Scops Owl, Maned Owl, Shelley’s Eagle Owl, Blue-headed Bee-eater, Eastern Wattled Cuckoo-Shrike, Tessmann’s Flycatcher, Grey Ground-Thrush and Red-crowned Malimbe.
Pink-backed Pelican, Goliath Heron, Hamerkop, African Darter, African Fish and African Crowned Eagles, White-bellied (Barrow's) Bustard, White-headed Lapwing, African Jacana, Rock Pratincole, Temminck's Courser, Grey Parrot, turacos, Cassin's and Sabine's Spinetails, Narina Trogon, kingfishers including Blue-breasted and Giant, bee-eaters including Black and Blue-breasted, hornbills, barbets, Vanga (Black-and-white Shrike) Flycatcher, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Gorgeous (Four-coloured/Perrin's) Bushshrike, African Paradise Flycatcher, White-throated Blue Swallow, Forest Robin, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, sunbirds, weavers, malimbes and waxbills.
(Western Lowland) Gorilla, African (Forest) Elephant, Hippopotamus (including some which swim in the sea), African (Forest) Buffalo, Red River Hog, Humpback Whale (mostly Jul-Sep), Black Colobus, Crowned and Moustached Guenons, Grey-cheeked and Red-capped Mangabeys, (Greater) Putty-nosed Monkey, Sitatunga, and Blue and Peters's Duikers. Also a chance of Chimpanzee, Mandrill, Bongo, Killer and Sperm Whales (both mostly Jul-Sep), Atlantic Humpback Dolphin, Leopard, Golden Cat, Giant Pangolin, Sun-tailed Monkey and Congo Clawless Otter, and an outside chance of West African Manatee.
Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
Leatherback Turtle (mostly Nov-Apr) and Tarpon. Also a chance of Dwarf, Long- (Slender-) snouted and Nile Crocodiles.
The best time to visit for birds is October-November when flocks of Rosy Bee-eaters and African River Martins are usually at their large and impressive coastal nesting colonies where tens to hundreds of thousands arrive in August or September to breed. When the main rains arrive normally in February both species disperse inland with the martins migrating through places such as the Makokou Area in Northern Ivindo NP before spending the non-breeding season in the remote and largely inaccessible areas of the Congo Basin. July-August is the driest time of the year but bird activity can be low during this period. Large mammals and Leatherback Turtles visit the beaches of places such as Loango NP during the wet season, which usually lasts from October to May although it is often dry in December-January. The best time to look for Mandrills is July to October, especially early September when lone males are seeking out females in oestrous. The big troops usually split up in November, the animals disperse widely and become very difficult to find.
Birds of Western Africa by N Borrow and R Demey. Helm, 2014 (Second Edition).
Birds of Africa south of the Sahara by I Sinclair and P Ryan. C Struik, 2011 (Second Edition).
The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals by J Kingdon. Bloomsbury, 2015 (Second Revised Edition).
The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals by J Kingdon. Bloomsbury, 2016 (Second Edition).
The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals.
Where to watch birds in Africa by N Wheatley. Helm, 1995.
Don’t know which country/countries to visit in Africa? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.
Many trip reports, some for Gabon, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Gabon. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Gabon' below.
The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.
There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.
While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.
Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Gabon include the following.