Ivindo National Park

This Gabon National park is found in the remote parts of eastern Gabon bisected into two by the Equator. It was first brought to the attention of the outside world when Mike Fay transversed Ivindo during his famous megatransect expedition in 2000.

The park is named after Ivindo River which flows tot eh rainforest forming the spectacular waterfalls and rapids of Koungou, Mingouli, Djidji. The park covers an estimated 3000sq km and its boundaries were last stretched in 2004 to include Ipassa reserve and the institute of Ecological research.

Wildlife

Some of the popular animals in the park include gorillas, bongo, red river hog, leopard, giant pangolin, slender snouted crocodile, chimpanzees, sitatungas, buffalo and elephant. The forest clearing at Langoué Bai is the main sight of tourist travel with regular sights of the forest elephants and gorillas. The highest concentration of western lowland gorillas in Gabon has been found in the clearing of Langoué. Some of the birds in Ivindo Gabon National park include grey parrots

Tourist Attractions

Kongou Waterfalls

The Kongou waterfalls, situated in the heart of the Ivindo National Park, are among the most beautiful and impressive waterfalls in the African forests. Kongou can be reached by pirogue from Makokou (a day trip by car or one hour flight from Libreville), going down the Ivindo river for 3 to 5 hours.

Other tours of the park include visits to Bakota, Fang and Bakwele communities, forest walks, fishing, kayaking on the river, boat trips, trips to the gold mining camps of Makokou and so much more.

The park is best visited during the dry season of June to August when the days are warm and sunny. The rest of the year is rainy season with temperatures below 25ºC although lighter rains are January to February. The rainy season offer spectacular views of the waterfalls as the river is full.

Tourists to the park are encouraged to carry Lightweight long trousers and long-sleeved shirts in non-obtrusive colours, cotton pullover, hiking shoes, raingear, small day-pack, insect repellent and a flashlight for night walks.

Accommodation

There is a basic research camp at Ipassa plays host to a small amount of tourists each year. Access to the camp is by foot and visitors carry their own luggage for the duration of the walk.

The camp at Kongou near the waterfalls has 14 beds in double or single rooms and a restaurant offering gabonese food on request. Common showers and toilets are at the disposal of the guests. The camp is managed by the Fondation Internationale Gabon Eco-Tourisme (FIGET)

Getting there

The only access into Ivindo is via the Trans-Gabon railway in Libreville or from Lope National Park. Travel by air is by charter of private aircraft that lands at Makokou near Ipassa.

Ivindo National Park was announced in 2002 by the presidential verdict; demarcation of this park was finished in 2004. Situated in central-east of Gabon and cut across by the equator, the park gained initial interest of the rest of the world when Mike Fay traveled through Ivindo on his renowned megatransect adventure in 2000.

A research camp was set up close to Langoué Bai In 2001 by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and this park is managed by the WCS. The primary objective of this research team is to keep track of the wildlife, especially the large mammals such as gorillas, elephants, sitatungas as well as buffaloes. Research conducted at Langoué Bai aims primarily at elephants together with gorillas, in addition to a couple of elephants which have been fixed with GPS transmitters to assess their movements. Additional species present here are chimpanzees, slender snouted crocodiles, forest buffaloes, leopards, bongo as well as red river hogs.

A study on butterflies discovered a flourishing, varied population, including 2 brand new species; leopard studies as well have been conducted to determine particular specimens as well as an observation project on the red hog.  The simple research camp also hosts a small number of tourists annually. The camp can be accessed by foot so visitors can carry their personal luggage during the walk. Each and every activity centers on Langoué Bai, as well as visiting the raised viewing platform looking over the huge forest clearing in which gorillas, elephants plus sitatunga are seen feeding.

Other than the animals, this park features magnificent waterfalls (Djidji, Koungou and Mingouli); the most amazing in all of Africa’s equatorial forests. They are best seen up in the air. The total surface area of this park is 3,000 sq km and the vegetation is generally lowland forest. There are hardly any human settlements close to the park, besides in the northeastern part. Ivindo can only be reached by means of the Trans-Gabon railway (which you catch in Libreville or even in Lope National Park), or using a private plane that lands on a dirt airstrip, or even by foot and boat. The rivers that flowing in the area are large so expeditions into the depths of the forest are from time to time done by boat. The food and drinks arrive by train since there is no road connecting to Ivindo National Park.

Ivory poaching, Fishing and hunting are a continuous threat to the area’s wildlife; nearby forestry companies constant cut trees from this park. A potential future threat comes forth with the proposed construction of a hydro electric dam on River Ivindo as well as the building of a railway close to the park so as to ship iron-ore to the northeastern part of the park. A significant, indirect threat is the inexperienced as well as government involvement in the protection of the park.

At the moment the Conservation partners are: Gabon National Parks Office, MacArthur Foundation, Gabon Ministry of Water and Forests, Pond Foundation, Tropical Ecology Research Institute (IRET), CARPE as well as FIGET.

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