Located in the middle of Gabon, this was the initial protected area, after the establishment of Lope-Okanda Wildlife Reserve back in 1946. When Gabon’s President announced the establishment of Thirteen national parks in the year 2002, and Lope National Park was among them. Covering a total area of 4910 sq km the landscape is mainly rainforest. The northern part of the park has the last remnants of the grass savannahs formed in the previous ice age and these signify an exceptional record of biological evolution of that era. River Ogooué flows through the northern section of the park with amazing trees along the river edge, home to a number of birds plus about 63 mammals species
among the mammals are: forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, mandrills, forest buffaloes, sun-tailed guenons, leopards, black colobus, yellow-backed duiker as well as sitantunga. among the Bird species are rosy bee-eaters, emerald cuckoos, crowned hawk eagles, chocolate-backed kingfishers, Dja river warblers, grey-necked rock fowls, great blue turacos as well as the black guinea fowls. Expeditions to see the mandrills together with radio tracking equipment have turned out to be useful within Lope Hotel, and you can take a number of good photographs.
There is a research centre which has been set up inside the park and it is managed by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) just like the establishment in the similarly wonderful Invindo National Park. Tourists can visit as well as stay at this research centre and participate in the day-to-day research program that concentrates on the behavior of apes, mangabeys, leopards, mandrills, elephants and buffaloes. Accommodation and food is extremely basic, while the days are entirely spent inside the forest as you carry a packed lunch, the guide are French speaking will lead you on this expedition.
The highlight of residing at the research centre is attempting to find the rock fowl / grey-necked pitacarthes and fortunately the rate of success is quite high. Remember to bring long pants having gaiters, fully sleeved shirts and long socks since there are many mosquitoes. The research centre can be accessed mainly using a research vehicles driving on a rough dirt road. There is a police check-point where you will be requested to present your certificates for yellow fever vaccination.
For close to 400,000 years The Lope area has been inhabited and there are several artifacts showing the tales of the historic hunter and gatherer settlements. River Ogooué has been a main trading route for these times and later in the 1960s, a road was constructed through the northern part of the park. In the 1980s, The region was opened up to forestry by the constructing of the railway which connects the park to Libreville as well as Ivindo. .
The majority of villages are nowadays centered close to the railway as well as the road, with a small number of rural villages in the remaining portion of Lope area. A number of Bongo “pygmy” people still hunt as well as gather in the southern part of the park and a couple of them are employed at the research station because of their proficiency in tracking in the forest.
The parks is undergoing continuous threat from ivory poaching as well as hunting plus commercial logging – nonetheless a training centre has been set up to train young African conservationists along with a good educational program conducted in the neighboring villages for additional education concerning wildlife.
Lopé National Park is found in central Gabon which is lined with dense gallery forest that covers an estimated area of 4910 square kilometers. First gazetted as a natural reserve called Lope-Okanda Wildlife Reserve in 1946, Lope National Park was then named a national park in 2002. In 2007, the park was added on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The northern part of the park is covered in savannah grassland patches where many of the animals concentrate on the Ogooue River which crosses the forest gallery. The savannah in the northern area is a remnant from the last ice-age thus create a lush eco-system in the park
In the Lopé National Park there are 60 different species of mammals, including the endemic sun-tailed monkey, discovered in 1984, and 400 of the 670 species of bird recorded in Gabon. Lopé National Park is the chosen centre for long-term studies on gorillas and mandrills, studied by the ECOFAC researchers.
Some of the animals in the park include African forest elephants, red duiker, blue duiker,leopard, sitatunga, foret buffalo, sun-tailed guenon, yellow back duiker, black colobus,chimpanzee and the western lowland gorillas.
There are several birds in Lope National Park many sighted around Mikongo camp. Some of the regular sights include Congo Serpent Eagle, Vermiculated fishing owl, spot-breasted ibis, nightjar, bush-shrike, long-tailed hawk, forest swallow, Rachel’s Malimbe, Helmet shrike, cuckoo-shrike, eagle owl, tiger heron and the grey ground thrush among others.
There is a camp at Mikongo for tourist accommodation and Lope Hotel which is the only hotel in Lope National Park