DESTINATIONS

GABON PACKAGE

General Info
Gabon, straddling the Equator on Africa's west coast between Cameroon and the Congo Republic, is one of the continent's least-known countries, with only 1.3 million inhabitants of whom two-thirds live in the capital, Libreville (Lbv). The rest of the country is tropical rainforest, with few roads and one railway line into the interior. It is oil-rich and politically stable, with a strong French military presence. The second city of Port Gentil (Pog) at the mouth of the massive Oogoue River about 200 km south of Lbv, is the base for the offshore oil industry. Pog can only be reached by boat or air, and southwards the land consists of dense forest, grass plains and huge mangrove estuaries/lagoons extending far inland. IGUELA/LOANGO LODGE is about 100 km south of Port Gentil, overlooking the vast Iguela Estuary a few kms inland from the mouth. It has been completely rebuilt during 02/03, and is no longer the simple “fisherman’s camp” that early visitors will have experienced. Boats are outboard-powered, 7 metre fibreglass “banana boats,” never fishing more than three anglers plus driver. This is a forest reserve, with gorillas, chimps, forest elephant, buffalo etc, and game drives are possible with the camp vehicle. It is about seven minutes by boat to the lagoon mouth, the primary fishing area both from anchored boat (mostly for tarpon) and by surfcasting from the beaches for tarpon, cubera, giant threadfin, trevally etc.

Fishing
Tarpon are caught both from the beach and from boats, on lures, livebait or (most often) drifted deadbait; the Iguela record is 254 lb (115 kg). There has been only limited success on flies, sight-casting being difficult in the leaf-stained water. Tarpon are the primary target, but many other species accept bait or lure. These include jack crevalle (kingfish/trevally) up to 30 kg; cubera snapper and giant threadfin that both attain over 40 kg; great barracuda up to 30 kg, Guinean barracuda, Guinean pompano, two types of kabeljou (drum, Senegal drum), something like our garrick/leervis; one client even caught a kind of spotted grunter on a leadhead! And all are caught off the beaches or in the lagoons, in water seldom more than five metres deep! (See our “ Pre-trip Info for Iguela”). Gabon is not a destination for anglers who need to be spoon-fed. Little is known about tidal or fish movements, and the standard tarpon fishing method is small deadbaits drift-fished under a float on heavy tackle at estuary mouths. Because such rigs account for many 200 lb-plus tarpon, they seldom try anything else. Ed Truter, is one of few anglers to have caught tarpon on fly there, and it was he who described the rush of a giant cubera snapper coming out of the mangroves to attack a surface lure as ”like watching a hippo charge . . .!”

Accomodation
Our anglers have a choice between two accommodation types, as follows: Loango Lodge is situated at Igúela, the northern gateway to the Loango National Park. It offers breathtaking views of the lagoon, savannahs, and offers exclusive respite between outdoor experiences. The lodge has seven bungalows with en suite bathrooms and three suites with a living room and en suite bathrooms with bath. There is also a two bedroomed suite with two bathrooms and a spacious living area, which is ideal for families. All these have fans and airconditioning as well as screen windows. The restaurant has a large sun terrace, a library, while a paillotte in the river gives you the opportunity to dine privately. These bungalows start from EUR325.00 per person per night sharing. Pt. St. Catherine Beachcamp is thirty minutes by boat from Loango Lodge. It is situated near the Ombochure, the river mouth. It has five dome tents on wooden sundecks and all boast private bathrooms with bucket shower and toilet. Each tent is fitted with beds, sleeping two anglers per tent, chairs and a private terrace. The night is light gently by bamboo tourches, and while there is a restaurant/lounge deck, most evenings will be a “feet-in-the-sand” beach barbeque affair. While at the Pt. St. Catherine, a guide and chef will be at your service.

Location
About 100km south of Port Gentil in Gabon, West Africa.

Season
Gabon is humid, although temperatures seldom go above 32 C. There is a short rainy season from Nov to mid-Dec, and the main rains fall from Feb to May. June to Oct is cool (26 c) and fairly dry. Tarpon are present all year but the big ones seem to like the rainy months (ie hang around estuary mouths during that time). Nov - April is peak tarpon season. June and July are considered quietest for tarpon, but best for marlin, sailfish, wahoo, kingfish and other offshore species.

How to get there
Fly Johannesburg to Libreville with SAA, then overnight in Libreville and get the early morning schedule domestic flights between Libreville and Port Gentil (POG). From here you will endure a long boat trip of three and half hours to Omboue, from here there is a 4x4 road transfer to Iguela which takes one and half hours. Your ETA at the lodge is 15H00.

We agree it is not ideal, but this is the only way we can get our anglers to the lodge.

South African Airways flight schedule is currently as follows:

DEPARTURE FROM OR TAMBO SOUTH AFRICA TO LIBREVILLE GABON:

SA 086 JNB LBV 1440 1845 on days 2,3,5 and 6 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday)

SA 087 LBV JNB 2335 0520 on days 2,3,5 and 6 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday)

Other activities
Birdwatching is outstanding at Iguela, with flocks of African grey parrots flying overhead almost constantly. This Lodge is in a wildlife reserve, so one can watch game such as forest elephant and forest buffalo. Gabon has the largest population of lowland gorillas in Africa.

Length of stay
A minimum stay of one week is recommended. With the current logistics, at least a week is needed.

Capacity
The Lodge can sleep 24 guests, and the camp can sleep 10 guests sharing. We recommend no more than 8 anglers at a time.

Docs required
No Visa required on South African passports only. Yellow Fever innoculation is a must!

Rates
Please contact us for tailor-made packages according to the flight schedules, availability and amount of anglers per group.

Included
All accommodation, meals, flights, transfers and fishing and national park fees.

Excluded

Special Notes
No visa required on SA passport, ONLY. Yellow Fever inoculation is required to enter Gabon – please consult your GP or Travel Clinic.

**** It is important to mention that Africa’s Eden, the main tourism operator in Gabon was forced to abandon its ecotourism operations at the park back in 2012. As of August 2016 there is currently a change over of operations management and ownership of the lodge underway. More details to follow as contracts are signed and put in place.****

In so far as ecotourism goes, and the future it has in Africa, Gabon has often been referred to as “Africa’s last Eden…” (the original Tarzan territory) and as one of the few tourists who have been privileged enough to experience the raw splendor of Gabon, conservationist J. Michael Fay sates: “I literally want as many people on earth as possible to see this place and fall in love with it…”

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO BOOK CONTACT SPORT FISH AFRICA:

Tel: +27 11 792 3043
Fax: 086 556 4309
e-mail: info@sportfishafrica.co.za