“Gabon is a wildlife-rich country. 90% of its landmass is equatorial rainforest, 10% of that has national park status and it’s home to 50% of Africa’s forest elephants,” said Tom Bodkin of Secret Compass.
“Known as the Eden of Africa, Rough Guides calls Gabon a ‘top 20 place for wildlife encounters’, with Lonely Planet describing tourism in Gabon as extremely DIY with infrequent transport and little infrastructure,” said Kerry O’Neill, Secret Compass’s communications director.
“These ingredients make raw, remote and wild Gabon the perfect place to stage this June’s pioneering expedition to become the first to trek and packraft across the Equator, using expedition-strength Alpacka rafts,” added O’Neill.
Gabon expedition highlights:
- Trek and packraft across the Ivindo National Park and the Equator itself
- Explore two separate Gabonese river systems, the Djidji and the Kongou
- Packraft to Central Africa’s highest Djidji falls – Africa’s answer to Niagara falls
- National Geographic calls Gabon ‘the land of the surfing hippos’
- An Eden-like travel experience (Lonelyplanet.com)
“Beyond bustling Libreville, Gabon is an untouched paradise of thick jungle, white sand beaches and other-worldly landscapes. Discovering this wild part of Africa in slow-time – on foot and innovative, adventure-proof packrafts – will give our team a taste of the real Gabon,” continued O’Neill.
Expedition Fact Box:
- Name: Gabon, A Tale of Two Rivers
- What: Epic packraft (Alpacka rafts) and trek across national parks and the Equator
- Dates: 4 – 20 Jun 2017 (16 nights)
- Cost: £3,399pp all inc. except international flights (from £520 return with Ethiopian Airlines)
Eco-tourism in Gabon
Professor Lee White is working with tourism organisations based in Gabon. He said, ““Gabon is a Noah’s ark for biodiversity, with three-million year-old forests. We’re trying to create a national park service in a country that hasn’t had one and it is sometimes an uphill struggle.”
In May 2015, the Telegraph (citing World Travel and Tourism Council figures) identified Gabon as a country likely to witness large % growths in tourism. Gabon was also the first African state to submit pledges for the UN climate change conference in Paris last November, emphasising its commitment to creating a sustainable future.
Speaking to the Telegraph, White continued, “We’re trying to overcome other problems – the legal system, corruption. We can’t do that overnight. It takes time to develop support and train people.”
“We hope our inaugural expedition to a country at the beginning of its fight to sustain its natural resources will help draw attention to Gabon, and that our teammates return with stories to help increase visitor numbers as the country’s eco-tourism strategy desires,” concluded O’Neill.
Secret Compass Expeditions
With its military background, expedition company Secret Compass is renowned for offering expeditions and adventure travel to countries eschewed by most operators due to their remoteness, post-conflict reputations or inaccessibility.
Expedition styles range from mixed-terrain trekking and minimalist desert traverses to mountain-biking, rafting and horseback expeditions. Secret Compass welcomes applications from anyone with a good level of fitness who’s keen to achieve the extraordinary in the world’s wildest places.
Apply to join the Gabon team
——- ends ——-