‘Africa’s very last (Garden of) Eden’
Gabon (officially the Gabonese Republic) is arguably one of the single most stable of countries in Sub Saharan Africa. This means it is an absolutely ideal and safe tourist attraction for the enterprising Pakistani Couple who want to spend a relatively inexpensive vacation away from the everyday hustle and bustle of home shores. Spread over nearly 270,000 square kilometers (100,000 sq miles), the sparsely populated nation of a mere 1.5m people os so (barely the population figures of Karachi upscale Clifton, Bath island and Defense areas) is a natural wonderland where time seems to have stopped sometime between history and pre-history.
Located right on the line of the equator means its climate is in marked contrast to most of the rest of the world. Its summers are actually when it’s coldest; conversely the winters are remarkable for being hotter than the summers! Overall though, the country boasts of a temperate climate pretty much the whole year around, with even its hottest month of January having an average temperature of only 31 degrees Celsius. While its coldest month of July typically hovering around the 21 degrees Celsius, effectively making Gabon the perfect winter gateway for those Karachi-ites who simply crave winter… Without wanting to feel cold.
Quite unlike many of its highly-troubled neighbors, such as Guinea, Cameroon and the ‘democratic republic’ of Congo, Gabon is a veritable oasis of peace and stability and as such is Central Africa’s most travel friendly and progressive destination. In effect, making it the perfect place to ‘get-away-from-it all. Especially, if you have a penchant to backpack and safari away from the more popular and crowded places.
Ever since the Gabonese government decided to turn a massive eleven percent of the entire country into a protected national park (built along the lines of South Africa’s Krueger and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Parks) a few years back, a visit to its tropical rainforest as they just seem to meander on and on endlessly, an absolute must. A relatively undiscovered fairyland of thick jungles and lush green forests ending in pristine and white, sandy beaches. Its gushing rivers form a perfect backdrop to the country’s surrealistic landscapes.
If you are in the mood to shop around for curios than the Marche Artisanal is the place to visit. This is where Senegalese merchants sell traditional jewelry and ethnic paintings and clothes. However, it would be prudent to be careful of one’s belongings since foot pads are known to lurk around and prey on unwary tourists.
If you are tired and jaded with the usual tourist destinations, then this Eden like paradise is an absolute must in your travel itinerary. Gabon is truly the jewel of the dark continent.