Akanda National Park. National Park in Gabon, Africa

Akanda National Park

National Park in Gabon, Africa

Akanda National Park Photo © Owner of this picture

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Akanda National Park

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 - Akanda National Park
Akanda National Park. Photo by Warriorwriter
Located in the northeast of the city of Libreville, the Akanda Park, (Akanda in myene language) which covers 540 sq km, accounts with the nearby Pongara National Park (Wikipedia Article) for 25% of the total protected mangrove in the continent. It plays an important role in the ecosystem and helps stabilize the coastline around Libreville. The site is internationally renowned as an important location, not only for migratory birds, but also as the home of the largest population of such birds.

History

Being classified as a protected area in 1951 by the then, French authorities, Gabon finally ranked the Akanda site as a national park in 2002, after a 2 years study by the DFC, the WCS and the WWF, and forms part of the country's 13 National Parks. The park was designed to represent its biodiversity and encourage tourism in that country. Gabon's ecosystem is believed to be 400,000 years old. The forest in the Park called the Mondah forest by the Bantu speaking tribe (Myene); is said to be a place of ancient myths and legends to these people. According to popular beliefs, the forest is used for initiations in African rites, and is also believed to be inhabited by genies whose powers are fed by constant sacrifices.

Sightseeing in Akanda

The site is a vast landscape of mangroves, beaches, flooded forests and savannahs inhabited by wild elephants, birds, primates and sea turtles. It’s also a major habitat and breeding ground for fish and crustaceans. A significant annual rainfall of up to 3,300 mm per year regulates the flow of rivers and consequently, the stability of the site by leaving this region totally submerged. The different bird species comprise of birds such as the Loango Carmelite, the Mouse-Brown Sun Bird; the Blue-Spotted Wood-Dove, the Gabon Boubou and the Cuckoo Shrike. It’s the perfect spot for naturalists. The forest and mangroves in the area are so dense, and always green, that it looks untouched. Akanda is the perfect spot for fishing, water sports, whale and dolphin watching. It is home to some endangered species like the Leatherback Turtle , the White-Collared Mangabey and endemic birds like the Yellow-Breasted Apalis (Apalis flavida) and the Swamp Boubou (Laniarius bicolor).

Leatherback Trove in Gabon -
	Akanda National Park
Leatherback Trove in Gabon - Akanda National Park. Photo by Andrew Revkin
The turtles are threatened, primarily by the lack of control of illegal fishing, where turtles are accidentally caught in nests and tragically drown. This has led to the decrease of the population of leather back turtles (diminished by 90%). The Ministry of Water and Forest and the Gabon Sea Turtle Partnership, are working together to train turtle beach teams the methods of identifying and recording incidents of illegal fishing close to the coast and the adoption of turtle exclusion devices or TEDs.

Accommodation

Some of the decent accommodations recommended by people who have visited the area are within 14 kilometers of Akanda. They are normally the best hotels in the city and most of them are 3 or 4 stars hotels. Rooms are cleaned once a day, with room service availability, and a self serviced bar in each room. Foreign currencies such as dollars and euro are accepted within the hotel facility as well as Visa or MasterCard. The food ranges from French to exotic African dishes. Shuttle buses are also available to take you from the airport upon arrival and back to the airport on departure dates. You can summon a taxi at the reception if you want a quick tour around the city which would cost $ 200 USD for the whole day.
The best renowned hotels are:
  • The Nomad Suites is a new establishment, clean and convenient as it's located only a few kilometers away from the airport. It has a shuttle bus, and a swimming pool within the facility. The rooms are spacious and clean and the food is excellent and fresh.
  • The Onomo Hotel is a brand new hotel in Libreville, it hosts, most of the time, business travelers. It’s clean, the service is excellent, and the bar and restaurants are open for all day. It’s located on the opposite side of the new US embassy.
  • The Okoume Palace is one of the oldest establishment in the city, which has been renovated recently. It gives a magnificent view of the Komo estuary. Although the food is satisfying, there’s not always enough rooms available and the colors in the rooms appear quite tarnished.
  • The Le Méridien Re-Ndama, which is considered overpriced due to the staff's unfriendly manner and the lack of towels in the rooms (which is a bit odd). Also, the hotel looks old for a Méridien hotel branch. Overall the food is great, the hotel offers some of the best quality dishes to its visitors and a nice ambiance at the bar. It is also equipped with a gym, a tennis court, a swimming pool, and leads you right to the beach, for those who like to walk on the sand at night.
  • The Pongora Lodge is the closest accommodation to the site. The only flaw is its room capacity. It has only six guestrooms but it does have a fabulous menu at the restaurant, and a bar.


  • Swamp Boubou (Laniarius
	bicolor) - Akanda National Park
    Swamp Boubou (Laniarius bicolor) - Akanda National Park. Photo by Ian White
    The internet availability is, most of the time, very good and works with WiFi cards. The only problem is, some of these hotels might quickly run out of these cards, or the internet connection in the entire city might just be bad (believe me, it does happen). Their prices are normally acceptable, and may range from approximately $ 500 USD to $ 200 USD a night per person.

    Transport

    To get to the site, you must book a driver and a car with a local travelling agency (better for your own safety). The locally well-known (and recommended) travelling agencies are supposed to facilitate everything for your visit in the park, such as the availability of guides on site, the hours scheduled for visits, and inform you about everything you may need to bring with you, or what is prohibited there. You can spend around $ 400 USD for transport per day or more. The recommended companies are: Gabon Contact Libreville, Gabon tour and Mistral voyages.

    Similar landmarks

    The Akanda is amongst many other parks that displays natures’ extraordinary and unique beauty. No wonder the country of Gabon has been recognized as Earth’s last Eden. Here’s a list of other similar landmarks in the same area:
    • Bateke Plateau National Park
    • Crystal Mountains National Park
    • Ivindo National Park
    • The Loango National Park
    • The Pongara National Park

     - Akanda
	National Park
    Rainforest in Akanda National Park. . Photo by Warriorwriter


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    Author: Comasco. Last updated: Aug 28, 2014

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