Top 5 Must Do's in Libreville

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If you are traveling to Gabon in all likelihood you will be spending a couple days in Libreville, the capital city. Libreville is French for Freetown, and is located near the Gulf of Guinea. There are many things to do in Freetown, and here are the Top 5 Must Do's:

1. Marche du Mont Bouet is located in the city center, and is the hub of shopping activity in Libreville (one of the best markets in the region). You are bound to find just about anything at the Marche du Mont-Bouet including fruits, vegetables, meats, animals, fabric, clothing, household items, gold, silver, medicine, arts and crafts. Beware of pickpockets; keep your money and valuables hidden at all times. Bargaining is generally ok, but prices are fairly reasonable. Across from the market, you can see a prison, wide open and surrounded by a tall concrete wall.

2. Pongara National Park is located along the southern shores of the Gabon estuary, east of the Congo Basin Forest. Pongara is one of Gabon's national treasures, and a must see while visiting Gabon. Within this national park Gabon has created a safe haven for numerous endangered and threatened species such as the leatherback turtles (at Pongara point the shoreline acts as a breeding ground from October to March), hawksbill turtles, green turtles, gorillas, and elephants. Ekwata Beach is located within the Pongara National Park and is a quiet, lovely, serene beach to take a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

3. Musee des Arts et Traditions du Gabon (Museum of Art and Culture) gives you an insightful look into Gabon's art and culture, with an impressive collection of statues and ritual masks. The masks are the rite of passage to many of Gabon's tribal groups, and the purpose of each masks vary. Some of the masks, such as the helmet mask, called the mwesa, with four faces surmounted on each side was used by the Imbong villagers in anti-witchcraft rites. Don't miss the impressive collection of musical instruments as well.

4. Palais Presidentiel (Presidential Palace) was built in 1970 by President Bongo and is a shining example of what a little oil money can buy (the cost to build this palace was approximately $800 million US). The Palace is not open to the public, so visitors will have to admire the adorned palace from the outside. Even a visit to the exterior grounds will leave an impression. Unfortunately, photographs of the Presedential Palace are forbidden.

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