Wildlife of Coastal Gabon

Loango National Park

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The central African nation of Gabon borders the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between the Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea. This sparsely populated country, known for its dense rainforests and enormous oil and gas reserves, is one of the most prosperous and stable countries in central Africa. Because of its wealth of natural resources and small population, Gabon has been able to set aside about 10% of the entire country as national parks and reserves to preserve its pristine rainforests and rich biodiversity.
Remarkably, Gabon encompasses approximately 22 million hectares of primaeval rainforest—part of the Guineo-Congolese forest ecosystem. The Congo Basin spans six countries and comprises the second largest complex of tropical forests in the world after those of the Amazon Basin. This spectacular biome is home to the continent’s highest diversity of trees and birds and is renowned for its lush old growth forests, lowland gorillas, mandrills, and forest elephants. Gabon is the remaining stronghold for sixty percent of the world's critically endangered forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis). These forest dwellers are the smallest of the three living elephant species.

Our unique photo tour concentrates on Loango National Park—featuring one of the largest expanses of pristine white sand coastline left on the African continent. Known as “Africa’s Last Eden,” the park is one of the few places on Earth where tropical rainforest meets the sea. Within the park’s 380,000 acres, our group will be busy photographing an extraordinarily diverse array of wildlife on land, sea and in the sky including leopards, red river hogs, forest buffalos, western lowland gorillas, and a multitude of antelopes and monkeys. Loango habitats support 355 species of birds and the famous “surfing hippos” that amazingly walk into the ocean swells and float until they reach their preferred grazing ground.

Within the park we will travel its lagoons by boat, enjoy game drives through its savannah in open vehicles, roam unspoiled white sand beaches, and hike through the forest in search of rare lowland gorillas with the help of trackers who stay with these huge primates every day. Visiting the habituated gorillas in Loango National Park is a unique experience. Unlike East African parks with mountain gorillas, here the tourist groups are small and exclusive—only four photographers at a time—allowing for intimate viewing like no other place in Africa. Each trip participant will have one morning excursion to visit with these critically endangered gorillas. Our expensive gorilla viewing permits help contribute to their conservation by funding the trackers and researchers.

Loango is a slice of Africa like none other. As such, the photography experience here is very different from those of East and South Africa. Much of the wildlife here are forest dwellers and their numbers do not rival the massive herds found elsewhere. Expect intimate experiences with smaller groups of animals like the forest elephants who walk those white sand beaches and forest buffaloes as they emerge from the old growth and into the savannah.

Tourism to this rare and exotic tropical gem remains relatively undeveloped. Join us and visit Loango while it still remains one of the few pristine places left on Earth.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from home.

Day 2 (Feb 15, 2024)
Arrive Libreville, Gabon. Following customs, meet our representative at the airport and transfer to our convenient oceanside hotel. Meet our leaders for dinner and orientation this evening. (D)

Day 3
After breakfast, we transfer to Libreville International Airport in time for our charter flight to Port Gentil. Upon arrival, we transfer to camp for our seven-night stay. (BLD)

Days 4-9
We have six full days in Loango National Park with opportunities to observe many of the unique animals in the area—the most famous of which are the lowland gorillas, forest elephants, forest buffaloes, and red river hogs. Birds and monkeys are everywhere and are among the special highlights of a visit here.

Our activities are based on morning and afternoon weather conditions, mixed between boat cruises and game drives, with some short walks. We are here during the wet season—a choice time to visit Loango—when cloud cover entices the wildlife to emerge from the forest onto the beaches and open savannah. Landscapes are lush and beautiful at this time of year.

We each spend a morning tracking and photographing a group of habituated western lowland gorillas. In groups of four, one group per day, we join the trackers who constantly keep tabs on the gorilla group in their charge. Unlike treks to see the mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda, walking here is on relatively flat ground. Hiking in the forest is likely to include walking through mud, small streams, and swamps, so expect to get wet and muddy. It is necessary to be physically fit to visit the gorillas.

Due to the unpredictability of the gorillas’ location, distances vary, and it may take a few hours of hiking to reach them. These treks are generally shorter than mountain gorilla treks and are achievable for people in good health and without walking difficulties. Like other gorilla photo opportunities elsewhere, there is a one-hour time limit and 25-feet minimum distance to these animals to reduce human impact.

While the gorilla photographers are in the field, the rest of the group will explore the environs by boat or game drive vehicles.

Day 10 (Feb 23)
After breakfast, we transfer back to Port Gentil in time for your flight to Libreville International Airport and in time for your flight home. (B)

Day 11
Arrive home.
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Wildlife of Coastal Gabon

Feb 14, 2024 - Feb 24, 2024

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only we accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days prior to departure and may be paid by check or bank transfer. If you wish to make your final payment with a credit card a 3% convenience fee will be charged.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation. Based on the cancellation date the following applies:

Trip deposits are non-refundable.
150-91 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 50% of the total trip cost.
90-61 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 75% of the total trip cost.
Within 60 days of the start of the trip: No refund.

If, on the trip start date, your space has been resold and the tour is full—as designated by “Limit” number of travelers on the tour website page—we will refund your payment, minus the non-refundable trip deposit and any discounts given to resell your space.

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

Emergency evacuation insurance is REQUIRED for this tour. Upon request, we can provide travel insurance options that includes the required medical evacuation insurance. Participants purchasing trip insurance on their own should confirm that emergency evacuation is included in their policy.

We strongly encourage you to protect your travel investment and purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. We can provide travel insurance options, or it can be purchased online. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available. Trip participants without travel protection insurance are considered “self-insured.” Without insurance you assume all risks and losses for any conditions requiring your cancellation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you, or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health, including viral illnesses, occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, and applicable health advisories. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or email address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or email messages to info@photosafaris.com.

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific details that are included in your trip fee. Generally, these include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch, or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, internal tour air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages, and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry, or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Most of our trips are priced in double occupancy (shared) accommodations. Single accommodation is available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodation or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations, and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins, or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea is included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two people traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motor coach, automobile, van, boat, ship or aircraft or any other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics, pandemics and outbreaks, or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non -refundable air tickets, visa fees, travel insurance premiums and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure or disease outbreak in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A signed Registration Form with the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be returned by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington.

I have read, understand, and agree to the terms, conditions, and provisions of the enrollment information, as stated on the Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris website and the Enrollment Conditions section of this form, especially noting the policy on cancellations, refunds, and limitations on responsibility.

I am aware that during any trip or tour that I am voluntarily participating in under the arrangements of Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., a Washington corporation, and its employees, agents and associates, certain risks and dangers exist while traveling in the United States, foreign countries, and wilderness areas in any country or territory that include the possibility of property damage, bodily injury, and death. There is a possibility of accident or illness occurring without access to immediate or timely medical treatment or facilities. There is a risk of tropical or communicable diseases that may require quarantine and removal from the tour at my expense, food-related illnesses, the risk of personal injury and property damage or delay or inconvenience by forces of nature, wildlife or wildlife models, quarantine, political instability, acts of terrorism, strikes, government restrictions or regulations change, thefts, and the risk of accidents during travel while on foot or by aircraft, train, automobile, van, bus, boat, ship, or other conveyance. I understand that such risks cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of this trip or tour. In consideration of, and as part payment for the right to participate in such trips, tours and/or other activities and services arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates, I have and do hereby assume all risks, and hereby release Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents and associates, and will hold them harmless from any and all liability, actions, causes of actions, debts, claims, and demands of every kind and nature, howsoever caused, which I now have or which may arise of or in connection with any of my trips or tours and participation in any activities arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this Agreement, I agree to indemnify them and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, I agree to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington and further agree that the substantive law of that state shall apply in that action without regard to the conflict-of-law rules of that state. The terms hereof shall serve as a release and assumption of all risk for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, and for all members of my family.

If any part, article, paragraph, sentence, or clause of this Agreement is not enforceable, the affected provision shall be curtailed and limited only to the extent necessary to bring it within the requirements of the law, and the remainder of the Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

I acknowledge that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged during my participation in this activity, I may be found by a court of law to have waived my right to maintain a lawsuit against Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents, and associates, based on any and all claims from which I have released them.

Wildlife of Coastal Gabon: Moderate Activity Level

Transportation by plane, boat, open safari vehicles and on foot. Hiking to photograph the lowland gorillas in the forest, possibly for several hours on relatively flat ground, is likely to include wading through mud, small streams, and swampy land so expect to get wet and muddy. It is necessary to be physically fit to visit the gorillas.
Trip Details
Feb 14 - Feb 24, 2024
Fee: $14,995 from Libreville, Gabon
Deposit: $5,000
Limit: 12 participants
Activity Level: ModerateModerate
  • Photograph the landscapes, coastlines, and the wildlife within Loango National Park’s lush tropical forest
  • More than six full days exploring Loango National Park in one convenient location that serves as an excellent base for a range of activities, including game drives and birdwatching, and small boat cruises amidst the maze of photogenic lagoons
  • Capture images of "tiny" forest elephants, buffalos, hippos, and leopards that venture out onto the park's miles of pristine white sand beaches
  • A great opportunity to see and photograph critically endangered western lowland gorillas in their verdant rainforest habitat
  • Trip includes all meals, lodging, internal tour flights, ground transportation, national park fees, gorilla viewing permit, photo guides and instruction
Tour Leaders
David Jaffe

David Jaffe

And local guide