NEED TO KNOW
LOCATION Lopé National Park is in Central Gabon, in the province of Ogooué-Ivindo, some 125 miles (200 km) from the capital, Libreville
AREA 1,895 sq miles (4,910 sq km)
KEY WILDLIFE Western gorillas, mandrills, forest elephants and buffalos, sitatungas, monkeys
One of the oldest, largest and most ecologically significant preserves in West Africa, Lopé National Park – inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 – is also one of the most accessible to moderately intrepid travelers. Primates are the main point of interest. The rain forest in the park is the world’s most important refuge for the mandrill, a large baboon-like primate with a striking red-and-white nasal pattern and fangs that would make a vampire recoil. Lopé also supports around 4,000 western gorillas, high densities of chimpanzees, and 400 bird species.
Getting There The gateway village to the park is Lopé, which is accessible by paved road, rail, or chartered light aircraft from the capital, Libreville.
When to Go July and August are the best months for mandrill viewing, and August and September are best for gorillas and most other wildlife.