Port Gentil © AchilleT
The second largest city in Gabon and a leading seaport, Port Gentil is an oddly schizophrenic city: on the one hand it is a ramshackle place with only a few tarred roads, surrounded by tropical rainforest; on the other hand, it is a booming petroleum centre with a population of wealthy expats and the attendant glitzy night clubs, casinos, restaurants and even a golf course. Port Gentil is situated on a peninsula and may as well be on an island as no bridge connects it to the mainland and the dense jungle means it is accessible only by boat and plane. The only notable historic landmark in the city is St Louis Church, built in 1927, but visitors travel here to enjoy the unexpectedly vibrant nightlife, the beautiful white sandy beaches, and treks into the jungle, either on foot or by four-wheeler. Another attraction is the animal rescue centre on the outskirts of town where gorillas, chimps and other animals are rehabilitated after being found in traps.
Bizarrely, Port Gentil is one of the most expensive cities in the world, despite there being plentiful evidence of poverty among the local population. If you can afford to spend a few days here it is an interesting and unusual destination which offers unexpected luxuries and exciting natural attractions.