Gabon Travel Information
Local time in Gabon is GMT +1.
Electrical current is 220 to 240 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are standard, though Type C, E and F sockets may also work.
The official language of Gabon is French and English is not widely spoken.
Yellow fever vaccinations are required for all visitors over the
age of one. Gabon is a malaria zone and there have been recent
outbreaks of chikungunya fever and dengue fever, all transmitted by
mosquito bites. There are no vaccines available for these diseases,
but stringent anti-insect measures are recommended.
Vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid are recommended for all travellers to Gabon. Those who will be spending a lot of time outdoors may be at risk of animal bites and should also consider a rabies vaccination.
Tap water should not be drunk unless it has been boiled, and ice and uncooked fruits should also be avoided.
Healthcare in Gabon is poor, and traveller's insurance is a necessity. Many doctors will expect cash up front, regardless of insurance. Medical facilities in major cities should be sufficient for routine care, but in the rural areas healthcare is often non-existent.
Travellers should take a custom medical kit and any necessary medication in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing exactly what it is and why it is needed. This applies to syringes and needles as well.
Tipping etiquette hasn't really been established in Gabon and it's best to just tip according to the quality of service received. Taxi drivers don't expect tips, but rounding up the fare for good service will be appreciated. Service fees are seldom added to the bill in restaurants and a 10 percent tip for good service will be appreciated.
Most visits have been trouble free, though visitors have been the targets of crime. Urban hubs such as Libreville and Port Gentil experience the most petty and violent crime. Travellers can avoid becoming victims by hiding expensive jewellery, cameras, and other valuables. They should also avoid walking alone or at night, and parking in unlit, unguarded areas.
Petty crime is common and violent crime is on the rise, with
some incidents of armed robbery and assault in homes, restaurants,
and at beaches frequented by tourists and foreigners. Carjacking is
also a concern and visitors should keep their car doors locked and
their windows up while driving, and never leave valuables visible
in their vehicles. Unfortunately, Police are often slow to respond
Female travellers can expect unwanted attention from men, but are free to be firm in their refusal. Tourists should be careful and vigilant when drawing money as robberies at ATMs do occur and credit card fraud is common.
Gabon's government is relatively stable. However, there is still the possibility of demonstrations and rallies in urban areas. Visitors should avoid large gatherings where possible because protests can turn violent. It is advisable to remain up to date with the political circumstances and local news in order to avoid any danger.
Drug possession is a serious offence in Gabon and punishment will include a prison sentence, even for tourists. Homosexuality is not widely accepted and has received cultural backlash in recent years, but it is not illegal.
Taking photographs of government buildings, including the Presidential Palace, the airport, and all military sites, is prohibited.
Respect is hugely important in Gabonese culture and it's best to enquire after someone's health before making a request.
The export of petroleum, timber, and manganese has helped Gabon develop one of Africa's more successful and stable economies. The country still has strong business ties with France, as well as the US, China, and a few African countries.
French is the principal business language and formal business attire is required. Handshakes are an acceptable method of greeting and business cards should have a French translation. Office hours in Gabon are generally 7.30am to 12pm and 2.30pm to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
The international access code for Gabon is 241. Mobile phones are more widely used than landlines, though coverage can be patchy outside of Libreville and Port-Gentil. Visitors will need two copies of their passport and visa to purchase local SIM cards. Internet connectivity is good, with most hotels and some cafes and restaurants offering free wifi.
Travellers to Gabon may import three litres of wine and one litre of spirits, 400 cigarettes/cigarillos or 125g cigars or 500g of tobacco and up to 500g of jewellery. Counterfeit goods, child pornography, non-prescription drugs, and unlicensed arms and ammunition (without permission from the government) are prohibited. Visitors should bring prescription drugs in their original package, with a letter from the doctor who issued them detailing what they are and why they are needed.
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