The US reality TV show Survivor is taking place in Gabon for its 2008 Season. Where on earth is Gabon? Where are the Survivors located? Find out all about Africa's "Garden of Eden" and how you can more than survive a visit there.
Where is Gabon?
Where in Gabon Are the Survivors?
In 2002, Gabon's President Bongo (yes, that's his actual name) declared he would set aside 10% of his country as nature preserves and national parks. To this day several national parks have indeed been set up to protect the vast natural rain forests from further logging as they are home to unique wildlife including lowland gorillas, forest elephants, chimpanzees, and hippos.
Survivor Gabon is filmed in The Wonga-Wongue Presidential Reserve which is home to elephants, chimpanzees, buffalo, lowland gorillas and antelopes. An adjacent park along the Atlantic shore, the Pongara National Park, has some beautiful beaches where thousands of turtles nest every year and you can also see whales as well as hippos.
What Dangers will Survivors Face in Gabon?
The most dangerous element for Survivors in Gabon is probably the wildlife including numerous bugs, spiders and poisonous snakes. Gabon does not have a very established tourist economy and the wildlife is unused to humans. This is a real advantage for those interested in wildlife, but it's also dangerous because the animal populations are an unknown entity. If you're anywhere near buffalo or hippo you really have to know what you're doing because they are extremely dangerous animals.
Hippos kill more humans than any other animal in Africa (besides the mosquito of course).
The gorilla populations in Gabon are not habituated to humans at all yet. So they might be too shy to ever be seen, or not fearing humans, they could get much too close for comfort. The area of Gabon that Survivor is being filmed in, is famous for its Langoue Bai. Langoue Bai is a forest clearing, basically a beautiful natural grassy amphitheater in the middle of dense forest; ideal for animal watching. It's likely that some of the Survivor Gabon season will be filmed in these clearings.
Diseases are plentiful in Gabon. After all, it's a tropical country in the middle of Africa, so trying to stay healthy will be a challenge for the Survivor cast and crew. You may be familiar with the Nobel Peace Prize winning Austrian Doctor, Albert Schweitzer. Dr Schweitzer set up his famous hospital in Gabon during the first World War (1913) and was known for treating the local people as human beings at a time when that wasn't a given. His hospital is still going strong and is considered to be a leader in the treatment of highly prevalent infectious diseases and how they affect the body and mind.
Survivors will be trying to avoid malaria, sleeping sickness, filaria, leprosy, tropical sores, insect bites which could lead to onchocerciasis (transmitted by bloodsucking black flies, which infect the victim with parasitic filarial worms). And did I mention that Gabon also had several cases of Ebola seven years ago?
Putting The Survivors Experience in Perspective
Gabon is one of the most affluent countries in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to healthy oil, logging and uranium revenues. This doesn't mean everyone is living in a brick house, there's still poverty. But it does mean that if something happens on the Survivor set, help is not too far off. Gabon's medical infrastructure is considered one of the best in the region.
Gabon is also a politically stable country. President Bongo has been at the helm for 40 years now and the country has been a little oasis of peace compared to other countries in the Central African region. When a country attracts many migrant workers from its neighbors, you know it's doing well. Recent travelers to Gabon noted that --
"Mauritanians man most of the small supermarkets, Cameroonians have the bar and bakery businesses wrapped up, Senegalese run the restaurants and Malians tend the market stalls while the enterprising Togolese have opened up small hotels."
Libreville, the capital of Gabon, is a modern African city with plenty of 5 star hotels, decent French wine, malls and fast-food restaurants. Once the Survivors get kicked off, they'll no doubt enjoy a little R and R in a nice hotel on the beach in Libreville enjoying a cold Regab (local brewed beer). If they speak a little French they'll be reading the daily pro-government newspaper L'Union. They can also enjoy listening to some Central African beats on Gabon's best radio station -- Africa No 1.
Want to Visit Gabon?
Gabon is a really wonderful destination and once you see some of the scenery on Survivor -- go ahead, plan a trip! The best way to get there is either via France on Air France, Gabon Airlines, or for a cheaper rate, try Royal Air Moroc via Casablanca. Airfare from New York to Libreville will set you back about $2000. Once in Gabon, you should budget at least $50-$100 per day; it's not a cheap destination, but it is unique.
Travel Agencies Specializing in Gabon
Survivor Gabon Links
Rumors about location, contestants, filming issues, marauding hippos, and more...