Lopé Hotel offers surprising luxury considering the remoteness of its location, in Lopé National Park around four hours by train from Libreville (or seven hours by 4×4). Not a traditional ‘hotel’, it instead offers a large number of individual bungalows scattered throughout attractive gardens and walkways, all with excellent views of the surrounding parkland, river, and Mount Brazza.
The Lopé Hotel grounds centre on a communal swimming pool, bar and restaurant. Attractively tiled, the pool area offers plentiful lounge furniture as well as a four-pillared, thatched-covered area with comfortable leather sofas. The feel throughout combines contemporary style with touches of local character, and the waterways and lightly forested, rolling hills all around provide a beautiful backdrop. There are also appealing extras including a playground for children.
Food & service
Meals at the Lopé Hotel are taken indoors or out at the onsite restaurant, which serves a varied mixture of local and international cuisine that’s generally of a high standard, for example, pesto pasta, cordon bleu chicken and grilled fish dishes. As always in Gabon, with its fledgling tourist industry, service is not always of the expert standards experienced elsewhere but is nevertheless friendly and attentive.
There are 40 bungalows available at the Lopé Hotel, with a number of types on offer including standard but comfortable huts, larger chalets, and luxury VIP suites. All accommodations are pleasantly furnished in a range of styles, and feature ensuite facilities including hot water and shower, electricity, and air-conditioning; all have private decks.
As one of the few accommodation options in Lopé National Park, the Lopé Hotel is one of the best bases available from which to take advantage of everything the park has to offer. Especially noteworthy is the opportunity as a hotel guest to join researchers tracking the mandrill population. When the professional guide Kyle de Nobrega first visited Lopé, he was blown away by the experience of trekking for mandrill, describing it as one of the ‘best mammal experiences I have ever had so far’. He adds: ‘It’s important to manage guest expectations as to how easily the mandrills can be seen – it’s a phenomenal and very stimulating experience, but it’s tough going.’ In sum, an enormously rewarding experience, but one that requires a significant amount of effort to make it happen.
At this stage in the development of Gabon’s tourism industry, any conscientious visit here makes a valuable contribution to conservation efforts and the local community.