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Gabon is oft-forgotten when travelers seek wildlife safaris through African nature.

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But in both Lope and Loango National Parks you can find gorillas, hippos, elephants, and even whales. And unlike in some other countries, you’re never a short drive from the beach in Gabon either. The country has 550 miles of Atlantic coastline, and you’ll find few people joining you at Pointe Denis or Mayumba beaches.

The capital of Libreville has much to offer as well, including the monumental, $800-million presidential palace that almost bankrupted the country when it was built in the 1970s. The oil-rich country also has the bustling Mount Bouet Market and marvelous wood carvings at the Church of St. Michael. Gabon is also relatively safe to visit, as long as you pack plenty of bug spray.

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