Lambarene is the third largest city in Gabon and is situated 300km upstream from Port Gentil and just south of the equator on the Ogooué River. It is also accessible by road from Libreville, a journey which passes numerous settlements and some shocking sights of bushmeat stalls on the roadside. The airport is situated near to the town and is well looked after.
The population is now around 30,000 and the city is known world-wide because of Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace prize winner) and his hospital which is still a major attraction. The hospital was built in 1913 in this area to attract as many patients as possible from the surrounding area. The project was a huge success and the original hospital still stands alongside the new one – one of the best equipped in the whole of Africa. A must do is a visit to the old hospital which is now a well preserved museum.
Good accommodation in Lambarene can be found on the shores of Lake Evaro and a great day trip is to take a motorised pirogue (dug out canoe) through the lakes of Ezanga, Evaro and Onague. This trip is excellent for birding; apart from these two activities, a quick look at the riverside town is worthwhile – otherwise just use the opportunity to relax along the lakeside.
The river divides the city into three districts: Rive Gauche, Ile Lambaréné and Rive Droite. The average temperature is 27°C with the rainy season starting in October and ending in June (including a short dry season in December/January). The long dry season is from July to September. Most of the locals earn an income from fishing and latterly some tourism – see the national parks of Loango and Ivindo for particularly good scenery.
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