The Margouilla's Advice on Nightstopping in Lambarene



What airfield can I expect?

Lambarene's 1800-meter runway, formerly laterite, has been recently asphalted (2003) and is is excellent condition.The parking can easily accommodate four regional jets. The airport has an AFIS operator and is open from 0800 to 1600 LT, which are his working hours; extensions to sunset can be requested in writing before noon at the Libreville airport office. Keep in mind the AFIS operator is poorly trained, not supervised, and his radios are often down: don’t rely too much on him… The airport is located on the southern bank of the Ogooue River, and is surrounded by houses: beware of pedestrians on the runway, they are absolutely not afraid of landing airplanes...

The small terminal building dating is under the responsibility of the AFIS operator who will open it for you should you need it. The airport is normally unguarded; if staying overnight, it is a good idea to ask the AFIS operator for a night watchman. No flight plan filing is required to leave Lambarene, although normally circular flight plans are filed in Libreville for return flights. The applicable landing fees for Lambarene will be charged by the Libreville airport office.

The city of Lambarene is located about a kilometer to the north of the airport; the taxi ride can be negotiated for about 1500 XAF.


Lambarene, looking south (2005)


Where am I?

Lambarene was founded in the 1870's when the American trading company Hatton & Cookson opened a trading post there, to trade with the people of the Ogooue River. Christian missions were quick to follow in the 1880's, but Lambarene only earned worldwide fame when Dr Albert Schweitzer decided to found his first hospital close to the town in 1913.

Today, with a population of 27,000, Lambarene has become the capital of the Moyen-Ogooue province of Gabon. It is a major port and center of commerce on the river.

Gendarmerie (military police): +(241) 58 10 07
Hospital: +(241) 58 11 96
Pharmacies (de l'Ogooue): +(241) 58 10 70
No bank.


Where do I sleep?

Hotel les Sirenes (5mn from the airport)

PO Box 10 - Lambarene (on the road to Fougamou)
Tel: +(241) 77 23 87 / 07 53 05 56

Hotel les Sirenes is currently the best deal in town. It offers 18 clean rooms and suites, equipped with TV and air-con, with the view on a tiny lake. Swimming pool. The restaurant is average, with most items on the menu missing. Prices range from 32,000 to 55,000 XAF. (2010)

Ogooue Palace (10mn from the airport)

This former Novotel located right on the river bank is currently undergoing refurbishment. (2010)


Where do I eat?

Delice des Lacs (10mn from the airport)

Lambarene (on the left, just before reaching the northern bridge)
Tel: +(241) 06 25 07 53

Come eat the best "mambe" in town (carp cooked in banana leafs), or other African specialties at le Delice des Lacs. This restaurant has a few tables scattered in an exotic garden, on a hillside of Lambarene. European dished also available for the least adventurous.


What can I visit?

A must see in Lambarene is obviously the old hospital of Albert Schweitzer, built from 1913 onwards by the Nobel Peace prize. In the few buildings that are maintained, one can visit the doctor's bedroom, office, and get to know the history of the place by reading thoughout the exhibitions. Guided tours of the compound are available. The tumbs of Dr Schweitzer and some of his followers lie a dozen meters away from the hospital, near the Ogooue bank, in the peaceful shade of exotic trees. Worthy of note is that a modern international hospital has been built right next to Schweitzer's old hospital, and is known worldwide for its research on tropical disease.

During your approach into Lambarene, you won't help but notice that the city is surrounded by lakes nested in the rainforest. Tours are available in dugout canoes; the shortest one takes you to Lake Zile, a 3-hour boat ride between rivers, lakes and forests well worth the 15,000 XAF per person price tag. One of the most reliable guide is known locally as "l'Italien", and can be reached on +(241) 07 28 06 99.


Where can I go out?

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