Lighthouses of Gabon
The former French colony of Gabon straddles the Equator
on the west coast of Africa, with about 800 km (500 mi) of coastline
facing on the Atlantic. The country was organized as a French
colony around 1885, and from 1910 to 1959 it was part of the consolidated
colony known as French Equatorial Africa. Gabon became independent
South of Cape Lopez, the coast of Gabon faces southwest on the open Atlantic Ocean; north of the cape the coast faces northwest on the Gulf of Guinea. In the north of the country, the Gabon Estuary, formed by the Komo and Ebe Rivers, provides a sheltered harbor for the capital, Libreville. Port Gentil, in the lee of Cape Lopez, is the country's second international port.
Aids to navigation in Gabon are maintained by the Office
des Ports et Rades du Gabon (OPRAG). Libreville, Owendo, and Port-Gentil
are the major ports.
French is the official language of Gabon. In French, the word for a lighthouse is phare; cap is a cape and île is an island.
ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS
World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume D of
the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List
numbers are from Publication 113.
- General Sources
- Photos posted by Alain Guyomard and Robert Carceller as part of
their Phares du Monde
Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
- Historic postcard images from the collection of Klaus Huelse.
Phare de Cap Lopez, Port Gentil, November 2005
copyright stefan032872; used by permission
- Nyanga Province Lighthouse
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); two white flashes
every 10 s. 40 m (131 ft) skeletal tower, probably painted with
red and white horizontal bands. The light is probably on the tower
in the center of this aerial
view (click on the photo for enlargement).
Google has only a very distant satellite
view of this area. Gamba
is the site of a Shell Oil terminal and the base for ecotourism in
southern Gabon. Located at the oli terminal south of Gamba. Site
status unknown. ARLHS GAB-007; Admiralty D8610; NGA 25444.
Ogooué-Maritime Province Lighthouses
- ** Cap
- 1911 (station established 1897). Inactive for many years. 30 m
(98 ft) cast iron tower with lantern and double gallery. A photo
appears at the top of this page, a 2009 photo
is available, Huelse has a historic postcard
view, and Google has a satellite
view. Cap Lopez is the westernmost point, not only of Gabon
but of all of equatorial Africa. Historically the lighthouse was
the landfall light for Port Gentil, which is sheltered in a broad
bay behind the cape. Today the lighthouse is critically endangered by beach
erosion and could collapse at any time. Nonetheless, it is one
of the best known tourist attractions in the country. A July 2010 photo shows the base of the lighthouse in the water. In 2012, a new light on a tall skeletal mast was installed at Cap Lopez. Located
about 2 km (1.25 mi) south of the point of the cape and about
20 km (13 mi) northwest of Port Gentil. The area is accessible
by paved road. Site open, tower open but, in the words of one
tourist site, très dangereux. ARLHS
- Cap Lopez (3)
- 2012. Active; focal plane about 35 m (115 ft); white flash every 5 s. 30 m (98 ft) triangular skeletal mast. Patrice Penven contributed the photo at the bottom of this page; it shows the lighthouse being installed in June 2012. The tower is too new to appear in Google's satellite view. Located about 500 m (0.3 mi) northeast of the historic lighthouse, adjacent to the Cap Lopez petroleum tank farm. Site status unknown.
- * Port
- 1920s (?). Inactive. Approx. 16 m (52 ft) hexagonal cast iron skeletal
tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted black, lantern
white with a green dome. The tower also carries a white trapezoidal
daymark panel. A February 2005 photo of the abandoned lighthouse
(no longer available), showed it to be in very poor condition at
that time. Before June 2007, the lighthouse was restored to its
appearance in Sam Hedouin's photo at right. Huelse has
a historic postcard
view, and Google has a satellite
view of the site (the tower and its accompanying service building
are the west (left) side of the street intersection in the center
of the image). Port Gentil is Gabon's
second largest city and a center for the oil industry. Located on the waterfront of Port Gentil, one block
southwest of the main quay. Site open; tower closed. ARLHS GAB-006.
Phare de Port Gentil, June 2007
Sam Hedouin; used by permission
Estuaire Province Lighthouses
- * Pointe
Gombé (Ngombé, Pointe Denis)
- 1891. Active; focal plane 57 m (187 ft); white flash every 10 s.
12 m (39 ft) octagonal cylindrical tower with lantern and gallery.
Lighthouse painted blue with a white rectangular grid, as seen in
Ralph Wigzell's 2010 photo at right. Marc Quesnel has a 2008 photo,
but Google's satellite
view has no detail in this area. This is
the landfall light for Libreville, the national capital. The lighthouse has
been restored in recent years, and the station has been converted
into a resort, called Phare de Gombé Beach, scheduled to open in 2012. Located on the western point of the peninsula sheltering
the Estuaire du Gabon. Accessible by road. Site open, tower closed.
ARLHS GAB-002; Admiralty D4276; NGA 25316.
- Pointe Owendo (Ovendo)
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 46 m (151 ft); two white flashes every
6 s. 10 m (33 ft) square skeletal tower with lantern and gallery. Tower
painted white, lantern red. No photo available, but the tower is probably
seen in a Google satellite
view. Located on a promontory on the north side
of the Estuaire du Gabon, one of the largest sheltered embayments on the
western coast of Africa, at the entrance to the harbor of Owendo, about 20
km (13 mi) southeast of Libreville. Site status unknown. ARLHS GAB-004; Admiralty
D4286; NGA 25356.
- * Cap
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); three white flashes,
in a 2+1 pattern, every 12 s. 18 m (59 ft) tower, consisting of
a square skeletal tower mounted on a 9 m (30 ft) square pyramidal
masonry or concrete tower. A 2011 closeup and a 2008 photo are available, Varin Régis also has a 2008 photo,
and Huelse has a historic postcard
view, but Google's satellite
view has no detail in this area. This
appears to be an old daybeacon converted later to a lighted aid.
The building next to the lighthouse is a vessel traffic control
station; we don't know if this station is active. Located on a
prominent point of land about 3 km (2 mi) north of Sahoué and 23
km (14 mi) northwest of Libreville; the area has a number of beach
resorts. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS GAB-001; Admiralty D4272;
Phare de Pointe Gombé, Libreville, January 2010
Flickr photo copyright
Ralph Wigzell; used by permission
- * Pointe
- Date unknown. Active; focal plane 7 m (23 ft); white flash every
4 s. 7 m (26 ft) white square tower. No photo available, and Google's
view has no detail in this area. Located on the beach at
Pointe N'Dombo, about 10 km (6 mi) south of Cocobeach in the northwestern
corner of the country. Site status unknown; the beach seems to be
accessible from the main coastal highway. ARLHS GAB-003; Admiralty
D4260; NGA 25304.
New Cap Lopez Light, Port Gentil, June 2012
photo copyright Patrice Penven; used by permission
Information available on lost lighthouses:
Notable faux lighthouses:
Adjoining pages: North: Equatorial Guinea | South: Republic
of the Congo | West: São Tomé and Principe
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Posted September 15, 2005. Checked and revised August 8, 2012.
Lighthouses: 7. Site copyright 2012 Russ Rowlett and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.