Lighthouses of Gabon

The nation 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 in 1960.

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 national port authority, 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
Phares d'Afrique
Photos posted by Alain Guyomard and Robert Carceller as part of their Phares du Monde web site.
World of Lighthouses - Gabon
Photos available from Lightphotos.net.
Afrikanische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images from the collection of Klaus Huelse.

Phare de Cap Lopez
Cap Lopez Light, Port Gentil, November 2005
Panoramio photo copyright Stefan Schmidt; used by permission

Nyanga Province Lighthouse
Gamba
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 40 m (131 ft) triangular skeletal tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. The tower is on the left in Hopt Yannick's photo, but 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 oil terminal south of Gamba. Site status unknown. ARLHS GAB-007; Admiralty D8610; NGA 25444.

Ogooué-Maritime Province Lighthouses
** Cap Lopez (2)
1911 (station established 1897). Inactive for many years. 30 m (98 ft) cast iron tower with lantern and double gallery. Stefan Schmidt's photo appears at the top of this page, a 2009 photo is available, Lightphotos.net has a 2012 photo, 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 GAB-005.
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. Admiralty D4290.1; NGA 25373.
* Port Gentil
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
Port Gentil Light, Port Gentil, June 2007
Panoramio photo copyright 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, rising through the center of a resort building. Lighthouse painted blue with a white rectangular grid, as seen in Ralph Wigzell's 2010 photo at right. Marc Quesnel has a 2008 photo, and Bing has a satellite view. 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, which opened in 2012. The station is within the Parc National de Pongara. 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, and the tower has not been located in Bing's 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 Estérias (1)
Date unknown. Inactive since 2012. 9 m (30 ft) square pyramidal masonry or concrete tower. Formerly a square skeletal tower was mounted atop the 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 a cloud blocks Bing's satellite view of 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.
Phare de Pointe Gombé
Pointe Gombé Light, Libreville, January 2010
Flickr photo copyright Ralph Wigzell; used by permission
* Cap Estérias (2)
2012 (?). Active; focal plane 46 m (151 ft); two white flashes every 6 s. 15 m (49 ft) triangular cylindrical skeletal tower. No photo available; the tower is similar to the new Cap Lopez tower, but only half the height. Located next to the historic light tower. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D4272; NGA 25312.
* Pointe N'Dombo
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 satellite 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
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 November 7, 2014. Lighthouses: 8. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.