media release: 10/02/17

Photography by Secret Compass

Media release: 10/02/17

Amphibious team to head to elephant-rich Gabon

In June 2017, a team of amphibious travellers will aim to become the second team ever to have packrafted across the Equator in Gabon, led by UK-based expedition company, Secret Compass (the first team was also led by Secret Compass in 2016).

“Gabon is a wildlife-rich country. 90% of its landmass is equatorial rainforest, 10% of that has national park status and it’s home to 50% of Africa’s forest elephants,” said Tom Bodkin of Secret Compass.

“Known as the Eden of Africa, Rough Guides calls Gabon a ‘top 20 place for wildlife encounters’, with Lonely Planet describing tourism in Gabon as extremely DIY with infrequent transport and little infrastructure,” said Kerry O’Neill, Secret Compass’s communications director.

“These ingredients make raw, remote and wild Gabon the perfect place to stage this June’s pioneering expedition to become the first to trek and packraft across the Equator, using expedition-strength Alpacka rafts,” added O’Neill.

Gabon expedition highlights:

  • Trek and packraft across the Ivindo National Park and the Equator itself
  • Explore two separate Gabonese river systems, the Djidji and the Kongou
  • Packraft to Central Africa’s highest Djidji falls – Africa’s answer to Niagara falls
  • National Geographic calls Gabon ‘the land of the surfing hippos’
  • An Eden-like travel experience (

“Beyond bustling Libreville, Gabon is an untouched paradise of thick jungle, white sand beaches and other-worldly landscapes. Discovering this wild part of Africa in slow-time – on foot and innovative, adventure-proof packrafts – will give our team a taste of the real Gabon,” continued O’Neill.

Expedition Fact Box:

  • Name: Gabon, A Tale of Two Rivers
  • What: Epic packraft (Alpacka rafts) and trek across national parks and the Equator
  • Dates: 4 – 20 Jun 2017 (16 nights)
  • Cost: £3,399pp all inc. except international flights (from £520 return with Ethiopian Airlines)

Eco-tourism in Gabon

Professor Lee White is working with tourism organisations based in Gabon. He said, ““Gabon is a Noah’s ark for biodiversity, with three-million year-old forests. We’re trying to create a national park service in a country that hasn’t had one and it is sometimes an uphill struggle.”

In May 2015, the Telegraph (citing World Travel and Tourism Council figures) identified Gabon as a country likely to witness large % growths in tourism. Gabon was also the first African state to submit pledges for the UN climate change conference in Paris last November, emphasising its commitment to creating a sustainable future.

Speaking to the Telegraph, White continued, “We’re trying to overcome other problems – the legal system, corruption. We can’t do that overnight. It takes time to develop support and train people.”

“We hope our inaugural expedition to a country at the beginning of its fight to sustain its natural resources will help draw attention to Gabon, and that our teammates return with stories to help increase visitor numbers as the country’s eco-tourism strategy desires,” concluded O’Neill.

Secret Compass Expeditions

With its military background, expedition company Secret Compass is renowned for offering expeditions and adventure travel to countries eschewed by most operators due to their remoteness, post-conflict reputations or inaccessibility.

Expedition styles range from mixed-terrain trekking and minimalist desert traverses to mountain-biking, rafting and horseback expeditions. Secret Compass welcomes applications from anyone with a good level of fitness who’s keen to achieve the extraordinary in the world’s wildest places.

Apply to join the Gabon team

Find full Gabon information online, including links to our no-obligation Application Form.

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Press Factsheet download

View or download the Factsheet (PDF) from our Press page, outlining Secret Compass and its upcoming expeditions.

Notes for editors

Secret Compass redefines what is possible by creating pioneering projects in the world’s wildest places. Secret Compass is built around a team of trusted experts who combine a passion for exploration with industry-leading professionalism. Secret Compass reignites your primal need for adventure, providing the catalyst for you to come alive and achieve the extraordinary. Meet Secret Compass HQ staff and a selection of its expedition professionals.

Expedition Types include Epic, Cultural Immersion, Adventure Academy and Classics Redefined. Expedition styles include mixed-terrain trekking, jungle trekking and minimalist desert traverses, to mountain-biking, rafting and horseback expeditions. Secret Compass welcomes applications from anyone with a good level of fitness who’s keen to achieve the extraordinary in the world’s wildest places.

Secret Compass destinations

View current expeditions filtered by region here. Past, current and upcoming destinations include Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Bhutan, Burma/ Myanmar, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Egypt’s southern Sinai desert, Ethiopia, Gabon, Georgia, Greenland, the Himalayas, Iceland, India (Arunachal Pradesh), Iran (Mount Damavand and the Lut Desert), Iraqi Kurdistan, Kamchatka, Kilimanjaro, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Malawi, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, North Korea, Panama, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Siberia, Socotra, South Sudan, Sudan (the Bayuda desert), Uganda, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and more.

Secret Compass TV and Film

Secret Compass TV and Film is trusted by production companies and brands to capture the extraordinary in remote and wild regions thanks to its unrivalled location and risk-management expertise. Credits include location-managing Channel 4’s Walking the Nile/ Himalayas and Americas series with Levison Wood, alongside projects for the BBC, National Geographic, Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel and more.

Secret Compass Brand Projects

Secret Compass Brand Projects works with brands on projects designed to create the extraordinary in the world’s wildest places. Unique branded content and other projects have to date been staged in destinations from South Sudan and the DRC to Greenland and Finnish Lapland. Clients to date include Mitsubishi, Sony, Nespresso, Giro, Xbox and Jagermeister.


For further information concerning Secret Compass bespoke and team expeditions, TV and Film, or Branded Projects: