On my first foray out of Southern Africa, last weekend I explored further up the continent on a weekend trip to Libreville, the capital city of Gabon. In case you don't know- and I knew nothing about Gabon until this trip- it lies on the west coast of Central Africa, surrounded by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and The Republic of Congo. The population of Gabon (1.5 million) let alone Libreville is pretty small, so the city has a very laid back, 'island life' vibe.
As I was in town to work and not play, I didn't see as much of the city as I would of liked, but I did manage one escape to the beach which is one of the main things to do in the city. If you have more time, a Gabonese friend strongly recommended getting a boat over to the Pointe Denis island from Porte Mole which is famous for its views.
I was in town for the New York Forum Africa as a student ambassador who kindly put us up in the Onomo (approx £110 a night) which is a really nice business hotel. Although it has less stars than some of Libreville's glitzier hotels, it is modern and professional without the stuffy attitude, is close to the airport, a walk away from the beach, and most importantly, has fast and free WIFI. I really liked that it felt like contemporary African design, with the building incorporating the surrounding lush vegetation with a live plant wall, rather than one of those hotels where you feel like you could be anywhere in the world.
As the students on the trip, we were obliged to party, and straight away found out that the best place to party is an area called 'Louis' where there is a road of bars and clubs to wile away your Friday and Saturday nights. Bear in mind though that they only really get going about midnight/1 o'clock, so don't turn up at 9pm like us and find yourself alone in bar. We ended up in a bar called Bistro which was full of expats, played UK chart music, and for some unknown reason kept setting the bar on fire and putting it out again with a fire extinguisher...every 15 minutes. If you want to party with Gabonese people, your best bet apparently is to head to the residential areas and check out the makeshift bars and restaurants there.
Overall while Libreville is a pretty expensive city and there isn't much to do, it does have certain charm about it, although according to Lonely Planet- most of the fun is outside the city so be sure to explore the rest of Gabon. Taxis are a pretty cheap way to get around, and having some command of French will make your life much easier as very few people speak English.