Congo forest - including lowland gorillas

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE

Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the remote northwest of the Republic of Congo-Brazzaville is covered in forests, rivers, marshes, and swamps and extends over 13 600km2. It is an integral part of both the Congo Basin and the TRIDOM Transfrontier Park that overlaps Gabon, Congo and Cameroon. It's also one of Africa’s oldest national parks and the ideal destination for lowland gorilla trekking.

Join us to trek for western lowland gorillas, forest elephants, bongos, dwarf crocodiles, huge flocks of grey parrots and green pigeons, and other iconic wildlife species that roam the forests, plains and river systems

Western lowland gorillas, forest elephants, bongos, dwarf crocodiles and huge flocks of grey parrots and green pigeons - and much more

Overview

Length: 9 days / 8 nights
Group Size: Up to 12 guests
Location: Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Republic of Congo-Brazzaville
Departure Dates: Flights to Odzala from Brazzavile depart every Monday/Thursday & return from Odzala every Thursday/Monday. And so, unless your flight arrives in Brazzaville before 11h00 am on Day 2, we suggest that you sleep in Brazzaville the night before

from US$ 13,835 per person sharing

This is a safari like no other. Read the day-by-day itinerary below to truly grasp the awesomeness of this experience!

It’s not for the faint-hearted or those who focus on room service, wi-fi and air-conditioning. Rather, this is the ideal safari for those that are willing to go beyond the safari norm, to explore and discover truly wild areas. That said, the camps are extremely comfortable (luxurious, in fact) and the service and food are excellent.

A significant feature in this park is the bais (salines). These open clearings offer a glimpse beyond the ‘green curtain’ of the dense rainforest as various mammal species regularly come to the bais to access water, minerals and salts, sedges and grasses.

Odzala-Kokoua NP receives approximately 1,500mm of rain annually, with most of the falling during the two wet seasons. Permanent rivers are a primary feature, with the Lekoli and Kokoua rivers flowing into the park’s major channel, the Mambili. The Mambili can, in some places, extend up to 100 metres in width and eventually finds itself flowing into the great Congo Basin.

June through September and December through February are the driest periods. During these months, the air can be relatively hazy, and the humidity is lower, but rainfall during these times can still occur and be quite variable. During the wetter months, tropical rainstorms contrast with sustained periods of clear blue skies and beautiful light for photography.

Price

Per person sharing - 9 days / 8 nights

US$13,835

SOLO TRAVELLERS: Please enquire about solo rates.

Children: Children 16 years and older are welcome at all camps; full adult rates apply.

There is more than one way to shine a penny, so contact us if you are a solo traveller, and we will devise a plan that suits you best.

Price includes:
Letter of invitation to Congo. Airport and airstrip meet and greets. All accommodation at Ngaga, Lango and Mboko during your visit on a Full Board basis, all meals, house wine/beer/spirits/drinks, all domestic flights and transfers to and from camp and between camps, TWO gorilla permits, ONE Boat cruise, guided daily forest walks (dry), guided bai walks (wet), guided forest night walk, ONE community interaction at Ngaga, local drinks, limited laundry and WiFi. ONE half-day city tour, including lunch. All park fees and Conservation levies, medevac. 24/7 Office support.

Extra gorilla trekking permits are US$ 750 per person and can be paid in CASH ONLY at the camps.

Price excludes:
International flights, visas, excess baggage charges, travel and medical insurance, vaccination expenses, items of a personal nature, imported spirits, connoisseur wines and champagne, personal calls, activities not mentioned in the itinerary, gratuities.

Itinerary

From the moment you arrive in Brazzaville, the capital city of the Republic of Congo, there is a sense of adventure in the air. On arrival at the newly built Maya Maya Airport, an AG representative will be there to meet and greet you and guide you through the all-sensory adventure that is the Congo.

After clearing customs and immigration, you will have the chance to put your feet up and enjoy the view from the Radisson Blu Hotel*, looking out across the enormous Congo River whilst sipping a local beer. Or, drop your bags and hit the town, as Brazzaville is home to a rich heritage and diverse culture with plenty of markets and sights to explore. A local guide will be available to show you around.

* Please note that in SOLO traveller itineraries accommodation in Brazzaville has not been included in the costing. Talk to us if you would like suggestions of where to spend the night. Alternatively, if you are able to reach Brazzaville before 11h00 am on Day 2, you can connect direct with the flight out to Odzala.

Dinner and overnight at The Radisson Blu Hotel in Brazzaville.

After a leisurely breakfast and transfer back to the airport, you will take a two-hour privately chartered flight with your sights set on the northern Congo rainforests, where your rainforest camps for the next week are located.

During this flight, you will be able to enjoy some breath-taking and mesmerising views of vast uninhabited rolling hills and plains sliced by slow-flowing meandering rivers, suddenly giving way to a dense ‘lung-like’ rainforest that promises to get your heart racing. Brush up on your fauna and flora for the upcoming forest walks and rainforest experiences, because you are about to enter an entirely new realm of discovery.

You will land around lunchtime and start the journey to Ngaga Camp, via a 4×4 track through the rainforest where you will come across your first sights and smells of one of the richest ecosystems in the world.

Later in the day, you will arrive in camp for the night, but well in time for sundowners. Ngaga is home to the gorilla research team and, if the research team are in camp, we encourage you to ask them any questions you may have about their research and the fascinating area they call home.

Dinner and overnight at Ngaga Camp, in a luxury en-suite forest room that is raised from the forest floor.

You wake up in a mythical place, closest to the geographical ‘Heart of Africa’, and epicentre of biodiversity. Rising just before the dawn chorus of birds and insects, you enjoy a hearty breakfast overlooking an alluring open glade within this primary forest that extends in front of your doorstep. You will then set out on foot in search of western lowland gorillas. There are two habituated family groups to meet during your stay at Ngaga, captained by two silverbacks, Jupiter and Neptuno.

Led by skilled local trackers, and with expert guides to interpret the sights and sounds of the forest, you will navigate through a network of forest trails to get close to some of our nearest living relatives in the wild, and observe their behaviour as they go about their daily business.

These trekking expeditions do not cover vast distances and can range in length from 1 - 8 kilometres (0.5 to 5 miles) over gently undulating country. The areas where the gorillas are located will be approached using a network of cleared trails. However, the final approach often requires stepping off-piste – your trackers will clear the way ahead, but you can expect to negotiate some thick undergrowth. On average, trekking expeditions last two to five hours, with one hour spent in close and direct visual contact with the gorillas.

By the time you get back to camp you will have surely worked up an appetite, and fortunately it will be good news all round as lunch will be ready for you to tuck into.

In the afternoon, you will be able to rest and explore the edge and vicinity of camp, searching for the many birds, reptiles, butterflies and magnificant trees and flourish here.

Dinner and overnight at Ngaga Camp in a luxury, en-suite forest room.

After your wake-up call, you will enjoy breakfast and set out on your second trek to search for other gorilla families. Each tracking excursion offers a privileged, intimate encounter with habituated gorillas, a rare opportunity to explore and inspect the full spectrum of gorilla personality and community relations in small, intimate groups.

Your return to camp often becomes a soulful experience, reminiscing what you just witnessed and storing in your bank of memories a plethora of images, sounds and experiences that you will cherish forever and fear to ever forget.

A hearty meal awaits back at camp.

The marantaceae forest, which is favoured by the gorillas, also supports an incredible array of life of every shape and size. Walking the forest trails in the afternoon, you will feel as though you have stumbled into one of the world’s most avant-garde workshops of evolution.

No matter how much of an experienced safari-goer you may be, Ngaga is certain to surprise and delight you!

Your walk ends at a crystal-clear stream where sundowners can be enjoyed before dinner. And, for those with an even bigger sense of adventure, head out on a night walk (with a UV light and head torches) to discover and search some of the phenomenal nocturnal forest life that scours the forest floor at night.

Dinner and overnight at Ngaga Camp in a luxury, en-suite forest room.

By now your internal clock and ears will have attuned to the elements. You will have noticed that nights can be louder and noisier than days, and learn to identify some of the screams, yelps, hisses and honks that fill the still night air. Awakening is a somewhat joyous and fascinating affair, as you start to feel more at home in this exotic paradise.

After breakfast, you will hit the road again for a 4WD transfer to Lango Camp.  You will transfer via road through Mbomo Village, en-route to the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, and reach Mboko Camp in time for lunch.

The highly-experienced guides of Odzala will invite you to join them for a transfer river cruise on the Lekoli River to Lango camp. Expect to be awed by the impressive trees that flank these waterways and the wealth of life that lives in them and its shores. Gliding down these rivers is always an incredibly peaceful and serene experience.

On arrival at Lango Camp you will be shown to your tent, and the rest of the afternoon is up to you...you can either spend more time on the river, exploring the confines of camp, or head out to the bai for a discovery walk and sundowners.

Overnight at Lango Camp in an en-suite forest chalet.

Lango Camp is spectacular when bathed by the early morning light.

The bai attracts huge flocks of African green pigeons and African grey parrots, as well as impressive herds of forest buffaloes by day and forest elephants by night. Bongos, bushbucks, red river hogs, giant hogs, western sitatungas, spotted hyenas, grey-cheeked mangabeys, tons of butterflies and the cutest dwarf crocodiles can also be sighted at the bai at any time of day.

There is a diverse range of habitats surrounding the lodge – the perfect location to set out on foot and explore.

After breakfast, you will set off on a morning adventure walk and wade through various biomes, including rainforest, savannah and the freshwater swampy bais as you search for creatures both great and small.

A delicious, well-prepared lunch awaits on your return and in the afternoon you may do as you please, either reveling in the scenery from the deck or setting out on a second guided walk back to the bai

In the evening, you may want settle in for a camera trap presentation where you can learn more about this rainforest from a new angle.

Dinner and overnight at Lango Camp in a raised, en-suite forest room.

A morning walk to the bai and quiet awakening at the hide will allow you to fully enjoy the beauty and variety of melodic sounds that African grey parrots bring to the bai when they flock into the area in their thousands in search of water and minerals. Other birds to keep an eye out for are kingfishers, bee-eaters, forest ducks, hornbills, raptors and flocks of African green pigeons.

By mid-morning you will hit the road again for a 4WD transfer to Mboko Camp. There are some wooden pathways crossing the marshy lands from Lango to Mboko Camp offering the perfect vantage points to search for swamp-loving creatures like the native dwarf crocodile, or dainty white-throated blue swallow.

Closer to Mboko, you will continue on foot and be greeted on arrival by a tasty lunch.

The remainder of your day can be spent at your leisure. Perhaps a motor-boat river cruise down the Lekoli River? Or a final stroll through the undergrowth and waters of the Likeni River?

Dinner and overnight at Mboko Camp in an en-suite river room.

After a good rest and an early wake up, you will enjoy breakfast at Mboko Camp before heading off on today’s adventure. Following a short drive to the Lekoli River you will kayak on a gentle guided river expedition. Travelling down the Lekoli is a peaceful and exhilarating experience, and there is no better way to start the day.

The waters carry you past an abundant array of wildlife from various monkey species to a wealth of bird species (massive hornbills!) and the occasional forest elephant or staring forest buffalo.

If you feel like it, you can also explore on foot any of the many trails that criss-cross Odzala. Expect to get muddy, wet, sweaty, and be totally immersed in this ecosystem that you are exploring – re-assured that you are indeed walking in the footsteps of the great explorers.

Whenever you choose, you will be returned to camp for lunch.

After some rest and siesta, you can choose again if you would like to go for a forest guided walk, or, a refreshing swim in the Lekoli River.

Dinner and overnight at Mboko Camp.

After breakfast at Mboko Camp, you will bid farewell to this magnificent place and its kind, humble staff and the rustic beauty of Mboko, Lango and Ngaga Camps.

Your transfer to a nearby airstrip will be followed with a flight back to Brazzaville to connect with your onward flight.

And as you take off and gaze over the forests of Odzala below, the Africa Geographic team trusts that we will have left you spellbound, with a heart full of wonder and a brain filled with indelible memories and loads of stories to share back home with your loved ones.

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