Congo (Brazzaville): The Lowland Gorillas and Safari
Trip Details

Experience

From $6,474
7 Days / 6 Nights

Rates reflect pricing for accommodation and activities for 2014.  Pricing does not include international airfare or internal flights estimated at $1500 per person.

Trip Overview

The Odzala experience is undertaken from two intimate, sensitively constructed camps that leave as light a footprint as possible and blend into this remote forest environment: Lango Camp, on the edge of the savannah and with access to the Lekoli and Mambili Rivers, and Ngaga Camp in the heart of a marantaceae forest.

Activities range from gorilla tracking (habituated groups), pirogue rides along lush river systems, game drives in the savannah, night drives, walks along lush forest streams and salines, and of course time spent at the productive forest bais.

Odzala aims to use responsible lowland gorilla-orientated tourism as a catalyst to spread the rainforest conservation message both globally and locally.

Points of Interest

brazzaville

Brazzaville

Built by and named after the Franco-Italian explorer, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, the capital of Republic of Congo lies along the western banks of the enormous Congo River and is a key port of entry for travelers, goods and raw materials.

Odzala Rainforest

Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Filled with secret forests, rivers, marshes and swamps, the rainforest offers a rare chance to catch a glimpse beyond the ‘green curtain’ into the lives of the forest dwellers. Various mammal species come to the bais on a regular basis in order to access various elements, from water to minerals and salts to sedges and water-loving grasses to water.

Traveler Reviews

Itinerary

  1. Early afternoon departure by private charter from Brazzaville to M’boko Airstrip, Odzala-Kokoua National Park. The charter flight takes approximately two hours and includes a light packed lunch. On arrival at M’boko Airstrip, you are met by a Lango Camp guide who will transfer us by vehicle to Lango Camp – home for the next three nights. The drive takes approximately 30 minutes through open savannah with views of the forest fringe and interior. Once at camp, you'll have an opportunity to freshen up and settle in before embarking on a short afternoon activity which may consist of a walk around Lango Bai and the forest fringe and stream or perhaps a game drive.

  2. An early morning wake-up is followed by a light breakfast and coffee on the main deck, after which you'll embark on your first activity for the day. This could be a walk from camp through Lango Bai and down the clear, shallow waters of the Lango Stream to its confluence with the Lekoli River. A motorised pirogue will then head upstream for two hours (stopping en route for tea/coffee) until reaching the access point to Mbouebe Bai, where a short excursion on foot reaches a concealed hide from which activities at the bai can be observed. The return to camp includes a downstream portion of the river followed by a game drive through the savannah. Back in camp a hearty brunch and rest period awaits before we head out again later for the afternoon activity. An example of this would be a return game drive to the boat jetty followed by a pirogue trip downstream along the Lekoli River to its confluence with the larger Mambili River for sundowners. A night drive back to camp offers intriguing opportunities for seeing some of Odzala’s more secretive nocturnal creatures.

  3. Early rise for a light breakfast and coffee before setting off on the morning activity.  Today this may begin with a game drive to the boat jetty at the confluence of the Likeni Stream and Lekoli River and then a pirogue trip down the Lekoli River in search of primates, Forest Buffalo and other species, before returning to camp on foot through Lango Bai. The trip along the river offers great opportunities for birding and mammals, while the walk can provide excellent viewing of buffalo, Red River Hogs, a number of primate species and even Bongo. Your return to camp is greeted by an appetizing brunch and some downtime before heading out again in the afternoon. This afternoon, head back to the boat jetty and take a pirogue trip upstream along the Lekoli River enjoying sundowners and perhaps some catch-and-release fishing before returning to camp on a night drive, searching for species such as Spotted Hyaena, Golden Cat and even Water Chevrotain.

  4. This morning, after an early wake-up and breakfast, head away from the savannah in an air-conditioned land cruiser to the south-western corner of the Park to spend time at Dzebe Bai some two and half hours’ drive from Lango. Having walked about a kilometre through the forest to access the bai, spend midday in the hide waiting for secretive forest animals to appear in the clearing; there’s a chance of viewing unhabituated gorillas here, as well as species such as Black-fronted Duiker, Guereza Colobus monkey and perhaps even Chimpanzee. Enjoy a packed lunch in the hide at the bai and in the late afternoon, as activity at the bai subsides, return north towards Ngaga Camp. On arrival at Ngaga Camp, you will be met by the staff and given an opportunity to settle in. Before dinner, receive an extensive briefing on Western Lowland Gorillas, including the research project in the area, conservation of the species, their biology and ecology and of course what to expect when tracking the habituated groups of the area.

  5. This morning, after an early wake-up and light breakfast depart on foot with your guide and tracker on your first gorilla tracking excursion. Using the expert skills of the trackers, start at the point where the group chosen to be monitored for that day slept the night before and follow their tracks as they move through the forest. While home range sizes are relatively small, the gorillas can move quite quickly through thick forest undergrowth and during a 2-5 hour tracking excursion (including time spent observing the gorillas) you may cover between 5 and 8 kilometres. After this exhilarating experience, return to camp to freshen up and enjoy a brunch before spending the middle of the day at leisure. In the afternoon after a light tea you'll enjoy a guided forest walk in search of birds and primates as well as forest duiker and, if time allows, visit the Gorilla Tracking Academy run by Dr Magda Bermejo and German Illera.  Here we will learn about the comprehensive training of local community trackers from all over west-central Africa and how this plays a role in gorilla conservation.

  6. This morning after another early wake-up and light breakfast, set out again on foot for your second gorilla tracking excursion. Expert trackers will again follow the obscure tracks and sign of the group through the forest until you've found the group and enjoy another fascinating experience watching them resting and foraging. After, return to camp, freshen up and enjoy brunch and a siesta. The afternoon seend you out on the forest trails in search of the birds and mammals of the area, returning to camp to enjoy a sundowner on the main deck overlooking the forest canopy and Ngaga Stream.

  7. Leisurely start this morning, leaving after breakfast for M’boko airstrip (a drive of 2.5 hours) to meet your private charter flight back to Brazzaville. Land in Brazzaville in the afternoon for onward connection or arrangements.

Accommodations

Lango Camp

The beautiful Lango Camp is nestled in dense gallery forest overlooking the productive Lango Bai and strategically located to ensure access to a variety of habitats, activities and wildlife species.

Each of the six creatively designed guest rooms takes inspiration from the designs of the regional B’Aka Pygmy groups and is raised three to four metres above ground to ensure views of part of the bai, as well as the surrounding gallery forest.

Floating wooden decks link the rooms to the main area, which is also fashioned from natural, locally sourced materials: sustainably harvested timber, bamboo and community-woven raffia palm roofing. A star deck and fire pit are placed on a dropped deck overlooking the bai for after-dinner relaxation and star gazing.

Most activities at Lango are a combination of walking and boating, while some driving is included, in search of species such as forest buffalo, forest elephant, sitatunga and harnessed bushbuck, as well as primates like guereza colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey and putty-nosed monkey.

Ngaga Camp

Ngaga Camp is an intimate six-unit lodge secreted within a glade in the primary forest above the Ngaga Stream and within the home ranges of several lowland gorilla groups.

Like Lango Camp, the six guest rooms are styled on traditional B’Aka architecture and use natural materials that blend into the forest environment. The slope down to the Ngaga Stream and the three- to four-metre high decking give each room a view right into the forest canopy and the passing bird and squirrel life.

The principal activity at Ngaga Camp is the tracking on foot of habituated western lowland gorillas. These excursions are led by a guide and skilled local tracker who are able to follow signs on the forest floor, which lead them to the chosen gorilla group for the day. Birding and night walks are possible in search of various primate species as well as some spectacular forest birds.

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