Gorillas in the jungle
With great feedback arriving in the office thick and fast, and Alice’s visit this summer, we asked Journalist Lisa Grainger who visited the Republic of Congo last year to write a few thoughts on her trip:
It is only in the past couple of years that Congo-Brazzaville (as the country is informally known) has been accessible to tourists for Lowland gorilla safaris— since the opening of the first two luxury camps in the whole of central Africa in the north-west Odzala-Kokoua National Park. One of the continent’s oldest national parks, proclaimed by the French in 1935, Odzala-Kokoua’s 3.36 million acres of forest are home to not only 430 bird and 100 mammal species, but Africa’s highest density of endangered forest elephants and western lowland gorillas.
I stayed in in two Congo Conservation Company camps for my Congo safari —each with six simple, reed-thatched, beehive-shaped rooms with hot showers, beds with nets and down duvets, and solar-powered lighting —where I encountered two very different sets of activities. At Lango camp I spent days going out on foot, vehicle and kayak to explore the fauna and flora: the forests and rivers, swarming with butterflies and birds.
Lowland gorilla safaris
At Ngaga Camp, on a densely forested hillside just outside the park, the stars are four gorilla families, to which guests hike and then spend an hour watching them. Both were unique and incredible to experience because they are like nowhere else on earth.
This part of the Congo is wet, it’s in the middle of nowhere and it’s one of the wildest places on earth. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind creepy crawlies, enjoys a comfortable bed and good food, seeing stars from unpolluted black night skies, and wants to see creatures truly in the wild, this is one of the best places on earth to go. But be warned: you have to be prepared for the bugs!
Congo Safaris fact file:
A former French colony of around four million people, Republic of Congo is peaceful and democratic, and not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo to the east.
- This region of the vast Congo Basin contains the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest, surpassed only by the Amazon.
- Odzala is a truly pristine wilderness, only 50 tourists visited in 2011, and as well as lowland gorillas and forest elephant, has a significant chimpanzee population.
- Activities include Lowland gorilla safaris, guided forest walks, boat trips, day and night game drives.
- Wilderness Safaris run six night (three nights in each camp) set departure trips throughout the year December, January and February, together with the dry season months May to September are the best months to visit.
- For the ultimate gorilla fest combine lowland gorilla tracking with the mountain gorillas in Rwanda/Uganda.
We would be delighted to help plan a safari holiday to the Republic of Congo. Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and the Indian Ocean and can offer expert advice. Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.