Nouabale-Ndoki National Park
In the far north of the Congo, bordering C.A.R. and Cameroon, covering an area of just under 4,000 sq km, Nouabale Ndoki…
No other country holds the promise of adventure or delivers unforgettable travel experiences quite like the Republic Congo (also known as Congo-Brazzaville). The bais, clearings in the forest, are a great place to view western lowland gorillas and forest elephants.
For more adventure, roll up your sleeves and track primates in the forests of Odzala National Park. You will be in awe, not only at the scale of the jungle around you but also the unerring skill of the trackers.
The Republic of Congo is unfenced and untamed – so too are its camps which can be a little unnerving on your first night. Distances are vast so journeys can be very long and delays and breakdowns are an occupational hazard of travel to the Congo.
So why go? The fun lies in getting there – flying over an endless horizon of green and driving along dirt roads into the depths of the forest – and entering a world where few people, let alone tourists, have set foot. In a world of increasingly contrived travel experiences, what better way to put the fun back into an adventure?
Explore the wildlife riches hidden deep within the dense forests of the Odzala National Park. Track lowland gorillas and encounter forest elephants in a jungle wilderness that hides in the far north of Congo.
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Explore by boat, 4×4 and on foot, looking out for forest elephants, monkeys, birds and more.
Spend time with gorilla researcher, Dr Magda Bermejo for a fascinating insight into her work.
Trek in search of western lowland gorillas, spending an hour with a habituated family.
Experience thrilling encounters with lowland gorillas and forest elephants.
Visit remote forest villages, alive with myths and superstition.
Search for the Fresco of Africa, a painting at the entrance to Brazzaville’s Poto-Poto market which shows the history of Congo.
Join wildlife researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society following gorillas and elephants.
Visit isolated riverside outposts and traditional Ba’Aka forest villages.
Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.
Spread along the banks of a tributary of the Lekoli River, the beautiful Mboko Camp looks out over an area of lush grassland. This rich vegetation attracts a wealth of animals, including forest buffaloes, elephants and spotted hyenas. Made up of 12 rustic but well-appointed rooms, the camp is the largest of Odzala’s three options. Although it is renowned for its sweeping views of fertile savannah – emerging from dense forest, Mboko also offers a more intimate connection with the jungle. Flowers bloom between the comfortable rooms, with butterflies flitting through the air. A wonderful fire deck is the best place to spend the evenings, with the stars and nocturnal animal life providing the entertainment.
Located in the Ndzehi Forest on the western boundary of the park, the lodge sits at the crest of a glade, blending in seamlessly with the surroundings, looking out across the forest canopy. Each of the 6 forest huts are on raised wooden walkways, the thatch rooms have canvas screens at the front and back, hot showers, flush loos and ceiling fans, plus charging points for cameras and laptops, (but don’t expect wi-fi or phone reception).
Lango Camp sits in a spectacular setting, overlooking the bai from which it takes its name. Six traditional Congolese-style tree houses are connected by raised, wooden walkways that wind through the gallery forest. The small, but comfortable rooms (open at the back), have hot showers, flushing loos and power points for charging cameras and laptops and a small ceiling fan, with a small veranda at the front to take in the views. The main dining and bar area is also raised, centred on a large wooden deck, overlooking the bai where you can relax after the day’s safari and make use of the lodge’s spotting scope. At night, stargazing around the fire sets the scene, before Santos, the chef, serves up the most delicious food and head waiter Patrick helps keep your fluid intake up.
A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.
25 years ago, my first trip to Africa took on a life of its own. I planned for three months, I stayed for two years. Whilst there, I was mistaken for a priest, attacked by sharks and arrested. Yet the countless, clattering journeys opened my eyes to the beauty of the landscapes and the grace of the people. My recent trips are undoubtedly more comfortable, but the welcome is as warm as ever and the best experiences are still those I never see coming.
Given the rains in the Congo tend to arrive around October and continue through to April, the best weather is found outside these months. Despite this, the Republic of Congo can be considered a year-round destination if you don’t mind a bit of rain. It will always be hot and humid any time of the year.
When photographing wildlife, bear in mind you will be in humid rainforests, with a lot of moisture around so lenses can become foggy very quickly. It is best to keep a small, dry cloth in an old film canister or similar to counter this, along with putting plenty of silica gel packets in your camera bag. A good zoom lens is essential and a minimum of 300mm is recommended, but 400mm would be even better. Remember much of the photography in the forest will be in shadow, looking at dark subject matters so you will need to use a high ISO.
In the cities and markets, photographing people may not always be appropriate so please ask first and strike up a conversation to put people at ease. A wide-angle lens can be a great way to get a sense of place in the forest or a sense of scale in the markets.
In Odzala National Park, the standard of accommodation is excellent. Here, there are upmarket lodges, catering for those who prefer their safaris on a fly-in basis, with high levels of comfort and great food and wine after a day in the wilds (although make no mistake, step outside your room and you are very much in the heart of Africa). These camps have private bathrooms, hot showers and are very comfortable – reflected in the higher costs.
However, outside of Odzala and the capital, Brazzaville, there is almost no tourist infrastructure and any accommodation options are extremely basic.
Yes. The Republic of Congo is not to be confused with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. We have been running tours here for years and the safety of our clients is paramount. We remain in constant contact with government officials, tourism bodies, charities and lodge owners who update us on the political situation and the Congolese people are some of the most welcoming you will meet.
You are usually safer in the remote camps – given the difficulty in getting there – than you would be in the larger cities, although when in the cities, common sense prevails in terms of keeping an eye on your valuables as you would in any large city. The opening up of new, upmarket camps is a testament to the ongoing stability of the country.
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We support projects right across the planet. Explore below to see where and how we’re making a difference – in some cases, we can even arrange a visit as part of your tailor-made itinerary.
African Parks runs a mobile clinic in Odzala-Kokoua National Park, in the Congo, which provides quality healthcare to women. The donation from the Steppes Fund for Change is supporting a special programme of information, education and communication (IEC) activities for women and girls, making them less vulnerable.
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