10 days from £5300pp plus international flights.
This is a real adventure into the wild! It gives you the rare chance to spend time in the Congo rainforest, the second largest in the world, with its varied habitats and rich wildlife. While the charismatic western lowland gorilla is the undoubted star, the mysterious 'bais' with their mineral-rich waters attract forest buffalos, elephants, sitatunga and flocks of parrots plus many other species.
Are you a wildlife and nature lover? Then what are you waiting for?
Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo is a remote and vast tract of the globally-important Congo Basin rainforest. With the largest concentration of western lowland gorillas in Africa, a high density of forest elephants, plus chimpanzees (rarely seen) and other primates, predators such as spotted hyenas and serval, in fact over 100 mammal species, and a rich birdlife, this is a hugely special forest reserve.
One of the key features of Odzala are the bais (or salines). These are like swampy tree-less grassy islands in an ocean of forest. They attract the wildlife who come to drink, eat grass, and ingest the minerals and salts found here. Forest elephants particularly love these forest oases.
Your time in Odzala will be divided between three camps in different areas, each with its own specialities. At Ngaga Camp you'll concentrate on tracking the western lowland gorilla, led by a professional guide and local tracker. You have two chances to trek, though a third is possible (at extra cost), and should you wish longer here you can discuss a slightly different itinerary with us. From Ngaga you can also visit Ombo village to find out something of the lie of the people who live in this vast forest. At Mboko Camp, the largest 12-room camp set along the Lekoli River, you go for walks in the forest, as well as boating trips. The activities at Lango Camp are similar to those at Mboko - you'll be able to take leisurely pirogue rides on the river, drive into the savannah and go for walks by the bai. Some of these activities can involved wading through streams and bais, and patiently waiting to see the forest wildlife.
We make every effort to get you to see as much wildlife as possible, though we cannot guarantee any sighting (including the gorillas).
Western lowland gorillas - there are 2 habituated groups.
Other primates - crowned monkey, moustached monkey, black and white colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, putty-nosed mangabey.
Other mammals - forest duikers, forest buffalo, harnessed bushbuck, forest elephant, spotted hyena, bongo, red river hog, western sitatunga.
Birds - African grey parrot, green pigeon, great blue turaco, blue-casqued wattled hornbill.
Reptile - slender-snouted crocodile and African dwarf crocodiles (both seen quite rarely)
Your flight lands at Maya Maya international airport in Brazzaville, where a representative is waiting to welcome you to Congo and drive you the short distance to the Radisson Blu M'Bamou Palace Hotel. Nothing has been arranged for the rest of the day, so your time is your own to relax after your journey and enjoy the facilities of the hotel, which include an outdoor pool, a gym and 3 restaurants. Sitting on the terrace or in the gardens you can take in views of downtown Brazzaville, the Congo River and Kinshasha on the other bank, as you look forward to the safari in the days to come. Dinner on own account.
Enjoy an early breakfast before being transferred to the airport for the flight to Mboko airstrip, which takes about 2 hours. You are met on arrival and driven the 3 hours through savannah and forest to your home for the next 3 nights, Ngaga Camp, arriving in time for a late lunch. Later, you can join a guide on a walk in the forest, learning about the plants and wildlife, returning to camp for sundowner drinks round the campfire. You are joined by gorilla researchers who give you information about the local gorilla groups and explain details of the tomorrow's trek. Afterwards dinner is a served, a full 3 course meal. It's been a full day and you should sleep well tonight. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
You're woken early to take full advantage of the day ahead. After coffee and a light breakfast you set out at around 6am with your guide and local tracker in search of your assigned group. The location varies from day to day and so the duration of the trek may be anything from 2 hours to most of the day. Once you've caught up with the gorillas you have up to an hour to watch as they feed, interact and play amongst themselves. The precise amount of time spent with the gorillas will depend on local conditions and time spent tracking. You return to camp for lunch and a rest. This afternoon we can enjoy river sundowners. Dinner is back at Ngaga Camp. Full board
This morning you have another opportunity to go in search of lowland gorillas. The local tracker uses his skills to locate the group, starting from where they slept the night before, and then you again share precious moments with these fascinating creatures. It's a wholly absorbing experience and the hour will pass all too quickly. You head back to camp for lunch and a siesta. In the afternoon you follow your guide along a forest trail looking for primates, mammals and birds. You are back in camp in time to sip pre-dinner drinks on the deck before the evening meal. We'd recommend a night walk this evening too if you're up for it. Full board
Today you have a relaxed start to the morning, or you can choose to have either another gorilla trek (not included in the price, but permits are for sale in advance of your arrival or in camp subject to availability). Later that morning we drive you to the next camp, Mboko, via Ombo village to see something of local life. The journey is about 3 hours and we have lunch at Mboko. The afternoon's activity is a river cruise on the Lekoli River. Sit back and enjoy the views. With luck you should spot some of the resident wildlife such as forest elephant, buffalo and, with luck, the shy sitatunga. There are certain to be plenty of monkeys, too. We'll have sundowners before returning to camp. Full board.
During breakfast at Mboko Camp you should keep your eyes open for Ferdie, a forest buffalo and frequent visitor to the camp. Then it's time to take to the water in a kayak. Your route is along the Lekoli River and ends at Lango Bai where there are often animals to be seen including monkeys, frogs, birds and insects. This is a lovely way to explore, paddling at your own pace, pausing to watch wildlife, and immersing yourself in nature. At the bai you can get out and explore on foot, before heading to Lango Camp for lunch. Fully refreshed, you set out on a late afternoon walk in the rainforest, following one of the many trails created by the forest elephants. Back in camp you join other guests by the campfire for drinks, and then enjoy a 3 course dinner. Full board.
Today we'll enjoy an adventure walk before returning for lunch at Lango Camp. This afternoon we might choose a forest walk or a bai walk, or perhaps some birdwatching from the camp deck. This evening we'll have a camera trap presentation about what lies camouflaged in the forest around us. Full board
After breakfast we'll take a guided walk to the bird hide to watch the Africa grey parrots in the bai. Later we'll take you on a game drive transfer back to Mboko Camp and we'll walk on raised wooden paths through a swamp. You arrive at Mboko where lunch is ready for you. The afternoon is yours to do as you wish. You are welcome to rest on the deck, watching for buffalo and bushbuck, or you can join your guide for a walk, or perhaps a river cruise. Gather round campfire later for drinks, and enjoy a delicious dinner, an opportunity to consider all you've seen and done over the past week. Full board
You are woken for breakfast after which you have time to pack your bags in preparation for the jouney back to Brazzaville. This begins with a drive to the airstrip where you board the flight to the capital, and ends with a transfer to the Radisson. The rest of the day is free time. You might want to go sightseeing: St Anne's Basilica is a striking 20th century church, with an elegant vaulted brickwork ceiling, well worth a visit. You can rub shoulders with locals at Poto-Poto market, browsing among the many stalls selling all manner items from textiles to food. Alternatively, you might just want to take it easy at the hotel, going for a swim in the pool, enjoying some pampering at the spa and shopping for souvenirs in the gift shops.. Breakfast.
Depending on your flight time, you have some of the day free to spend at the hotel, sightseeing or to do last minute souvenir shopping, until your transfer to Maya Maya airport, where you check in for your homeward flight.
Guide price from (pp sharing): £5300 (ex. international flights)
Price notes: 2018/2019 guide prices pp sharing: 1-14 Jan 2018 £6300. 15 Jan-31 March 2018 £5300. 1 April 2018-31 March 2019 £6900
2 nights (one at the start and one at the end) at the Radisson Blu in Brazzaville on breakfast only basis, no drinks; 7 nights accommodation in Odzala (3 nights Ngaga, 2 nights Lango and 2 nights Mboko); meals as specified; all drinks apart from premium alcohol; all activities as per the itinerary including 2 gorilla tracking trips (a third may be possible at extra cost), forest walks, boat rides, kayaking, visit to Ombo village; return charter flights from Brazzville to M'boko airstrip; all transfers as per the itinerary; laundry in Odzala
International flights and taxes; visas; travel insurance; meals not specified as included; drinks at the Radisson Blu; tips (we recommend US$250 per guest for a 7 night safari); items of a personal nature.
Getting there: This holiday starts and ends in Brazzaville. Return flights from the UK are priced at around £900-1100 per person, depending on season and availability. Air France via Paris and Kenya Airways via Nairobi are usually the best options for anyone flying from Europe. Please note that due to timings an overnight in Paris is sometimes required on the Air France routing.
For the rates quoted, the trip must begin on a Sunday or Wednesday, as the Brazzaville-Odzala scheduled flight goes on a Monday and a Thursday.
Lango Camp is on the edge of the savannah and has access to the Lekoli and Mambili Rivers and Lango Bai.
An attractive, comfortable camp from which you can explore the varied terrain and wildlife of Odzala National Park.
A small 6-room camp in a prime rainforest setting, perfectly located for tracking lowland gorillas.
A modern, high rise hotel in downtown Brazzaville on the banks of the Congo River and just 6kms from the international airport.
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Time: Congo GMT +1 hour
Flight time: Flight time is approximately 8 hours. There are currently no direct flights from the UK.
Language: Congo: French, Lingala & Kituba.
Visas: Visas are required for British nationals and must be obtained in advance as they are not available on arrival.
Health: Yellow Fever vaccination is compulsory and must be obtained at least 10 days in advance of travel. Malaria prophylactics are essential for all regions and all year round. No other vaccinations are compulsory.