Lowland Gorillas of the Congo route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7495  
Length: 7 days
Arrive: Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
Depart: Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
Lodging: 6 nights in safari camps
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level: 2 days of gorilla tracking, hikes of 2-4 hours on muddy trails, 4WD gameviewing, river travel by pirogue
3

Highlights

  • Once-in-a-lifetime encounters with lowland gorillas of the rainforest
  • Track rare forest elephants, forest buffalo, and other exotic African wildlife
  • Explore on foot, by pirogue, and by 4WD vehicle, enjoy remote safari camps

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Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

In the pristine tropical forests of the Congo lives the highest density of lowland gorillas in Africa, and this incredible safari brings you right into their habitat! From “treehouse” camps set high above the forest floor in 8,400-square-mile Odzala-Kokoua National Park, we join trackers to search for gorilla clans, travel by pirogue on winding rivers, explore on foot on the forest fringe and on the edge of  bais (natural forest clearings), and enjoy the comfort and atmosphere of two remote safari camps: Ngaga and Lango. In addition to lowland gorillas, other normally elusive creatures, such as forest elephants and forest buffalos, have been observed in Odzala’s dense, pristine rainforests. With luck, we’ll also glimpse other rare species, possibly giant forest hog, tree pangolin (a type of anteater), water chevrotain (a cat-sized deer), and the small forest antelope called the bongo, along with amazing birdlife including flocks of African grey parrots.

The camps are extremely remote and a bit more basic than typical safari camps but they have wonderfully atmospheric settings and wonderful service. At Lango Camp, our activities center around streams and marshy meadows that serve as a hub for forest wildlife. At Ngaga Camp—prime gorilla territory—we venture out with experienced trackers on foot to follow the gorilla clans (please note: while our past viewings have been successful, they are not guaranteed). 

Wildlife viewing in an African rainforest is a very different experience than on a safari on an open savanna in East Africa or Southern Africa. The game is less abundant and is  harder to see because of the forest cover, but this is nevertheless one of the most exciting and adventurous natural history journeys imaginable. If you’ve already been on a classic African safari and are looking for something different, or if you’re a traveler who wants to head “off the map” for real adventure, this is it!

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo / Gorilla Tracking / Ngaga Camp

From Brazzaville, we fly to Odzala-Kokoua and head to Ngaga Camp, where we track the gorilla clans of this area (more than 100 individuals in seven clans). These gentle primates forage in the mineral-rich clearings, with a silverback male leading each family group, and it’s an adrenaline rush to be so close to these remarkably huge creatures. Our explorations continue along the park’s walking trails, where we keep an eye out for Guereza colobus, crowned monkeys, and bands of chimps, their noisy screams and hoots echoing down from their nesting sites. Our camp’s treehouses have wrap-around balconies for a full experience of the canopy.

Days 4-7
Lango Camp

We head to our next camp, gameviewing en route. Lango Camp is set deep amid Odzala’s pristine ecosystem of spectacular biodiversity in which the keystone species are the lowland gorilla and elephant. From this delightful camp, overlooking the productive Lango Bai, we explore on foot, by river on motorized pirogues, and by kayak. Normally elusive and rare creatures—­forest elephants, giant forest hogs, bongos, tree pangolins, and water chevrotain—­frequent these incredible and pristine clearings, making Lango an extraordinary wildlife haven. Depart via Brazzaville on Day 7.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

The trip is rated Level 3, Moderate. In Odzala-Kokoua National Park at  Ngaga Camp and Lango Camp, we have the chance to visit a place that few people other than wildlife researchers ever get to see. That said, there are rigors involved in travel to and around Odzala-Kokoua National Park. The roads will be bumpy, and possibly dusty or muddy, depending on the weather, the vehicles may get flat tires, and the heat and humidity of the rainforest can be tiring. Therefore, we suggest that this is not a trip for a first-time safari-goer, but rather for those who want to enjoy a unique experience of wild Africa. Wildlife viewing in a deep African rainforest is different than on a safari on a savanna in East Africa or Southern Africa. The game is less abundant and harder to see because of the forest cover, but this is nevertheless one of the most exciting and adventurous natural history journeys imaginable. If you’ve already been on a classic African safari and are looking for something different, this is it!

Ngaga Camp and Lango Camp have guest rooms supplied with fans but not air conditioning. At Ngaga Camp, we make 2- to 4- hour gorilla tracking excursions (including time spent observing the gorillas), during which we may cover between 3 to 5 miles of walking. At Lango Camp, we travel by small motorized pirogue (canoe) as well as on foot and by safari vehicle. The Odzala rainforest environment can be muddy. After a forest walk, we will have wet shoes and mud on our clothes as proof of our adventure! T-shirts, shorts, and sandals are not suitable attire for the Odzala camps. Rather, the ideal clothing is closed walking shoes (lightweight and quick drying—no heavy boots), long-sleeved shirts and long pants in fast-drying fabrics, and calf-length socks to avoid exposing the ankles. Limited laundry service is offered at camp, but same-day turnaround is not possible because of the time it takes to dry in the often-humid conditions.

Emergency medical evacuation from the camps can be prolonged, difficult, and expensive; if you have a medical condition of concern, this may not be the trip for you. (There is electricity in the guest rooms at Lango Camp and Ngaga Camp, so CPAP machines can be used).

The shape you’re in will be an important factor in your enjoyment of the walks and boat rides. Make an effort to get in good physical condition with brisk walking, hiking, biking, running, or other kinds of exercise beyond your normal routine. Any African safari is an adventure, and the traveler to Africa should bring along flexibility, a sense of humor, and an openness to the unexpected.

NGAGA CAMP ACTIVITIES
Gorilla Tracking: Ndzehi Forest
As a result of the work done by gorilla researchers Dr. Magda Bermejo and German Illera, habituated gorilla groups can be tracked and observed in the area around Ngaga Camp. In the extended area, there are no fewer than seven groups totaling more than 100 individual gorillas. Two of these groups are able to be accessed by our guests. Tracking takes place on foot with one of our guides and a skilled local tracker, with tracking excursions departing from camp and following the tracks and sign of the animals until they are located. Tracking expeditions do not cover enormous distances and usually range in length from .5 to 5 miles over undulating country. The undergrowth can be thick, however, and including the time spent with a gorilla group, excursions can last between 2 and 7 hours.

Walking: Ndzehi Forest Trails
The terra firma primary rainforests of the Ngaga area offer a completely different walking experience to the swampy forest area at Lango. Relaxed walks along the well-maintained trail system are great for birding. Guereza colobus and crowned monkeys may be seen. The density of chimpanzee in the area is very high, but we will mainly see their nest sites and hear their noisy screams and hoots. Even from Ngaga Camp itself, it requires some good fortune to actually glimpse our closest relatives in the dense forest. Forest squirrels, elaborately-built termite castles, myriad birds, and spectacular butterflies all make walking here an incredible nature experience.

Night Walks
We occasionally venture out on the forest trails after dark in search of the forest’s most secretive inhabitants. Nocturnal primates are well represented. Along with the more familiar galagos (Demidoff’s, Thomas’s and elegant needle-clawed), two really bizarre and unique creatures are occasionally seen: the potto and the angwantibo. These slow-moving prosimians are tricky to find, but once located often offer really good viewing. Shy forest duikers and palm civets are also occasionally encountered as is Africa’s largest bat, the hammer bat, and the charismatic red-chested owlet.

Swimming: Ngaga Stream
After a hot day’s gorilla tracking, the clear, cool, and fresh waters of the Ngaga Stream below camp offer a refreshing dip. A short, shaded stroll from the camp brings us to an idyllic stream where natural pools wash away the rigors of a day in the jungle. We have built a comfortable wooden deck on the edge of the stream to provide an alternate place to spend the middle of the day.

LANGO CAMP ACTIVITIES
Boating: Lekoli River
The Lekoli River in the Lango region offers one of the best chances to observe wildlife since visibility here is better than below the canopy. We make use of motorized aluminum boats, kayaks, and traditional pirogues to travel against the river currents, while the most rewarding time is spent drifting silently downstream searching the beautiful forested banks. With luck, we will glimpse forest elephant, forest buffalo, and perhaps primate species such as putty-nosed monkey and De brazza’s monkey, and birds. Bongo antelope are an exciting possible sighting. Chimpanzees are regular in this area although they are more often heard than seen.

Walking: Lango Bai, Gallery Forest, Savanna Fringe
The Lango area’s savanna, marsh, swamp forest and riverine forest are home to forest elephant and forest buffalo, both of which are regularly encountered. Quiet walking along forest trails can sometimes produce sightings of red river hog and shy forest birds. Guereza colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, and putty-nosed monkey are all here,and with a bit of luck, one may encounter crowned and moustached monkeys, De Brazza’s monkey ,and northern talapoin. Walking is also the best way to study the fine detail of the forest—insects, fungi, orchids, and birds—and trails have been opened to allow access to the main areas (and we always return to camp with wet shoes and muddy smears as proof of the adventure!).

Gameviewing vehicles are used in the Lango area primarily to get to and from walking and boating areas, rather than for wildlife viewing. However, in the early mornings and late evenings, a drive along the forest edge offers a different perspective of the landscape. Large mammal species such as forest elephant, forest buffalo and western sitatunga may be seen. After a sundowner stop, we continue along, spotlighting in search of rarely seen and shy nocturnal creatures. This is also a good time to search for some of the many owls that occur here, while both long-tailed and swamp nightjars are common all year round.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures

Weekly Departures May-December

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$7495 (2-12 members)
Single supplement: $3350
Forced single supplement: $3350
Internal airfare: $1550 (subject to change)
Internal airfare single supplement: $1550
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Shumbalala Game Lodge Extension
   from: $2095
Johannesburg: Cradle of Humankind, Soweto and the Apartheid Museum Extension
   from: $1295
Victoria Falls Extension
   from: $995

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert resident guides at Nagaga and Lango Camps
  • Accommodations, based on double occupancy
  • All meals included
  • Park fees
  • Land transportation
  • Airport transfers for passengers as noted
  • Baggage handling as noted
  • Laundry

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare; airport departure taxes; any meals not specified after each itinerary day; optional tipping or gratuities to guides or staff; hotels en route to/from Africa; any additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by international airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations, visa fees, travel insurance; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Ngaga Camp

Ngaga Camp

Days 1 to 3 (3 nights), Odzala-Kakoua National Park, Congo

Ngaga Camp rests in a glade of marantaceae vegetation (a type of giant herb in the arrowroot family) in the heart of pristine primary rainforest. ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Lango Camp

Lango Camp

Days 4 to 6 (3 nights), Odzala-Kakoua National Park, Congo

This unique camp is nestled in dense gallery forest, with each guest room overlooking the productive Lango Bai. The dining room, lounge, and bar ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

South Africa

johannesburg city skyline south africa

Johannesburg: Cradle of Humankind, Soweto and the Apartheid Museum Extension

Cradle of Humankind, Soweto & the Apartheid Museum

Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Shumbalala Game Lodge Extension

Gameviewing in Thornybush Private Game Reserve

Safaris, Wildlife & Natural History
4 days  -  Level 1

Zambia

victoria falls zambezi river zimbabwe zambia

Victoria Falls Extension

One of the World’s Natural Wonders

Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Zimbabwe

victoria falls zambezi river zimbabwe zambia

Victoria Falls Extension

One of the World’s Natural Wonders

Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2