Many safari aficionados are familiar with mountain gorilla treks in Uganda or Rwanda, but safaris to see the continent’s western lowland gorillas remain an off-the-radar experience. The western lowland gorillas, forest elephant, bongo, rare birds and many more species can be sought on an adventure in Republic of Congo’s Odzala-Kokoua National Park.
You will be awed by the sheer vastness of the Congo Basin as you fill your lungs with some of the freshest air in the world. This rainforest is part of the ‘lungs’ of our planet. Between rainforests, savannahs, rivers and swamps, you have the chance to undertake an epic adventure filled with gorilla-trekking, game drives, boating, kayaking, forest walking and river-wading to discover rare and endangered species while treading lightly through an incredible natural wonderland.
The park hosts a minimal number of visitors at any one time – just a few hundred each year – making for an incredibly exclusive experience. Better still, every visit contributes to the conservation of this unique and important ecosystem along with funding critical research on the western lowland gorilla. With the ongoing programs in the forest, special guest activities include meeting the researchers to share feedback on gorilla behavior noticed during treks, as well as the chance to head out with the guides to collect data from camera traps for analyzing animal behavior.
Originally founded as a center for primate research and a pilot gorilla tourism project, Ngaga Camp is located in the Ndzehi Forest on the western boundary of Odzala-Kokoua National Park. The camp is surrounded by towering trees and sits in dappled sunlight surrounded by the scent of fresh rain and delicate sounds of the equatorial African rainforest.
The camp is situated within the overlapping home ranges of several groups of western lowland gorillas, three of which are habituated. A team of permanent researchers and trackers from nearby communities work with the gorilla families on a daily basis. Guests are led on expeditions into the forest in search of the critically endangered species. Treks are limited to 3-4 guests as well as a guide and tracker in an untamed forest with the gorillas going about their usual activities (often seen in the trees).
Six en-suite double chalets with wraparound walkways sit on stilts overlooking the Ndezhi Forest and are constructed from natural materials. The dining room, lounge and bar area are raised allowing guests to gaze into the rainforest. A star deck and fire pit are found on a deck below the main living area, perfect for pre-dinner drinks while watching the sun set over the forest.
Photos courtesy Ngaga Camp