Penetrate the Congo’s dense rainforests and seek out one of man’s closest relatives - the remarkable lowland gorilla - in its natural habitat near Ngaga Camp.
Based in the heart of the great Central African rainforest, purpose-built camps in Odzala-Kokoua National Park offer an easy and slightly adventurous approach to view lowland gorillas in a safe, gentle, unhurried and relaxed environment. Naturally, you’ll see a host of primates, mammalian life and rich birdlife, but one of the greatest highlights of your stay is the two (or possibly three) separate gorilla tracking opportunities with at least an hour spent each time in contact with a habituated family group going about their everyday life.
Other activities include a guided kayaking trip downstream, taking in the beautiful nature and birdlife as you slowly glide your way from Mboko to Lango Camp, followed by a nature walk in the wilderness, passing through forest elephant trails and wading through small creeks.
Day1: Fly to Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
Daytime flight to Brazzaville. On arrival you will be met and transferred to a comfortable hotel in the city centre.
Accommodation: Hotel in Brazzaville, 1-night
Day2: Fly to Ngaga Camp, Odzala-Kokoua National Park
Today you can enjoy a relaxing morning or join a city tour and explore this fascinating and vibrant capital city, built on the edge of the Congo River. Highlights include the local handicraft market, the stunning St Anne’s Basilica Church with its impressive green-tiled roof, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza Memorial, and other cultural and historical sites.
In the early afternoon, transfer to the airport and board a scenic flight to Mboko Airstrip inside Odzala-Kokoua National Park. On arrival you will be met by a guide for the three to four hours' drive across savannah and through forest to Ngaga Camp, your base for the next few days. Later you will receive an extensive briefing on western lowland gorillas, and if time allows, there will be a short introductory walk in the forest and sundowners by the Ngaga River.
Each day, after an early wake-up call and light breakfast, you depart on foot with a guide and trackers to track gorillas. Using the expert skills of the trackers, you start at the spot where the designated group slept overnight and follow their tracks through the forest, in hope of being able to locate them as they forage.
After this exhilarating experience, you return to camp to freshen up and enjoy a substantial brunch before spending the middle part of the day at leisure. In the afternoon after tea, you can enjoy a guided walk in the forest in search of birds and primates, as well as forest duiker.
Day5: Ngaga Camp, optional gorilla tracking & visit to Ombo village
This morning, after another early start and light breakfast, you have an opportunity to set out again on foot to track gorillas (optional: additional cost of around US$285 payable locally in cash). The expert trackers again follow the tracks through the forest, until you find the group and enjoy watching them resting and foraging. On return to camp, freshen up and enjoy lunch and a siesta. The afternoon sees you out on the forest trails in search of the area’s birds and mammals, returning to camp to enjoy a sundowner on the deck looking out on the forest canopy.
Alternatively you can enjoy an interactive cultural experience in the nearby traditional village of Ombo.
Day6: Mboko Camp
Today after breakfast in camp you head further into the savannah and forest with a one hour walk into the wilderness, followed by a boat trip on the Lekoli River to take you to Mboko Camp.
The boat safari is one of the best ways to view forest animals due to the excellent visibility it affords. As you glide downstream, you may spot various animals cooling off on the riverbank, such as forest elephant, forest buffalo, primates such as putty-nosed monkey and de Brazza’s monkey, slender-snouted and African dwarf crocodiles, birds, bongo (the largest of the forest antelopes), and the reclusive sitatunga (marshbuck). On arrival in the Mboko area, a drive along the forest edge as you make your way from the river to camp unveils new and fantastic scenery.
One of the highlights of this area is the chance to get even closer to nature by kayaking the Lekoli River while you soak in the atmosphere of your surroundings.The kayak trip takes around two hours, paddling downstream with the gentle current. Finally, a walk of around one hour, which involves wading through the knee-deep clear water of forest streams and creeks, brings you to Lango Bai, a habitat rich in wildlife.
Once at camp you have an opportunity to settle in, freshen up and have lunch before embarking on a short late afternoon activity (time permitting), which may consist of a walk around Lango Bai and the forest fringe, or a drive across the savannah and a night drive back to camp with intriguing opportunities to see some of Odzala’s more secretive nocturnal creatures.
An early morning wake-up is followed by a light breakfast, after which you embark on your first activity for the day. This could be a walk from camp through Lango Bai and down the clear, shallow waters of the Lango Stream to its confluence with the Lekoli River. A motorised pirogue will then head upstream for two hours. The return to camp includes a downstream portion of the river followed by a drive through the savannah.
Back in camp, enjoy a more substantial brunch and rest period before you head out again later for the afternoon activity and transfer back to camp for the night.
After an early start and a light breakfast on the deck at Mboko Camp, you depart for nearby Mboko airstrip, normally arriving back in Brazzaville late morning. Back in civilisation, you have time to unwind and digest this incredible adventure on your last night in Brazzaville.
Accommodation: Hotel in Brazzaville, 1-night
Day10: Depart Brazzaville
Today, depending on the departure time of your international flight, you may want to join a cultural activity in the city or simply indulge in the hotel spa before heading to the airport for an overnight flight home.
Day11: Arrive UK
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 11 daysfrom £8,295 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 10 daysfrom £7,495 pp
Single supplement: From £760
When to go: May-Feb: Congo has a short dry season in January-February and a long dry season May-September where temperatures remain cooler (22-23 °C).
Odzala-Kokoua National Park is perfect for the wildlife enthusiast who yearns for adventure and discovery. It provides a refuge for 114 mammal species and more than 400 species of birds. A known 16 primate species can be found here, including the western lowland gorilla, one of Africa's great apes.
Where: Cuvette Ouest Region
Ideal for viewing: western lowland gorilla, chimpanzee, forest buffalo, forest elephant, putty-nosed monkey
Named after the Franco-Italian explorer, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, who founded the city in 1880, the pleasantly unassuming capital city of Brazzaville occupies the north bank of the Congo River. The abundance of tropical foliage has earned it the title ‘Brazza la verte’ or Green Brazza.
Where: Pool Region
Excellent for: City stopover
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
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Located in dense gallery forest, Lango Camp overlooks a busy bai that attracts elephants and forest buffalo who come to socialise and dig for mineral salts. Its six guest rooms sit on raised platforms, affording wonderful views, and there is a spacious deck and fire pit for after-dinner wildlife vigils.
Mboko Camp is an ideal base in Odzala-Kokoua, located near the airstrip, and consists of 12 comfortable en suite canvas tents, all set along the Lekoli River. The camp is regularly visited by forest elephant and buffalo in the open grassland as they come to drink or bathe in the river.
Ngaga Camp sits in the heart of pristine primary rainforest and the epicentre of a population of western lowland gorillas, of which two habituated groups can be tracked here. Constructed from natural materials, accommodation is in six rooms, connected by walkways with views into the forest.