In celebration of tonight’s BBC Africa special on the Congo, we wanted to share the news that two new camps have recently opened in the area. The camps, called Lango Camp and Ngaga Camp, are owned by the well-known safari operator Wilderness Safaris. They are quietly situated so as not to impact on the surrounding area and are small and intimate. These camps are situated in the Republic of the Congo, not to be confused with the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo to the East. The Republic of the Congo is peaceful and unrestricted and plays home to the Odzala National Park, one of the oldest in Africa. Founded in 1935 it possesses many of the world’s Western lowland gorilla population.
The Republic of the Congo is a former French colony with a population of 4 million people, most of which live in southwest urban centres leaving the northern rainforest sparsely populated and pristine. The Odzala National Park is 13, 600 sq km (1,360 million hectares) and part of the world’s second largest expanse of tropical rainforest. For the tourist what is particularly appealing about this park is the fact that 6 habituated groups of Western lowland gorilla (approx.16 animals in each) live in a 5km by 5km area making them much easier to find in such a large area.
The park also hosts Central Africa’s highest density of chimpanzees and has significant populations of forest elephant. The altitude is low and the terrain isn’t mountainous making for easy access gorilla trekking. For those looking for something really off the beaten track you don’t get much better than this with only 50 tourist visits recorded last year! Best of all, unlike Rwanda and Uganda there are no gorilla permits to pay (usually $750 per person). The park isn’t all about gorillas; there are plenty of other primate species present and around 100 mammal species including forest buffalo, sitatunga, the rare Golden Cat, spotted hyena, leopard in high densities and even rumours of lion in the savannah. Bird watchers will also be awed by the recorded 430 bird species present.
The camps from which you can discover the above are situated in exciting locations with plenty to do in each. The first, Lango Camp (6 rooms) is situated at the edge of the savannah overlooking the Bai with visits to the savannah and saline/ Bai (swampy, grassy area in the rainforest). From the camp you can also enjoy river trips on the Lekoli and Mambili rivers. The second is called Ngaga Camp and is based in the heart of a Marantaceae forest. It is here where you can experience the gorillas first-hand accompanied by researchers. The camps are raised 4 m above ground and are creatively designed, using naturally sourced materials and taking inspiration from the local B’Aka Pygmy groups. Activities on offer from the camps include informative talks, guided forest walks, day and night game drives, boat trips, fishing, gorilla tracking, bird walks, night walks and game viewing from hides.
The camps are reached by an approximately 2.5 hour light aircraft flight from Brazzaville. On arrival it is then a further 40 min to Lango Camp or a 2.5 hour drive to Ngaga Camp. International access is either Air France from Paris, Inter Air from Johannesburg or Kenya Airways from Nairobi.
This year the camps are open between May 2nd – December 25th so now’s the time to book. Sound exciting? Start dusting off those boots and get planning this very unique holiday experience.