This is The Odzala Experience

Andrew Beck Andrew Leave a Comment

If you think you know Africa, come to the Congo for a perspective-altering experience. Here, your mind is blown by the sheer vastness of the Congo Basin and your lungs are filled by the freshest air in the world. Between rainforests, savannahs, rivers, mineral-rich baïs and swamps, you undertake an epic adventure of gorilla-trekking, game drives, boating, kayaking, forest walking and river-wading to discover rare and endangered species.

Guests get to live amongst conservation the minute they land in the Odzala-Kokoua National Park. Odzala Discovery Camps and the Congo Conservation Company are the only private entities conserving the symbiosis between the rainforest, humans and wildlife in this area.

The Republic of The Congo

Location of Odzala-Kokoua

The Republic of the Congo is a former French Colony on the northern bank of the Congo River. Not to be confused with its neighbour, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), this Congo is calm, stable and rapidly developing as a leader in African affairs. Its modern history began with the late 19th century explorations of Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, the French expeditionary after whom the capital is still named. Rightly dubbed the ‘Little Paris of Africa’, the French influence is most tangible when walking through the streets of Brazzaville.

The capital is one of the cleanest and safest cities in Africa, with vibrant streets lined with art, fabric stalls, flower markets, cafés and the smell of freshly baked baguettes from one of its many boulangeries. Odzala-Kokoua National Park is part of the second largest coherent rainforest area on earth, hence this piece of Central Africa has a significant impact on our global climate, and the existence of all life. The heavily forested landscape is characterised by networks of swamps, baïs and rivers making it the ideal habitat for western lowland gorillas.

Quick Facts

  •  Odzala-Kokua National Park is larger than the Bahamas, Jamaica or Puerto Rico, or the same size as three and a half thousand soccer fields!
  • To circumnavigate the Park on foot would take almost six months – of course no one has tried
  • The region has been a National Park since 1935, making Odzala a senior member within the protected areas in Africa and one of the oldest national parks on the continent.
  • Odzala is part of the Congo Basin in which the world’s second largest rainforest is found – only the Amazonian rainforest is larger.
  • A distinctive feature of Odzala are the baïs. Like islands these clearings lie in the middle of an ocean of trees: marshy areas typically between one and ten hectares in size. Even the shiest inhabitants of Odzala come here to drink. Gorillas and forest elephants leave the protection of the forest in search of the precious minerals and salts contained in the baï soils.
  • Some seventy villages lie around Odzala, some with just a handful of inhabitants, while others such as Mbomo have several thousand residents. The local people are primarily Bantu and forest dwellers (pygmies).

 

Ngaga Camp

Ngaga Camp, located just outside the park boundary in the Ndzehe concession, overlooks a beautiful open glade within primary forest above a forest stream. The Camp is situated within the overlapping home ranges of several groups of western lowland gorillas, two of which are habituated. Ngaga is truly gorilla central. A focal point for world-class research as well as unforgettable primate encounters, Ngaga Camp’s unique design evokes the fun and mystery of childhood treehouses. From the six elevated guest rooms, wraparound walkways allow you to peer directly into the forest canopy. Like Lango, the Camp is constructed from natural materials using traditional techniques.

The dining room, lounge and bar area are all on raised decks at the crest of the glade looking into and above the primary rainforest. They are constructed from natural, traditionally used materials including locally woven raffia palm roofing panels. A star deck and fire pit are placed on a dropped deck below the main area for after dinner relaxation while a separate deck is located at a natural cooling off spot on the Ngaga Stream below Camp.

Game Viewing

Western Lowland Gorillas are the main species of wildlife searched for from Ngaga Camp and they are tracked on foot from the Camp itself. This species favours areas of marantaceae vegetation which is a staple food source but at intervals throughout the year the gorillas also seek out fruiting trees within the forest. Other primates such as Crowned and Moustached Monkeys can be encountered in the forest, while Central Chimpanzees are often heard and occasionally seen. Various forest duikers occur as well as some spectacular forest birds such as the very large Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, the Great Blue Turaco and a host of others.

Activities

As well as gorilla tracking, Ngaga offers a host of additional unique activities:

  • Explore the Ndzehe Forest on a network of well-maintained trails – a very different experience to the swampy terrain at Lango
  • Night walks – in search of nocturnal primates and other shy forest species
  • Take time to admire – and even commune with – giant forest trees
  • Spend time just looking around you at the colours and shapes of insects, seed pods, fungi and orchids
  • Don’t forget to look up for turacos, hornbills, and other impressive forest birds
  • Cool off in a clear forest stream after a day tracking gorillas
  • Visit nearby Ombo village to learn more about sustainable forest lifestyles and how people make the most of all that Nature provides in such a remote location.
  • Experience the forest by night, in search of strange nocturnal creatures

Lango Camp

Lango’s six guest rooms are raised to the level of the surrounding gallery forest, giving incredible views out onto the open marshy baï in front of the Camp – one of the most arresting views of any Camp in Africa. The baï holds a magnetic attraction for huge flocks of African green pigeons and African grey parrots, as well as for herds of forest buffalo by day and forest elephants by night.

Lango’s strategic location in the south central part of Odzala allows easy access to a variety of converging habitats. A real highlight of your stay at Lango is the change to explore the Lekoli and Mambili Rivers by motorboat, traditional pirogue, or even kayak. Lango is also one of the few places in Africa where you can safely explore streams and marshes on foot – a true immersive experience!

Nestled in dense gallery forest with each room, the dining room, lounge and bar area are all on raised decks overlooking the Lango baï, and are constructed from natural materials such as locally woven raffia palm panels. Raised walkways connecting the rooms to the public areas wind through the gallery forest. A star deck and fire pit are placed on a dropped deck overlooking the baï for after dinner relaxation and star-gazing.

Game Viewing

Forest Buffalo and Harnessed Bushbuck are regular visitors to the baï and can be seen at any time of the day. Forest Elephant and Spotted Hyaena are also regular visitors but are more typically seen after dark. Nocturnal visitors to the baï include there are Bongo, Leopard and Red River Hog. Western Sitatunga and various forest duiker species can be encountered nearby and Guereza Colobus monkeys are frequently seen in Camp. Other primates, such as Grey-cheeked Mangabey and Putty-nosed Monkey are commonly seen nearby, while Chimpanzees are regularly heard from Camp.

Hippo occur at low densities in the Lekoli River and Serval are occasionally seen in the savannah areas. Crocodiles are represented by two harmless species, the Slender-snouted Crocodile and the African Dwarf Crocodile.

Activities

Many activities at Lango and Mboko are a combination of driving and / or walking and boating. This is to give you access to the most productive and beautiful areas of the Concession, and the best possible wildlife viewing once there.

  • Exploring the baï and associated swampy open areas, the Lekoli River and surrounding savannah and forest areas
  • Spot wildlife from the Camp: Forest Buffalo and Harnessed Bushbuck are regular visitors to the baï
  • Enjoy the antics of resident Guereza colobus monkeys
  • Walk (and wade) the (Lango) baï and savannah
  • Adventure trails along the edges of forested areas give insights into the arboreal world
  • Spot dwarf crocodiles, forest ducks and kingfishers – and maybe even a hippo
  • Look out for hyaena, aardvark, and serval on savannah game drives by day and night
  • Enjoy a chorus of strangely melodious forest sounds after dark

 

Join Us in Odzala

If you think you know Africa, come to the Congo for a perspective-altering experience. Here, your mind is blown by the sheer vastness of the Congo Basin and your lungs are filled by the freshest air in the world. Between rainforests, savannahs, rivers, mineral-rich baïs and swamps, you undertake an epic adventure of gorilla-trekking, game drives, boating, kayaking, forest walking and river-wading to discover rare and endangered species

Safari Info

Andrew Beck

Share this Post

About the Author

Andrew Beck

Facebook Twitter Google+

Very few people can tell you what their passion in life is. Even fewer will be able to tell you that what they do for a living is in fact their passion. My love for the bush and conservation took me on journey which would not only allow me to explore the continent which fascinates me so much, but to share my passion for photography and conservation with others. Be sure to check out my my website and instagram account.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *