Track lowland gorillas on easy treks through the pristine tropical forest of the Little Congo!
Imagine moving stealthily through lush jungle, parting branches to reveal before your eyes a group of magnificent lowland gorillas, foraging and grooming. Few wildlife experiences can match the profound wonder of seeing these critically endangered great apes in their natural habitat. On this unforgettable MTS journey—offered for the first time ever—you’ll track gorillas through the thick forests of the Republic of Congo (or "Little Congo,” not to be confused with the larger Democratic Republic of Congo to the east). This small, sparsely populated nation is home to the world’s largest population of western lowland gorillas, with density in Odzala-Kokoua National Park being the highest recorded. It’s a place of exceptional biodiversity, with 430 bird species and more than 100 mammal species, including Africa's highest concentration of chimpanzees. Accompanied by our expert local guides, you’ll see very few people besides your small, private group, and get excitingly close views of the gorillas through tracking, river safaris and observation at hides. Treks are fairly short, over flatter terrain and at lower elevations than Uganda or Rwanda, so you can maximize your time with the gorillas. Exclusive access to unique eco-lodges rounds out an adventure you’ll be talking about for the rest of your life!
Gorilla tracking, walking safari, game drives, boat cruises, guided forest walks
- Join MTS’ first-ever expedition to track and observe western lowland gorillas in the wild
- View critically endangered gorillas in their natural habitat—without the need for permits!
- Travel a largely untouristed area as part of a small, private group and enjoy exclusive access to unique eco-lodges
- Treks involve flatter terrain and lower elevation than Rwanda or Uganda
- Stay in the heart of Odzala-Kokoua National Park, which houses the highest recorded density of western lowland gorillas—the area around Ngaga Camp is home to no fewer than 7 family groups!
- Visit the Gorilla Tracking Academy and learn about the training of local community trackers from all over west-central Africa
Duration: 8 days Start Location: Brazzaville, Congo End Location: Brazzaville, CongoDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive Brazzaville
Please plan on arriving into Brazzaville anytime today (Air France has the best connections via Paris). A Mountain Travel Sobek representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the group hotel.
Day 2 : Fly to Odzala-Kokoua National Park
In the early afternoon, we'll depart by private charter from Brazzaville to M’boko Airstrip, Odzala-Kokoua National Park. The charter flight takes approximately two hours and includes a light, packed lunch. Upon arrival at M’boko Airstrip, we'll be met by a Lango Camp guide who will transfer us by vehicle to Lango Camp--our home for the next three nights. The drive takes approximately 30 minutes through open savannah with views of the forest fringe and interior. Once at camp, we'll have a moment to freshen up and settle in before embarking on our short afternoon activity, which may consist of a walk around Lango Bai and the forest fringe and stream or perhaps a game drive.
Day 3 : Odzala-Kokoua National Park
An early morning wake-up today will be followed by a light breakfast and coffee on the main deck, after which we embark on our first activity of 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 motorized pirogue will then head upstream for two hours (stopping en route for tea/coffee) until reaching the access point to Mbouebe Bai, where a short excursion on foot reaches a concealed hide from which activities at the bai can be observed. The return to camp will take us downstream followed by a game drive through the savannah. Back at camp, a hearty brunch and rest period will be waiting for us, before we head out again later for the afternoon activity. We may possibly enjoy a return game drive to the boat jetty followed by a pirogue trip downstream along the Lekoli River to its confluence with the larger Mambili River for sundowners. A night drive back to camp may offer intriguing opportunities for seeing some of Odzala’s more secretive nocturnal creatures.
Day 4 : Odzala-Kokoua National Park
We'll wake up early today for a light breakfast and coffee before setting off on the morning activity. Today may begin with a game drive to the boat jetty at the confluence of the Likeni Stream and Lekoli River and then a pirogue trip down the Lekoli River in search of primates, forest buffalo and other species, before returning to camp on foot through Lango Bai. The trip along the river offers great opportunities for birding and mammals, while the walk can provide excellent viewing of buffalo, Red River Hogs, a number of primate species and even Bongo. Our return to camp will be met with a delicious brunch and some downtime before heading out again in the afternoon. This afternoon we may head back to the boat jetty and take a pirogue trip upstream along the Lekoli River enjoying sundowners and perhaps some catch-and-release fishing before returning to camp on a night drive, searching for species such as spotted hyena, golden cat and even water chevrotain.
Day 5 : Transfer to Ngaga Camp
This morning, after an early wake-up and breakfast, we'll head away from the savannah in land cruisers to the south-western corner of the Park to spend time at Dzebe Bai, some two and half hours’ drive from Lango. Having walked about a half mile through the forest to access the bai, we'll spend midday in the hide waiting for secretive forest animals to appear in the clearing; there’s a chance of viewing unhabituated gorillas here, as well as species such as black-fronted duiker, Guereza colobus monkey and perhaps even chimpanzee. We'll have a packed lunch to enjoy in the hide at the bai. In the late afternoon, as activity at the bai subsides, we will return north towards Ngaga Camp. Upon arrival at Ngaga Camp, we will be met by the staff and given an opportunity to settle in. Before dinner, the group will receive an extensive briefing on Western Lowland Gorillas, including the research project in the area, conservation of the species, their biology and ecology and of course what to expect when tracking the habituated groups of the area.
Day 6 : Gorilla tracking
This morning, after an early wake-up and light breakfast, we'll depart on foot with our guide and tracker on our first gorilla tracking excursion. Using the expert skills of the trackers, we'll start at the point where the group chosen to be monitored for that day slept the night before, and follow their tracks as they move through the forest until we find them. While home range sizes are relatively small, the gorillas can move quite quickly through thick forest undergrowth, and during a 2-5 hour tracking excursion (including time spent observing the gorillas) we may cover between 3 to 5 miles. After this exhilarating experience, we'll return to camp to freshen up and enjoy a brunch before spending the middle of the day at leisure. In the afternoon after a light tea, we will set out on a guided forest walk in search of birds and primates as well as forest duiker-- and, if time allows, we'll visit the Gorilla Tracking Academy run by Dr Magda Bermejo and German Illera. Here, we will learn about the comprehensive training of local community trackers from all over west-central Africa and how this plays a role in gorilla conservation.
Day 7 : Gorilla trackingAfter yet another early wake-up and light breakfast, we'll set out again on foot for our second gorilla tracking excursion. Our expert trackers will again follow the obscure tracks and sign of the gorilla group through the forest until we find them and enjoy anotherfascinating experience watching them rest and forage. Returning to camp, we'll freshen up and enjoy brunch and a siesta. The afternoon we'll set out on the forest trails in search of the birds and mammals of the area, returning to camp to enjoy a sundowner on the main deck overlooking the forest canopy and Ngaga Stream.
Day 8 : Depart Brazzaville
On this, our last day, we'll finally have a leisurely start to the morning, leaving after breakfast for M’boko airstrip (a drive of 2.5 hours) to meet our private charter flight back to Brazzaville. We will land in Brazzaville in the afternoon in plenty of time for any onward flights.
DATES: Best time to go: May - December Departures: Aug 7 - 14, 2013 Private Departures for 1-12 people are available every Wednesday between Aug and December 18, 2013, pending space. Call us to check availability. Aug 21 - 28, 2013 Just 3 rooms left on this departure!
$6,095 (1-12 members)
Rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations.
Mikhael HotelBrazzaville, Congo
An elegant boutique hotel situated in downtown Brazzaville, Republic of Congo’s capital and business hub.
Ngaga Camp's 6 guest rooms are raised 3 meters off the ground, like tree camps with wraparound balconies allowing a full experience of the forest canopy. An identical use of natural materials will facilitate the large comfortable hides at the forest bais where guests will spend time waiting for and watching forest wildlife such as forest elephant, forest buffalo, sitatunga and even lowland gorilla.
This camp will consist of six creatively designed guest rooms, taking inspiration from the designs of the local Pygmy or ‘forest dweller’ groups. Natural, locally sourced materials will be used extensively in the construction of the camps: sustainably harvested hardwoods (FSC certified), bamboo and raffia palm matting. Each of the guest rooms will be raised 3-4m above the ground with a wraparound walkway allowing full appreciation of the forest canopy.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.