Luxury Gorilla Safaris to the Republic of Congo
The Congo jungle Basin is home to the largest amount of mammals, primates, birds, and other animals in Africa, including some of the last remaining lowland gorillas. Lowland gorillas are smaller and more agile than mountain gorillas and live in the dense forests of Central Africa, but thanks to years of research, there are a few habituated families that allow small groups of tourists to spend an hour with them as they go about their daily lives. As well as lowland gorilla tracking, the Congo and the Central African Republic are home to over 1000 species of birds, making it a twitcher’s paradise.
Safaris to the Republic of Congo usually take place in the Odzala-Kokoua and Dzanga-Sangha National Parks. During your safari, you will get to explore the huge wetlands and tropical forests on foot and by boat. A definite highlight is spending time at the different forest bais, which are clearings in the jungle that attract herds of forest elephants, forest buffalo, and other animals that come to get their mineral fix from the mineral-rich waterholes found in the clearings.
By doing a safari in these off-the-beaten-track destinations like the Republic of Congo, you are contributing to ongoing conservation efforts in the area. Few explorers get to experience the true wilderness of these beautiful countries.
Gorilla Trekking Safaris in The Republic of Congo
The Republic of Congo is a relatively new ecotourism destination as the country was not always welcoming to tourists. It is an ideal destination for adventurous travellers, where visitors will be able to explore the equatorial rainforests in search of many unique animals, such as lowland gorillas, forest elephants, buffalo and incredible birdlife.
For the ultimate primate safari, why not combine your Congo safari tour trekking for lowland gorillas with the mountain gorillas of Rwanda?
Where to stay during your Congo Safari
Safari tours to the Congo and Central African Republic are done to specific regions and camps. Much of the country is undeveloped, so this practice offers the best experience for our guests. At Stanley Safaris, we focus our safaris on the pristine rainforests of Odzala National Park in the Republic of Congo and the Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve in the Central African Republic. With limited access and only a handful of lodges, the below list is our selection of the best lodges we use for our guests:
Ngaga Camp in Ndzehi Concession, Republic of Congo
Ngaga Camp evokes that childhood memory of a treehouse in the forest. Built amongst the trees with walkways that curve through the forest, guests get a unique look into the forest canopy from this beautiful base. With just 6 ensuite chalets built into the trees, Ngaga Camp is a small, intimate camp where guests swap stories of their jungle explorations.
Ngaga Camp offers some of the best lowland gorilla tracking in Africa. The camp is home to the Western Lowland Gorilla research team who have spent the past few decades researching and habituating the gorillas in the forest. Guests have the opportunity to get to know the researchers, learning from their decades of exploring the forest. As well as gorilla trekking, guests can enjoy day and night forest walks and having the opportunity to meet the local community.
Lango Camp in Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Republic of Congo
Lango Camp is built on the edge of Lango Bai that is teeming with herds of forest elephants, forest buffalo, flocks of green pigeons and African grey parrots. The elevated decks, boardwalks and chalets of this camp allow for great views of this wildlife hotspot.
Guests staying at Lango Camp have the opportunity of exploring the forests around the camp, following elephant trails through streams, bais and forests. You need to be adventurous at this camp because tracking elephants and buffalo in the jungle is messy business!
Mboko Camp in Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Republic of Congo
Mboko Camp is located on the edge of the forest where grasslands meet the jungle. There are many activities on offer at this camp, including guided walks and game drives through the grasslands and jungle, as well as boating and kayaking excursions to explore the river system.
Sangha Lodge in Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve, Central African Republic
Sangha Lodge is one of the original lodges in this part of Africa. It is built on stilts overlooking the Sangha River and has just 7 bungalows each with its own ensuite bathroom and viewing deck. Sangha Lodge is run by Rod and Tamar Cassidy, who took over the hunting lodge and turned it into one of Africa’s best conservation success stories.
Guests staying at Sangha Lodge have the unique opportunity to visit one of Africa’s most incredible wildlife destinations, Dzanga Bai. This bai attracts animals from all over the forest. Huge herds of elephants congregate at Dzanga Bai, mixing with forest buffalo, bongos, forest hogs, and occasionally lowland gorillas.
There’s a variety of activities on offer at Sangha Lodge. There are boating and kayak options, or jungle walks exploring hidden rivers and waterfalls. Guests are also welcome to get to know the Ba’Aka tribe, who is native to the area and even experience a traditional net hunt in the forest with them.
Conservation is a very important factor at this lodge, and one of the conservation efforts here is a pangolin conservation Centre where rescued pangolins can recover before being released back into the wild.
Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo – A Prstine Rainforest Wilderness
The Congo basin forms one of the most important wilderness areas on earth and with over 500 million acres covered, it is the second largest tropical rainforest on earth. Within this vast expanse of tropical forest is the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, covering approximately 3,3 million acres and home to approximately 22,000 lowland gorillas.
Odzala-Kokoua National Park is one of Africa’s oldest national parks. It was created in 1935, and is now under the management of African Parks, who works with the Congo Conservation Company to bring tourists into one of the world’s last fully intact ecosystems. The forests, grassy savannas, bais and rivers of Odzala-Kokoua National Park are home to some of the world’s rarest animals, including forest elephants, forest buffalo, forest hogs, sitatunga antelope, chimpanzees and thousands of birds.
Guests staying at the 3 lodges within the Odzala-Kokoua National Park have the opportunity to explore the ancient and beautiful forest. Activities include following elephant trails, kayaking along the rivers, enjoying a game drive across the grassy savanna and even tracking lowland gorillas through the forest.
Lowland gorilla trekking through the forests of Odzala-Kokoua is an experience you will never forget. Once the family has been found, guests get to spend an hour with them as they go about their daily lives. Being smaller than mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas are more mobile and will often climb trees to access the fresh fruits and leaves that they feed on.
Jungle walks are led by experienced guides or researchers and follow elephant paths as they crisscross the jungle leading to clearings or bais that are rich in minerals. This is a real adventure and not for the faint hearted. Jungle walks usually get you wet and muddy as the paths cross streams and small rivers, but the experience is well worth the discomfort! Night time walks are a completely different experience as nocturnal creatures become active. You can expect to see insects, bats, scorpions and more on a night walk through the Odzala-Kokoua National Park forest.
Traversing the vast river systems by kayak or boat allow you to explore deeper into the jungle. Along some of the smaller tributaries, guests can kayak and often see forest elephants and forest buffalo coming down for a drink. Gliding silently allows for some incredible close-up experiences.
Congo Seasons and the Best Time to Visit
The dry season in the Republic of Congo is between May and September, when the humidity is slightly lower and there is less rain. Being so close to the equator, the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic have fairly constant temperatures throughout the year, averaging between 25°C (77°F) and 28°C (82°F). Because of the amount of rain the countries get, the forests can become exceptionally humid, especially in the rainy season. The “dry” season is only slightly less wet than the rainy season, and because of this, the large animals in the forests do not migrate and can be seen throughout the year.