Odzala-Kokoua National Park DR Congo
Odzala-Kokoua National Park Congo Brazzaville
Odzala kokoua is Africa’s oldest National park created in 1935 after Virunga national park in eastern Congo that is the home for the western Lowland gorillas,the park was designated in 1925. Odzala-Kokoua National Park is covering an extensive area of 13,500 km2 area as the park lies in the heart of the Congo Basin. The basin is the second-largest rain forest in the world, spanning more than two million square kilometers across six countries and accounts for 18 percent of the world’s remaining rain forest. The biological diversity and endemism are extraordinary here, especially considering that humans have occupied the area for over 50,000 years.
Odzala National Park has had its share of ups and downs due to the unrest in the area and the clean waters of the national park will give you an excellent opportunity for boat canoeing as an extra Safari Activity apart from the western lowland gorilla trekking.
The national park is home to Western lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo located within central Africa holding the most wildlife and primates.
Odzala National Park hosts approximately 4,500 plant and tree species. The vast majority of the park’s forest is open-canopy Marantaceae and these are the dependent facts for the list of things to be done in Odzala National Park Congo. These include Gorilla trekking which is the Western lowland gorillas, Canoeing, and Wildlife viewing.
Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo is a remote and vast tract of the globally-important Congo Basin rain forest. With the largest concentration of western lowland gorillas in Africa, a high density of forest elephants, plus chimpanzees (rarely seen) and other primates, predators such as spotted hyenas and several, in fact over 100 mammal species, and rich bird wildlife, this is a hugely special forest reserve.
Groups are limited to 8 people and a maximum of 1 hour per day is allowed to view any 1 group of gorillas. Groups are expected to stand 7 meters from the gorillas. Anybody with colds, flu, or other respiratory conditions will not be allowed to track the gorillas and no children under the age of 15 years will be allowed in order to minimize the transfer of infections to them.
Size of Odzala-Kokoua National Park
A vast green wilderness nestled in the northwest of the Congo within the second largest expanse of tropical rainforest in the world, the Odzala Kokoua National Park is an undiscovered gem that is waiting to be explored, despite being one of Africa’s oldest parks, proclaimed as it was in 1935 by French administration the park covers an area of 13,600 kilometers squared
Location of Odzala-Kokoua National Park
Located in Congo’s northwest region, the vast area is home to lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and red-tailed monkeys. The gorillas, a critically endangered species, live in groups of up to 20 and can be seen moving through the thick Marantaceae forest. It’s a deep green wilderness with hills cut by streams and rivers, and it feels like it has never been seen by human eyes.
How to get to Odzala-Kokoua National Park
Odzala can be reached either by road or by air from Brazzaville. All visitors to Odzala are required to first visit Brazzaville to complete immigration and customs formalities. Visitors requiring a visa first need to obtain a letter of invitation (LOI) that is authorized by the Congolese immigration authorities with their official stamp. The Congo Conservation Company will establish a letter of invitation and assist in the authorization process.
From Brazzaville, there are several options for reaching the Odzala Discovery Camps, but the quickest and most convenient is by air. CCC has organized a weekly departure each Thursday, which corresponds with the Odzala Discovery 7 night itinerary. Guests may check-in one 23kg bag on the charter flight.
For guests seeking a different itinerary, it is possible to arrange a special private charter flight to or from Odzala.
The other options are by road, including self-driving (this option is for people who live in Congo have access to a 4 x4 vehicle). If you are interested in this option please first Inquire.
Otherwise, it is possible to access the camps by road in the 26 seat Toyota Coaster bus that takes you from Brazzaville to the Etoumbi, where the tar road ends. At Etoumbi you will then cross the Likouala-Moussaka River by pontoon barge and continue on the laterite road through the forest to the Camps in one of the game viewers. The trip by road is long (14 hours), but provides a different perspective as one passes through the various landscapes of the Congolese countryside.
Things to do in Odzala Kokoua National Park
Your Valuable time to Odzala national park during the Congo safari will be divided into three camps into different areas, each with its own specialties.
Western lowland gorilla trekking
At Ngaga Camp you’ll concentrate on tracking the western lowland gorillas, led by a professional guide and local tracker. You have two chances to trek, though a third is possible (at extra cost). From Ngaga you can also visit Ombo village to find out something about the life of the people who live in this vast forest.
There are 2 habituated groups of western lowland gorillas, other primates such as; crowned monkey, mustached monkey, black and white colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, putty-nosed mangabey can be seen while in the forest.
Gorilla Trekking can start from Ngaga Camp center around treks to see habituated Western lowland gorillas. Each visitor gets two chances to track the gorillas and these take place in the mornings – guests are usually backed in time for lunch. This leaves the afternoon free for a forest walk, or a visit to the nearby Ombo village. Ngaga also offers fascinating night walks, which give you a totally different perspective on the area.
Boat safaris from Ngaga camp, Lango camp, and Mboko camp
you go for walks in the forest, as well as boat safaris to try and find Other mammals like- forest duikers, forest buffalo, harnessed bushbuck, forest elephant, spotted hyena, bongo, red river hog, western Sitatunga, and their birds which are of, African grey parrot, green pigeon, great blue turaco, blue-casqued wattled hornbill, as well as the reptiles such as; slender-snouted crocodile and African dwarf crocodiles (both seen quite rarely)
Lango Camp is similar to those at Mboko – you’ll be able to take leisurely pirogue rides on the river, drive into the savannah and go for walks by the bai. Some of these activities can involve wading through streams and bais, and patiently waiting to see the forest wildlife.
Wildlife viewing in Odzala Kokoua National Park
From Lango Camp, the activities on offer include the walk in the bai in front of the camp, for which you should be prepared to get wet! Walking through the clear water, sometimes up as far as your river shoes or old trainers/sneakers are recommended footwear. River trips in steel boats with an engine take you down Lekoli River to look out for mustache or putty-nosed monkeys and various birds. Safari drives in 4WD vehicles, and walks in the savannah and river forest areas are also possible
There are various raised hides have been established to enhance the wildlife game viewing (Forest Elephants). There is also a remarkable diversity of animals in the park. Whilst the opportunity to track the gorillas is the obvious highlight, many other animals can be seen including forest elephant, forest buffalo, bongo, Sitatunga, and chimpanzees. In addition, an estimated 430 bird species and several other primates including Guereza colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, and mustached monkey can be seen.
When to visit Odzala-Kokoua National Park
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a year-round destination due to its varying regional climates and wildlife opportunities. Odzala Kokoua national park has beautiful hot, dry weather in its summer months between November and February, while the best time to visit for whale watching is between July and November. The northern regions can be rainy from November to February, but this can be the best time to travel for birding, while the cooler winter months from May to September bring superb conditions for viewing primates.
Where to stay in Odzala-Kokoua National Park
Unlike other national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Odzala Kokoua has an improved tourism service which makes your western lowland gorilla trekking experience exceptional.
Ngaga Camp is the first stop on your itinerary and is the base for visiting the gorillas. It is a smart luxury camp with just six rooms and tucked into a thick rain forest, its location creating a wonderful and unique atmosphere
At Mboko Camp, the largest 12-room camp set along the Lekoli River provides you with spectacular star-viewing opportunities before you fall asleep to the sounds of life-giving water flowing to meet the Congo River, and also offers access to nearby villages on the fringes of the Park, where you can meet and interact with local people.
Each camp has only 6 sensitively designed rooms that take inspiration from the hearts of the local pygmy or forest dweller people. Locally produced sustainably harvested materials were extensively used in the construction of the camps and they were designed to blend in perfectly with the surroundings. Each room was raised 3-4 meters from the ground to minimize the impact on fragile ground plants with a wraparound walkway to allow full appreciation of the forest canopy.