Western Lowland Gorilla Trekking in Congo Brazzaville
Western Lowland Gorilla Trekking in Congo Brazzaville
Perched on the equator in Central Africa lies the Republic of Congo also known as Congo–Brazzaville, not to be confused with the much larger neighboring the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here lies a world like no other, where all the beauty of Africa meets to create a unique landscape that is home to a stunning range of flora and fauna.
Its capital city, Brazzaville, lies across the Congo River from Kinshasa, the capital of the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Brazzaville’s highlights include traditional craft markets and the mid-20th-century Basilique Sainte-Anne, with a green-tiled roof and spire.
Western Lowland Gorillas
The western lowland gorilla is the most numerous and widespread of all gorilla subspecies. Populations can be found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea as well as in large areas in Gabon and the Republic of Congo. The exact number of western lowland gorillas is not known because they inhabit some of the densest and remote rainforests in Africa. Significant populations still exist, including in isolated swamps and the remote swampy forests of the Republic of Congo.
Western lowland gorillas can be distinguished from other gorilla subspecies by their slightly smaller size, their brown-grey coats, and auburn chests. They also have wider skulls with more pronounced brow ridges and smaller ears. Large numbers have not protected the western lowland gorilla from decline. Because of poaching and disease, the gorilla’s numbers have declined by more than 60% over the last 20 to 25 years. Even if all of the threats to western lowland gorillas were removed, scientists calculate that the population would require at least 75 years recovering.
Where to find Western Lowland gorillas in Congo Brazzaville
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.
The most famous bai is Mbeli Bai, in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, where about 100 gorillas have been monitored by the Wildlife Conservation Society for a decade; gorilla groups can be seen wading into the marsh to forage for water plants alongside forest elephants, buffalo and antelope such as sitatunga.
Rescued western lowland gorilla orphans are being rehabilitated back into the forest in the Léfini Reserve (two hours’ drive north of Brazzaville), where visitors can view silverbacks on a forested island from a boat.
See our popular Republic of Congo Gorilla trekking safari packages
How many Western Lowland gorillas are there in the wild?
The western lowland gorilla is the most widespread and numerous of the four gorilla subspecies. No accurate estimates of their numbers are possible, as these elusive apes inhabit some of Africa’s densest and most remote rainforests. However, the total population is thought to number up to 100,000 individuals.
Of the identified groups of Western Lowland Gorillas in the Ndzehi Forest around Ngaga Camp, two are the focus of habituation and research efforts: the Neptuno Group 16 individuals and the Jupiter Group 25 individuals. These groups are named for the enormous and intimidating silverback males who lead and protect them. The two silverbacks, whilst equally impressive, are quite different in personality and this means that viewing the different groups can make for quite distinct experiences. Tracking excursions are privileged, intimate encounters with the habituated gorillas offer the opportunity for insight into the full spectrum of gorilla personality and community.
Western Lowland gorilla families in Odzala Kokoua National park
Researchers have conducted studies on a number of habituated gorilla groups that can now be located and observed in the area around Ngaga Camp. In an area of 11 sq miles, 7 families totalling 105 gorillas can be tracked.
What to expect on Western Lowland gorilla trek in Congo Brazzaville
If you have ventured into Africa before in countries like Uganda, Rwanda on journeys to see gorillas, then you are yet to experience one of the greatest wildlife encounters when you start your expedition to one of Africa’s dense forest covers in search of the western Lowland gorillas, the excitement starts with the packing list as you really have to pack the right gear as there are limited options once you depart Brazzaville on a charter flight to some of the dense forest covers.
The trek is made physical by the wet habitat of the Odzala Kokoua forest as many small rivers cross through the forest cover and this trek can take anything from 2-7 hours and it’s one of the Must do activities in Africa for adventure travelers.
Impact of Western Lowland gorilla trekking in Congo Brazzaville
The lodges within the forest are having a great impact on the local community of the pygmy people that are actively helping the researchers that dedicate their lives to protecting the Western Lowland gorillas and this has helped in protecting the gorillas though currently there is low turn up of tourists in the park, there are no direct income or revenue sharing as there is not much money coming through tourism.
Western Lowland gorilla Permits in Congo Brazzaville
With constant changes in the prices in the western Lowland gorilla permits, we recommend contacting Wilderness Explorers Africa for updated information on the permits but usually, the permit price is between USD 350-450 per person per permit.
Refunds/ Cancellations of Western Lowland gorilla Permits in Congo Brazzaville
Since these expeditions require way in advance planning we recommend clients to prepare for worse and hope for the best and stick to the fact that they want to pursue their dream of coming face to face with the Western Lowland gorillas in one of the greatest wildlife journeys in Africa, Most bookings are made through the Lodges and with hard access they all stock everything before you arrive as the rain forest is isolated from Brazzaville so refunds may be discussed but if you book with Wilderness Explorers Africa we will make sure your safari is protected by our travel command being one of Africa’s leading safari operator.
Age Restrictions for Western Lowland gorilla trekking in Congo Brazzaville
Though most age limits for gorilla trekking in Africa are set at 15 years old we at Wilderness Explorers Africa suggest an age limit of 25 and above for Western Lowland gorilla trekking in Odzala Kokoua in Congo Brazzaville.
What to pack for a gorilla trekking safari in Congo Brazzaville
What to pack before traveling to Congo Brazzaville is the key to a successful African safari experience as some parts of the content are remote and getting access to the areas can be tough and maybe nothing to buy below is a pack list
- Waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support. Make sure your shoes are well worn-in before departing to avoid any nasty blisters.
- Light, breathable, waterproof jackets and trousers, and long-sleeved shirts. It’s important to wear light, long layers due to the variable weather and to avoid any bites from insects,
- Warm layers for the chilly mornings and cold nights.
- Long, lightweight woolen socks.
- Wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for sun protection.
- Toiletries such as sun cream, insect repellent, after-sun, bite relief cream, and lip balm.
- Garden gloves to protect your hands as you grip the vegetation during your trek.
- A small backpack to carry your water, lunch, extra clothes, binoculars, and a camera.
- Camera with extra lenses and batteries. Bring more memory than you think you need.
- Binoculars have a clear view of everything and spot other wildlife such as birds and monkeys.
- Snacks – the trek can be quite strenuous, lasting anywhere from two to nine hours, so bring some snacks for extra energy.
- A reusable water bottle to limit waste – you’ll need to bring plenty of drinking water on your trek.
- Multi-way travel adaptor. Congo Brazzaville uses plug types C (two round pins) and J (two round pins and a grounding pin) and operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz standard frequency but we recommend you bring British type also.
Travelling 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.
Our escorted gorilla expeditions to the Republic of Congo
Where to stay in Odzala Kokoua national park
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.
Best time to visit Congo Brazzaville for western Lowland gorilla trekking expedition
The 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.
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