The trekking takes place in the remote Odzala National Park in the Ndzehi and Ngaga Camp locations. In addition to the gorillas there is a wealth of other wildlife including grey-cheeked mangabey, forest elephant (often in the M’boko area, moustached monkey, Guereza colobus monkeys, Allen’s swamp monkey, De Brazza Monkey and Putty-nosed monkey.
The bais or forest clearings encourage a wealth of wildlife including sitatunga and one is encouraged to visit one of the hides and simply sit and watch – you may see forest buffalo, and rarely but there is a chance to sometimes see the mostly nocturnal bongo. In fact apart from actually trekking to find the lowland gorillas, sometimes the baies are where the gorilla families can congregate as they forage for the sedge grasses, the babies playing and misbehaving whilst the adults attended to more serious matters of eating large amounts of food.
In Odzala there are seven habituated families of gorillas spread over 12 square miles so your chances to see them are good. Gorilla viewing protocol is based on the guidelines issued by the IUCN for great ape viewing and the local mbeti guides will assist and guide visitors, trekking habituated families in gorgeous wild jungle ecosystems.
Odzala has a variety of habitats – primary forest, savannah and the open baies to wide open rivers – perfect for the ultimate animal and bird watching!
The Republic of Congo (Congo) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are two different countries and very often confused as they almost share the same name and are next door to each other! To confuse matters more the Congo is also known as Congo-Brazzaville.
It is the Republic of Congo (Congo) where the exceptional Odzala-Kokoua Forest, protected since 1935 lies. This country is peaceful and incorporates the second largest rainforest in the world, hence its contribution to the world climate. The country sits astride the equator.
The western lowland gorilla has the widest altitudinal range of any of the gorilla sub-species and the trekking in Odzala to see these wonderful animals can be at times challenging as the vegetation is very thick. Treks can last from two to ten hours in humid conditions however it is lowland tropical forest so the terrain is not particularly steep.
The other focal point, the bais are essentially clearings or bogs with essential salts and minerals that are sort after by antelope, elephant and other wild animals. In addition more than 400 species of birds and 100 different animal species can be seen in this region.
Apart from staying in the park – the recommended stay is six nights - there are also around 70 villages scattered in and around the edge of the park and cultural interactions are welcomed by friendly locals - both Bantu and Pygmy.
Due to very few visitors to the park and area, there are no ‘touristy’ dances and curio shops, this is Africa in the raw, ‘the real authentic village, is hard to find these days and of course so often seen in denser tourist visited parks. Visit the local villages and fields and see their crops of cassava and coffee and perhaps visit a market too. During your stay in the park one should also do boat trips on the Lekoli River.
Other places in Congo where lowland gorillas are found include Nouabale-Ndoki National Park and Mbeli Bai.
Gorilla trekking in the Congo can be more adventurous than that experienced in Rwanda for example, the trekking can be harder, the sightings seen is potentially lower BUT, trekking here allows for one of the most adrenaline-charged wildlife adventures, untamed, thrilling, exciting, adventurous discoveries and completely off the beaten track.