In Pursuit of PrimatesRepublic of the Congo

Follow in the footsteps of endangered western lowland gorillas on a safari in the Republic of Congo. Not for your novice hiker, this expedition with Natural World Safaris leads you through remote rainforests of Odzala–Kokoua National Park.

No two forays into the forest are ever the same, and you’ll follow expert trackers who monitor the gorillas’ habits closely, leading you to where they slept the previous night as the sun’s rays begin filtering through the canopy.

Covering distances of between five and eight kilometres, you’ll trail the gorillas, who can move at remarkably high speeds, through the undergrowth, until they stop to eat, shimmy up trees and stare at their human cousins who’ve followed them into the bush. Along the way watch out for all variety of monkeys, exotic birds and magnificent butterflies, as well as (if you’re lucky) forest elephants.

People often describe a gorilla encounter as one of the most emotional and humbling experiences of their lives. And it’s easy to see what attracted Spanish primatologist Dr Magda Bermejo here to study them as part of her groundbreaking research. Magda lives at Ngaga Camp and about 17 years ago began habituating two groups of the gorillas to her presence. More recently, they’ve also had to get used to the travellers who stay at the eco-friendly, rustic lodge in groups of four at any one time.

After two days of tracking gorillas, the adventure moves to Lango Camp, about four hours away. Travel along the local rivers in motorised pirogues (canoes) looking for buffalo, red river hogs, primates and bongos, a type of striped antelope, before arriving at jungle hides where you’ll watch the life of the forest unfold.

Eight-day trips to Ngaga and Lango Camps start at about US$6650, including meals, permits and transfers from Brazzaville.

Natural World Safaris

It’s best to go from May through December but each season offers different benefits. From May to August it’s the dry season but photography is difficult in the harsh light. The long wet season from September to December makes the terrain more challenging to traverse but the storms and cloudy skies are very impressive.

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Tags: africa, animal encounter, Republic of the Congo, safari

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