Odzala-Kokoua NP, Congo
£18,195 pp sharing
At a Glance
Dates: January 1st - January 9th, 2024
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £18,195 pp sharing (with a £6,795 single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: See some of the Congo Basin's most iconic wildlife, including gorillas, forest elephants and chimpanzees, in the ultra-luxury of Odzala-Kokoua.
There is no doubt that some of the greatest wildlife experiences Africa has to offer are hidden in the dense, unforgiving jungles at the centres of the continent. The Congo Basin is surely one of the greatest unexplored wildernesses in the world, and for the vast majority of intrepid travellers who journey deep into this area, there are few creature comforts. Odzala-Kokoua, situated in the far north of the Republic of the Congo, is therefore a real anomaly. Here, three luxurious lodges offer unparalleled access to the Central African rainforest, accompanied by excellent guides and with a proven track record of delivering superb wildlife experiences. This comfort, coupled with the stark remoteness of the park, mean this itinerary does not come cheap - but the rewards are hard to deny!
On arrival into Brazzaville, guests are met at the airport by their Pictus Safaris tour leader and transferred to our comfortable hotel. The remainder of the day is set aside for rest after a long inbound flight, but we can arrange a city tour for the group if this is of interest. There will be a pre-tour briefing in the hotel this evening.
This morning we wake early and transfer back to Brazzaville's main airport. From here, it is a two-hour flight northwards across the wilds of the Congo, arriving by midday at the small airstrip at Mboko. Here, we will be met by the superb local team and transferred by road to Mboko Camp.
At Mboko, there will be an opportunity to settle into the lovely surrounds of camp, and to meet the camp team. Our first wildlife-focussed activity will take place this afternoon, and we are sure the group will be keen to get started! We will head out on foot into the forest around Mboko, expertly guided throughout, and there is no telling what we might encounter. It is important to keep our wits about us, as elephant and buffalo are frequently encountered here, but we will also have a chance to spot charismatic species including red river hog, sitatunga, bongo and, rarely, chimpanzees. This first walk into the forest is a wonderful way to familiarise ourselves with the diversity of life, big and small, to be found throughout this area. On return to camp, dinner will be served before some well-earned rest,
Today we have a full day to explore the area around Mboko. Our day begins with a boat trip from Mboko, exploring the channels and lagoons around camp, in one of the wettest accessible areas of the park. This is a great opportunity to photograph some of the more aquatic species to be found in this region, including sitatunga, but it is also not uncommon to see elephant, buffalo and even gorilla in or around the waterways.
After returning to camp for lunch, we will stick to our aquatic theme with a bai walk - be prepared to get your feet wet! This walk to a swampy open area of the park, rich in minerals, is a surefire way to get a unique perspective on the fauna of the park. A rich array of birdlife is drawn to each bai, and birders are likely to find it difficult to leave the bai behind. Elephants, buffalo and several unusual species of primate also enjoy the minerals on offer in the bai, and up to half a dozen species may be present at a given time.
As darkness falls, we will return to camp for another delicious dinner.
Often, whilst on safari, transfer days between camps can feel like lost time, which might be better spent on safari. There are no such issues in Odzala as our transfer to Lango Camp this morning will be done in kayaks. This journey has, in the past, delivered memorable and up-close-and-personal sightings of forest elephant, bongo, numerous species of forest duiker and much more.
On arrival at the superb Lango Camp, there is some time to rest and unpack before another guided forest walk this evening. This area is subtly different from Mboko (and indeed from your next camp, Ngaga). This area is slightly drier and, therefore, you have a higher chance of spotting rarities here such as white-bellied pangolin, tree hyrax and, unusually, spotted hyena. Following your walk, this evening dinner will be enjoyed in the company of local guides, who have plenty of stories to share about this magical part of Africa.
Your full day today is spent at Lango. By now, you are likely to have encountered many of our target species, but our day will focus on forest and bai walks focussed on spending time with any bird or mammal species that may have eluded us to this point. Particularly highly prized are groups of chimpanzee that are sometimes seen here (much more rarely than their cousins the western lowland gorilla), as well as the seldom-seen bongo.
Days Six to Eight
Our final three full days in Odzala are spent at Ngaga Camp. The driest of the three camps, but by no means any less luxurious, this is a superb base from which to enjoy some of the park's finest wildlife. Elephant, buffalo, sitatunga and red river hog sightings are near-daily occurrences here, and you may get lucky enough to spy chimpanzee, bongo, pangolin, spotted hyena or even aardvark here.
Two mornings here will be spent tracking some of Odzala's most famous residents - western lowland gorillas. Spending time with these amazing animals is a true privilege, and we will spend up to an hour with a family group once we have located them. This can be easier said than done, and these walks can take place over rough terrain, with some wading sometimes required. When not seeking out wildlife, our stay at Ngaga includes a visit to a local village, where we have a fantastic chance to learn more about the work done here to ensure local communities see tangible benefits from ecotourism.
This morning we are transferred back to the airstrip for our return flight to Brazzaville, where the tour ends.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may
occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in January 2025, aiming to take advantage of the short dry season when exploring the forest is at its easiest. The tour will run from January 1st to January 9th 2025.
The cost of this trip is £18,195 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Drinks are not included. We regret that we must levy a single supplement of £5,450 pp for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £750 plus any single supplement must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Brazzaville at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Brazzaville after 20.00 on your return, if leaving on the same day that we return to Brazzaville to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do require a visa to enter the Republic of the Congo. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for the Republic of the Congo will be provided to you upon booking. Visas must be obtained in advance of travel.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Odzala in January is hot and humid, with maximum temperatures of around 31 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 22 degrees Celsius. Whilst our visit is timed to coincide with a drier time of year, guests should still expect rain on most days.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing Euros.
Safety and Security
There are no security issues in any of the areas visited during this tour.