CO - Odzala

Odzala-Kokoua National Park

One of the oldest, largest and most biodiverse national parks in Africa, Odzala-Kokoua extends across 5,250 square miles of the world’s second-largest rainforest. It lies in the northwest of the Republic of Congo (aka Congo-Brazzaville), a relatively stable destination that shouldn’t be confused with its war-torn near-namesake, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). The park’s dominant geographic feature is the Mambili River, a tributary of the mighty Congo that is more than 300ft wide in places, and it is best known for the opportunity to see the western lowland gorilla in its natural habitat.  

Discover Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Odzala-Kokoua is the most developed national park and gorilla-tracking destination in the immense Congo Basin. It has been developed in collaboration with two highly respected conservation-oriented pan-African organizations, the NGO African Parks and the camp operator Congo Conservation Company.

Guided gorilla tracking excursions offer the opportunity to see the western lowland gorilla in its natural forested habitat. Two groups have been habituated for tourism, 16-strong Neptuno and 25-strong Jupiter, both named after their dominant silverback.

Game viewing otherwise tends to focus on small patches of swampy forest-fringed grassland known as baies. By day, these mineral-rich sumps often attract forest buffalo (a smaller redder variation on the familiar Cape buffalo), bushbuck, sitatunga and even the occasional gorilla. Occasional nocturnal visitors include forest elephant, red river hog, leopard and bongo antelope.

In addition to gorillas and chimpanzees, Odzala-Kokoua is home to eight species of diurnal primate: De Brazza’s monkey, mustached monkey, putty-nosed monkey, crested mona, black-and-white colobus, two types of mangabey and the diminutive talapoin.

Odzala-Kokoua provides birders with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tick a number of Congo Basin rainforest endemics. Alluring highlights of the checklist of almost 450 bird species include grey-necked rockfowl, black-eared ground thrush, eastern wattled cuckoo-shrike, Verreaux’s batis, yellow-capped weaver and Rachel’s malimbe.

Canoe trips on the Mambili and its tributaries offer a serene opportunity to experience the forest from a hippo’s eye perspective.

 

Visits to local Pygmy communities offer an opportunity and learn more about their ancient hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

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