Congo: What to Expect / Highlights

There are two species of gorilla found in Africa, the Western Gorilla and the Eastern Gorilla. The endangered Eastern Gorilla is found in Uganda, Rwanda and the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Western Gorilla, found in Congo, Central African Republic, Gabon and the border region between Cameroon and Nigeria. The Western Gorilla are considered Critically Endangered as a result of commercial bushmeat hunting, disease epidemics and habitat loss. The very slow rate of reproduction accentuates all these effects. It is the Western Lowland Gorilla that occurs in Odzala National Park and is found here at the highest densities so far recorded for the species.

Western Lowland Gorillas can be observed in two different ways while in Odzala: either through tracking habituated groups using the impressive skills of our expert local Mbeti trackers (Okoko Zepherin and Okele Gabin), or by patiently waiting at hides on the edge of forest bais for family groups to forage on the sedges (water-loving grasses) there.

Odzala-Kokoua is one of Africa's oldest national parks, having been proclaimed by the French administration in 1935. It covers some 8450 square miles (3.360 million acres) of pristine rain forest and is an integral part of both the Congo Basin and the TRIDOM Transfrontier Park overlapping Gabon, Congo and Central African Republic. It holds globally significant populations of Western Lowland Gorilla and Forest Elephant as well as a plethora of other species: 430 bird species and more than 100 mammal species. Odzala has the highest number (11) of diurnal primates for any forest block in central Africa, as well as Africa's highest density of Western Lowland Gorillas and central Africa's highest density of Chimpanzees.

Bais, or salines, are swampy, grassy areas that are dotted across the rainforest and which offer a rare chance to catch a glimpse beyond the "green curtain" into the lives of the forest dwellers. Various mammal species come to the bais on a regular basis in order to access various elements from minerals and salts, to sedges and water loving grasses to water. These bais range in size from less than 2.5 acres to more than 25 acres and represent the best chance of seeing forest wildlife. Viewing at the bais takes place from raised platform hides, or miradors, and requires patience. The bais visited in Odzala-Kokoua are relatively small and as a result offer the opportunity for close up viewing of various species.