Republic of Congo
Republic of Congo
Boasting seemingly endless tropical forest and fingers of moist savannah covering its interior, the Republic of Congo holds the majority of the world population of western lowland gorillas. Its largely pristine northern rainforest is the heart of the Congo Basin, the world’s second largest expanse of tropical rainforest.
Its largely pristine northern rainforest is the heart of the Congo Basin, the world’s second largest expanse of tropical rainforest.
Rivers such as the Sangha, Mambili and the mighty Congo drain this basin and provide a means of exploration through dense forests and access to remote national parks such as Odzala-Kokoua, and Nouabale-Ndoki. It is in these areas that endemic wildlife flourishes and traditional forest dweller cultures persist.
Equatorial forest covers much of Congo’s landscape. These forests form part of the larger Congo Basin. More than 400 mammal species, 1,000 bird species, 700 fish and nearly 10,000 plant species, of which 3,000 are found nowhere else, have been recorded in Congo. The country’s remote northern forests harbour the highest known gorilla densities, including an estimated 125,000 western lowland gorillas. Other large mammals include forest elephant, forest buffalo and the bongo.
Area: 342,000 sq km (132,047 sq miles)
French, indigenous African languages
Christianity, indigenous African beliefs
CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc
Flight time from London
15 hours via Addis Ababa
GMT + 1
When to go
Congo lies on the Equator, so that temperatures vary very little year round. Its seasons can be divided into a green season when more rainfall occurs, and two ‘drier’ seasons of December to February and June to August respectively.
Green Season – March To May; September To November
Rainfall during this period means that the air is clearer and humidity higher. Daytime temperatures are typically higher owing higher humidity. Water levels in the Lekoli River are high as well, allowing for boating activities on the lookout for primates, buffalo, elephant, slender-snouted crocodile (for the lucky) and exciting birdlife like Cassin’s flycatcher.
A scarcity of ripe fruits during this period results in smaller ranges and daily movements by western lowland gorilla, central chimpanzee and elephant. Elephant are particularly prolific, with good numbers visiting Lango Bai daily to obtain minerals. The resident birdlife is excellent – for example black-collared lovebird, vermiculated fishing-owl fire-crested alethe, yellow-lored bristlebill and Guinea turaco with many species breeding at this time.
Photographically, between bouts of rain, clear blue skies are common, with good light penetrating the forest interior.
All year round, primates such as western guereza colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey and putty-nosed monkey are seen regularly with infrequent sightings of bongo, western sitatunga and red river hog on the periphery of Lango Bai. Night drives may yield galagos, palm civet and spotted hyaena – the latter in savannah areas.
Transition Season – December To February; June To August
With limited rain during this period, the air can be relatively hazy, a white film of clouds covering the sky most days. Humidity however is lower than in the green season. Daytime temperatures are typically cooler. Water levels on the Lekoli River are lower but boating is still possible.
Ripe fruits during this period (especially February and August) mean that elephants and gorillas wander more widely to obtain these, with gorillas feeding primarily in trees – thus allowing easier sightings.
Photographically, conditions are typically overcast with muted light. Focus on photographing subjects against greener forest backdrops where possible at this time.
Aside from the ‘usual’ sightings of western guereza colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey and putty-nosed monkey, harnessed bushbuck often sighted at Lango Bai together with several herds of forest buffalo moving between the various bais in the Park. Chimpanzee sightings are good all year.
Birding is excellent in both rainforest and savannah areas with intra-African migrant species present from June to August. Some highlights may include shining-blue kingfisher, Hartlaub’s duck, great blue turaco, bare-cheeked trogon, black-casqued wattled hornbill, streaky-throated barbet, black and white flycatcher, shining drongo, yellow-mantled widowbird, yellow longbill and banded prinia.
- High Season
- Mid Season
- Shoulder Season
Where to stay
These are just a selection of the properties we can personally recommend. Please get in touch to hear more about our full portfolio.
Lango is a beautiful 6-roomed camp in a strategic location in the south central part of Odzala which allows easy access to a variety of converging habitats. A real highlight of your stay at Lango is the chance to explore the Lekoli and Mambili Rivers by motorboat, traditional pirogue, or even kayak.
A focal point for world-class research as well as unforgettable primate encounters, Ngaga Camp’s unique design evokes the fun and mystery of childhood treehouses. Western Lowland Gorillas are the main species of wildlife searched for from Ngaga Camp and they are tracked on foot from the Camp itself.