Personen wandern aufgereiht durch einen Fluss im Regenwald

Republic of Congo: So much more than just gorilla trekking

Anja Sterker
Written by: Anja Sterker Last updated at: January 3, 2024

Republic of Congo: So much more than just gorilla trekking

A trip to the Republic of Congo had been on my bucket list for a long time. Having already experienced Rwanda and Uganda, which are also the focus of many travelers due to the opportunity to see gorillas in their natural habitat, I wanted to see for myself the differences between mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas. Rwanda and Uganda are home to the still very endangered mountain gorillas and the Republic of Congo is home to the western lowland gorillas. So I have often asked myself the question: Is the experience the same? Why should I send my clients to the Republic of Congo rather than Rwanda? Is it even worth making the somewhat inconvenient journey to the Republic of Congo or wouldn't Uganda do? All these questions and many more were running around in my head, so it was clear to me that I really wanted to experience it myself so that I could then see all three countries in relation to each other and guarantee my customers the experience that best suits them.

Of course, I wasn't just interested in comparing countries, but rather in exploring this still undiscovered country with all its unique landscapes for myself. I love being out in nature, experiencing adventures and the Republic of Congo offers exactly that. So when it became clear that I really had the opportunity to experience this country for myself, my anticipation grew immeasurably.

And then I was off. When I landed in the capital Brazzaville, I was greeted by warm people who took me to my first hotel. Brazzaville is a modern city by African standards and is also very safe. Just a stone's throw away from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where crime often occurs, you don't feel a thing in Brazzaville. We walked to the restaurant in the evening and the locals are all very friendly and helpful.

The real adventure began the next morning. We drove to the airport to take a small plane into the middle of the Congo Basin. There are not yet many regions in the Republic of Congo that have been developed for tourism. Our destination for the next seven days was the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the northwest of the country, where we spent the night in the three Kamba Rainforest Experience Camps. In the two hours or so that we flew over the second largest rainforest in the world, we really realized the extent of this forest.

1st stop: Ngaga Camp

After landing, we were warmly welcomed by the Kamba team and after a brief refreshment, we set off on the two-hour drive to Ngaga Camp.

Built on wooden platforms, the camp is located in the middle of the dense, almost inaccessible forest. Here you have the opportunity to observe lowland gorillas in a habitat that is barely touched by humans. Numerous gorilla families live around the lodge, as well as a research team that has been studying the behavior of western lowland gorillas for decades under the direction of primatologist Magdalena Bermejo. In Ngaga, you are part of this research team and can share your knowledge and experience this intact ecosystem at the same time.

The next morning we had the chance to go on our first gorilla trekking. Having already done two gorilla treks in Rwanda and Uganda, I was so excited to see what was in store for me here. We set off directly from the lodge with our tracker and went in search of the Neptune gorilla family. We had to fight our way through dense forest and it was so exciting to watch our tracker read the gorillas' tracks to find out where they were. After about two hours, the time had come and we got to see our first gorilla. The lowland gorillas are a little more active than the mountain gorillas, so we didn't just stay in one place, but continued to make our way through the forest. Again and again we were able to spot one or two gorillas - we were always delighted. I really enjoyed the gorilla trekking, it was very authentic and you are actively involved in finding the gorillas. A great experience!

Ein Flachlandgorilla steht angelehnt an einen Baum

2nd stopp: Lango Camp

Next we went to Lango Camp - probably one of the most spectacular places of all. Secluded in the middle of the Congolese rainforest and directly overlooking a bai where elephants, buffalo and other wildlife bathe, feed and interact. Access to such a special and untouched natural paradise is unique. The aim of our guides was to bring us closer to this nature and landscape and to this end we went on daily "wet walks". We walked through numerous elephant boulevards and got ourselves wet and muddy.

One of the highlights was our arrival at the camp. After traveling a short distance by car, we switched to a kayak until the water became too shallow. We then covered the last few meters on foot. A magical welcome drink and friendly staff awaited us outside the lodge. A truly unique lodge where you can really feel the connection to nature.

Personen laufen durch einen hüfthohen Fluss und beobachten die Natur

3rd stopp: Mboko Camp

Our last stop was at Mboko Camp. Situated between savannah, forest and a river, here you can experience the diversity of the different Congolese ecosystems. We undertake exciting activities on foot or take a boat trip up the Lekoli River, one of the main tributaries of the Congo River. Here we had incredible sightings of forest elephants and birds. I have rarely seen birdlife as diverse as here. We enjoyed our last dinner under a beautiful starry sky before we had to head back to Brazzaville the next day.

Odzala offers you magical experiences. You will have unforgettable encounters with wild animals and experience a deep connection with nature. I will return to Odzala again and again, because where else can you find places these days where you feel like you are the only person on earth?

Ein Waldelefant steht in flachen Fluss und trinkt