Congo Safaris

Exploring Odzala National Park

Mysterious, wild and scarred by their turbulent histories, the Congos are proving increasingly irresistible for travellers seeking real adventure

Confusingly there are two Congos: The Democratic Republic of Congo aka 'The DRC'; and the Republic of Congo aka 'Congo-Brazzaville'

THE DRC is the size of Western Europe, stretching from the Atlantic to Lake Tanganyika and lying largely south of the eponymous river. Politically volatile, it's a veritable wildlife cornucopia with iconic endemics such as bonobo, Grauer's Gorilla, okapi and Congo Peacock all surviving in the planet's second largest rainforest.

Virunga is Africa's oldest and most diverse national park and undoubtebly one of the finest in the world.

Congo-Brazzaville lies entirely north of the Congo River and is approximately a seventh of the size of its sourthern neighbour. A former French colony it is relatively wealthy, orderly and untroubled. 

Congo-Brazzaville is sparsely populated with 4 million people living in an area the size of Germany - further 65% of the people live in either Brazzaville, the capital, or Pointe-Noire, the main port - leaving the extensive northern rainforest incredibly pristine.

The gem of these forests is Odzala National Park, the top spot to see Western Lowland Gorilla along with a host of lowland rainforest mammals, notably: Forest Elephant, Forest Buffalo, Lowland Bongo and dozens of primates and duikers.

Odzala offers unparalleled access to the great central African rainforest which every serious safari afficiando should endeavour to visit at least once. A great deal more comfortable, varied and productive than most people will envisage, having experienced it there's ever chance you'll yearn to return.

Walking safaris a bit boring for you? Try a kayaking, mud-wading and buffalo-dodging rainforest trek in the Republic of Congo instead.”

- The Independent

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With a weekly scheduled charter from Brazzaville, getting in to the heart of the rainforest is surprisingly straightforward

The three camps within Odzala are equal to any in east and southern Africa

With an almost incongrous level of comfort it's to easy to forget that you are deep in the central African rainforest. The three camps are all managed by the same team but  wonderfully varied in terms of style, the ecosystems in which thet sit and the activities they offer.

Ngaga Camp is all about gorillas, with the opportunity to both track them and spend time with the researchers studying them. Mboko Camp is in savannah country with easy access to a navigable river while Lango Camp is set on an active bai in to which you can wade if you wish.

A week in Odzala split between these locations will leave you with a profound understanding of life in the rainforest.

When to visit Odzala National Park

A visit to Odzala is possible at any time of year. June through September are the driest periods but it can be relatively hazy which may challenge photographers. Importantly, should you suffer from the heat the hmidity is lower at this time - although do note that it can still rain, the park receiving a whopping metre-and-a half of ranfall annually. During the wetter months, tropical downpours break-up sustained periods of clear blue skies, often accompanied by sublime light.    

Talk to Rod to find out more   

Sample Trip

Gorilla Trekking in Virunga National Park


Track western lowland gorillas; Encounter forest elephant and buffalo, many monkeys and a multitudinous rainforest bird species

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- Dian Fossey

While heading to Odzala is certainly a very different proposition to a classic East or Southern African safari, aspects of it are pleasingly familiar

The only savannah species occuring here is Spotted Hyena which, in the absence of lions, is the alpha predator. However both forest elephant and buffalo are approachable and exceedingly photogenic. Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Guereza Colobus and several monkey species are frequently sighted. Chimpanzees are present but not habituated so more often heard, pant-hooting, than seen. Among the more obscure mammals are Lord Derby's Anomalure and Potto

Viewing animals and birds in tropical forests anywhere in the world can be challenging. The dense foliage and slow-going through the vegetation means that a good guide with a proper understanding of behaviour and calls is essential to get the best sightings.

Although you are likely to see many less species of mammals than you would on a classic safari, almost everything that you do see will be new. And the variety of species as compared to a Mountain Gorilla excursion is many times higher.

Part of the attraction of Odzala is that you are unlikely to encounter many other visitors and those you do are likely to have a heightened sense of adventure, although surprisingly perhaps it is not particularly onerous to get to.

Talk to Rod about gorilla trekking
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Africa's oldest and one of the most diverse on the continent

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Virunga National Park, Congo. Rod Tether visits for Natural High

Straddling the Nile-Congo watershed, the challenges facing the Congo's Virunga National Park - Africa’s oldest- are well told. That it is home to a...
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Our experienced travellers include:

Olly Williams
Olly Williams
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Alex Edwards
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It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.

All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.


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