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congo gorilla ©Mike Myers

Odzala Primate Habituation

Odzala Kokoua National Park • Congo-Brazzaville

The Odzala Primate Habituation packages offers a unique opportunity to be involved in an extraordinary field of conservation: the research and protection of equatorial African primates. This adventurous journey takes you to the pristine rainforest of Congo- Brazzaville, where you will join dedicated primatologists in their research of several groups of primates, like the western lowland gorillas, Colobus monkeys and possibly chimpanzees.

The focus of the expedition is on 'habituation' of various primate-groups. This means that through repeated, neutral contact with humans, the animals exhibit normal behaviour when people are in close proximity. The process is an important conservation strategy, as habituated primates could be guarded more closely by field staff and could receive veterinary treatment for snares, respiratory disease, and other life-threatening conditions. With most primate populations being seriously threatened as result of poaching, disease, habitat loss and even war an civil unrest, this is essential from a conservation perspective.

During the 6-nights trip you will spend three days of primate habituation or 'bai' monitoring, and three days of gorilla tracking and habituating, offering the very best in wildlife experiences. Moreover, your support to the project will leverage funds to the ongoing research and protection of primates in the Odazala-Kokoua National Park. In the addition to the exciting primate activities, you will also endeavour in various other activities like a pirogue cruise on Lekoli River, game and night drives through the area and forest walks.

Odzala Colobus Monkeys ©Wilderness Safaris Odzala Gorilla Portrait ©Dana ALlen


Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Odzala-Kokoua in the north of Congo and on the Gabon border is one of Africa's oldest national parks, having been proclaimed by the French administration in 1935. It covers primarily pristine equatorial rainforest typical of the Congo Basin but is unique for protecting a large area of savannah as well. It is one of the 'gems' of west central Africa.

Within its 1.360.000 hectares (3.360.633 acres) it holds globally significant populations of western lowland gorilla, forest elephant and forest buffalo as well as a wide array of other species. It is renowned as the richest forest block in central Africa for primates species with eleven diurnal species recorded. Putty-nosed monkey, moustached monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey and crowned monkey are perhaps the most common primates but black and white colobus, De Brazza's monkey and even chimpanzee are also all regularly seen.

It is for gorillas that people visit however, with densities of this great ape in Odzala the highest recorded in Africa. This giant ape, sharing more than 97% of its DNA with humans, is perhaps the most charismatic inhabitant of the forest, and guests at Odzala have the opportunity for both passive observation of the species from hides at forest bais as well as interaction with habituated groups.

  • Odzala Boating ©Wilderness Safaris
  • Congo Map Odzala
  • Odzala Dining ©Dana Allen

Accomodation

The Odzala Primate Habituation experience makes use of two camps: Lango Camp, on the edge of the savannah and with access to the Lekoli and Mambili Rivers, and Ngaga Camp in the heart of a marantaceae forest. Each camp consists of 6 creatively designed guest rooms, taking inspiration from the designs of the local B’Aka Pygmy groups. Natural, locally sourced materials will be used extensively in the construction of the camps: sustainably harvested hardwoods, bamboo and raffia palm matting. In the case of Ngaga Camp, each of the guest rooms is raised 3-4m above the ground with a wraparound walkway allowing full appreciation of the forest canopy.

The same use of natural materials will be a feature of large comfortable hides at the bais where guests will spend time waiting for and watching forest wildlife such as forest elephant, forest buffalo, sitatunga and even lowland gorilla. Activities range from gorilla tracking (habituated groups), pirogue rides along lush river systems, night drives in the savannah, bird- and wildlife-viewing walks, and of course time spent at the productive forest bais.

  • Odzala Green Pigeon ©Dana Allen

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