Central Africa

Central Africa is a region of Africa that straddles the Equator and is drained largely by the Congo River system.  The Congo Basin, which makes up one of the most important and least explored wilderness areas left on earth, reaches across 500 million acres. As the second largest tropical forest, after the Amazon, the Congo Basin spans across six countries, Central African Republic (CAR), the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville), Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

For intrepid travelers, this part of Africa holds much to be discovered. Tracking the western lowland gorillas and forest elephants on foot and setting out on the water systems makes for a unique safari itinerary.  If you like being where few have ventured, this is worth looking into.  Tourism is developing and access is difficult, so you will need to plan at least two or more weeks to adventure in Central Africa.  

You can combine two pivotal areas in this magnificent sphere – the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the northwest of the Republic of the Congo, and Sangha Trinational, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and collaborative protected area from the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic. Within the Sangha Trinational is Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve. Lodges found here are within the tropical rainforest ecosystem with rich fauna and flora, including the critically endangered western lowland gorilla, forest elephant, forest buffalo, and bongo to name but a few.

Gabon is a diverse and stable eco-tourism destination, great for nature lovers looking for virgin and unspoiled territories. Wildlife rich forests cover 88% of Gabon’s landmass, its vast picturesque coastline is predominantly wild and unspoiled, and its inland and coastal waters teem with myriad species of fish, reptiles, and marine mammals. A rare and exotic tropical gem, tourism in Gabon remains relatively undeveloped.

Just 125 miles off the coast of Gabon, in the Gulf of Guinea, are the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe.  These undiscovered gems offer a rich cultural heritage, lush and unique biodiversity, deluxe accommodations, meaningful experiences, and organic agriculture for culinary journeys.


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Central Africa Highlights

Itineraries

These suggested itineraries will give you some idea of the adventures that are possible in these remote and least explored areas on our planet.  Come to experience the raw beauty, unfathomable scale and conservation importance while contributing to a positive impact for its future.   

Congo Basin Discovery

Itinerary

Day 1   Brazzaville – Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Your adventure begins with your arrival into Maya-Maya Airport in Brazzaville.  You will be met by the ground team and assisted to your scheduled flight to Odzala. After landing in Mboko, you will be transferred by road to Ngaga Camp, a three-hour drive through the Odzala-Kokoua National Park.  Ngaga Camp will be your home for the next three nights. 

This is home to the Western Lowland Gorilla research team who has spent the past few decades in this forest.  As a focal point for world-class primate research, this is an excellent place for unforgettable primate encounters. You will meet the research team, have dinner and hit the pillow!   

3 Nights at Ngaga Camp in a luxury en-suite forest chalet

Days 2 & 3       Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Your days begin with gorilla tracking with a guide and tracker from the team. After lunch you’ll have some time to relax in the afternoons before taking guided forest walks.  Evenings will be for enjoying river sundowners, dinners, and nocturnal forest walks. 

Days 4 & 5       Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Travel by road through Mbomo village to Mboko Camp for lunch. Continue onward to Lango Camp via a kayak trip on the Lekoli River. Get settled here for the next two nights. The camp offers great views of the Lango Baï where herds of Forest Buffalo and Forest Elephants congregate.  You will have opportunities to do guided walks through baï, wading through streams and walking on the forest edges. Night drives will also be on offer.

2 Nights at Lango Camp in an en-suite forest chalet

Day 6   Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Enjoy breakfast overlooking the baï after a guided walk. Later this morning you will game drive through the park to Mboko Camp arriving in time for lunch.  Explore the forest on a guided walk this afternoon.  Later you will have a river cruise.

1 Night at Mboko Camp in an en-suite river chalet

Days 7 – 10   Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve

Depart on your scheduled flight to Kabo.  From here, you will road transfer to the boats for the four to six-hour journey up the Sangha River. This reserve is largely unpopulated and supports a range of pristine eco-systems.  You will arrive at Sangha Lodge nestled along the Sangha River which will be your home base for the next four nights. 

Your days will be filled with guided forest walks and net hunting members of the Ba’Aka community. You may choose to work on the building of huts or learn about medicinal plants.  You will meet the pangolin researchers and protectors and venture forth to discover the nocturnal life one evening. Spend time on the research platform of the Dzanga Baï observing the diverse wildlife activity.  Another day you will walk through the Valley of the Giants - some of the tallest trees in the Congo Basin and then hike to the waterfalls.

4 Nights at Sangha Lodge in an en-suite river chalet

Day 11  Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Today you begin the boat journey downstream the Sangha River via Bayanga to Kabo. You will then departure on a scheduled flight to Odzala, landing at Mboko airstrip. Stretch your legs on an afternoon guided forest walk followed by a sundowner on the Lekoli River.   

1 Night at Mboko Camp in an en-suite river chalet

Day 12  Brazzaville

Fly from Mboko to Brazzaville’s Maya-Maya Airport. From here, connect with your onward flight or stay in Brazzaville and soak up the city atmosphere.

2021 Prices

$16,760 per person sharing

$21,078 per single traveler with others

$24,323 per solo traveler

Prices Include:  Accommodation, meals, house wines, beers, spirits, water and soft drinks, airport assistance, Brazzaville city tour including lunch, Congo letter of invitation fee, Central African Republic Access Authorization fee, Congo/Central African Republic border-control formalities, medical evacuation, community fees, park fees, laundry, limited internet access, 2 Odzala gorilla tracking permits, all other activity fees, scheduled flights as indicated, road and water transfers as indicated

Prices Exclude:  International air, gratuities, passport and visa fees, travel insurance, premium brand spirits and wine and champagne, any pre- or post- safari accommodation, meals or activities not included in the itinerary and items of a personal nature

 

Additional Information

Arrival & Departure – This itinerary begins and ends in Brazzaville.  We recommend international arrivals one day prior.  Overnight stays can be arranged pre- or post-safari.  International departures must be late night or the following day.

Travel Dates – Your trip must be coordinated with scheduled flights on Mondays and Thursdays. 

Desert to Island Forests

Itinerary

Day 1   Windhoek – NamibRand Nature Reserve

You have the option to fly or drive from Namibia’s capital city of Windhoek to the NamibRand.  The drive time will be six hours compared to a flight time of one hour.  Arrive at Wolwedans, at the edge of the Namib desert.  You will spend your first night high up on a dune ridge in the middle of the red sand sea.  The silence will take some getting used to.  Accommodation is in spacious chalets with en-suite bathrooms with a private verandah.

Wolwedans is a founding member of the Global Ecosphere Retreats, an initiative spearheaded by the Zeitz Foundation aiming to transform all that we do into mechanisms that move this world forward in a sustainable manner.

1 Night at Wolwedans Dune Lodge

Day 2   NamibRand Nature Reserve

Today you will move to a different area of this 775-square mile reserve.  Boulders Camp nestles up against the giant granite rocks providing some epic views.  This will be your remote base to explore on foot, by e-bike, on horses or scenic drives.  This area is one of the ancient hunting grounds of the Bushmen.  Accommodations are en-suite tented bungalows

2 Nights at Wolwedans Boulders Safari Camp

Day 5   São Tomé

Fly back to Windhoek and connect with your flight to Africa’s Galapagos sitting off the coast of Gabon.  You will be met on arrival in São Tomé and transferred to Omali Lodge.  São Tomé is the larger and more developed island where you can shop the markets and get a dose of city energy. You will have one night at this boutique property.  Explore the social and cultural life of the local community.

1 Night at Omali Lodge

Day 6   Príncipe

You will fly to the island of Príncipe, a 35-minute scenic flight over the Gulf of Guinea.  Príncipe Island is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, a global program to foster the conservation of biological and cultural diversity and promote economic development.  High end, sustainable tourism is a key driver of the economy here in this unspoiled land that time forgot.

You will be transferred to Sundy Praia, a nature lovers’ paradise and a travelers’ nirvana.  This property was once part of a cocoa plantation and is now one of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.  There are one, two and three-bedroom luxury tented villas, some with private pools and forest and sea views scattered in a tropical forest of almond and banana trees. 

4 Nights at Sundy Praia

Day 10  São Tomé

You will fly back to São Tomé to connect with your international flight.

2021 Prices

4 nights in Namibia:  N$ 62,750 per person sharing (based on 2 guests) AND

5 nights in São Tomé & Príncipe:  2,255 Euros per person sharing (based on 2 guests)

Prices Include:

Namibia - Accommodation, all meals, standard drinks (imported spirits and vintage wines excluded), activities (drives, scenic and bushman walks, e-biking, village tour, the Boulders Water Cycle and Solitude – a silent meditative experience), and all park and conservation fees and levies.

São Tomé & Príncipe - Accommodation on a half board basis (breakfast, dinner, coffee, tea and bottled water), domestic flights between São Tomé & Príncipe, airport meet and greet at São Tomé airport, road transfer to Omali Lodge, full-day tour on Príncipe Island with lunch, boat trip to north-east beaches, private beach dinner, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, waterfall hike, Wi-Fi, and room taxes.

Additional Information

Travel Dates - This itinerary must be coordinated with the scheduled flights between São Tomé & Príncipe and include a Monday or Thursday arrival at Wolwedans Boulders Safari Camp.

Extensions – We recommend adding a night in Windhoek pre-safari.  You may also want to consider a pre-safari extension in Cape Town to begin.  Duffle & Compass will work with you to create a custom-tailored itinerary.

Odzala Discovery

Itinerary

Day 1   Brazzaville – Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Your adventure begins with your arrival into Maya-Maya Airport in Brazzaville.  You will be met by the ground team and assisted to your scheduled flight to Odzala. After landing in Mboko, you will be transferred by road to Ngaga Camp, a three-hour drive through the Odzala-Kokoua National Park.  Ngaga Camp will be your home for the next three nights. This is home to the Western Lowland Gorilla research team who has spent the past few decades in this forest.  As a focal point for world-class primate research, this is an excellent place for unforgettable primate encounters. You will meet the research team, have dinner and hit the pillow!  

3 Nights at Ngaga Camp in a luxury en-suite forest chalet

Day 2 & 3         Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Your days begin with gorilla tracking with a guide and tracker from the team. After lunch you’ll have some time to relax in the afternoons before taking guided forest walks.  Evenings will be for enjoying river sundowners, dinners, and nocturnal forest walks. 

Day 4 & 5         Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Travel by road through Mbomo village to Mboko Camp for lunch. Continue onward to Lango Camp via a kayak trip on the Lekoli River. Get settled here for the next two nights. The camp offers great views of the Lango Baï where herds of Forest Buffalo and Forest Elephants congregate.  You will have opportunities to do guided walks through baï, wading through streams and walking on the forest edges. Night drives will also be on offer.

2 Nights at Lango Camp in an en-suite forest chalet

Day 6 & 7         Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Enjoy breakfasts overlooking the baï after a guided walk. Later in the mornings you will depart by vehicle for a drive through the park arriving to Mboko Camp in time for lunch. Later you will have a river cruise on the Lekoli River with the option to swim.  Don’t miss the star deck tonight.

2 Nights at Mboko Camp in an en-suite river chalet

Day 8   Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Fly from Odzala to Brazzaville’s Maya Maya Airport. From here you will connect with onward flight or stay in Brazzaville and soak up the city atmosphere.

2021 Prices

$10,830 per person sharing

$13,578 per single traveling with others

$15,418 per solo traveler

Prices Include:  Accommodation, meals, house wines, beers, spirits, water and soft drinks, airport assistance, Brazzaville city tour including lunch, Congo letter of invitation fee, medical evacuation, community fees, park fees, laundry, limited internet access, 2 Odzala gorilla tracking permits, all other activity fees, scheduled flights as indicated, road transfers as indicated.

Prices Exclude:  International air, gratuities, passport and visa fees, travel insurance, premium brand spirits and wine and champagne, any pre- or post- safari accommodation, meals or activities not included in the itinerary and items of a personal nature

 

Additional Information

Arrival & Departure – This itinerary begins and ends in Brazzaville. We recommend international arrivals one day prior. Overnight stays can be arranged pre- or post-safari. International departures must be late night or the following day.

Travel Dates – Your trip must be coordinated with scheduled flights on Mondays and Thursdays.

Sangha Discovery

Itinerary

Days 1 - 2         Brazzaville – Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Your adventure begins with your arrival into Maya-Maya Airport in Brazzaville.  You will be met by the ground team and assisted to your scheduled flight to Odzala. After landing in Mboko, you will be transferred by road to Lango Camp where you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon followed by an evening sundowner overlooking the Lango Baï. Your treehouse chalet offers fantastic views of the Lango Baï which is a magnetic attraction for huge flocks of Green Pigeons, African Grey Parrots as well as herds of Forest Buffalo and Forest Elephants.

2 Nights at Lango Camp in an en-suite forest chalet

Day 3 – 9          Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve

Depart on your scheduled flight to Kabo.  From here, you will road transfer to the boats for the four to six-hour journey up the Sangha River. This reserve is largely unpopulated and supports a range of pristine eco-systems.  You will arrive at Sangha Lodge nestled along the Sangha River which will be your home base for the next seven nights.

Your days will be filled with gorilla tracking, guided forest walks and net hunting members of the Ba’Aka community. You may choose to work on the building of huts or learn about medicinal plants. You will meet the pangolin researchers and protectors and venture forth to discover the nocturnal life one evening. Spend time on the research platform of the Dzanga Baï observing the diverse wildlife activity.  Another day you will walk through the Valley of the Giants - some of the tallest trees in the Congo Basin and then hike to the waterfalls.

7 Nights at Sangha Lodge in an en-suite river chalet

Day 10              Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Today you begin the boat journey downstream the Sangha River via Bayanga to Kabo. You will then departure on a scheduled flight to Odzala, landing at Mboko airstrip. Stretch your legs on an afternoon guided forest walk followed by a sundowner on the Lekoli River.  

1 Night at Mboko Camp in an en-suite river chalet

Day 11              Brazzaville

Fly from Mboko to Brazzaville’s Maya-Maya Airport. From here, connect with your onward flight or stay in Brazzaville and soak up the city atmosphere.

2021 Prices

$14,820 per person sharing

$18,745 per single traveler with others

$21,990 per solo traveler

Prices Include:  Accommodation, meals, house wines, beers, spirits, water and soft drinks, airport assistance, Brazzaville city tour including lunch, Congo letter of invitation fee, Central African Republic Access Authorization fee, Congo/Central African Republic border-control formalities, medical evacuation, community fees, park fees, laundry, limited internet access, 1 Odzala gorilla tracking permits, 1 Mangabey tracking permit, all other activity fees, 2 Dzanga Baï visits, Ba’Aka experience, scheduled flights as indicated, road and water transfers as indicated.

Prices Exclude:  International air, gratuities, passport and visa fees, travel insurance, premium brand spirits and wine and champagne, any pre- or post- safari accommodation, meals or activities not included in the itinerary and items of a personal nature

Additional Information

Arrival & Departure – This itinerary begins and ends in Brazzaville. We recommend international arrivals one day prior. Overnight stays can be arranged pre- or post-safari.  International departures must be late night or the following day.

Travel Dates – Your trip must be coordinated with scheduled flights on Mondays and Thursdays. 

Accommodations

The Congo Basin, which makes up one of the most important and least explored wilderness areas left on earth, reaches across 500 million acres. For intrepid travelers, this part of Africa holds much to be discovered. Camps and lodges are generally operated by conservation-minded heroes and researchers.  Comfortable accommodations and exhilarating activities await those who want to venture here.

Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Republic of the Congo

Maya-Maya International Airport in the capital city of Brazzaville is the starting point for all Congo Basin adventures.

Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Located in the remote north-west of Republic of the Congo, is one of Africa’s oldest national parks, established in 1935. Covering over 5,250 square miles of pristine rainforests, savannahs and rivers this area plays an integral part of the Congo Basin and TRIDOM Transfrontier Park (overlapping Gabon, Congo, and Cameroon) – the lungs of Africa. Here is one of the world’s last intact eco-systems, a haven for the Western Lowland Gorilla, Forest Elephant, Bongo and many primates and birds.

Photo: Congo Conservation Co.

Ngaga Camp

Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Ngaga Camp is in the Ndzehi Forest on the western boundary just outside of Odzala-Kokoua National Park. This is home to the Western Lowland Gorilla research team who has spent the past few decades in this forest.  As a focal point for world-class primate research, this is an excellent place for unforgettable primate encounters.  The entire camp is elevated on a boardwalk in the midst of this pristine rainforest. The six chalets are constructed with local materials and modern facilities and feature 360° views from their wraparound decks.  Activities include forest walks, night drives and village visits

Photo: Congo Conservation Co.

Mboko Camp

Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Located inside the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Mboko Camp sits along the Likeni River.  There are 12 wood-and-thatch chalets, two of them are family units set along the river.  There is a spacious main area with dining room, lounge, bar and star deck overlooking the wide-open grasslands. Activities here are a combination of walking, boating, day and night game drives.

Photo: Congo Conservation Co.

Lango Camp

Odzala-Kokoua National Park

Situated on the edge of Lango Bai in the south-central part of the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Lango Camp offers the most arresting views of any camp in Africa. A magnetic attraction for huge flocks of Green Pigeons and African Grey Parrots as well as herds of Forest Buffalo and Forest Elephants, wraparound walkways and elevated chalets maximize the views.  The six treehouse chalets are built on stilts overlooking the bai (swamp environment providing mineral and food for forest elephants).  The main activity here is watching the action unfold at the bai, guided wading through streams, walking along the edges of forest areas, day and night game drives.  No Wi-Fi here so prepare to be off the grid.

Sangha Trinational Protected Area

Central African Republic (CAR)

Sangha Trinational Protected Area

This enormous area of almost 2,900 miles spans three crucial protected areas: Lobéké National Park in Cameroon, Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in Central African Republic, and Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Republic of the Congo. Largely unpopulated, this region supports a range of pristine eco-systems and is abundant in life.

Photo: Jacha Potgieter

Sangha Lodge

Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve

The lodge is situated near the geographical heart of Africa with seven chalets overlooking the Sangha River. Built with immense passion for conservation, by Rod and Tamar Cassidy, Sangha Lodge is now managed by them and their son. The Dzanga Bai is the main attraction.  Masses of elusive Forest Elephant congregate here making it an ideal place to observe their social behavior and interactions.  Guests can also track Western Lowland Gorillas, spend time with the Ba’Aka net hunting, walk through the Valley of Giants, kayak and explore hidden waterfalls. 

Travel Information

When to go to Central Africa

Much of Central Africa is a rainforest, so expect a tropical climate year-round.  Depending on your destination, some months may be warmer or wetter than others.

 

Passport & Visa

Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the date of your return.  Travelers must make sure that their passport contains at least one blank pages for visa and immigration stamps for each country on their itinerary.  A visa is required for many Central African countries, but not all.  Once your itinerary is set, Duffle & Compass will confirm the details of what you will needed.

 

Medical Information

Before traveling to Africa, please consult with your physician. An International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever is required by many countries.  You will likely need a malaria prophylaxis.  If you are gorilla tracking, you will need a doctor’s certification that you are healthy and fit for the activity.  You will also be asked to submit confirmation of polio and measles vaccinations.   Once your itinerary is set, Duffle & Compass will confirm the details of what you will need.