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Central Africa:
Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic

The primary reason for coming to the Republic of Congo (ROC) or the Central African Republic (CAR) is to visit their national parks, which, combined with neighboring Cameroon's protected forests, form a triangle of the world’s largest rainforests after those of the Amazon Basin - among the very last of their kind on the planet.

Delayed or cancelled flights and horrendous roads notwithstanding, this remote area is now accessible. And if location alone makes it a rare travel experience, by extension so must be the wildlife that is found there. The Central African Republic has some of the highest densities of forest elephants and western lowland gorillas in Africa. At Dzanga Bai in CAR's Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, it is not uncommon for 73 elephants to gather, a number which is a near daily occurrence. Large flocks of African Grey parrots also gather at this bai in the early morning and late afternoon, a moving sight when this parrot exists in the wild in only very small numbers. At Mbeli Bai in the ROC's Nouabale-Ndoki National Park, sixteen wild western lowland gorilla families along with ten solitary silverbacks, amounting to some 150 animals, are known to come to feed on its nutritional plants. Then there are Kingo and Makumba, the habituated gorilla patriarchs of ROC's Nouabale-Ndoki National Park and CAR's Dzanga-Ndoki National Park. To meet them and their families is to understand that you are now inextricably wrapped up in their fate. Tourists bring revenue to better the lives of local people, without whom conservation efforts would fail. It is easier to keep wildlife alive if men who hunted in the past for their livelihood earn a salary guiding visitors through the forest.

MTT Congo provides customized travel to Central African parks for individuals, couples, and small, discreet, groups. There are no set departures. Links to the recommended programs follow; but please remember we can alter these itineraries to suit your needs, including add-ons and extensions such as a few days of soaking up culture in Kinshasa, the DRC's big smoke across the river from the less frenetic Brazzaville; R & R on Cameroon's beaches; or a week in Gabon or Sao Tome. Most clients begin their journey in Brazzaville or Bangui, arriving on Air France, Ethiopian Airlines or Kenya Airways, but impassioned primate people can also consider beginning in Rwanda or Uganda after a visit to the mountain gorillas.

The Congo Basin is not inexpensive for visitors, even for those traveling at the adventure level. The high cost of transport is primarily why it costs so much to travel here. Accommodation, even simple accommodation, is expensive. Nor is travel in Central Africa a walk in the park. You must be prepared for obstacles.

It is inevitable that these challenges, among others, will decrease as the area develops. Overall, improved infrastructure and competition are positive developments, benefits to local populations as well as to visitors. Yet, it is increasingly difficult even now to find travel destinations where - to use an old adage - the journey truly is the destination. This best describes a trip into Central Africa. To spend time in Nouabale-Ndoki and Dzanga-Ndoki National Parks is to accept that you are paying for the privilege, only a few of you at a time, to experience a unique wildlife and culture opportunity and not for the five-star luxuries your per diem can provide you elsewhere on the continent.

We suggest that you take our French and English speaking guide along, but if you are seasoned travelers and comfortable on your own, we can arrange your travel and park reservations, meet you upon arrival in Brazzaville, and send you on your way.

Although the Congo Basin national parks in the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic are MTT Congo's specialty, as of late 2012 we will also offer hand picked travel (always with current security issues in mind) to the Democratic Republic of Congo where Eastern Lowland gorillas are found at Kahuzi Biega National Park; chimpanzees at the Tongo Chimpanzee Reserve; and inspiringly peaceful bonobos, our nearest living relatives, at the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary near Kinshasa. Any number of ways is available in the DRC for full cultural immersion as well.

Of our itineraries below, IN Bangui OUT Bangui, is arguably the easiest way to see the Congo Basin parks as it eliminates overland travel in the Republic of Congo, with the exception of the five days in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park. On this route, you go to and from the Congo park by boat from the Central African Republic. This route also allows the option of flying by small charter aircraft to and from the area, which makes it a particularly good choice for anyone with time constraints or who simply cannot undertake the demands of travel in Central Africa. As the Congo and Central African parks are very different, and MTT Congo recommends visits to both parks as the best overall experience, it is yet another option to focus on the Central African Republic and not go downriver to the Congo park at all. At the end of the day, it is good to have options and to know exactly what each involves so you can make the best decision for your private travels. For those who dislike back tracking, and who subscribe to the view that the journey is very much the destination, then IN Brazza OUT Bangui/IN Bangui OUT Brazza are the programs for you. After all, if you have come all this way why miss the sight of the mighty Congo River?

Travel to the Congo Basin requires intense preparation. Start your planning at least 6 months in advance.

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Media

For photos, see these links - Mbeli Bai (gorillas) and Dzanga Bai (elephants).

For YouTube videos, see:
Gorilla Safari FAQ
Ba'aka Net Hunting
Kingo's Kingdom
Western Lowland Gorilla Safari
Congo Gorilla Safari

Itineraries

IN Brazza OUT Bangui 2012 (PDF only)

IN Brazza OUT Brazza 2012 (PDF only)