Gorilla Adventure

Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic preserve some of the most beautiful rainforests in Africa. Created in 1990, Dzanga-Ndoki covers an area of over a thousand square kilometres. The park is home to important populations of forest elephants, lowland gorillas, chimpanzees and much more.
 
Starting in the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde we take rough roads to the east and cross into the Central African Republic. Continuing to Dzanga-Ndoki we discover a world untainted by man, an intact jungle where nature rules. We venture into the heart of this primeval jungle to Dzanga Bai, a beautiful forest clearing which attracts spectacular wildlife. We see large herds of forest elephants and have the unforgettable experience of tracking these lowland gorillas. We get close to a habituated family and see how they make the forest their home. Immersed in the jungle, we discover the complex biodiversity of this fragile ecosystem.
 
We spend a night in the company of Ba’Aka pygmies learning from them as they go about their daily lives in the rainforest.
 
This is an uncompromising trip, travelling through one of the last wildernesses on earth in search of some of the planet’s most enigmatic wildlife and treading where few have ever set foot before.

Highlights

  • Track a family of gorillas
  • Meet the Ba'Aka pygmies
  • Forest elephants at Dzanga Bai

Day 1 - Yaounde

Arrive in Yaounde and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight Hotel Jouvance or similar.

Yaoundé

Although not the largest city in the country, Yaoundé is the political and administrative capital, and a little more ordered than Douala. It’s also far greener, with pleasant tree lined streets and the lush Mt Febe overlooking the city. Mt Febe is also the site of a former Benedictine monastery, which now houses a rather excellent museum dedicated to the art and crafts Cameroon’s many different ethnic groups, with numerous masks and sculptures. Other than that, like most African cities Yaoundé is not big on traditional sights but it’s not a bad place to get to grips with modern urban Africa, and more pleasant than most.

Day 2 - Batouri

A long drive to the far east of Cameroon, driving past plantations, patches of forest, colonial towns and small villages along the way. On the way we pass small markets and settlements as we venture into the more remote parts of Cameroon. Overnight Hotel Koumanda or similar. (B)

 

Please note: accommodation here is simple but the only option available.

Day 3 - Lidjombo – Dzanga-Sangha Reserve

Cross the mighty Sangha River and the border with the Central African Republic. After border formalities we continue to our accommodation, Doli Lodge, which will be our base for exploring the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve. (LD)

Dzanga-Ndoki National Park

Dzanga-Ndoki National Park was established in 1990 and is located in the far south western corner of the Central African Republic; it also contains the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve, by which name the park is often known. Covering some of the most pristine rainforest environment on earth it has one of Africa’s highest densities of western lowland gorillas, making it an excellent place to spot these magnificent primates. Apart from gorillas, other species found here include red river hog, chimpanzees, bongo, forest elephant, forest buffalo and sitatunga. The park is contiguous with two other protected areas; Lobeke National Park in Cameroon and Nouabale Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo, which together form the Sangha River Tri-National Protected Area.

Day 4 - Gorilla tracking

One of the highlights of the trip – today we track a family of habituated western lowland gorillas in the forest, getting close to this most magnificent of animals in the company of experienced trackers and guides. There are few experiences that can ever equal spending time with gorillas, and it ranks among the best that Africa can offer. Overnight Doli Lodge. (BLD)

Western lowland gorillas

Western lowland gorillas are spread between six different countries in Central Africa, from Cameroon to the Congo, and are the smallest of the gorilla species – having said this males can still reach 6ft and weight about 250kg. The Republic of Congo is thought to hold the largest populations of this species, who favour the rainforest and swamps that make up much of the country and provide edible plant species. The gorillas live in groups, normally led by a silverback male, and roam within a loose territory on their search for food; a typical group size would be around twenty to thirty or so individuals. Gorillas are under threat from habitat loss and poaching – they are highly prized as bushmeat among certain communities, and it’s not unusual to find gorilla parts in the hidden recesses of a market somewhere.

Day 5 - Mangabey tracking

This morning we track a different primate – mangabeys, of which troops of two to three hundred are not uncommon. Later we take dug out canoes along one of the tributaries of the Sangha River, in the company of locals extracting raffia wine from the palm trees. Overnight Doli Lodge. (BLD)

Mangabey tracking

The group of mangabeys that we track consists of more than 200 individuals whose range is focused around the bai system, and the habituation process allows this secretive and relatively unknown species to be easily observed in the dense vegetation. The group can be observed at distances of less than 30ft while they rummage through leaf litter, store seeds in their cheek pouches, and groom their companions. These monkeys also have a vast vocal repertoire, with the males possessing a vocal sac to amplify their distinctive ‘whoops’ across the forest – allowing them to communicate to the rest of their group and other groups. The sounds, smells and the luminous green of the vegetation also creates a very unique African landscape atmosphere.

Day 6 - Dzanga Bai

Drive and walk to Dzanga Bai. Here you can often see herds of between fifty and a hundred forest elephants that have come here to consume the mineral rich soil, along with other forest wildlife such as buffalo, sitatunga and bongo. Overnight Doli Lodge. (BLD)

Dzanga Bai

Your walk through the forest will take you through cool shallow sand streams and clouds of butterflies, until you reach the top of an observation platform that looks out over a natural clearing. This type of clearing, called a ‘bai’, is frequented by scores of forest elephants who exhibit wonderful interactive behaviours: meeting and greeting each other, sniffing, trumpeting and challenging, and sinking their long trunks deep into water-logged holes in search of minerals.

Day 7 - Dzanga-Sangha Reserve

Today we have a full day with the Ba’Aka pygmies. Accompanied by our hosts we explore the surrounding area and have a unique opportunity to learn how they live, gathering honey and medicinal plants to sustain their lifestyle. Overnight Doli Lodge. (BLD)

Pygmies

‘Pygmy’ is a term used to describe a number of different ethnic groups living throughout central
Africa, from the Batwa of the Great Lakes to the Ba’Aka and Badgeli of the western forests.
Most Pygmy communities are partially hunter-gatherers, living on the wild products of their environment, but many also trade with neighbouring farmers to acquire cultivated foods and other material items. It is estimated that there are between 250,000 and 600,000 Pygmies living in the Congo rainforest.

The pygmies are masters of the forest, traditionally relying on it for most of their daily needs, although in modern times many have become more settled and are adopting the customs of the larger populations around them. They have been much discriminated against in recent times, withAfrican governments attempting to ‘modernise’ them and seeing them as something of a throwback. However we feel that spending time among these groups of people, with their encyclopaedic knowledge of the natural world and unique customs is one of the more special experiences the continent can offer.

Day 8-9 - Yokadouma - Yaounde

We leave the reserve behind and drive back towards ‘civilisation’ and the forest towns of eastern Cameroon, arriving in Yaounde on Day 9. Overnight simple hotel (Day 8) and Hotel Jouvence or similar (Day 9). Day 8 (B), no meals Day 9.


10 - Yaounde

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)


Gorilla - Central Africa Republic photo gallery

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

    Please note that while we prefer to use centrally located hotels where possible, this is not always practical and in some locations they may not be the best option in terms of standards or reliability.

  • Guides

    You will be accompanied by an English speaking guide from start to finish.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again. Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety, as well as the capacity to cater for groups. Drinks are not included and are at your own expense.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour (www.travcour.com) can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

For Central African Republic the visa can be obtained upon arrival at the airport, but you must send us a scanned copy of your passport (at the latest, one month before departure) in order that we can facilitate this – you cannot just arrange this on arrival yourself and without proof of pre-arrangement you will not be able to board your flight. The visa costs €120, payable in Euros.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to Central African Republic and you must bring this with you

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company

Money

The local currency in the Central African Republic is the Central African CFA, a currency that is shared with many other countries in the region. It is not however the same as the West African CFA, and the two are not interchangeable. It is best to bring Euros for exchange purposes as the CFA is not obtainable outside of the region.

It’s not difficult to change money here, but only in the larger cities – once you leave these your opportunity for changing funds is slim to non-existent, and so we recommend that you change enough at the start of the tour. Your guide will be able to assist with this. ATMs exist but are not always reliable and so it is best to think of them as a back up rather than a main means of obtaining money.

Credit cards are accepted in larger hotels and better restaurants (usually in the capital cities) but are not commonly accepted elsewhere.

You can pay in Euros for services at Sangha Lodge.

When to go

This region is hot and humid all year round, sitting neatly on the equator. The best time to visit this region is from December until around June

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place.  

In addition, roads throughout the parts of Africa that we visit are often poorly maintained (if at all!) and distances between key sites of interest can be long. Travelling in Africa can be tiring, hot and dusty at times, and inevitably it can be frustrating. While there are some issues that we are able to solve, others are intrinsic to the countries that we travel through, and you should be aware that many of the countries that we operate in cannot be compared to others on the continent that have better infrastructure – for example the popular tourist destinations of east and southern Africa. Although travelling in these countries can at times be an ‘unpolished’ experience, this is all part of the adventure. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and putting up with a pothole (or ten) is undeniably worth it for the amazing sights and cultural experiences you will encounter along the way.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO advises against travel to the Central African Republic itself. We visit the far south west corner of the CAR which has been isolated from recent problems, and are confident that we can operate trips here safely. Should you have any concerns about this then please let us know.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Updated July 2023

Gorilla - Central Africa Republic photo gallery
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
15 February 2025
Price (PP) -
£4,499
Single Supplement -
£330
Trip Status -
Guaranteed